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U.S. extends border closures; EU tightens travel restrictions

The European Union declined to lift its ban on American travelers amid a spike in coronavirus cases in the United States. File Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI
The European Union declined to lift its ban on American travelers amid a spike in coronavirus cases in the United States. File Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo

July 16 (UPI) -- The United States said Thursday it would extend limits on non-essential travel from Mexico and Canada, while the European Union placed further restrictions at its borders on foreign travelers and extended its ban on Americans.

Acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said that "based on the existing restrictions" the United States will extend the limit on non-essential travel at U.S. land ports of entry with Mexico and Canada until Aug. 20.

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"Close collaboration with our neighbors has allowed us to respond to COVID-19 in a North American approach and slow the travel-related spread of the virus," he said.

Also Thursday, the EU said travelers from Montenegro and Serbia would no longer be allowed in the 27-member block due to rising coronavirus cases there.

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The EU largely shuttered its borders in March due to the pandemic, but began easing those restrictions to 15 countries on July 1, including Montenegro and Serbia.

As part of its twice-monthly review process, though, the EU removed the two countries from its approved list and declined to add any other countries. This means most Americans still won't be able to visit much of Europe amid a spike of cases in the United States in recent weeks.

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According to the Johns Hopkins University tracker, there have been 3.5 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States and at least 137,400 deaths. The country logged its third-highest daily case rate Wednesday, with more than 66,000 confirmed new cases.

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In order for the EU to lift its travel restriction on a country, the country must have an average new case rate at or below the EU average on June 15, have a stable or decreasing trend of new cases over the previous 14 days, and meet certain standards on testing, surveillance, contact tracing and containment.

Approved countries must also lift their restrictions on EU travelers.

Those exempt from the restrictions include EU citizens and their family members, long-term EU residents and their family members, and travelers with an essential function in the EU.

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Visitors wear face masks as they tour the Whitney Museum of American Art as it reopens on September 3. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

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