EU to ease travel restrictions for US, seven other countries

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The EU is to gradually ease coronavirus entry restrictions for travellers from the United States and seven other countries following a Wednesday agreement among the 27 member states. People from the US, Albania, Hong Kong, Lebanon, Macao, North Macedonia, Serbia and Taiwan should have an easier time getting into the bloc, the Portuguese EU presidency told dpa.

However, it remains up to each EU member state to decide exactly which requirements it imposes on travellers. It is also unclear exactly when the new travel arrangements will be implemented.

At the outset of the pandemic, all EU countries apart from Ireland prohibited non-essential travel, except for in a few circumstances. Non-EU states Norway, Liechtenstein, Switzerland and Iceland also took part in the entry ban.

The eight countries newly approved by EU ambassadors for freer travel join the ranks of Australia, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, Rwanda, Singapore, South Korea and Thailand.

Wednesday's decision is to be formally adopted by the end of the week, according to a spokesperson for the Portuguese EU presidency.

There is no clear indication so far that a reciprocal US decision easing entry for European travellers is imminent.

The US relaxed its outward travel guidance to its own citizens for EU destinations including Germany last week, but left an entry ban for travellers from the European Schengen area and a number of other regions untouched.

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