Sunday, 12 July, 2020

European Union agrees 'safe' travel list, which excludes US, Russia

EU delays decision on external border reopening Coronavirus: EU to allow in visitors from 14 'safe' countries
Deanna Wagner | 01 July, 2020, 00:26

The EU's efforts to reopen internal borders, particularly among the 26-nation Schengen area which normally has no frontier checks, have been patchy as various countries have restricted access for certain visitors.

After much speculation and some delay, the European Commission released Tuesday a finalized list of the non-European Union nations whose travelers should be allowed to enter EU countries. China could be added to the list, subject to reciprocity, the EU Council said in a statement.

The list also names Algeria, Australia, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia and Uruguay as "safe" countries.

Plans are for the list to be amended every two weeks, and it is likely that the list of safe countries will grow. While the recommendations will be reviewed every two weeks, the guidelines suggest that US residents won't be allowed to travel to the European Union until the spread of the coronavirus is under control domestically.

The EU is set to announce a list of third countries which it will be reopening its external borders to, as COVID-19 restrictions are relaxed.

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Regarding the epidemiological situation, third countries listed should meet several criteria, including the number of new Covid-19 cases, stable or decreasing trend of new cases, as well as the third country's overall response to Covid-19. Europe has gradually opened its land borders in the past month after sealing it as the coronavirus pandemic took control over Europe.

Talks dragged on with some European Union members wanting to limit the reopening to countries with an epidemiological situation "comparable or better" than that in the bloc - that is with 16 or fewer cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 inhabitants over the past two weeks.

The United States is now the country most affected by COVID-19 with more than 125,000 deaths - while Europe believes it has passed the peak of its outbreak.

The recommendations are expected to come into force as early as July 1, however, it remains up to member states to decide exactly how the implement any changes in border policy.