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EU to reopen borders to 14 nations, including Japan but not to U.S. tourists

32 Comments
By LORNE COOK

The European Union will reopen its borders to travelers from 14 countries, and possibly China soon, the bloc announced Tuesday, but most Americans have been refused entry for at least another two weeks due to soaring coronavirus infections in the U.S.

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. American tourists make up a big slice of the EU market and the summer holiday season is a key time.

Citizens from the following countries will be allowed into the EU's 27 members and four other nations in Europe's visa-free Schengen travel zone: Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia and Uruguay.

The EU said China is “subject to confirmation of reciprocity,” meaning Beijing should lift all restrictions on European citizens entering China before European countries will allow Chinese citizens back in. Millions of travelers who come from Russia, Brazil and India will miss out.

The 31 European countries have agreed to begin lifting restrictions from Wednesday. The list is to be updated every 14 days, with new countries being added or dropped off depending on whether they are keeping the pandemic under control. Non-EU citizens who are already living in Europe are not included in the ban, nor are British citizens.

“We are entering a new phase with a targeted opening of our external borders as of tomorrow,” European Council President Charles Michel, who chairs summits of EU national leaders, tweeted. “We have to remain vigilant and keep our most vulnerable safe.”

American tourists made 27 million trips to Europe in 2016 while around 10 million Europeans head across the Atlantic each year.

Still, many people both inside and outside of Europe remain wary about traveling 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 travelers had a frantic, chaotic scramble in March to get home as the pandemic swept the world and borders slammed shut.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States has surged over the past week, and President Donald Trump also suspended the entry of all people from Europe’s ID check-free travel zone in a decree in March, making it extremely difficult for the EU to include the U.S. on their safe travel list for now.

In contrast, aside from a recent outbreak tied to a slaughterhouse in western Germany, the spread of the virus has generally stabilized across much of continental Europe.

To qualify for the “safe” list, EU headquarters said that countries should have a comparable per capita number of COVID-19 cases to those in the 31 European countries over the last 14 days and have a stable or decreasing trend in the number of infections.

The Europeans are also taking into account those countries' standards on virus testing, surveillance, contact tracing and treatment and the general reliability of their virus data.

For tourist sites and stores in Paris that are already feeling the pinch of losing clients from around the world, the decision not to readmit most American travelers is another blow.

In the heart of Paris, on the two small islands in the Seine River that are home to Notre Dame Cathedral and a wealth of tempting boutiques, businesses were already mourning the loss of American visitors during the coronavirus lockdown, and now the summer season that usually attracts teeming crowds is proving eerily quiet since France reopened.

“Americans were 50% of my clientele,” said Paola Pellizzari, who owns a mask and jewelry shop on the Saint-Louis island and heads its business association. “We can’t substitute that clientele with another.”

“When I returned after lockdown, five businesses had closed,” Pellizzari said. “As days go by, and I listen to the business owners, it gets worse.”

American travelers spent $67 billion in the European Union in 2019, according to U.S. government figures. That was up 46% from 2014.

The continued absence of Americans also hurts the Louvre as the world’s most-visited museum plans its reopening on July 6. Americans used to be the largest single group of foreign visitors to the home of the “Mona Lisa.”

Sharmaigne Shives, an American who lives in Paris, is yearning for the day when her countrymen and women can return to the clothing shop where she works on Saint-Louis island and drive away her blues at having so few summer visitors.

“I hope that they can get it together and bring down their numbers as much as they can,” she said of the United States.

“Paris isn’t Paris when there aren’t people who really appreciate it and marvel at everything,” Shives added. “I miss that. Seriously, I feel the emotion welling up. It’s so sad here.”

A trade group for the biggest U.S. carriers including the three that fly to Europe — United Airlines, Delta Air Lines and American Airlines — said it was “obviously disappointed” by the EU decision.

“We are hopeful that the decision will be reviewed soon and that at least on a limited basis international traffic between the United States and the EU will resume," said Nicholas Calio, CEO of Airlines for America.

U.S. airlines hope the Europeans will give the U.S. credit if it implements steps such as temperature checks on passengers bound for Europe, which he said was discussed between U.S. government and EU officials.

Last year, United got 38% of its passenger revenue from international travel including 17% from flights between the U.S. and Europe, while Delta and American were slightly less dependent on those routes. Business travel on routes such as New York-London is highly profitable for all three.

In Brussels, EU headquarters underlined that the list “is not a legally binding instrument” which means the 31 governments can apply it as they see fit. But the bloc urged all member nations not to lift travel restrictions to other countries without coordinating such a move with their European partners.

Officials fear that such ad hoc moves could incite countries inside Europe to start closing their borders to each other again. Panic closures after the disease began spreading in Italy in February caused major traffic jams at crossing points and slowed deliveries of medical equipment.

Italy is still insisting on coronavirus quarantines for visitors from the 14 countries greenlighted by the European Union to visit. Health Minister Roberto Speranza said Italy was taking the “line of caution” given its battle to contain the outbreak in the onetime epicenter of Europe’s COVID-19 emergency.

In publishing its list, the EU also recommended that restrictions be lifted on all people wanting to enter who are European citizens and their family members, long-term EU residents who are not citizens of the bloc, and travelers with “an essential function or need,” regardless of whether their country is on the safe list or not.

© Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.


32 Comments
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And...any reciprocity from Japan side ? EU opens up their border to Japan while Japan ?

5 ( +15 / -10 )

I hope Japan keep its borders closed. At least until a vaccine or treatment is found.

The Virus in Japan is so far under control, but to open the borders will make the things worse.

-6 ( +16 / -22 )

I wasn't aware the EU had borders.

-19 ( +7 / -26 )

I hope Japan keep its borders closed. At least until a vaccine or treatment is found

Understandable, but Japan not opening borders to their permanent residents is not acceptable.

12 ( +15 / -3 )

Rwanda ? What is that about ?

-8 ( +2 / -10 )

I wasn't aware the EU had borders.

How could it not have borders? What does this even mean?

8 ( +16 / -8 )

The Chinese will make up the slack...

-5 ( +4 / -9 )

Yep, the current US president has turned our country into a 3rd world "sh$& h$#$!" like he said of African countries!

The president likes to project his own actions!

10 ( +16 / -6 )

Here in France (and in most of EU), we are just "breathing again" after a 2 months-long lockdown when we couldn't go outside a 1km radius from our home. Cafés, bars, restaurants, movie theaters were all closed, most social life was shut down. It was a tough, depressing time for many people..

I can understand that people from banned countries may be upset ; i'm also aware that the economic loss is huge as written in the article, but please consider our situation : nobody want to go back to such a lockdown, and few are willing to take the risk to let people come in from heavily infected countries.

Having Japanese origins myself, i had to cancel my 2 weeks trip to Japan in May and i don't know when i will be able to go back there again ; so i can feel what it's like when you'r on the banned side.

I just hope an effective testing protocol (or just a vaccine ^^) will be put in place for travelers ; in the meantime, it's just 仕方がない!

7 ( +11 / -4 )

Ruanda?

Requested by Belgium. Ruanda used to be a former colony of Belgium.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Requested by Belgium. Ruanda used to be a former colony of Belgium.

Aaahhh.. ok ok ...

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

I hope Japan keep its borders closed. At least until a vaccine or treatment is found.

The Virus in Japan is so far under control, but to open the borders will make the things worse.

I'm afraid it's going to be some time before a vaccine is found. And we cannot keep borders closed until then. But keeping them closed to countries where the virus is still rising is responsible. And we can still continue with life as long as we wear masks and be careful in public.

12 ( +14 / -2 )

American's will miss Europe too, but i won't fault them for this sort of protection while the virus is uncontrolled in the US. Same to Japan and every other country blocking people from places that have huge COViD cases increasing.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

Parisiens would do best in the future by appreciating the tourists than turning their noses up to them.

2 ( +8 / -6 )

Don't need Americans traveling around your country declaring their "right" not to have to wear a mask.

16 ( +21 / -5 )

Don't need Americans traveling around your country declaring their "right" not to have to wear a mask.

I get the sense the majority of these people aren’t the traveling abroad types.

Best thing all round that they stay within their borders.

11 ( +12 / -1 )

Well, this process is good. Start with countries that have proven their ability to fight the coronavirus properly. Then continue with middle of the road countries, once they get a handle on things as well. And as for the US, Brazil, India, and Russia, well we shall see. We shall see...

0 ( +2 / -2 )

If I were go to Europe from Australia (all overseas travel currently being against official Govt advice) , I'll be required to complete a 14-day quarantine when I get back. And Australia wouldn't be the only country enforcing that kind of measure. Can I afford an extra two weeks hanging around in a hotel on top of whatever time I've been away?

What about travel insurance? Will any travel insurance companies cover me against contracting the coronavirus, or any other Covid-19 caused hassle, while I'm overseas?

And finally - suppose I actually do catch the damn thing, which even with my State of Victoria's current spike in infections, is much more likely to happen in the EU than it is here? Is it worth the risk? I don't think so. It's a giant experiment, really.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Where is the reciprocity though? Japan should open to the EU too. Permanent residents should be let in first, of course. It's unacceptable that Japanese people will be able to travel freely to EU countries but European people who have been living in Japan can't enter. It's unfair.

Also, I see very few people talking about work visa holders who were left out of Japan before entering and now are stuck outside without a job and income (they have a job in Japan, they just can't cross the border to start it). They also need to enter soon!

We can't keep the world closed until we have a vaccine, it's impossible. People need to go back to their lives! Tourism, of course, should be prohibited. But there are so many people struggling because of this that are being ignored, and it has to stop.

8 ( +10 / -2 )

Great, so now my wife is allowed to visit the UK and then come back to Japan, but - despite being a permanent resident of Japan - I can't, because I wouldn't be allowed back in.

11 ( +13 / -2 )

Freedom of travel is going back to the 19 century. This is has basically bece the dream world of all the ethnic nationalists all around the world.

Border closure being the standard, and just opening borders to your friends without any kind of real oversight on how that works, and having arbitrary ever changing rules.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Well, this is understandable - the surging of the virus in Red States due to Repub Governors acquiescing to Trump to open early have caused this disaster.

But I have a suggestion to our European friends - have all US citizens fill out a questionnaire - questions as follows;

Do you binge-watch Fox News?

Do you hide in your basement clinging to your AR15 in fear that your neighbor will steal your toilet paper?

Is your bedspread pattern the Confederate Flag?

Do you avoid 5G towers because you think they cause COVID?

Have you ever attended a Trump rally?

Is your favorite color orange?

If they answer yes to even one of these questions, ban them. Everyone else let in...

2 ( +6 / -4 )

...and if you go, better plan to stay... a visa will allow you 180 days. Maybe in that time the GoJ will decide to let those of us who've lived and worked here for decades to re-enter the country...

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Time to do the same back, Japan, especially for those who have visas to live here.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

What about US citizens residing in the 14 countries? I'm a US citizen residing in Japan.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

If you are ordinary Japanese, you cannot go to sumo or a soccer match or have a festival in anything like the normal way.

If you are wealthy Japanese, you can now fly to Europe and hang out with people from all over, including the UK which has handled Covid-19 nearly as badly as the USA. The first Covid-19 case in my area was a young woman who went to the UK in March (!!) to study English. Any sensible person would have cancelled. In inaka in only takes one or two cases for schools to close. That's actions of individuals having big consequences for hundreds of others.

If Japan lets Japanese go to Europe but does not let permanent residents back in, I'm afraid that is simple racism. There is no other explanation for it.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

In reality, I do not think Japanese will go to Europe for tourism this summer. Most of them will be scared by the coronavirus.

Ane the Japanese governement、MOFA, is issuing a 渡航中止勧告 for Europe. Warning to stop travel

I am French living here for 20 years. If I just wanna visit my family, I can not come back, but technically, the Japanese tourist can freely travel.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

BTW, a number of EU countries have higher rates of COViD deaths than the USA.

Per capita, however, the U.S. — with 379.27 confirmed deaths per 1

million people — had fewer fatalities from COVID-19 than eight other

nations.

Among those countries with more confirmed deaths per capita: Belgium

(839.72), the United Kingdom (640.99), Italy (574.18), Sweden (522.81)

and France (456.20).

https://www.factcheck.org/2020/06/covid-19-cases-and-deaths-by-the-numbers/

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

https://www.mofa.go.jp/ca/fna/page4e_001053.html

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

The Covid-19 UK death rate is about 95/100,000 population. Higher than claimed by the government.

Japan, Australia and New Zealand will keep their borders closed.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

BTW, a number of EU countries have higher rates of COViD deaths than the USA.

I think the small error in t he is sentence is tense- they had higher rates of COVID-19 deaths, but have subsequently brought it under control. The USA should see another surge beginning in a week or so.

The risk is how many people are carriers today and it appears that the USA is near the top of that list.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Ah_so:

I think the small error in t he is sentence is tense- they had higher rates of COVID-19 deaths, but have subsequently brought it under control. The USA should see another surge beginning in a week or so.

The data was accurate yesterday. Predicting the future with very little data is something for experts. Fatality rates have been dropping in the US as the health care industry learns simple, but life saving techniques. There certainly are a bunch of 12-30 yr olds ignoring the warnings, especially in the summer heat. I would have at that age until a minor accident taught me just how fragile humans are.

Sorry about the funny quote layout. The setup on this site is often difficult. Hopefully, below is cleaner:

Per capita, however, the U.S. — with 379.27 confirmed deaths per 1 million people — had fewer fatalities from COVID-19 than eight other nations.

Among those countries with more confirmed deaths per capita: Belgium (839.72), the United Kingdom (640.99), Italy (574.18), Sweden (522.81) and France (456.20).

https://www.factcheck.org/2020/06/covid-19-cases-and-deaths-by-the-numbers/

Fresh numbers are here: https://www.ecdc.europa.eu/en/publications-data/download-todays-data-geographic-distribution-covid-19-cases-worldwide

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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