Thursday, June 3, 2021

EU Permits Restriction-Free Entry for Residents of Japan

The European Council has abolished an entry ban for non-essential purposes on the residents of Japan, advising the 27 Member States to permit restriction-free entry for the resident of this country.

The decision has been taken upon a review of the EU Council’s list of the epidemiologically safe third-countries, according to which the Member States should add Japan to the list of safe third countries and soon permit Japanese travellers to enter the Schengen Area and the EU countries for non-essential purposes without being subject to any restrictions as testing and quarantine, including for tourism.

Following a review under the recommendation on the gradual lifting of the temporary restrictions on non-essential travel into the EU, the Council updated the list of countries for which travel restrictions should be lifted to add Japan,” reads a press release of the Council, announcing the decision.

Thus, starting from June 3, the EU’s list of epidemiologically safe third countries, arrivals from which should be permitted to enter the European Union countries and the four Schengen Area associated countries, consists of the following:

  • Australia
  • China (including Hong Kong and Macao) subject to confirmation of reciprocity
  • Israel
  • Japan
  • New Zealand
  • Rwanda
  • Singapore
  • South Korea
  • Thailand

The EU Council’s list of epidemiologically safe third countries consists of countries outside the EU and Schengen Area that have low rates of COVID-19 cases in their territory.

The list had first been published on June 30 and consisted of 15 third countries, among which was also listed Japan.

However, the country was excluded from this list, and its residents were banned from entering the block for non-essential purposes after on January 28, 2021, after the Commission asserted that the number of COVID-19 cases detected in Japan recently had spiked up, and the risks of infected travellers reaching the EU from Japan had increased.

The Council has updated the list only once since then, on May 6, when Israel was added to the list, after a drastic drop in the number of COVID-19 cases in the territory of Israel, mainly due to the intensive vaccination of the Israeli population against the virus.

The list is expected to soon be expanded since, on May 20, the EU Commission updated the criteria to determine the third countries for which the current travel restriction should be lifted. According to this update, the Member States should increase the threshold of 14-day cumulative COVID-19 case notification rate from 50 to 75 for placing areas in the orange category, and from the current 50-150 to the new 75-150 for placing countries in the red areas.

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