After contentious negotiations, EU countries have decided to allow nationals from 15 countries to enter the bloc’s territory as of tomorrow, July 1.

The agreement between EU states will gradually lift travel restrictions for non-EU nationals which were adopted in mid-March to contain the spread of COVID-19.

In the first wave, residents of Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia, and Uruguay can travel to the EU.

Chinese visitors are also welcome on the condition that Beijing grants the same rights to EU citizens.

The EU will revise the list every two weeks based on epidemiological criteria, including the countries’ overall response to COVID-19 and declining infections rates which reflect similar or lower cases per 100,000 inhabitants compared to the EU average.

Under the current rules, Turkish or US citizens cannot enter the EU unless they are close relatives of an EU citizen, long-term residents of the EU, or work in the healthcare sector.

Residents of the mini-states of Andorra, Monaco, San Marino, and the Vatican are treated as EU nationals for entry.

The gradual lifting requires coordination between 30 countries, including four EU countries who have yet to join the Schengen area – namely Bulgaria, Romania, Croatia and Southern Cyprus – and four non-EU members of the borderless zone (Norway, Lichtenstein, Switzerland, Iceland).

The decision has been the result of long and difficult negotiations between EU countries with varied approaches to travel restrictions.

The agreement is non-binding, but countries allowing in travelers from non-listed external countries risk having their EU peers again closing the borders and not letting the citizens of non-abiding countries enter.

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