European Union and Schengen countries have slowly relaxed internal travel once the first peak of the Covid-19 passed, and the infection rates within the bloc have significantly reduced.
The goal of the European Union was to completely reopen the travel within the Schengen by the end of June (won’t happen), and decide what third country visitors, both tourists and business people, to let in from July.
New York Times was reporting on Tuesday afternoon (access here) that it had seen a draft list (two versions) with around 50 or so countries that all have roughly the same or fewer infections per 100,000 people over the past 14 days as is the EU’s average.
Note that the New York Times on the article refers to the European Union, but the intra-bloc borderless travel area is called Schengen that includes non-EU countries too (Norway, Iceland, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein). There are also EU countries that don’t belong to the Schengen, such as Ireland that has a common travel area with the UK.
Here’s an excerpt from the New York Times (access the piece here):
Countries on the E.U. draft lists have been selected as safe based on a combination of epidemiological criteria. The benchmark is the E.U. average number of new infections — over the past 14 days — per 100,000 people, which is currently 16 for the bloc. The comparable number for the United States is 107, while Brazil’s is 190 and Russia’s is 80, according to a Times database.
Once diplomats agree on a final list, it will be presented as a recommendation early next week before July 1. The E.U. can’t force members to adopt it, but European officials warn that failure of any of the 27 members to stick to it could lead to the reintroduction of borders within the bloc.
The reason this exercise is additionally complex for Europe is that, if internal borders are open but member states don’t honor the same rules, visitors from nonapproved nations could land in one European country, and then jump onward to other E.U. nations undetected.
One list contains 47 countries and includes only those nations with an infection rate lower than the E.U. average. The other longer list has 54 countries and also includes those nations with slightly worse case rates than the E.U. average, going up to 20 new cases per 100,000 people.
Here’s the latest chart from the European CDC:
Some of the countries with fewer than 20 are likely due to a lack of testing.
It does make sense to allow travel to the European Union and Schengen from countries that are in a similar state of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Some countries require you to have a negative Covid-19 test done within a couple of days before departure or on arrival, but these won’t prevent infection spreading, and the tests itself are not very reliable, and it is impossible to administer them in the large scale anyway.
As I have suggested previously, it makes no sense to plan trips in advance right now because these travel and entry bans can change with a whim. EU plans to update the list every two weeks (I would assume both add and remove countries), and I am sure that other countries will do the same.
This certainly means that the travel to the United States by EU citizens is not allowed either, as these are always based on reciprocity.
We should learn early next week what suggestions the European Union will make, and if all countries decide to follow them.