News ID: 270924
Published: 0238 GMT July 01, 2020

EU reopens to outside visitors as virus surges in US

EU reopens to outside visitors as virus surges in US
ANGELOS TZORTZINIS/AFP
Passengers from Hungary were among the first to arrive in Corfu in Greece after several months of restrictions.

The EU reopened its borders on Wednesday to visitors from 15 countries but excluded the United States, where deaths are spiking once again and a top health official warned the country was heading in the "wrong direction".

The final list of nations safe enough to allow residents to enter the EU did not include Russia, Brazil or the US, where the daily death toll passed 1,000 on Tuesday for the first time since June 10, AFP reported.

Turkey is also among countries whose containment of the virus is considered worse than the EU average, and so will have to wait at least two weeks for approval, Reuters reported.

Turkey on Wednesday expressed "disappointment" to EU over its travel-ban decision with its Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy saying, “We expect this mistake regarding travel restrictions for our citizens will be corrected as soon as possible,” Anadolu Agency reported.

"Turkey's efforts, measures and achievements made to stem the outbreak of coronavirus are evident,” he said.

US infectious diseases expert Anthony Fauci said the US could see 100,000 cases a day if the current trend continued, and several US states imposed 14-day quarantines on travelers from other states.

The EU hopes relaxing restrictions on countries from Algeria to Uruguay will breathe life into its tourism sector, which has been choked by a ban on non-essential travel since mid-March.

Travelers from China, where the virus first emerged late last year, will be allowed to enter the bloc only if Beijing reciprocates and opens the door to EU residents.

However, with over 10 million known infections worldwide and more than 500,000 deaths, the pandemic is "not even close to being over", the World Health Organization has warned.

 

'The first tourist'

 

Greece, which has suffered fewer than 200 virus deaths, has seen its economy hit hard by lockdowns and travel restrictions – all but ending its lucrative tourism season before it began.

On Wednesday, hoteliers, restaurateurs and other business owners were nervously waiting for the return of mass tourism, particularly in island resorts.

Romanian Cojan Dragos was "the first tourist" in one Corfu hotel in Greece. He drove with his wife and daughter and told AFP: "We have the whole hotel just for us."

Russians will be absent from Europe's tourist hot-spots as they have not been included in the list of approved countries.

In countries with less severe outbreaks, isolated clusters are still causing problems.

The German state of North Rhine-Westphalia has extended a lockdown on a district hit hard by a slaughterhouse outbreak and the British city of Leicester has also been locked down again.

A spike in cases in parts of the Australian city of Melbourne spurred new stay-at-home measures affecting some 300,000 people.

But in the Chinese capital, officials lifted several local lockdowns and reporting just three new cases following a cluster of a few hundred cases in recent weeks.

 

Spiking in Americas

 

In the US, Fauci, a member of President Donald Trump's coronavirus task force, warned Congress Tuesday that officials were "not in total control right now" and the country was going in "the wrong direction".

"I would not be surprised if it goes up to 100,000 a day if this does not turn around," he said.

Spikes in Texas and Florida are driving the national increase and need to be tamped down quickly, Fauci said.

Texas alone reported 6,975 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, its highest tally yet in an outbreak that has killed some 127,000 people nationwide – one-quarter of the global total.

The Pan American Health Organization warned, meanwhile, that the death toll in Latin America and the Caribbean could quadruple to more than 400,000 by October without stricter public health measures.

 

   
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