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EU delays decision on when Europe’s borders will reopen

The EU cannot agree on a list of "safe countries" from where travellers could visit Europe in July, with some member states requiring more time to decide, diplomats said Saturday.

EU delays decision on when Europe's borders will reopen
Photo: AFP

After days of talks, EU envoys on Friday agreed to propose a list of 14 countries to their national governments, with the United States, where the coronavirus is still spreading, to remain excluded.

Croatia, which currently holds the EU's rotating presidency, requested that countries offer feedback by Saturday at 1600 GMT, with hopes the matter could then be put to a vote among the 27 member states.

“There are still ongoing consultations, which will continue until Monday,” an EU source told AFP.

“There is no visibility on where this will go, but the presidency still hopes to put this matter to a vote on Monday,” the source added.

The proposed “safe” list contains just 14 countries: Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia and Uruguay.

Crucially, travellers from China would be approved to enter, but under the condition that Beijing would do the same for Europeans.

Non-essential travel to the EU has been banned since mid-March, but only after member states closed their national borders in confusion and without coordination as the pandemic grew.

The restrictions are to be gradually lifted starting July 1, as the infection rate recedes — at least in Europe — and some countries hoped for close EU coordination.

Whatever is decided in Brussels will exist only as a recommendation since border control remains a national competence and a limited number of flights to and from banned countries have continued throughout the crisis.

Talks dragged on with some EU members wanting to limit the reopening to countries with an epidemiological situation “comparable or better” than that in the bloc — that is with 16 or fewer cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 inhabitants over the past two weeks.

Under that criteria, travellers from the United States, Brazil and Canada would remain banned.

READ MORE: American tourists could be barred from Europe when borders reopen

However, the health-based criteria has collided with geopolitics, with some countries reluctant to collectively ban the US while welcoming visitors from China, where the pandemic began.

The United States is currently the country most affected by Covid-19 with more than 125,000 deaths — while Europe believes it has passed the peak of its outbreak.

Member comments

  1. Please hold the line EU and do not allow travellers from the USA. They might be the richest and most powerful country in the world but the virus is out of control there.

  2. It seems to me it would be more effective and safer for Europe if all visitors were required to show they tested negative within three days of boarding their flight and were tested again upon arrival. Charge 50 Euros per passenger for testing upon arrival but don’t shut out all Americans just be because of residency.

  3. Regardless of the tourism, I’m just hoping Germany can open to those with Type D visas. Was supposed to move in April, been bouncing around friends places for 2 months now on the verge of needing to sign a new lease. Life in limbo sucks. Sold all of my furniture and living out of boxes, please let me start building a life again before I go crazy haha.

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TRAVEL

What is the fine for not filling out Switzerland’s Covid arrival form?

There is one essential form all travellers to Switzerland must fill out, but many don’t. If caught, border guards will hand out fines.

A 100-franc fine could be imposed on those who don’t fill out the Personal Locator Form
Important paperwork: Switzerland-bound travellers must fill out the PLF form or risk getting fined. Photo by Zurich Airport

With constantly changing travel rules, it is difficult to keep up with all the regulations that need to be followed to enter Switzerland (and all the other countries, for that matter).

Since September 20th, everyone arriving in Switzerland, regardless of their country of origin, mode of transport, or vaccination status, must fill out the electronic Personal Location Form (PLF).

Once filled out and registered online, you will receive a QR code which you will have to show when entering Switzerland.

However, some people may be unaware of the requirement and enter the country without this form.

READ MORE: Here is the form you need to enter Switzerland

Checks are done randomly, so many travellers slip in without having filled this form. But if caught, you will have to pay a 100-franc fine.

So far, 200 people had to pay this fine, according to Tamedia media group.

The only people exempted from this rule are transit passengers, long-haul lorry drivers transporting goods across borders,  children under 16, cross-border workers, and residents of border areas.

The PLF requirement is an addition to other travel regulations the Federal Council implemented in September:

Two tests to enter Switzerland are now required for the unvaccinated and unrecovered.

Unvaccinated arrivals and those who have not contracted and recovered from the virus in the past six months must show two negative tests. 

The first proof should be presented when arriving in Switzerland.  Then, four to seven days later, travellers will have to undergo another test, which they must pay for themselves.

Both PCR and antigen results are accepted.

These rules only apply to arrivals from nations not on the Switzerland’s high-risk list. As the United States and United Kingdom are considered high risk, only vaccinated people from those countries can arrive in Switzerland.

This article contains more information on the rules which apply. 

EXPLAINED: What are Switzerland’s new travel and Covid certificate rules?

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