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EUROPEAN UNION

EU opens door to return of American tourists after adding US to safe list

EU member states paved the way for the return of American tourists on Wednesday when they agreed to add the US to its "white list" of countries with low Covid-19 rates, according to AFP.

EU opens door to return of American tourists after adding US to safe list
EU opens door to return of American tourists 'after adding US to safe list'. Photo: Jason Redmond / AFP

Ambassadors for the 27 member states gave the green light to the return of tourists from the US – including those who have not been vaccinated, AFP claimed, citing officials and diplomats.

A source at the European Council would not confirm that the US will be added to the white list but said we can expect an announcement on Friday.

“The review of the list of third countries for which travel restrictions should be gradually lifted is taking place this week, with an updated list expected to be presented for formal adoption on Friday,” the source said.

But the list is only a recommendation with countries deciding at a national level what their entry policy is when it comes to borders.

EU member states can still choose to require travellers from these areas to undergo Covid-19 testing or to observe periods in quarantine, but once the new list is approved the recommendation is that they should be exempted from a blanket travel ban.

It was not immediately clear whether individual countries would follow the lead of the EU, with many already having imposed their own rules on travellers from the US.

France, for example, recently opened travel from the US to those arrivals who had been fully vaccinated.

Switzerland, while not a member of the EU, has indicated it will follow EU policy with regard to entry from people arriving from outside the bloc. 

Because of the pandemic, the EU closed its external borders in March 2020 for non-essential travel, and for the past year has drawn up a regularly updated list of non-member states whose residents are allowed to travel to Europe.

As well as the US, several other countries were added to the list: Albania, Lebanon, North Macedonia, Serbia, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao.

The safe list already included Japan, Australia, Israel, New Zealand, Rwanda, Singapore, South Korea and Thailand.

Countries can be included if they have recorded fewer than 75 cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 inhabitants over the past 14 days. In the United States this rate is 73.9, according to figures from the European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (ECDC).

News that the United States is to be added to the approved list came one day after Brussels and Washington renewed friendlier ties at a summit between President Joe Biden and EU chiefs Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel.

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READER INSIGHTS

‘Fantastic’: Your verdict on Germany’s €9 transport ticket

Germany is set to bring in a heavily reduced public transport ticket for three months this summer. Here's what our readers think about it.

'Fantastic': Your verdict on Germany's €9 transport ticket

We released a survey asking how many of you would use the €9 monthly ticket, being brought in by the German government for the months of June, July and August. The ticket will be valid on all local and regional transport across Germany – but not on long-distance services.

Respondents came from all over the country in almost all of Germany’s 16 states. 

And nearly all of our readers – 95.4 percent – said they planned to get the ticket. 

Just 1.1 percent of respondents said they would not use the offer, while 3.4 percent answered ‘maybe’.

Source: The Local

We also asked how many of you already have a subscription ticket with your local transport provider. Just over half – 52.6 percent – said they don’t have an Abo, while 34.9 percent are already subscribers.  

People with a subscription receive the discount as part of the €9 ticket offer. 

READ ALSO: How many people will use the €9 ticket?

Source: The Local

The ticket is part of the German government’s energy relief package aimed at easing the financial burden on people. Politicians also see it as a trial for the future as the country tries to move towards climate-friendly policies. 

READ ALSO: When will Germany’s fuel tax cut come into force?

When we asked whether you think reduced price public transport this summer is a good idea, the vast majority of respondents – 86.9 percent – said ‘yes’. Just over 7.4 percent said they weren’t sure if it was a good idea, and just 1.1 percent said it wasn’t a good policy. 

Source: The Local

A snap poll on our Twitter page earlier this week also found that most people – 86.5 percent – planned to use the ticket. 

‘Why would anyone not use it?’

We also asked readers to share their views on what they thought about the ticket.

On The Local Germany’s Facebook page, Scott Widenhouse said it was “absolutely” a good idea. “A day pass from Munich airport is €13 approx, (in) Berlin – one ride is €3.”

Kat Thomas said: “I am so excited to get one for me and each of my kids. We rely super heavily on public transportation. This will be fantastic!”

READ ALSO: How to get a hold of the €9 ticket in Berlin

Sue Guinane said: “Why would anyone not use it? It is cheaper than two regular daily tickets in Munich, so great savings.”

Others were not completely on board.

Of the comments on our survey, one respondent suggested that the ticket should be pricier in order to make it more sustainable. Another reader said it was going to be a “disaster” because travel providers would likely hike up prices after three months. 

On Facebook, Annmarie Wagner Schultz said: “It doesn’t help my son who uses the train and his bike to get to work.”

Tina Wetzel said she didn’t want to take advantage of the offer because transport will be “overcrowded”, and in the summer months, passengers will also have to deal with no air conditioning on trains and buses. 

 

“My nose prefers not to smell any of that,” she said on Facebook.

Others said it might come in handy.

Jeffrey Carson, in Neukirchen in Hesse, said: “Sounds a good idea but I use my car for local journeys and the new ticket does not include long distance trains which are the only trains I use. I suppose if I visit Munich it will be good to get the €9 ticket for day trips from there.”

READ ALSO: How to explore Germany by train with the €9 ticket

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