EU compiles list of ‘safe’ countries with US and China likely to be excluded

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If the Chinese government agrees to allow EU citizens travel there, the country may be added to the list.

THE EU HAS named 14 countries whose citizens may be deemed safe for entry from 1 July, with the US, Brazil and Russia likely to be excluded.

China is also not currently on the list. This would only change under the condition that Beijing would do the same for Europeans.

The proposed “safe” list contains just 14 countries: Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia and Uruguay.

The list has yet to achieve final approval, as capitals hesitate on whether to unify the EU’s management of its external border.

To break the deadlock, Croatia, which currently holds the EU’s rotating presidency, yesterday initiated a written approval procedure, which will end at noon today, according to EU sources.

In this procedure, the EU’s 27 member states must decide by qualified majority. For acceptance, 55 percent of the countries are required, representing 65 percent of the population.

Whatever is decided in Brussels will exist only as a recommendation since border control remains a national competence and a limited number of flights to and from banned countries have continued throughout the crisis.

‘Collective interest’

Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan yesterday evening urged Irish people to cancel holiday plans abroad. 

“It makes much more sense to not go ahead with that booking and to risk travelling abroad, picking up this infection, risk for you, for any family member you be travelling with or indeed any close contacts you have,” he said.

I think that would be not just in your individual interest but in our collective interest.

Dr Holohan said he is “genuinely very concerned” about Irish people taking holidays abroad and “reimporting infection back into this country.”

The Chief Medical Officer was speaking after health officials confirmed 24 new cases of coronavirus in Ireland, bringing the total number of cases here to 25,462, while the death toll from Covid-19 in Ireland is now 1,735.

“We are starting to see a worrying trend, with the number of reported cases increasing, and some new clusters,” Dr Holohan said.

Some EU countries have restricted travel from other bloc partners despite borders officially being reopened in Europe.

The original goal was to reopen to countries with an epidemiological situation “comparable or better” than that in the bloc – that is with 16 or fewer cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 inhabitants over the past two weeks.

However, the health-based criteria collided with geopolitics, with some countries reluctant to collectively ban the US while welcoming visitors from China, where the pandemic began.

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The United States is currently the country most affected by COVID-19 with more than 125,000 deaths — while Europe believes it has passed the peak of its outbreak.

– With reporting by Michelle Hennessy.

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