Canada officially removed from EU's permissible travel list due to rising COVID-19 cases
EU list isn't binding as member nations can set their own rules, but move is concerning
The European Union officially removed Canada from a list of countries that should not be subjected to incoming travel restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic.
CBC News reported about the expected development on Wednesday after EU officials recommended a change to the list the previous day at a regularly scheduled meeting and sent it down to bureaucratic committees to hash out the details.
The 27-nation bloc first put out a list of 15 countries in July that were deemed to be lower risk for transmission of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. Canada was on the original list and survived the first culling of the list to 11 names in August when Serbia, Montenegro, Algeria and Morocco were booted.
On Thursday, the EU published the new list, and Canada, Georgia and Tunisia had been removed.
"As a result of these discussions, the list of third countries — should be amended. In particular, Canada, Georgia and Tunisia should be deleted from the list while Singapore should be added," the EU said.
The new list consists of:
- New Zealand.
- South Korea.
- China, subject to confirmation of reciprocity.
The EU also said restrictions should be lifted on people coming from Hong Kong and Macao, as long as those jurisdictions do the same for European travellers.
The list does not mean Canadians are forbidden from travelling to the EU, as it is merely a guideline for member nations to follow. But the bloc does nonetheless urge countries to abide by it for everyone's benefit.
"Member states should … ensure that measures taken at the external borders are co-ordinated in order to ensure a well functioning Schengen area," the EU said, referring to the 26 European nations that have agreed to allow free travel across their borders, as per an agreement signed in 1985 in Schengen, Luxembourg.
But "the authorities of the member states remain responsible for implementing the content of the recommendation [and] they may, in full transparency, lift only progressively travel restrictions towards countries listed."
Different nations, different rules
Indeed, different European nations have slightly different requirements. As of Thursday, Canada is still on Germany's permissible entry list, and the country still allows visitors from various nations deemed high risk as long as they quarantine on arrival.
As of Oct. 19, Canada is still on France's acceptable travel list, even as France itself has imposed strict lockdowns domestically.
Italy also allows travel to and from Canada as long as people quarantine on arrival and don't take public transit to get to wherever they are staying in the country as of Oct. 21.
The EU move is well short of an outright ban, but the change does suggest that Canada's rising COVID-19 numbers — Canada now has more than 205,000 confirmed cases, including 2,266 new ones on Wednesday, according to the CBC's coronavirus tracker — is becoming something of a concern for the rest of the world.
The EU said it bases its recommendations on a number of factors, including containment efforts but also on comparable ratios, such as the number of cases per 100,000 in the population, the number of tests being done daily and the positivity rate of those tests.