TIRANA, July 1
As the rumor mill said during the last week, Albania and three other Western Balkan (WB) countries did not make the cut of safe third countries that can travel to the EU. Meanwhile, temporary travel restrictions for non-essential travel into the EU were lifted only for nationals from Montenegro and Serbia among the WB6.
The recommendation adopted on Tuesday by the European Council defines that starting 1 July EU member states will start lifting the travel restrictions for residents of Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia, Uruguay, and China subject to confirmation of reciprocity.
Moreover, the criteria that countries must meet to get travel restrictions lifted, cover in particular the epidemiological situation and containment measures, including physical distancing, as well as economic and social considerations.
In terms of the epidemiological situation the listed countries 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)
- a stable or decreasing trend of new cases over this period in comparison to the previous 14 days
- 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). Information provided by EU delegations on these aspects should also be taken into account.
Reciprocity should also be taken into account regularly and on a case-by-case basis.In the meantime, the Council defined that for countries where travel restrictions continue to apply, the following categories of people should be exempted from the restrictions:
- EU citizens and their family members
- long-term EU residents and their family members
- travelers with an essential function or need, as listed in the Recommendation.
Also Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway, Switzerland take part in the recommendation.Moreover, the Council highlighted that the list will be reviewed every two weeks. This means that travel restrictions may be totally or partially lifted or reintroduced for a specific third country already listed according to changes in some of the conditions and, as a consequence, in the assessment of the epidemiological situation.