The American WorldTour neo-pro was trying to fly from Atlanta to Amsterdam to eventually join his teammates at a training camp at Passo San Pellegrino in the Italian Dolomites but will now have to return to his family home in Atlanta and hope he can fly to Europe before racing resumes in late July and early August.
The European travel restrictions could affect a number of the 29 US men between the WorldTeams and ProTeams and 29 US women on either WorldTeams or Continental teams - most of whom returned stateside after the COVID-19 pandemic halted all sporting events.
Only a few remained in Europe during the COVID-19 lockdown: Sepp Kuss, who was named to Jumbo-Visma's Tour de France squad, stayed in Andorra and Chad Haga (Team Sunweb) remained in Girona.
Ben King (NTT Pro Cycling) spent the lockdown in the USA but travelled back to Lucca, Italy last week. Italy allowed US citizens with proven work to enter but it is unclear if the new EU recommendations changed that. Larry Warbasse (AG2R La Mondiale) went home to Michigan but returned to Nice this week and Tejay van Garderen (EF Pro Cycling) made it to Girona before the July 1 reopen date.
Other riders and teams have been scrambling to try to return to Europe as the days countdown to training camp and a return to racing.
Velonews first reported Garrison's travel problems and the Belgian WorldTour team confirmed to Cyclingnews that he was stopped from checking in for his flight in Atlanta, with no work visa or residency permit, officials ruling Garrison was not one of the category of travellers and workers exempt from the ban.
Garrison had a letter from Deceuninck-QuickStep explain his role as a professional athlete but this was not enough to secure entrance into the EU.
"This year was my first year I was planning to be over there full-time. I was going to be based in Girona and then ended up coming back once all the corona stuff started. I was just in the process of getting a visa and then I came back home – so I don’t have one yet," Garrison told Velonews.
Most consulates in Europe stopped issuing new visas during the lockdowns but allowed existing visas that expired to be automatically extended for six months.
The EU banned international travelers to limit the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, which has caused tens of thousands of deaths across Europe. Countries are gradually reopening their borders to non-essential travelers after a strict lockdown but only those who live in areas where the average number of COVID-19 cases for the past 14 days are at or below the 14-day average of Europe. Cases are reportedly increasing in 37 states in the USA, forcing the EU to stop travellers from the USA.
There are numerous other countries that did not make the cut, including Colombia, Ecuador, South Africa, Russia and Brazil.
2019 Tour de France winner Egan Bernal (Team Ineos) is expected to fly to Europe on a specially approved charter flight with his compatriots on July 19. They have secured permission to leave from the Colombian government and plan to fly to Madrid, Spain.
The flight has been confirmed and riders will undergo COVID-19 testing before travel but new EU travel restrictions could put the plan at risk, with rider agents trying to confirm Colombian athletes can now enter Europe.
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