The European Union said it will open its borders for visitors from 15 countries for non-essential travel from Wednesday, but not to travellers from the United States, India, Russia and Brazil, Reuters reported. The regional bloc had barricaded its borders in March, in view of the coronavirus outbreak.
The countries excluded from the list are the worst-affected from the pandemic.
Europe will allow visitors from Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia and Uruguay. China has also been included in the list but on the condition of reciprocity, which means that the EU would only open if Chinese authorities also allowed in visitors from the bloc.
The list would be updated every 14 days, with new countries being added or dropped off depending on whether they are keeping the pandemic under control, according to AFP. The EU list does not apply to travel into Britain, which left the bloc in January and is in its post-Brexit transition that ends on December 31.
The move is aimed at supporting the EU travel industry, particularly countries in southern Europe, that are currently reeling under the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Travellers’ country of residence, not their nationality, will be the determining factor for their ability to travel to countries in the European Union, according to The New York Times.
However, the policy will act as a recommendation to the 27 member countries, meaning they could potentially set restrictions on travellers from the 14 nations. Italy, which has one of the highest Covid-19 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 United States was the first country to bar visitors from the European Union in March as the pandemic began to spread. US makes up a big share of Europe’s tourism industry. More than 1.5 crore Americans travel to Europe each year, while some 1 crore Europeans head across the Atlantic region, according to AP.