With over 5 million confirmed cases and nearing 165,000 deaths, the United States has become a pariah nation of coronavirus super-spreaders when it comes to world travel. Although the State Department has recently removed our Level 4 travel advisory, nearly all countries have advisories against us, both in their citizens coming here, and us going there.
Case in point, Americans aren’t supposed to be able to get into Europe. The countries in the Schengen zone have specifically said we can’t visit them because our numbers are too high. Yet some Americans have managed to travel there this summer. And I don’t mean Belarus, Croatia, Serbia and Turkey, who are allowing Americans to visit. I’m talking about places that are supposed to be forbidden for non-essential travel, such as Spain and Germany.
The problem is that the European countries, much like the states in the U.S., are not working cohesively and each has its own rules. Add that on top of officials who don’t pay attention, or who turn their heads, and, well, an American in Paris is a possibility.
According to Politico, some U.S. tourists have been flying to the U.K. and then continuing on to other countries. You’re technically supposed to quarantine if you arrive in England, but since these people were just “passing through,” they weren’t stopped by British authorities.
Then, those who then got on a plane to Spain, for example, were treated like any other person arriving from the U.K. Although Brits can’t travel to Spain now, they could for several weeks. At the time, no one was going to think that someone arriving on a flight from Heathrow was actually initially flying from the U.S., even if they have a U.S. passport. Or if the customs people possibly did think about it, maybe they just didn’t care.
Other tourists are arriving in Ireland where, again, Americans are supposed to self-quarantine, but enforcement has been spotty. So all you need to do is fly out of Dublin Airport (where they only ensure if you have a valid boarding pass. It doesn’t matter where your passport is from), and fly to Germany, where restrictions are based on departure country, not nationality. So people arriving in Germany from Ireland (which is allowed) would have no restrictions, even if they have U.S. passports.
On the other hand, some countries, such as The Netherlands, use nationality to determine if visitors can enter or not. It doesn’t matter what country you’ve directly come from; if your passport says you’re from the U.S., you’re not getting in.
Europe isn’t the only place where this is happening. The border between the U.S. and Canada has been closed for months. Right now it won’t reopen until at least August 21 (my crystal ball says it will probably be later) but some Americans have been entering Canada under the pretense of driving to Alaska. Except they don’t actually drive to Alaska. They stay in Canada and are caught in tourist places like Banff. Others are reportedly coming in on private boats that have their transponder turned off so the Coast Guard can’t track them.
Of course, behavior like this has been happening for years. After the Cold War started, Americans, with few exceptions, weren’t allowed to visit Cuba. That didn’t stop thousands from flying to Canada and then from Canada to Havana. As long as the Cuban customs agents didn’t stamp your passport (Cuba didn’t care if we were there or not; they were probably happy to get American tourists’ money), the U.S. government wouldn’t be the wiser (well, unless they had some reason to investigate you).
Of course, there’s a huge difference between visiting a Communist country during the Cold War and entering countries that we’re not allowed in right now because of health dangers. The pandemic is going on strong and with the way this virus can be spread so easily from person to person, Americans being in these countries brings a huge risk to the citizens of those respective countries. Especially those Americans who refuse to wear masks. Responsible travelers wouldn’t take that chance. But then again, if these travelers are trying to use a loophole to get into countries where they’re currently not allowed, they’re not showing any form of responsibility anyway.
Feature Photo: U.S.A.F./Senior Airman Caitlin O’Neil-McKeown
#stayhealthy #staysafe #washyourhands #wearamask
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary