The European Union decided that as of Wednesday, the European Union borders would be reopened for citizens of 15 non-EU countries, including Canada, Morocco, and Australia, but not the United States, Brazil, and Russia.
British Broadcasting Corporation reported that China is listed, but subject to a mutual agreement is still pending.
The European Council’s decision unanimously is not legally binding, so countries can choose not to open up to all of them.
The diplomats spent five days discussing the list, amid varying fears of the epidemic.
The so-called “safe travel destinations” are alongside China: Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia and Uruguay.
The UK and four other non-EU countries – Switzerland, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway – are automatically included as “safe”.
The BBC’s Gavin Lee in Brussels says there has been intense pressure from representatives of the United States, Russia and Turkey to be included in the list.
European Union officials say the decision was based on a number of scientific factors:
Ensure that the Covid-19 incidence rate in the country was low enough (as countries had fewer than 16 in 100,000 each)
There is a declining trend for cases
That social exclusion measures were “at an adequate level”
A diplomat from a member state in northern Europe told the BBC that “a certain amount of geopolitics also influenced the decision” and that “the Balkans and Eastern Europe had recommended” the inclusion of Georgia, a former Soviet country.
It is understood that the Hungarian government pressed for the annexation of Serbia. Spanish officials say they have requested that Morocco be included in the list, provided a similar agreement exists.
Denmark and Austria were among many member states claiming fewer than 15 countries.
But in the end, it was adopted unanimously by member states.
Each country will have to announce when it intends to start re-accepting citizens from some or all of these countries.
French officials say they expect the decision to be implemented in the “coming days”.
The Czech Republic has published a list of eight countries that it considers safe to travel.
The European Union list will be updated every two weeks.
Several border controls were lifted for European Union citizens traveling within the bloc. Future rules for UK travelers are part of Britain’s current exit negotiations.
But UK citizens still have to be treated the same way as European Union citizens until the end of Britain’s exit period on December 31, the European Commission says.
Therefore, during this period, UK citizens and their family members are exempt from the temporary travel restrictions of the European Union.
European Union countries in the Schengen area, which usually has 26 members, allow crossing borders without a passport for EU citizens, but national authorities have reimposed restrictions in this crisis.
The UK is currently negotiating temporary “air bridges” with many EU member states, so that the coronavirus pandemic does not completely prevent summer holidays – Europe’s busiest season for tourism, employing millions of people.
In European Union discussions, there were divisions between those like Spain – who want to boost tourism, but prefer to play safely because they were badly hit by Covid-19 – and others like Greece and Portugal, which depend on tourism but have less wound on the virus.