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E.U. closer to barring travelers from U.S., where coronavirus is surging

Europeans said the list was based on dispassionate epidemiological science.
Image: Los Angeles Int'l Airport travelers
Travelers walk past a test system of thermal imaging cameras which check body temperatures at Los Angeles International Airport on June 24. Mario Tama / Getty Images

LONDON ⁠— The European Union is on the verge of barring travelers from the United States when it opens its borders again next week because the U.S. coronavirus infection rate is too high, two E.U. diplomats said.

The 27-member bloc is reopening to non-essential travel July 1 and has drawn up a list of countries whose infection levels are low enough to allow their citizens to travel into the countries.

The U.S., which has the most COVID-19 deaths and cases in the world, wasn't on the final draft agreed by E.U. ambassadors Friday, according to two E.U. diplomats, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk publicly about the deliberations.

That list will now go to the governments of E.U. member states for final confirmation, with a sign-off likely Saturday or next week. One diplomat said they expected the list to be approved.

Asked whether the U.S. was on the list, the diplomat replied, "That's a stupid question" — an indication of how far outside the E.U.'s criteria the U.S. coronavirus situation is.

The diplomat said that China was among more than a dozen countries that are on the list, but on the condition that China opened its borders to travelers from the E.U. in return.

Though tensions have grown between President Donald Trump and the E.U. during the pandemic, the Europeans said the list was based on dispassionate epidemiological science.

An E.U. briefing this week had noted that in the previous two weeks the U.S. had registered 107 new cases per 100,000 people, compared with 16 per 100,000 in the E.U.

Deaths and hospitalizations have decreased in Europe after the introduction of lockdown measures, although the World Health Organization has warned of a possible summer spike across the continent.

The number of infections is again increasing across the United States even as Trump encourages normal life to resume. More than 120,000 people have died from the coronavirus in the U.S. since the pandemic began.

Trump's fractious relationship with Europe deteriorated in March when he announced sweeping travel restrictions without telling any of his E.U. counterparts first.

Most travelers around the world have been prevented from visiting the E.U. for months unless their trip is deemed essential.