Why? Because America is the worst country on earth in stopping COVID-19 – and is only getting worse.
When Europe opens its borders on Wednesday, the citizens of 11 countries will be able to sip café on the Champs Élysée and float their gondolas through Venice.
Canada is one of these countries, as are Australia and China (but only if Europeans can travel to China).
Among the nations on the ‘Do Not Allow’ list are Russia, Brazil, and of course the U.S.
Getting on or off the list depends on how well your country scores according to a set of epidemiological criteria. The main measure is the average number of new cases per 100,000 people over the past 14 days.
The Brazilian score is 180; the American, 107; the Russian, 80.
And the EU?
As TheNew York Times said: “…Officials tried to base their decision on scientific criteria, in part to depoliticize the process and shield themselves from diplomatic pressures.”
Given who sits in the Oval Office, I can just imagine what those pressures will be.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo played nice last week. We know that because he used the word “folks” in talking about his fellow Americans. He cast them as Ma and Pa in Their Rockers on the Porch rather than their new role as ICPMs, Inter-Continental Pandemic Missiles.
Said Pompeo: “We’ve heard from a dozen or more countries that have very different views about their willingness to open up their borders to anyone, not only folks from the United States of America.”
Pompeo didn’t stick around to answer the follow-up: “What countries are those?”
But we know that when the European ban on American tourists is announced, Donald Trump will go …ballistic?….nuclear? ….orange with rage? Because Trump never lets a tantrum go to waste, we know for certain he will lash out by……well, that’s the question we have the rare luxury of having 72 hours to figure out in advance.
He could ban Europeans from visiting America. Last week, he did that to Europeans working in America. But if you’re a European, do you see packing the kids off to Las Vegas or DisneyWorld or The Alamo?
Trump could ban Europeans but welcome Britons who are of course no longer members of the EU.
Then again, on Friday Britain announced it would impose a “green, amber, red” list of approved countries where visitors can arrive from. As with Europe, “they will be based on factors including prevalence of COVID-19, the trajectory of the disease and the reliability of data.”
I’m betting America will be a “red” for the same objective, scientific reasons Europe used to reach the same sanctions.
This reversal of American fortune throws up all kinds of memories and ironies: European immigrants quarantined off Ellis Island; Europe saved from Hitler by the Americans (and Russians); Britain’s ‘special relationship’ with the US.
But most of all, it makes me sad that the country the world feared and often respected, whose passport was once so coveted, can’t even get its citizens across a border any more. Especially a friendly one.