EU reopens borders: China in list, US and India left out

Brussels

The European Union on Tuesday agreed to open its borders to 15 countries from July 1, but the United States, where the coronavirus is still spreading, will remain excluded. Travellers from other big countries like Russia, Brazil and India will also miss out. These countries have growing numbers of coronavirus cases.

China made it to the list, which will be updated every two weeks, but on the condition that Beijing do the same for Europeans, a statement said. As Europe’s economies reel from the impact of the coronavirus, southern EU countries like Greece, Italy and Spain are desperate to entice back sun-loving visitors and breathe life into their damaged tourism industries. American tourists make up a big slice of the EU market and the summer holiday season is a key time.

The EU said China is “subject to confirmation of reciprocity,” meaning it should lift all curbs on European citizens entering China before European countries will allow Chinese citizens back in.

The list is to be updated every 14 days, with new countries being added or dropped off depending on whether they are keeping the pandemic under control. US tourists made 27 million trips to Europe in 2016 while some 10 million Europeans head across the Atlantic each year.

Still, many people both inside and outside of Europe remain wary about traveling in the virus era, given the unpredictability of the pandemic and the possibility of second waves of infection that could affect flights and hotel bookings. Tens of thousands of travellers had a frantic, chaotic scramble in March to get home as the pandemic swept across the world and borders slammed shut.

To qualify for the list, EU headquarters said that countries should have a comparable per capita number of COVID-19 cases to those in the 31 European countries over the last 14 days and have a stable or decreasing trend in the number of infections.

The Europeans are also taking into account those countries' standards on virus testing, surveillance, contact tracing and treatment and the general reliability of their virus data.

US DUBS HUAWEI, ZTE AS HAZARDOUS

NEW YORK: The US Federal Communications Commission on Tuesday designated Chinese's Huawei Technologies Co and ZTE Corp as a hazard to US national security, a declaration that prevents American firms from dipping into an $8.3 billion government fund to purchase equipment from the companies. "We cannot and will not allow the Chinese Communist Party to exploit network vulnerabilities and compromise our critical communications infrastructure," FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in a statement on Tuesday. Huawei and ZTE did not immediately respond to requests for comment but have previously sharply criticized the FCC's actions. In May 2019, Trump signed an executive order declaring a national emergency and barring US companies from using telecommunications equipment made by companies posing a national security risk. The Trump administration had also added Huawei to its trade blacklist last year, a wire agency said.

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