KUALA LUMPUR, June 30 — The European Union (EU) has decided to allow citizens from 14 countries that are deemed “safe” to cross their borders amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic; the US, Brazil, and China are not included.
The current “safe” list that is still likely to be amended include Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia, and Uruguay, as cited by BBC News.
Thailand is the only Southeast Asian country included in the EU’s “safe” list. It has reported over 3,000 Covid-19 cases and 58 deaths. Malaysia has confirmed over 8,500 coronavirus cases and 121 fatalities, though new increases have been mostly slowing to single digits. Singapore, on the other hand, has reported over 43,000 Covid-19 cases, and just 26 fatalities.
The EU is reportedly ready to include China on the “safe” list if the Chinese government offers a reciprocal deal for EU travellers.
Border controls have been lifted for EU citizens travelling within the federation, while the rules for UK travellers are covered separately in Brexit negotiations where UK nationals are still being treated the same way as EU citizens until the Brexit transition comes to an end on December 31, 2020.
In the meantime, UK nationals and their family members are exempted from the temporary travel restrictions.
BBC also reported that several EU member states and the UK are negotiating “air bridges” to avoid complete obstruction of summer holidays, which is the busiest season in Europe for tourism that employs millions of people.
The formalisation of the “safe” list and criteria to judge whether countries are safe or not will be finalised by midday on Tuesday.
A qualified majority of EU countries have signed off on the list, which means that at least 55 per cent of the EU countries, representing 65 per cent of the EU population, have signed off on the list.
It was also reported that countries like Germany and Spain “wanted to play it safe” after being horrified by the devastation of Covid-19, therefore pushed for a short list of countries with low Covid-19 infection rates with good health service and reliable health data.
On the other hand, Greece and Portugal wanting to advance their post-lockdown by improving economies with tourism and were less traumatized by the widespread Covid-19 infection, pushed for as long of a “Safe” list as possible.
Member states were reported last week to be assessing two different lists in which one covered countries with less than 16 Covid-19 cases per 100,000 people, and the other with up to 20 cases including countries like Canada and Turkey.
The New York Times also said that the list would be revised every two weeks, noting that the US could be added to the list later.
On the same note, Thailand also looks to reopen its borders to 50,000 visitors, including medical tourists from China, under a strategy that includes a 14-day mandatory quarantine in an effort to rescue its tourism industry, as reported by the South China Morning Post.
Business visitors from Japan, South Korea, Singapore, mainland China and Hong Kong could be exempted from a two-week quarantine period under a fast-track entry if they possess certificates that prove their Covid-19 negative status and were screened for the coronavirus upon arrival.
Of note, Malaysia is not included in Thailand’s list of countries that are allowed to cross their borders despite Malaysia being their immediate neighbouring country.