EU Reopens Borders for 14 Countries, but Americans, Israelis Still Barred

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A passenger sits at Barcelona airport in Barcelona, Spain, June 30, 2020.
A passenger sits at Barcelona airport in Barcelona, Spain, June 30, 2020. Credit: Emilio Morenatti,AP

The European Council officially announced its recommendation to members on the list of fourteen countries with which they could reopen their borders, starting July 1. All non-essential travel from outside the EU (of which the U.K. is currently still part) was restricted since March 17, 2020.

The recommendation, which follows early reports last Friday, is not legally binding, which means that individual countries can choose to keep their borders closed to those travellers, or reopen them gradually. However, they cannot reopen them to countries, like Israel, which are not on the list.

The decision will be re-assessed every two weeks, based on "the epidemiological situation and containment measures, including physical distancing, as well as economic and social considerations," according to an official press release.

This throws into question Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's ability to fulfill the goal of allowing flights to and from Greece and Cyprus on August 1.

Earlier this week, it was reported that Israeli officials fear that the recent rise in the number of coronavirus infections in the country will lead foreign countries and groups of states to downgrade its ranking for incoming tourism.

July 1, which was the date that the EU had set for reopening its borders, was also the date originally floated by the Netanyahu administration to proceed with annexation of parts of the West Bank. EU member states have expressed staunch opposition to the Israeli move.

The list of countries greenlit is geographically diverse, and includes Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia and Uruguay.

China is also included on the list "subject to confirmation of reciprocity," the press release said. 

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