We hereby inform you that the Council of the European Union has agreed to start lifting travel restrictions for residents of some third countries and has therefore adopted a recommendation on the gradual lifting of temporary restrictions on non-essential travel to the EU for the revised list of countries.
Under the criteria and conditions set out in the recommendation, from 1 July, Member States should begin to lift travel restrictions at the external borders for residents of the following third countries:
- New Zealand
- South Korea
- China (subject to confirmation of reciprocity)
Residents of Andorra, Monaco, San Marino and the Vatican should be considered residents of the EU for the purposes of this recommendation.
The criteria for determining the third countries for which the current travel restriction must be lifted cover in particular the epidemiological situation and containment measures, including physical distancing, as well as the cumulative economic and social considerations.
Regarding the epidemiological situation, the third countries listed must meet the following criteria, in particular:
- Number of new cases of COVID-19 in the last 14 days and per 100,000 inhabitants close to or below the EU average (as it was on June 15, 2020).
- Stable or decreasing trend of new cases during this period compared to the previous 14 days.
- General response to COVID-19 taking into account the available information, including aspects such as tests, surveillance, follow-up of contacts, containment, treatment and reports, as well as the reliability of the information and, if necessary, the total average score for International Sanitary Regulation (RSI).
- The information provided by the EU delegations on these aspects should also be taken into account.
- Reciprocity must also be taken into account regularly and on a case-by-case basis.
For countries where travel restrictions continue to apply, the following categories of people should be exempt from the restrictions:
- EU citizens and their families.
- Long-term EU residents and their families.
- Travelers with an essential function or need, as detailed in the Recommendation.
- Schengen associated countries (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland) also participate in this recommendation.
The Council recommendation is not a legally binding instrument. The authorities of the Member States remain responsible for implementing the content of the recommendation. They can, with complete transparency, only gradually lift travel restrictions to the listed countries. A Member State should not decide to lift travel restrictions for third countries not included in the list before this has been decided in a coordinated way.
This list of third countries should be reviewed every two weeks and can be updated by the Council, as appropriate, after close consultations with the Commission and the relevant EU agencies and services after a general assessment based on the above criteria. Travel restrictions can be lifted or reintroduced in whole or in part for a specific third country that is already listed according to changes in some of the conditions and, consequently, in the assessment of the epidemiological situation. If the situation in a third country on the list worsens rapidly, rapid decision-making should be applied.