The list of safe countries will be reviewed every two weeks to reflect the changing realities of the coronavirus outbreaks in individual nations, officials said, and countries could be added or removed from the list. Experts say the approach is a sensible way navigate the continent’s reopening as the spread of the virus shifts and ebbs. But it is also bound to create logistical problems for airlines trying to plan routes, and could reap uncertainty for would-be travelers.
The full list of the first 15 countries that the European Union will open up to includes Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia, Uruguay and China, provided that China also opens up to travelers from the bloc. It also includes four European microstates, Andorra, Monaco, San Marino and the Vatican.
Exceptions are also being made for travelers from countries outside the safe list, including health care workers, diplomats, humanitarian workers, transit passengers, asylum seekers and students, as well as “passengers traveling for imperative family reasons” and foreign workers whose employment in Europe is deemed essential.
Although travel between the United States and Europe has been severely limited by the earlier lockdown restrictions, exceptions have been made. A regular flight between Newark and Amsterdam, for example, has shuttled essential travelers such as diplomats and health care professionals and repatriated Europeans from the United States.
The prolonged severance of travel ties between the bloc and the United States has disrupted a critical economic, cultural and diplomatic relationship. Business travelers on both sides of the Atlantic are desperate to resume their visits, couples and families have been split up for months, and the differences between the European and American approaches to combating the pandemic have brought to the fore divergent views on science and policy.