Travel Restrictions on Americans Erode a Sense of Passport Privilege

LONDON — Five American vacationers who set out for a getaway on Sardinia have been turned away final week after their non-public jet landed on the Mediterranean island. In Canada, two Americans have been fined for flouting more durable entry restrictions imposed by their northern neighbor.

And in Mexico, governors are pleading with the central authorities to introduce tighter restrictions on vacationers from the United States to assist stop the unfold of the virus.

While coronavirus journey restrictions might fluctuate from nation to nation, a lot of the world is united in a single side of their present response: Travelers from the United States should not welcome.

A U.S. passport, lengthy seen as a golden ticket to visa-free journey in a lot of the world, has lengthy supplied its holders with the flexibility to trot across the globe with ease. Now, that sense of passport privilege Americans are used to is fading.

“This is shocking, to see one of the most advanced countries in the world be put in the slow lane of the global reopening,” mentioned Robin Niblett, director of Chatham House, the London analysis establishment for worldwide affairs.

Mr. Niblett mentioned the fading energy of the American passport was not shocking “given that America’s health care system is decentralized, unpredictable and unequal” and given how the virus continues to unfold unabated in massive parts of the nation.

In a world the place pandemic journey restrictions are excluding folks from countries with uncontrolled coronavirus outbreaks, and where the United States continues to set daily records of new cases, the long-lauded American passport, once a symbol of power and exceptionalism, is becoming stigmatized.

Travelers from the United States, like those blocked from the Italian island of Sardinia last week, are finding themselves unwanted.

The five Americans who had flown to Sardinia had come from Colorado, traveling with several people from other nations in a private jet to the Italian island. After five in the group were barred entry, everyone eventually left.

Dimitry Kochenov, a co-creator of The Quality of Nationality Index, which explores the benefits accorded to citizens of different countries, said the pandemic restrictions put into stark relief the restrictions that people of certain nationalities faced at international borders.

“Citizenship is the main factor behind preserving global inequalities today,” he said. “So of course the U.S. passport has always symbolized the ultimate level of this privilege.”

Mr. Kochenov, a professor of European constitutional law at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, said the Sardinia incident showed that even the large sums of money needed to fly a personal plane to Europe could not “allow them to overcome the deficiency of the U.S. passport today.”

While a U.S. passport typically allows for visa-free movement in much of the world, Mr. Kochenov noted that European Union passports outrank it in quality because they grant holders the freedom to resettle anywhere in the European Union with full rights.

Until the recent restrictions, the U.S. passport had long provided its holders with an outsize sense of freedom that was the envy of others. The restrictions that Americans now face are “something that much of the rest of the world knows very well,” Mr. Kochenov said.

President Trump’s abrupt decision, which was made without consultation with European leaders and without any warning, established the climate for the current travel restrictions on the United States.

Mexican states set up “sanitary filters”along the border during the July 4 weekend to check visitors’ temperatures and turn away anyone whose trip was not deemed essential. Officials in Mexican border states have pushed for more aggressive steps to reduce crossings.

Mr. Kochenov pointed out that simply focusing on the erosion of freedoms for American travelers missed the bigger picture. Many countries have introduced internal travel restrictions that limit movement among regions, states or other local jurisdictions.

And most of the current restrictions are expected to be temporary. Americans may not like having their travels limited for now, but it is likely to be for the short term. Others will continue to face a tougher reality.

“The majority of the population of the world will never be able to fly to Europe no matter what,” Mr. Kochenov said, because of visa restrictions or lack of money.

“The pandemic simply demonstrates to Americans what the rest of the world has already known about the main function of nationality in the world.”

Natalie Kitroeff contributed reporting from Mexico City.

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