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EU Updates ‘White List’ of Countries Free to Travel

Photo Source: @European Commission

The EU announced today that it had updated its initial list of countries for which member states can gradually begin this week to lift coronavirus (Covid-19) travel restrictions.

Re-assessed every two weeks and based on epidemiological data, the list includes the following countries from which travel should be allowed to the EU: Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia, Uruguay, and China (subject to confirmation of reciprocity).

The Council notes that Andorra, Monaco, San Marino and Vatican residents should also be considered EU residents “for the purpose of this recommendation”.

It should be noted, however, that the recommended list is in no way legally binding. EU state authorities “remain responsible for implementing the content of the recommendation. They may, in full transparency, lift only progressively travel restrictions towards countries listed,” the Council said in its statement.

ECTAA: Member states need to better manage travel restrictions

In response to the announcement, the European Travel Agents’ and Tour Operators’ Association (ECTAA) is calling for the immediate implementation of a uniform policy across the Union to prevent confusion among citizens and travel professionals.

“Conflicting travel advice from different countries on the same destination country confuses citizens and undermines the restart of travel and tourism in Europe. We need more coordination within Europe with regard to lifting travel restrictions and issuing travel advisories,” ECTAA President Pawel Niewiadomski said.

ECTAA added that it regrets that member states are still allowed to “pick and choose” which countries they will lift travel bans for.

List based on epidemiological situation

The Council said it bases its decision on the epidemiological situation of third countries, which should meet the following criteria: the number of new Covid-19 cases over the last 14 days and per 100,000 inhabitants should be close to or below the EU average (on June 15), as well as on the effectiveness of the overall country response to Covid-19, including testing, surveillance, contact tracing, containment, treatment and reporting.

Reciprocity is also taken into account and on a case-by-case basis.

For countries where travel restrictions continue to apply, the following categories of people “should be exempted” from the restrictions:

-EU citizens and their family members,
-long-term EU residents and their family members,
-travelers with an essential function or need,
-Schengen-associated countries: Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland also take part in this recommendation.

Lastly, travel restrictions may be totally or partially lifted or reintroduced for a specific third country already listed according to the evolution of the health crisis. If the epidemiological situation in listed country deteriorates, the Council advises members to proceed with “rapid decision-making”.

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