EU agrees to reopen borders to 14 countries, extends travel ban for US tourists

The European Union on Tuesday extended a ban on travelers from the United States and most other countries beyond July 1, citing epidemiological factors for the decision.

Over the past month, the US has seen its number of cases steadily rise after most states eased lockdown measures. A lack of interstate coordination and an uneven response from the federal government has contributed to several new outbreaks across the country.

Other countries on the list include Brazil, Russia and India, which have seen their number of positive cases surge in recent weeks. The US, Brazil, Russia and India are the countries with the highest number of confirmed cases in the world.

"This is not an exercise to be nice or unfriendly to other countries," Spanish Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya told local radio station Cadena ahead of the list's publication. "This is an exercise of self-responsibility."

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Approved for travel

Meanwhile, the EU has approved visits from Australia, Canada and Japan. Chinese travelers will be allowed to visit pending reciprocal access to China for EU visitors.

Other countries approved for EU travel include Algeria, Georgia, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia and Uruguay.

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In due time

The list of permitted countries is technically a recommendation. According to the European Council, member states will have the final say in how the restrictions are eased for countries on the list.

"The authorities of the member states remain responsible for implementing the content of the recommendation," said the Council. "They may, in full transparency, lift only progressively travel restrictions towards countries listed."

The EU has kept a travel ban in place at its external borders since mid-March. The ban was extended to non-EU Schengen area member states, including Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.

The list of banned and permitted countries will be updated every 14 days to take into account progress or lack thereof, according to the Council.

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ls/rs (dpa, AP, AFP)