European Union member states decided Tuesday to open external borders starting Wednesday to 15 nations that it deems as having controlled the spread of the coronavirus, excluding, among other countries, the United States, days after John’s Hopkins University data showed that the U.S. accounts for 25% of the more than 10 million confirmed coronavirus cases worldwide.
- The EU has had a ban on entries for nonessential travel in place since mid-March to contain the spread of Covid-19.
- Starting on July 1, travelers from Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia and Uruguay will be able to go to the EU for nonessential travel.
- Chinese citizens will also be allowed in subject to reciprocity.
- The list is not legally binding, but all member nations are under pressure to comply at the risk of having countries close borders within the bloc.
- To make the list, the EU said the following criteria needed to be met: the number of new Covid-19 cases during the last 14 days and per 100,000 inhabitants needed to be close to or below the average in the EU; there should be a stable or decreasing trend of new cases in comparison to the previous 14 days and the overall response to Covid-19 needs to be taken into account.
- The EU will review the list every two weeks to add or remove countries.
In March, the U.S. barred visitors from the EU. The decision was met with criticism from EU leaders who implemented a travel ban days later. The EU’s decision comes as coronavirus cases in the U.S. continue to rise, causing some states to backtrack or pause the reopening process.
“We’ve denied travel to Europe and vice-versa. That’s the posture that we all sit in now, and I think we’re all taking seriously the need to figure out how to get this up,” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Thursday. “We’ll work to get this right. We want to make sure that it’s health-based, science-based.”