BRUSSELS

European Union countries that closed their borders in March because of the novel coronavirus have updated their list of countries where travel restrictions have been lifted. 

The European Council has released a final version of the list of countries “recommended” for lifting travel restrictions, which it last updated on Oct. 22.

According to the list, the EU’s external borders, which were completely closed in March as part of the outbreak measures, will be gradually opened to Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Rwanda, Singapore, South Korea and Thailand.

Borders will also be open to China if EU countries grant travel permits to their citizens.

EU travel restrictions on all countries not included in the list will continue.

However, the list will be updated again in accordance with the COVID-19 situation and the restrictive measures in the countries.

In this case, travel restrictions will also be imposed on the UK, which is not listed and has officially left the EU.

Travel restrictions and COVID-19

In March, the EU imposed restrictions on non-mandatory travel to the 27 member states as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, which are part of the Schengen Area, to curb the spread of the outbreak.

The list, which is not binding for member states, is “recommended.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has claimed over 1.65 million lives in 191 countries and regions since the virus was first detected in Wuhan, China in December last year.

Over 74.8 million cases have been reported worldwide and more than 42.2 million recoveries, according to figures compiled by US-based Johns Hopkins University.

While the US, India and Brazil remain the worst-hit countries in terms of the number of cases, Europe is in the grip of a devastating second wave of infections.

*Writing by Merve Berker

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