European countries desperate to see return of tourists
The Associated Press · Posted: Jun 30, 2020
A passenger wearing a face mask walks in Rome’s Fiumicino Airport on May 28. The European Union on Tuesday revealed a list of 14 countries, including Canada, whose citizens will be allowed to enter the 31-member bloc. (Guglielmo Mangiapane/Reuters)
The European Union on Tuesday is announcing a list of countries whose citizens will be allowed to enter 31 European countries, but most Americans are likely to be refused entry for at least another two weeks because of soaring coronavirus infections in the U.S.
Published media reports say Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea and Thailand are among the countries on the approved list.
As Europe’s economies reel from the impact of the coronavirus, southern EU countries like Greece, Italy and Spain are desperate to entice back sun-loving visitors and breathe life into their damaged tourism industries.
More than 15 million Americans are estimated to travel to Europe each year, while some 10 million Europeans head across the Atlantic.
Still, many people both inside and outside Europe remain wary of travel in the coronavirus era, given the unpredictability of the pandemic and the possibility of second waves of infection that could affect flights and hotel bookings. Tens of thousands of travellers had a frantic, chaotic scramble in March to get home as the pandemic swept across the world and borders slammed shut.
EU envoys to Brussels have launched a written procedure that would see the list endorsed Tuesday as long as no objections are raised by member countries. The list is expected to contain up to 15 countries that have virus infection rates comparable to those in the EU.
U.S. cases surge
Infection rates in Brazil, Russia and India are high, too, and they are also unlikely to make the cut.
The countries would also have to lift any bans they might have on European travellers. The list of permitted countries is to be updated every 14 days, with new countries being added or even dropping off depending on if they are keeping the disease under control.
The daily number of new confirmed cases in the United States has surged over the past week. The U.S. has the world’s worst coronavirus outbreak, with nearly 2.6 million people confirmed infected and more than 126,000 dead, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University that experts say understates the pandemic’s true toll because of limited testing and other reasons.
In contrast, aside from a notable recent outbreak tied to a slaughterhouse in western Germany, the virus’s spread has generally stabilized across much of continental Europe.
In March, U.S. President Donald Trump suspended all people from Europe’s ID check-free travel zone from entering the U.S., making it unlikely now that U.S. citizens would qualify to enter the EU.
The EU imposed restrictions on non-essential travel to its 27 countries, plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, which are part of the Schengen open-borders area, in March to halt the spread of the virus. Non-EU citizens who are already living in Europe are not included in the ban.
The EU list does not apply to travel to Britain, which left the EU in January. Britain now requires all incoming travellers — bar a few exceptions like truck drivers — to go into a self-imposed 14-day quarantine, although the measure is under review and is likely to ease in the coming weeks. The requirement also applies to U.K. citizens.