United States not on EU’s ‘safe’ travel list, diplomats say

BRUSSELS: The United States is not on a “safe list” of destinations for non-essential travel due to be unveiled by European Union governments later on Tuesday, three diplomats said.

The 27-member bloc is expected to give outline approval to leisure or business travel from Wednesday to 14 countries beyond its borders when they vote on the list by midday Brussels time (1000 GMT), the diplomats said.

The countries are Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia and Uruguay, they said.

Russia and Brazil, along with the United States, are among countries that do not make the initial “safe list”.

The vote is aimed at supporting the EU travel industry and tourist destinations, particularly countries in southern Europe hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

China would also be provisionally approved, although travel would only open up if Chinese authorities also allowed in EU visitors. Reciprocity is a condition of being on the safe list.

The list must be passed by a “qualified majority” of EU countries, meaning 15 EU countries representing 65% of the population. Four EU diplomats said they expected it to secure the required backing.

The list will act as a recommendation to EU members, meaning they will almost certainly not allow access to travellers from other countries, but could potentially set restrictions on those entering from the 14 nations.

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.

Greece is mandating COVID-19 tests for arrivals from a range of EU countries, including France, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain, with self-isolation until results are known.

The Czech Republic is not allowing in tourists from Portugal and Sweden.

British residents can also travel to many EU countries, although non-essential travellers to Britain are required to self-isolate for 14 days. — Reuters

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