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As would-be travelers from the U.S. to Europe may soon learn, local pandemic decisions can have global effects

June 24, 2020, 10:27 AM UTC

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Good morning. David Meyer here in Berlin, filling in for Alan.

Could Americans be banned from entering the European Union when it opens its borders to most of the world next week? That’s a distinct possibility, according to plans being discussed today among EU ambassadors.

When the EU’s external borders open July 1, the idea is that people will only be allowed to enter from countries that have an infection rate below the EU average. According to Politico, only 50 countries or so would qualify under that condition, including China. The U.S. and Brazil, for example, would not.

The EU average is around 16 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. The current U.S. figure is 107, while Brazil has 190 cases per 100,000, according to the New York Times, which also says the diplomats will issue their recommendation early next week.

Now, it’s important to remember that the U.S. has also closed its borders to European visitors since March—when the EU rather than the U.S. was the virus’s main playground—and has made no firm commitment to letting them back in anytime soon. So there may be an element of reciprocity involved here.

Nonetheless, the fact remains that the U.S. is currently a coronavirus epicenter, and the situation there is worsening. Most U.S. states have rising case numbers, with early re-openers such as Georgia, Florida and Texas being badly hit. California, the most populous state, is seeing record-breaking infection figures. Meanwhile, President Trump has repeatedly claimed that the numbers are the product of increased testing, as opposed to a resurgence that could reasonably be linked to states’ keenness to reopen as quickly as possible.

The pandemic is certainly not over in Europe, either. A massive outbreak at a meat-processing plant in the town of Gütersloh this week led to Germany’s first re-imposition of a serious lockdown, albeit local rather than wider, and Serbian tennis ace Novak Djokovic arguably contributed to the infection of several players—including himself—by bullishly organizing a competition in Belgrade while most observers warned this was a risky move.

But broadly speaking, the fact remains that Europe has managed to restart its economies without causing a huge uptick in infections. There is no clear consensus as to why this is, but Europeans’ behavioral changes and general caution in the lifting of restrictions are likely factors.

Europe would suffer if it continues to shut out Americans. As London Capital Group research chief Jasper Lawler said in a Wednesday note, a drop in European markets early today was caused by that potential move. “Blocking U.S. travellers would heighten the risks for travel and hospitality industries that badly need every tourist dollar possible,” he wrote.

But at the very least, the possibility demonstrates that state and federal decisions about tackling the pandemic can have global implications.

More news below.

David Meyer


Dell and VMware

Dell might unload its 81%, $50 billion stake in cloud-software giant VMware—or buy the rest of it. Dell is exploring its options because it is itself only worth $36 billion or so, and the differential suggests the market is more interested in the VMware stake than it is in Dell's own PC and storage business. A separation could highlight the value of each business, while helping to reduce Dell's $48 billion debt load. Wall Street Journal

Election holiday

Twitter will give employees (and contract workers) a paid day off on U.S. Election Day in November—and in other countries for their election days, if they take place during working hours. Twitter previously allowed up to two hours of paid time off on Election Day, but that might not cut it in a year of (presumably) social distancing in voting queues. CNN

Facebook blow

Germany's federal supreme court has upheld a ban on Facebook's combination of user data across its various properties—something Facebook gets users' consent to do, but those users don't have any choice if they want to continue using the services. The ban was originally instated last year by Germany's antitrust authority, which took the novel step of seeing data collection as a competition issue, rather than a pure data-protection issue. The ban was suspended by a higher regional court in August, allowing Facebook to continue the practice until its appeal is decided—the suspension has now been overturned, but Facebook says there will be "no immediate changes" for its German users. Deutsche Welle

R.I.P. Segway

The Segway will cease production next month, ending what was once a dream of a revolution in personal transport. Dean Kamen's invention only ever sold 140,000 units in its almost two decades of production, becoming mostly notable for carrying tour groups around cities such as Berlin, and security guards around malls. Although the sort-of-iconic original product is now terminal, the Segway company lives on (under the umbrella of China's Ninebot) as a producer of electric scooters, hoverboard and other personal transportation devices. Fortune


Olympus cameras

Olympus is selling its 84-year-old camera business to a private equity firm, Japan Industrial Partners. Olympus is, along with Panasonic, one of the main players in the Micro Four Thirds cameras-and-lenses ecosystem, which provides a lighter, more compact alternative to the big cameras sold by Canon and Nikon. But the business has been losing Olympus money for three years now, so the hope is that new operations under JIP will bring it back to sustainability. ePhotozine

Environmental regulations

The Trump administration has been accelerating its drive to weaken environmental regulations during the coronavirus crisis—partly to boost economic activity in the short term, but also to get the changes in early enough to stop the Democrats easily overturning them, should they win big in November. Financial Times

Attracting entrepreneurs

Players in the U.K. tech sector are leaping on the opportunity provided by the U.S. suspending foreign work visas. "If you've been affected by the ridiculous decision to suspend H1-B in the U.S., take a look at the U.K. Global Talent Visa," tweeted Balderton Capital's James Wisein a message retweeted and endorsed by various venture capitalists, founders and policymakers. CNBC

Supporting innovation

Congress should help maintain the U.S.'s current innovation momentum—apparent in the scramble to fight COVID-19—with not only tax credits cut also "systemic changes at a deeper level to come out of this crisis with an eye toward sustainable growth, and the ability to weather the next storm," according to Alliantgroup SVP Rich Lazio, writing for Fortune. "Let’s embrace the abnormal and dive headfirst into an era of constant change where our country has repeatedly proved to be a force to be reckoned with." Fortune

This edition of CEO Daily was edited by David Meyer.