Fri | Dec 4, 2020

EU finalising virus 'safe list', US unlikely to make the cut

Published:Monday | June 29, 2020 | 12:41 PM
In this Saturday, June 13, 2020 file photo, people enjoy the warm weather on the beach in Barcelona, Spain. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti, File)

BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union is edging toward finalising a list of countries whose citizens will be allowed to enter Europe again in coming days, with Americans almost certain to be excluded in the short term due to the number of US coronavirus cases.

Spain’s foreign minister said that the list could contain 15 countries that are not EU members and whose citizens would be allowed to visit from July 1.

EU diplomats confirmed that the list would be made public on Tuesday.

The diplomats spoke on condition of anonymity because the procedure is ongoing and politically very sensitive.

EU envoys in Brussels worked over the weekend to narrow down the exact criteria for countries to be included, mostly centred on their ability to manage the spread of the disease.

Importantly, the countries are also expected to drop any travel restrictions they have imposed on European citizens.

The number of confirmed cases in the United States has surged over the past week, and President Donald Trump also suspended the entry of all people from Europe’s ID check-free travel zone in a decree in March, making it highly unlikely that US citizens would qualify.

Infection rates in Brazil, Russia and India are high, too, and their nationals are also unlikely to make the cut.

Spanish Foreign Minister Arancha González Laya said the EU is considering whether to accept travellers from China if Beijing lifts restrictions on European citizens.

Morocco is another possibility, although its government doesn’t plan to open borders until July 10.

She said she wasn’t aware of pressure from the United States for the EU to reopen travel to its nationals, adding that countries have been chosen according to their coronavirus statistics — whether similar or not to that in the EU — trends of contagion and how reliable their data is.

The safe country list would be reviewed every 14 days, with new countries being added and some possibly dropping off, depending on how the spread of the disease is being managed.

Non-EU nationals already in the bloc wouldn’t be affected.

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