European Union officials announced plans Tuesday to begin lifting travel restrictions put in place due to concerns over the coronavirus pandemic, though the continent’s borders will remain closed to American visitors.
Beginning Wednesday, travelers will be allowed to visit Europe from 15 countries, including Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea and China, if Chinese officials reciprocate and reopen borders to European citizens. Authorities expect to review and update the list of approved countries every two weeks.
Officials said they will still allow some people to travel from the U.S. and other countries to Europe, including EU citizens and their family members, longtime EU residents and their family members and travelers who serve an essential function or need.
Americans were barred from traveling to Europe based on criteria set by the Council of the EU, including a requirement that countries see two weeks of stable or decreasing numbers of new cases before travel restrictions are lifted.
Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, more than 2.6 million people in the U.S. have been diagnosed with COVID-19. Several states have had to pause or roll back plans to reopen businesses shuttered because of the virus as cases spike in several states.
As of Tuesday, 1.5 million coronavirus cases have been confirmed across Europe.
The coronavirus has been blamed for over a half-million deaths worldwide, including about 130,000 in the U.S., where the number of confirmed infections has rocketed over the past month to around 40,000 per day, primarily in the South and West.
President Donald Trump suspended the entry of most Europeans in March.