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Monday, July 06, 2020

Explained: What is the European Union’s ‘safe list’ for Covid-19 travel?

The EU member states and Schengen Associated countries have temporarily suspended non-essential travel from “third countries” to the EU plus area. Third countries are those that are not a member of the Union.

By: Explained Desk | New Delhi | Updated: July 1, 2020 2:45:08 pm
Travellers rush past the entry of Germany’s first walk-through the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) test centre at the Frankfurt airport, Germany on Monday. Reuters

From July 1, residents from over 14 countries that are not part of the European Union (EU) and are deemed to be ‘safe’ will be allowed to enter the EU. The list, which is expected to be finalised Tuesday, excludes residents from the United States, Brazil and China. The US and Brazil have the first and second-highest number of coronavirus cases in the world right now, with more than 2.6 million and 1.3 million cases respectively. The US also has the most number of deaths from the virus, at over 126,000.

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What is the ‘safe list’?

Residents of countries that are included in the list will be allowed to enter the EU. As of now, EU nationals are allowed to move within the bloc, British nationals, who will be treated as part of the EU till December 31, are also allowed to travel the EU. The UK is also planning to launch an ‘air bridges’ scheme as per which, travellers from certain countries will not be subjected to a mandatory quarantine of two weeks.(Read Coronavirus Global Updates)

According to a report in the BBC, countries included in the list are Canada, Australia, South Korea, Japan and Morocco. The list will be reviewed every 14 days and new countries may be added and some taken off the list, depending on the coronavirus statistics and how the countries manage the spread of the disease. India is not expected to be on the list since the number of cases are still rising, with total cases at more than 560,000.

Why the ‘safe list’?

From March 17 onward, countries in the EU coordinated action on its external borders in order to restrict non-essential travel for an initial period of 30 days. Thereafter, the restrictions were further extended till May 15 and on May 8, 2020 the commission recommended that the travel restrictions be extended for another 30 days till at least June 15. Subsequently, the commission invited member countries to extend the restrictions again till June 30 and set out an approach to progressively lift the restrictions.

The EU member states and Schengen Associated countries have temporarily suspended non-essential travel from “third countries” to the EU plus area. Third countries are those that are not a member of the Union.

The Schengen area comprises 22 of the 27 member states of the EU plus four European Free Trade Association Countries, which are Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. EU member states of Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia, Cyprus and Ireland are not Schengen countries.

Apart from the 27 member states, there are five EU candidate countries, which include Turkey, Montenegro, Macedonia, Serbia and Albania.

Who is allowed to enter the EU at the moment?

Here is a list of some countries in the EU and the travel restrictions in effect as of June 29.

Austria: Masks are mandatory on board aircraft, except children up to the age of 6. Medical certificates are required for third country nationals. Passengers entering Austria from Schengen areas or from Bulgaria, Ireland, Croatia, Monaco and Romania among some other countries have to provide a medical certificate showing COVID-19 negative test that is not older than four days prior to arrival. In case a medical certificate cannot be presented, passengers are required to present a 14-day quarantine if immediate departure is not foreseen. These requirements apply to Austrian, Swiss citizens and legal Austrian residents among others. Significantly, flights between Austria and China, Iran, Italy’s Lombardy region, Belarus, Portugal, Sweden, UK, Ukraina and Russia are prohibited.

France: Travel to metropolitan France is prohibited except for residents from the EU, Iceland, Andorra, Iceland, Norway, Monaco, UK, Switzerland among others. Passengers with COVID-19 symptoms will be subject to quarantine or isolation and face masks are mandatory for passengers older than 11 years old.

Germany: Residents from non-EU countries are not allowed to enter Germany with the exceptions of travellers with an essential function or need such as healthcare professionals, health researchers and elderly care providers among others. Further, all passengers flying to Germany as their final destination from risk areas directly or via transfer are required to stay in quarantine for a period of 14 days. Exemptions are allowed only in case of a negative PCR test.

Greece: Commercial flights between Turkey and the UK and Greece are prohibited unless it is for the purpose of repatriation, humanitarian or emergency purposes. Passengers from non-EU countries are prohibited to enter Greece.

Sweden: Only passengers from Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Czech Republic, Estonia, Spain, Poland, Finland, France, Germany, Italy among others are allowed to enter.

Switzerland: Passengers from any country outside the Schengen area are not allowed to enter. Exemptions are granted to permanent residents, nationals or residents of Switzerland and Lichenstein, persons who hold a Swiss residence permit, a cross-border commuter permit among others.

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