EU poised to drop Algeria from safe country travel list

The EU last month approved a list of 15 countries considered safe because of the epidemiology of the coronavirus disease in their territory

The European Union was set to exclude Algeria from its list of safe countries from which the bloc allows non-essential travel after a meeting of EU ambassadors on Wednesday.

The list of countries will fall to 11, assuming the provisional decision is confirmed in writing by EU members, two EU diplomats familiar with the discussions said.

The deadline for submissions was likely to be Thursday afternoon.

The 11 countries deemed to have COVID-19 largely under control are Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, South Korea, Tunisia and Uruguay.

China has also been provisionally approved, although travel will open up only if Chinese officials also allow in EU visitors.

A Reuters tally of government and World Health Organization data showed that the total of confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in Africa has exceeded 750,000, with Algeria among the worst affected countries on the continent.

The EU list is unlikely to be revised again during August, when EU institutions typically take a break, although countries might be removed if there is a sharp increase of coronavirus infections.

Flexible rules

The list serves as a guideline rather than a rule for the EU’s 27 members and is aimed at supporting the European travel industry and tourist destinations, particularly countries in southern Europe hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The idea is that no EU country would open up to countries not on the list. However, Italy and Belgium, for example, have held off opening up to any.

Most of the countries on the safe list also either ban almost all foreign visitors or require them to quarantine for 14 days.

Meanwhile, many restrictions remain for travel within Europe and the passport-free Schengen area, which includes non-EU countries, such as Norway and Switzerland.

Britain, which is also considered part of Europe for travel purposes, suddenly announced on Saturday that it was enforcing a quarantine for people coming from Spain.

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