Tuesday 4 August 2020
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rappler - 1 month ago

EU excludes PH travelers, reopens to safe countries

MANILA, Philippines – The European Union (EU) on Wednesday, July 1, will start allowing travelers from 15 countries to enter its borders, but left out visitors from the Philippines and dozens of other territories deemed too risky to open up to because they have not yet controlled the coronavirus outbreak. The EU’s list of safe countries, which includes Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Australia, and China (if China reciprocates), was drawn up in line with efforts to reopen the 27-member bloc to tourism and commerce after months of lockdown measures shut down economies. The list is based on specific health criteria and provides a common set of standards for EU countries to follow as they aim to keep the virus at bay, while allowing more travelers into their territories.   The European Council said it will review the list every two weeks and that countries may be added or removed, depending on how they fare in controlling the outbreak. The list was also legally non-binding, though the EU said members should not decide to lift the travel restrictions for non-listed...countries before this has been decided in a coordinated manner. Why it matters: The list is seen as a measure of how well a country is responding to the pandemic because it allows travelers to enter based on health criteria related to containment measures and the “epidemiological situation” of the virus.  Aside from this, the EU said social considerations were considered while reciprocity will also be taken into account “on a case-by-case basis.” Regarding the “epidemiological situation,” the following guidelines were listed:  New cases over the past two weeks per 100,0000 people must be close to or below the EU average as of June 15 (average of 16 new cases) Stable or decreasing trend of new cases in comparison to the previous 14 days before the period of assessment  “Overall response” to containing the disease which includes testing, contact tracing, treatment, reporting, and the reliability of information and data, among others.  So far, the 15 countries that meet these criteria include Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia, and Uruguay – and China, if it also opens up to travelers from the EU.   Over the past weeks, the Philippines experienced a continued increase in cases, with experts saying there was still “significant community transmission” nationwide. The country likewise continues to lag behind in testing and contact tracing efforts. Compared to other countries, data from the World Health Organization also showed the Philippines registered the highest number of new infections in the Western Pacific region over the past two weeks.  Some exemptions: The EU provided for exceptions among travelers coming from countries that were not part of the 15 countries listed but were deemed to have an “essential function.” Among these included healthcare professionals, transport personnel, diplomats, military and humanitarian workers, seafarers, passengers in transit, passengers “traveling for imperative family reasons,” foreign workers whose employment is deemed essential, and travelers who are going to EU for study purposes.  The EU said the basis for entry will also be on residence in a country where restrictions have been lifted, and not their nationality.   EU citizens and long-term residents will be exempted from restrictions, along with their family. – Rappler.com

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