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EU to list countries whose citizens can enter 31 European countries

Temperature screening could be carried out at airports

The EU is set to make public a list of countries whose citizens will be allowed to enter 31 European countries.

Most Americans are likely to be refused entry for at least another two weeks due to soaring coronavirus infections in the US.

EU envoys to Brussels have launched a written procedure which would see the list endorsed this  morning so long as no objections are raised by member countries.

The list is expected to contain up to 15 countries that have virus infection rates comparable to those in the EU.

Infection rates in Brazil, Russia and India are also high, and they are also unlikely to make the cut.

The countries would also have to lift any bans they might have on European travellers.

The list of permitted nations is to be updated every 14 days, with new countries being added or even dropping off depending on whether they are keeping the disease under control.

The daily number of new confirmed cases in the United States has surged over the past week.

The US has the world's worst coronavirus outbreak, with nearly 2.6 million people confirmed infected and more than 126,000 dead, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. Experts say this total understates the pandemic's true toll due to factors including limited testing.

In March, US president Donald Trump suspended all people from Europe's ID check-free travel zone from entering the US, making it unlikely now that US citizens would qualify to enter the EU.

That month, the EU imposed restrictions on non-essential travel to its 27 nations, plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, which are part of the Schengen open-borders area, to halt the spread of the virus. Non-EU citizens who are already living in Europe were not included in the ban.

More than 15 million Americans are estimated to travel to Europe annually, and any delay would be a further blow to virus-ravaged economies and tourism sectors on both sides of the Atlantic.

Around 10 million Europeans are thought to cross the Atlantic for holidays and business each year.

Today's decree will not apply to travel to the UK, which left the EU in January.

The UK now requires all incoming travellers - bar a few exceptions like truck drivers - to go into a self-imposed 14-day quarantine, although the measure is under review and is likely to ease in the coming weeks. The requirement also applies to UK citizens.

Flights have resumed at Belfast International Airport. Picture By Hugh Russell

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