For several weeks, the European Council has been updating their list of countries to which they recommend lifting travel restrictions from. On 7 August 2020, the Council revised their list of epidemiologically safe third countries and published them in a press release.
The countries on the new list released by the Council are:
- New Zealand
- South Korea
- China, however, China being added to the list is subject to confirmation of reciprocity, which has not yet been received.
Exemptions from this rule are EU citizens and their family members, long-term EU residents and their family members, and “travelers with an essential function or need.”
The number of recommended countries has shrunk every time the list is updated, and some Member States have taken it up themselves to create their own lists based on their own research. This is due to the fact that the Council’s list of approved countries is only a recommendation and is not a legally binding document required for Member States to follow.
The Council takes in data from all countries to determine if they will be epidemiologically safe for entry into the EU/Schengen Area.
The criteria that must be met are:
- The number of new COVID-19 cases in the given country must be close to or below the EU average per 100,000 residents within the last 14 days.
- The country must have stable or decreasing levels of cases in the last 14 days.
- The country must meet the EU’s standards for testing, surveillance, contact tracing, containment, treatment and reporting, reliability of information, and the total average score for International Health Regulations (IHR).
Reciprocity is also a condition, on a case-by-case basis.
The list of Council-approved third countries will be revised every two weeks until there is not a need for it anymore.
On 30 June 2020, the Council created their first list of recommendations for epidemiologically safe third countries. It has been updated on 16 July, 30 July, and 7 August.