U.S. Travelers Subject to Continued EU Restrictions on Non-Essential Travel

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On June 30, 2020, the Council of the European Union adopted recommendations on the gradual lifting of the temporary restrictions on non-essential travel into the European Union (EU). Under the new guidance, U.S. tourists will be excluded from visiting the EU for the foreseeable future based on the finalized list of 15 “safe countries” for which entry restrictions on non-essential travel will be removed.

Specifically, the EU has recommended that member states offer entry to China (on the condition of reciprocal arrangements), along with 14 other countries: Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia, Uruguay. Residents of these countries will be allowed to enter the EU’s external borders. The decision is based on whether a country has a similar or better epidemiological situation than does Europe, as well as comparable hygiene and containment measures.

The existing restrictions on non-essential travel to all 27 Schengen Member States, and 4 Schengen Associated States (Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) were introduced on March 16, 2020 and extended twice until July 1, 2020.

The Council recommendation is not a legally binding instrument, and the authorities of the member states remain responsible for implementing the content of the recommendation. European officials said the list would be revised every two weeks to reflect updated overall assessment based on the criteria.

The travel restrictions generally do not apply to EU citizens, citizens of non-EU Schengen countries and their family members, and non-EU nationals who are long-term residents in the EU for the purpose of returning home. Certain workers from outside the EU are exempt, for example healthcare professionals, frontier workers, and seasonal agricultural workers. Member States' consulates remain open and ensure minimum service for processing visa applications by travelers exempted from the temporary travel restrictions.

Employers with questions about how these changing travel restrictions will impact their workforces should consult with counsel.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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