The European Council of the European Union (EU) yesterday recommended that the EU impose a travel ban for The Bahamas and scores of other countries amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The ban does not apply to EU citizens and their family members, long-term EU residents and their family members and travelers with an essential function or need.
It goes into effect on July 1, today, when the EU reopens its borders.
In a statement, the council noted, “The council today adopted a recommendation on the gradual lifting of the temporary restrictions on non-essential travel into the EU. Travel restrictions should be lifted for countries listed in the recommendation, with this list being reviewed and, as the case may be, updated every two weeks.
“Based on the criteria and conditions set out in the recommendation, as from 1 July member states should start lifting the travel restrictions at the external borders for residents of the following third countries: Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia, Uruguay [and] China — subject to confirmation of reciprocity.”
It said residents of Andorra, Monaco, San Marino and the Vatican — all situated in Europe — should be considered as EU residents “for the purpose of this recommendation”.
The council said a determination for which countries should be allowed entry was made based on each country’s epidemiological situation and containment measures, including physical distancing, as well as economic and social considerations.
“Regarding the epidemiological situation, third countries listed should meet the following criteria, in particular: [the] number of new COVID-19 cases over the last 14 days and per 100,000 inhabitants close to or below the EU average — as it stood on 15 June 2020; stable or decreasing trend of new cases over this period in comparison to the previous 14 days; [and] overall response to COVID-19, taking into account available information including on 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),” it noted.
“Information provided by EU delegations on these aspects should also be taken into account. Reciprocity should also be taken into account regularly and on a case-by-case basis.”
The council noted that its recommendation is not legally binding.
It said authorities of EU member states “remain responsible for implementing the content of the recommendation”.
“They may, in full transparency, lift only progressively travel restrictions towards countries listed,” it said.
“A member state should not decide to lift the travel restrictions for non-listed third countries before this has been decided in a coordinated manner.”
The council added, “Travel restrictions may be totally or partially lifted or reintroduced for a specific third country already listed according to changes in some of the conditions and, as a consequence, in the assessment of the epidemiological situation.
“If the situation in a listed third country worsens quickly, rapid decision-making should be applied.”
There are 104 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in The Bahamas, five of which are active.
The most recent case was confirmed on June 14.
On Sunday, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis begged Bahamians not to travel abroad as some countries experience significant spikes in COVID-19 cases.
“I want to make a very strong plea to Bahamians and residents considering or planning to travel overseas for non-essential travel to not go overseas at this time,” he said.
“If you are thinking of traveling for non-essential or [non-]emergency reasons, please, I beg you, stay at home at this time. Please stay at home. I beg you. I implore you to stay at home.”