July 2 (Daily Mirror/ Jamila Husain) – The European Commission in Brussels yesterday said that an initial list of countries which were selected for persons to be eligible to enter the EU countries when their borders re-open on July 1 were based on a list of criteria which includes the epidemiological situation of the country and this list will be reviewed every 2 weeks.
Days after heavy criticism that Sri Lanka was not included on the initial list of countries from which people could travel to EU countries despite successfully controlling and containing the COVID virus, spokesperson on migration, home affairs and citizenship and security union at the European Commission, Adalbert Jahnz told Daily Mirror that it was up to the member states in the European Council to decide on the list and not the European Commission.
“This is the first version,” Jahnz said. “The list is to be revised every two weeks at least,” he added.”The recommendations (marked on the European Commission website) contains the list of criteria that were applied and it was up to the member states in the Council to apply them,” he said.
The criteria to determine the countries for which the current travel restriction should be lifted cover, in particular, the epidemiological situation and containment measures, including physical distancing as well as economic and social considerations. They are applied cumulatively, an official report released last evening on the European Council website said.
Regarding the epidemiological situation, the European Council said the countries listed should meet criteria including stable or decreasing trend of new cases till June 15 in comparison to the previous 14 days and the overall response to COVID-19 taking into account available information, including aspects such as testing, surveillance, contact tracing, containment, treatment and reporting, as well as the reliability of the information and, if needed, the total average score for International Health Regulations (IHR).
Information provided by EU delegations on these aspects should also be taken into account, the European Council said.
Countries included on Europe’s “safe list”, whose nationals will be allowed to enter Europe are Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia and Uruguay, the website said adding that if the Chinese government offers a reciprocal travel deal for citizens of European Union countries, the EU will add China to the “safe list” as well. Sri Lanka, with a better COVID-19 recovery rate than most other countries, was not on the list.
Meanwhile, Additional Secretary to the President for Foreign Relations, Admiral Jayanath Colombage said that Sri Lanka’s performance over containing COVID-19 was one of the best in the world and there had been no positive cases reported among society for the past 52 days.
“So far Sri Lanka has managed to even prevent a second wave of the virus as well. Although people hail other countries such as New Zealand, Singapore and even Australia stating they were positive examples, Sri Lanka has done extremely well,” Colombage said.
“Most of these countries who were reluctant to get the military involved now are speaking of the same thing as they want to control the spread of the pandemic. So in every sense, Sri Lanka’s battle to prevent and contain COVID is a great success story and we are one of the safest places on earth to travel to,” Colombage said.