European Union opens up to nonessential travel from US

The European Union is opening up nonessential travel from the United States and other countries.

The Council of the European Union issued a recommendation allowing member states to gradually lift travel restrictions and external borders for U.S. residents starting Friday.

The list will continue to be reviewed every two weeks, and will be updated as needed, the council said.

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In addition to the U.S., the council also recommended gradually lifting travel restrictions on Albania, Australia, Israel, Japan, Lebanon, New Zealand, North Macedonia, Rwanda, Serbia, Singapore, South Korea and Thailand.

The bloc also recommended restrictions be lifted on China, subject to reciprocity. It further recommended lifting restrictions for Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macao.

The EU closed off nonessential travel in the wake of the pandemic but is beginning to open back up due to the pace of vaccinations.

Last month, the council signed off on a set of criteria that would allow nonessential travel to the region. EU members preliminary agreed on Wednesday to lift restrictions on the U.S.

The council’s recommendation is not legally binding, and each member state is still responsible for implementing the recommendations.

Under the recommendation, even travelers who have not been fully vaccinated will be able to travel for nonessential reasons. However, member states will still be able to require COVID-19 testing and quarantine guidelines.

But some countries have already opened up to travelers. Spain began allowing vaccinated Americans to travel on June 7, and Greece has also said it will allow vaccinated tourists to travel there.