The initial list includes Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia and Uruguay, the European Council said on Tuesday.
In addition, China could be included if it reciprocates by allowing travelers from the European Union. The list will be reviewed every two weeks by the council.
The number of confirmed cases in the U.S. has surged over the past week, and President Trump also suspended the entry of all people from Europe’s ID check-free travel zone in a decree in March. Several states, including Arizona, California, Florida and Texas, have paused or backtracked their reopening plans as confirmed coronavirus cases have once again soared.
The European Council recommendation, which is not a legally binding instrument, said travelers will be permitted to enter the bloc from countries where the number of new COVID-19 cases over the last 14 days and per 100, 000 inhabitants are close to or below the European Union average as it stood on June 15.
“This is not an exercise to be nice or unfriendly to other countries, this is an exercise of self-responsibility,” Spanish Foreign Minister Arancha González Laya told Spain’s Cadena SER radio Monday while EU envoys in Brussels still worked to narrow down the exact criteria for countries to be included.
“We appreciate the transparency and concerted efforts of our European partners and allies to combat this pandemic, and we are committed to coordinating with them as we look forward to reopening our economies and easing restrictions,” the U.S. mission to the EU said in a statement before the council decision was made formal, according to Bloomberg.
The council also considered whether a country recorded stable or decreasing trend of new cases over this period in comparison to the previous 14 days and the country’s overall response to COVID-19 taking into account available information on testing, surveillance, contact tracing, containment, treatment and reporting, as well as the reliability of the information and, if needed, the total average score for International Health Regulations (IHR).
EU citizens and their family members will be exempt from the restrictions and, therefore, will be permitted to return to the bloc. Residents of Andorra, Monaco, San Marino and the Vatican should be considered as EU residents for the purpose of this recommendation. Schengen associated countries — Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway and Switzerland — also will take part in this recommendation.
The United Kingdom, which has the third-highest coronavirus death toll behind the U.S. and Brazil, was left off of the European Council list. The UK left the 27-nation bloc in January and will phase out of a post-Brexit transition period by the end of this year.
More than 15 million Americans are estimated to travel to Europe annually under normal circumstances, and any delay would be a further blow to virus-ravaged economies and tourism sectors on both sides of the Atlantic. Around 10 million Europeans are thought to cross the Atlantic for vacations and business each year, according to the Associated Press.
Here are the coronavirus death toll and total infection count of the countries included in the EU list, as of Tuesday.
Algeria has recorded at least 13,571 confirmed cases, 905 deaths.
Australia has recorded at least 7,765 confirmed cases, 104 deaths.
Canada has recorded at least 103,918 confirmed cases, 8,556 deaths.
Georgia has recorded at least 926 confirmed cases, 15 deaths.
Japan has recorded at least 18,476 confirmed cases, 972 deaths.
Montenegro has recorded at least 501 confirmed cases, 11 deaths.
Morocco has recorded at least 12,385 confirmed cases, 225 deaths.
New Zealand has recorded at least 1,178 confirmed cases, 22 deaths.
Rwanda has recorded at least 1,001 confirmed cases, 2 deaths.
Serbia has recorded at least 14,288 confirmed cases, 274 deaths.
South Korea has recorded at least 12,800 confirmed cases, 282 deaths.
Thailand has recorded at least 3,171 confirmed cases, 58 deaths.
Tunisia has recorded at least 1,172 confirmed cases, 50 deaths.
Uruguay has recorded at least 932 confirmed cases, 27 deaths.
China has recorded at least 83,531 confirmed cases, 4,634 deaths.
Fox News’ Greg Palkot and The Associated Press contributed to this report.