Europe’s travel ban on Americans and most other foreigners is set to remain in place, while Algeria is removed from the EU’s safe travel list.
As EU diplomats meet in Brussels to review the lifting–or reimposing–of travel restrictions on foreigners, Europe’s borders are likely to stay shut to Americans, and dozens of other countries worldwide.
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During the meeting, EU government officials urged for no expansion of the “white list” of 12 countries, and for Algeria being removed. Thus bringing the list of countries to whom Schengen zone borders are open to 11.
EU diplomats have told journalists from several news organizations of the provisional decision, ahead of an official announcement due Thursday.
The EU will recommend the decision to all governments, if it’s “confirmed in writing by EU members,” Reuters reports. Euronews Brussels bureau has also been reporting Morocco may be dropped from the list, but officials have not mentioned this to other media.
This is the second review of the list since the bloc reopened for tourism.
The timetable of progressive border reopening, and in some cases closing, has so far looked like this:
- On July 1, the EU opened its borders for visitors from 15 countries. (China was the 15th based on reciprocity, which has not been forthcoming.) For the first time in almost four months, “non-essential” travel to the Schengen countries was possible.
- Then, on July 16, the European Commission updated its list of “safe countries” welcome in Europe. Not only did the list not expand, it shrunk: to 13 countries.
- Serbia and Montenegro were removed as a result of surges in Covid infections. In effect they were added to the “red list” of countries still not welcome in Europe.
- Now the culled list of 11 countries will look like this if all members give the decision the official nod: Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia and Uruguay.
- After that, members are free to do what they want with their borders. The EU offers guidelines only. Most however do toe the line, particularly on keeping borders closed to red list countries. Some have not opened their borders to all the white list.
- China is still not included in the official count, given the lifting of travel restrictions will not proceed until it lets in EU visitors.
Europe Faces Second Wave And Holidaymaker Infections
The news comes as many EU countries battle a new spike in infections, leading to more internal border restrictions and quarantines. Several countries are bolstering Covid testing at airports and other border measures to combat the threat of increased infections sparked by returning holidaymakers. In France and Germany such tests are mandatory for those coming from Covid hotspots.
Epidemiological Question: Relative Covid Risk
The decision to add or remove a country from the list of countries with a green light to Europe comes down to Covid data. The yardstick is whether they have similar or better Covid infection trends than the EU. This is based on the number of new cases per 100,0000 people, in the past 14 days.
- When the borders first reopened on July 1, the EU/UK average was 16.
- Now, amid a resurgence, the average in the 30 EU/Schengen countries is around 20. That’s risen from 14.8 on July 22 according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention And Control.
- Data from the ECDC shows the current country range in member countries starts at 1.8 in Estonia and soars to 224 in Luxembourg (up from 183 on July 22).
- The average number of cases per 100,000 people in the U.S. is 284, as of July 27.
- In Algeria the figure is 65, nearly triple the EU average.
Following the pending update, Europe’s borders will stay shut to the rest of the world for at least a fortnight. That’s when the list comes up for review again, towards mid-August.
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