Nigeria and the United States are among countries whose nationals would not be eligible to enter Europe when borders are reopened on July 1.
Borders were closed in Europe in March to curtail the spread of COVID-19. According to the World Health Organisation, as at 4.30pm on June 30, there are 10,185,374 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 503,862 deaths globally. Nigeria has 25,133 cases with 573 deaths, while US has 2,537,636 confirmed cases with 126,203 deaths.
A statement by the Council of European Union Tuesday on the adoption of a recommendation on the gradual lifting of the temporary restrictions on non-essential travel into the EU listed 15 countries whose nationals are eligible to enter Europe.
The countries include Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, New Zealand, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand and Uruguay.
Also on the list are four African countries – Algeria, Morocco, Rwanda and Tunisia.
China also made the list of countries whose nationals are eligible to enter EU but subject to confirmation of reciprocity.
The Council said residents of Andorra, Monaco, San Marino and the Vatican should be considered as EU residents for the purpose of this recommendation.
The statement said the list would be reviewed and, as the case may be, updated every two weeks, while the “criteria to determine the third countries for which the current travel restriction should be lifted cover in particular the epidemiological situation and containment measures, including physical distancing, as well as economic and social considerations.”
It said regarding the epidemiological situation, third countries listed should meet the following criteria: number of new COVID-19 cases over the last 14 days and per 100,000 inhabitants close to or below the EU average (as it stood on 15 June 2020); and stable or decreasing trend of new cases over this period in comparison to the previous 14 days.
Also listed as criteria was the overall response to COVID-19 taking into account available information, including on aspects such as testing, surveillance, contact tracing, containment, treatment and reporting, as well as the reliability of the information and, if needed, the total average score for International Health Regulations (IHR).
It added that information provided by EU delegations on these aspects should also be taken into account.
The council, in the statement, said reciprocity should also be taken into account regularly and on a case-by-case basis.
There are however exemptions for certain categories of people in countries where travel restrictions continue to apply. The categories of people exempted from the restrictions in such countries are EU citizens and their family members; long-term EU residents and their family members; and travellers with an essential function or need, as listed in the recommendation.
“Schengen associated countries (Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway, Switzerland) also take part in this recommendation,” the statement added.
The Commission had on March 16, 2020 adopted a communication recommending a temporary restriction of all non-essential travel from third countries into the EU for one month to curb the spread of COVID-19. The EU heads of state or government consequently agreed to implement this restriction on 17 March.
The travel restriction was extended for a further month respectively on April 8 and May 8, 2020.
On June 11, the Commission adopted a communication recommending the further extension of the restriction until June 30, 2020 and setting out an approach for a gradual lifting of the restriction on non-essential travel into the EU from July 1.