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EU agrees 'safe' travel list, excluding United States

Kitco News

Philip Blenkinsop

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union has excluded the United States from its initial “safe list” of countries from which the bloc will allow non-essential travel from Wednesday.

The 27-member bloc gave approval on Tuesday to leisure or business travel from 14 countries beyond its borders, the Council of the EU, which represents EU governments, said in a statement.

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

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

Russia, Brazil and Turkey, along with the United States, are among countries whose containment of the virus is considered worse than the EU average, and so will have to wait at least two weeks for approval. The bloc will carry out fortnightly reviews.

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

The list needed a “qualified majority” of EU countries to be passed, meaning 15 EU countries representing 65% of the population.

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

Within hours of the EU announcement, Italy, which has one of the highest COVID death tolls in the world, said it would opt out and keep quarantine restrictions in place for all nations that were not part of the free-travel Schengen area.

“The global situation remains very complex. We must prevent the sacrifices made by the Italians in recent months have been in vain,” Italy Health Minister Roberto Speranza said.

The EU’s efforts to reopen internal borders, particularly within the 26-nation Schengen area which normally has no frontier checks, have been patchy as various countries have restricted access for certain visitors.

Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop; Additional reporting by Angelo Amante in Rome; Editing by Philippa Fletcher and Jan Harvey

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