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USA excluded as European Union reopens borders

The European Union has excluded the United States from its initial “safe list” of countries from which the economic bloc will allow non-essential travel from Wednesday.

The 27-member bloc gave majority approval for leisure or business travel from fourteen countries beyond its borders. The countries are Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia, and Uruguay.

China has also been provisionally approved, although travel would only open up if Chinese authorities also allowed in EU visitors. Reciprocity is a condition of being on the list.

Russia, Brazil, and Turkey, along with the United States, are among countries whose containment of the virus is considered worse than the EU average. These countries will have to wait at least two weeks for approval.

The list will be reviewed every two weeks to add some countries and remove others. It is only a recommendation to EU members, who can still impose some travel restrictions. The idea at least is that they should not open up to other countries.

The list needed a “qualified majority” of EU countries to be passed, meaning 15 EU countries representing 65% of the population.

It acts as a recommendation to EU members, meaning they could potentially set restrictions on those entering from the 14 nations and will almost certainly not allow access to travelers from other countries.

Within hours of the EU announcement, Italy, which has one of the highest COVID death tolls in the world, said it would opt out and keep quarantine restrictions in place for all nations that were not part of the free-travel Schengen area.

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