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EU external borders now open to some countries, but not US

The European Union and Schengen Area have today (July 1) opened external borders to 15 countries, including Canada and Australia; but notably not the United States, Brazil, or Russia.

China is included on the list, with conditions.

The list has been drawn up largely based on epidemiological criteria and the status of the Covid-19 epidemic in the countries in question. It was confirmed by the European Union yesterday (Tuesday June 30).

It includes countries with a similar health status to the EU, in which most states are beginning to see a retreat of the virus, or even a noticeable improvement.

Criteria for inclusion on the list include having no more than 16 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants over the past 14 days, based on data from June 15; stable numbers, or a drop in cases.

Criteria also include the measures put in place against the virus in the country, including the number of tests available, and the reliability of the data.

The list is set to be re-evaluated every two weeks, as the health situation changes worldwide. 

Read more: Europe confirms list of non-EU borders set to open on July 1

Today, it includes:

Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia, and Uruguay.

China will also be included, on the condition that it allows EU visitors to travel there, which it currently does not.

Meanwhile, although included on the EU list, Australia’s borders are closed. Only Australian citizens, residents and immediate family members can enter the country.

The EU list is not legally binding, as each EU country retains ultimate control of its own borders and can choose to close or put further restrictions in place if required.

However, the EU has sought to coordinate border reopening in principle to help facilitate movement, and to ensure a managed and cohesive response, as the summer holiday season ramps up.


Different rules

Some countries had opened their borders to selected visitors already. For example, Greece - which is very reliant on summer tourism - had already opened borders to countries including China, New Zealand, and South Korea, on June 15.

The UK has been considered as part of the EU for travel purposes, as the Brexit transition period is set to continue until December 31, 2020.

Inclusion on the list does not mean that travel is now unlimited, or without restriction. Some countries - both within and outside the EU - may retain their own restrictions, rules, or limits.

For example, although Algeria is on the list, meaning that visitors from Algeria can come into the EU, the same is not true in reverse. Algeria’s borders remain closed “until further notice”.

Read more: EU launches new travel info site as borders begin to open

Not on the list

Notable countries not yet on the EU travel list include Brazil, Russia, India, Turkey and Israel, as well as the US, which is the world’s most affected country, with 125,928 deaths and 2.6 million officially-reported cases.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said that the US is aiming to find a solution “in the next few weeks”, stating that it is “important for the United States that Europeans be allowed to enter”.

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