EU member states have given the green light to the gradual lifting of the temporary restrictions on non-essential travel into the EU. The Council of the European Union has published an initial “safe list” of countries from which the bloc will allow non-essential travel from Wednesday, June 1st.
The first batch contains 14 countries for which the EU can reopen on July 1 after months of coronavirus restrictions. They are: Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia and Uruguay. China has also been provisionally approved, although travel would only open up if Chinese authorities also allowed in EU visitors. Reciprocity is a condition of being on the list.
The UK and four other non-EU states – Switzerland, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway – are automatically included as “safe”. The UK is currently negotiating temporary “air bridges” with several EU member states, so that the coronavirus pandemic does not totally block summer holidays.
But the U.S. is absent from the list, as are India, Brazil, Russia.These have a coronavirus infection rate higher than the EU average over the past two weeks per 100,000 inhabitants.
There are now more than 10 million confirmed cases of coronavirus around the world, according to the latest data from Johns Hopkins University, and the U.S. leads with more than a quarter of the confirmed cases.
The EU move is aimed at supporting the EU travel industry and tourist destinations, particularly countries in southern Europe hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.
A spokesman for the European Commission said the decision was based on a number of scientific factors, including:Ensuring that the Covid-19 infection rate in the country was low enough (where nations had fewer than 16 in every 100,000 infected); that there was a downward trend of cases and that social distancing measures were at “a sufficient level”.
EU’s efforts to reopen internal borders, particularly within the 26-nation Schengen area which normally has no frontier checks, have differed as various countries have restricted access for certain visitors.