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EU opens borders to ‘safe’ countries including Thailand

EU opens borders to ‘safe’ countries including Thailand

BELGIUM: The European Union agreed Tuesday (June 30) to reopen its borders to 15 countries excluding the virus-stricken US, as the pandemic accelerated globally with more than 505,000 deaths worldwide.


Wednesday 1 July 2020, 09:09AM

Photo: AFP

Photo: AFP

Europe’s piecemeal reopening comes as countries struggle to revive economic activity while fending off new spikes of COVID-19, with hotspots still surging in Latin America and in the United States.

After days of negotiations, EU members finalised the list of countries whose health situation was deemed safe enough to allow residents to enter the bloc starting on July 1 – but the US was notably excluded, along with Russia and Turkey.

Those on the list are Algeria, Australia, Canada, Japan, Georgia, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia and Uruguay.

Travellers from China, where the virus first emerged late last year, will be allowed on the condition that Beijing reciprocates and opens the door to EU residents.

The border relaxation, to be reviewed in two weeks and left to member states to implement, is a bid to help rescue the continent’s battered tourism sector, which has been choked by a ban on non-essential travel in place since mid-Mach.

But with some 10.3 million known infections worldwide, the pandemic is “not even close to being over”, the World Health Organization has warned.

“Although many countries have made some progress, globally the pandemic is actually speeding up,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Monday.

‘Whack-a-mole’ strategy

Even in Europe, where infections have stabilised in many countries, the lifting of lockdown measures is still touch-and-go as governments try to reboot economies facing historic recessions.

The UK, home to Europe’s deadliest outbreak, has already seen its sharpest quarterly contraction in 40 years, shrinking 2.2% from January-March.

The worst is yet to come, with economists predicting a double-digit slump in output during the second quarter, tipping Britain into a technical recession.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson vowed Tuesday to deliver a “infrastructure revolution” to help the country build its way out of the economic downturn.

In the meantime, his government is employing a “whack-a-mole” strategy of targeted lockdowns.

While the government plans to reopen pubs, restaurants and hairdressers on July 4, schools and non-essential shops in Leicester, central England, have been ordered to close after a localised outbreak.

Germany, which has been praised for its handling of COVID-19, also saw its North Rhine-Westphalia state extend a lockdown on a district hit hard by a slaughterhouse outbreak.

And in Australia, a new spike in cases in parts of Melbourne spurred new stay-at-home measures affecting some 300,000 people.

Long wait for tests

COVID-19 is still tearing across the US, particularly in southern and western states where leaders pushed for early reopenings.

The country leads the world with more than 126,000 recorded deaths and 2.5 million cases.

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In Houston, Texans waited for hours in their cars to get tested in a state that has seen infection rates double since early June.

Medical student Fernando Galvez, 24, joined the long line at 4 am.

After seven hours of waiting, he hoped to finally get a test after multiple failed attempts in recent days, despite his symptoms of a sore throat and chest tightness.

The first day he tried to get a test, he arrived at 6.30am. “There was no chance,” he said. “So here I am again.”

Even in New York, deemed to be on the road to recovery, the iconic Broadway theatre district announced it would remain closed until the end of the year.

And the world-famous Cirque du Soleil troupe announced it was filing for bankruptcy protection and cutting thousands of jobs in a bid to survive the pandemic.

US President Donald Trump’s health secretary has warned the “window is closing” for the US to regain control.

But the president has largely turned away from the crisis, holding indoor rallies with big, largely maskless crowds against the advice of his experts and refusing to cover his own face in public.

The US economy is expected to log its biggest decline on record in the April-June quarter, warned US Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, adding that recovery would depend on government efforts to contain the outbreak.

Novel swine flu

Brazil, home to the world’s second deadliest outbreak, was reeling from its worst week yet in the crisis, after registering a record number of 259,105 cases in the seven days to Sunday.

Peru is also suffering, with more than 9,000 fatalities.

And in Iraq, overwhelmed doctors are struggling with mask shortages, unpaid salaries and dilapidated hospitals as daily infections rise.

“We’re collapsing,” said Mohammed, a doctor at a COVID-19 ward in Baghdad.

Iran announced another 150 deaths Tuesday as officials said the virus was still peaking in parts of the country.

Around the world, sporting events continued to fall off the calendar, including the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations and the remainder of this year’s World Rugby Sevens Series.

Researchers in China, meanwhile, have discovered a novel swine flu capable of triggering another pandemic.

Named G4, it is genetically descended from the H1N1 strain that caused a pandemic in 2009, according to scientists at Chinese universities and China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

In a fresh warning to the world, the authors said it possesses “all the essential hallmarks of being highly adapted to infect humans”.

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Pascale | 07 July 2020 - 11:48:57

" For EU citizens there is no visa free travelling to Thailand" What ? Kurt,you really need to upgrade yourself on that matter.Google it,and after that you can come back with your reciprocity rant.

Christy Sweet | 07 July 2020 - 07:50:29

Whoops,   EDIT   Blacks die of CoV-19 at  3 x the rate of whites, not 4 ( Guardian report)  

Kurt | 06 July 2020 - 14:11:03

Pascale, explain your reaction about visa free travelling of Thai to EU. For EU citizens there is no visa free travelling to Thailand.  Not about moaning, it is about reciprocity.  Yes? And EU has no dual/triple pricing for legitimate rich Thai visiting EU. Can buy many hand bags, shoes, watches ( not copies) as they want.

Christy Sweet | 06 July 2020 - 09:48:24

In the USA, CoV-19 kills Blacks at a rate 4 x that of Whites, thus allowing it to get out of control is called ethnic cleansing- quite deliberate.  Trump should be hauled in front of The Hague, except US dropped out of the IC some months back.  

Pascale | 05 July 2020 - 12:43:58

Kurt,as you keep on moaning about reciprocity, why don't you use it when it comes to visa free travel for Thais to those EU countries ?

Kurt | 05 July 2020 - 09:14:17

If Thailand came out with her bubble list. + all the blocking restrictions. before the EU came out with her 'bubble-list', I am sure than Thailand would not have been put on that EU list, as Thailand is not reciprocative.

Kurt | 04 July 2020 - 10:37:10

EU put graciously Thailand on the list of countries who might visit EU countries. Now Thailand has to be reciprocates and not come sudden with all her 'normal' tourist blocking rules. That is sneaky. If Thailand resist in it the EU should take Thailand of EU 'bubble list'. Period.

Pascale | 02 July 2020 - 14:33:35

@Kurt,they are still waiting for the results of a survey among foreign retirees on the subject of who should be included/excluded in those bubbles.

Kurt | 02 July 2020 - 11:09:42

European Union came out with a list of 'bubbles' countries. Thailand already talks long time about it, now, when it comes out with her list? Or did I miss that? Or is it just the usual 'pretending busy talk', and there is still no list ?

Kurt | 01 July 2020 - 18:16:50

Oh, Oh,  While Covid-19 still goes around in China, peaking in large part of the world, still many from overseas returning Thai are Covid-19 infected, a new virus from China starts to come!  Swine Flu, capable to trigger another pandemic.  How we get ever out of all this misery? Keep the borders closed for people from China if you want Thailand and her people to survive the coming years.

LALALA | 01 July 2020 - 18:00:24

There are no cases in LOS because they stoped testing... for me doesnt matter..Europes step to put Thailand on the safe list means that there will be flights... thats all I am looking for.

DeKaaskopp | 01 July 2020 - 10:36:48

Thailand deemed to be a safe country ? Is this fake news ? Are there no experts in Europe ? According to the expert Rorri on here,all the figures are fake in Thailand. As he never could prove that, I guess he will be busy to wipe  of the egg from his face now. Hahaha !


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