The European Union has included Australia on a new safe list of countries it will allow non-essential travellers from.
- The EU says it will review the list of nations it is allowing visitors from each fortnight
- The United States and Brazil are among the nations not included on the list
- Australian travellers will still not be able to travel overseas unless they have an exception
But that doesn’t mean you can jet off for a holiday in the south of France any time soon.
Coronavirus restrictions mean Australians still need special permission to leave the country.
And those who come back to Australia will still need to be quarantined for 14 days.
Here’s what we know about the EU’s move.
There are 14 countries on the list
The move is aimed at getting more tourists into parts of Europe which are reliant on tourism and which have seen that sector decimated by COVID-19 and its attendant travel bans.
It allows leisure or business travellers from:
- New Zealand
- South Korea
The changes take effect on Wednesday.
Can Australians now go on a European holiday?
Well, not really.
Australians are not allowed to travel overseas unless they have an exemption.
You can only leave Australia if:
- Your travel is part of the response to the COVID-19 outbreak, including the provision of aid
- Your travel is essential for the conduct of critical industries and business (including export and import industries)
- You are travelling to receive urgent medical treatment that is not available in Australia
- You are travelling on urgent and unavoidable personal business
- You are travelling on compassionate or humanitarian grounds
- Your travel is in the national interest
Those who receive an exemption will have to go into quarantine for 14 days when they return home.
Even with an exemption, travelling has been made more difficult, with airlines slashing the number of flights and destinations they offer.
Travel restrictions are “unlikely” to be fully lifted until a vaccine for coronavirus is found, Brendan Murphy said before he stepped down as chief medical officer last week.
“Until that happens, we’re going to have some sort of border measures … and if we don’t get a successful vaccine in the relatively near future, then we have to re-evaluate,” he said.
Is this list binding for all nations?
The announcement acts only as a recommendation for EU members, meaning countries could potentially set restrictions on those entering from the 14 nations.
Within hours of the EU announcement, Italy, which has one of the highest COVID-19 death tolls in the world, said it would opt out and keep quarantine restrictions in place for all nations that were not part of the Schengen free-travel zone.
“The global situation remains very complex. We must prevent the sacrifices made by the Italians in recent months [having] been in vain,” Italy’s Health Minister Roberto Speranza said.
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Why are some countries not included on the list?
Hard-hit countries like Russia, Brazil, Turkey and the United States aren’t included.
That’s because their containment of coronavirus is considered worse than the EU average.
The US has been experiencing record daily increases in the past week and is now being warned it is on track to add 100,000 cases in a single 24-hour period.
Brazil and Russia are the second and third-worst affected nations.
Turkey, which is on the doorstep of the European Union, is one of the Middle East’s worst-hit nations.
China has been provisionally approved to join the list, although travel will only be opened up if Chinese authorities also agree to let in EU visitors.
What you need to know about coronavirus: