Passengers wear protective face masks and gloves as they check in for flights at Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport in Athens.
A French report suggests Kiwis are among residents from 14 countries who could be allowed to restart travel to the Europe Union, while the official New Zealand Government advice remains that Kiwis should not travel overseas.
A separate report indicates the United Kingdom wants to reach agreements with New Zealand and Australia to be on a list of so-called green light countries, that would have quarantine-free travel based on Covid-19 status. That would seem to be optimistic as the prospects of even just a trans-Tasman bubble seem to be sliding further away.
French news organisation Le Monde reported on Sunday (NZT) that a committee of member countries’ ambassadors to the EU had agreed to a proposal on Friday evening (local time) to reopen external borders to 14 countries from July 1.
New Zealand, Australia and Canada were among those countries but the US, Russia and Turkey were not.
* Coronavirus: Why we’re suddenly seeing more Covid-19 cases coming through the border
* Britain’s coronavirus quarantine won’t fly
* Coronavirus: How is the rest of the world faring in the Covid-19 pandemic?
The UK is still treated as an EU member state during the transition period to Brexit. Many EU countries have reopened to other members of the group after weeks of closure during the coronavirus pandemic, although there is considerable variation.
Le Monde attributed its report to a “diplomatic source”. It said the list had to be definitively established before Saturday evening and adopted before Monday (local time).
There does not appear to have been any official comment from the EU and, in any case, Le Monde said some countries had asked for a delay.
The list would also not be fully binding, with border management remaining a matter for each country in the EU.
In deciding on which countries to reopen to, the EU committee had taken into account the epidemiological situation is those countries, incidence of new Covid-19 contamination, testing capacity, and prevention rules.
Regardless of whether Kiwis are welcome in the EU, the New Zealand Government does not want its residents going overseas.
“We currently advise that all New Zealanders do not travel overseas at this time due to the outbreak of Covid-19, associated health risks and widespread travel restrictions,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s SafeTravel website continued to say on Monday morning.
“Consider whether you have access to health care and support systems if you get sick while overseas. Be aware that you may be placed in quarantine, be required to self-isolate or be subject to strict movement restrictions. Your travel insurance may be affected by the outbreak of Covid-19.”
Meanwhile, a report in the Daily Mail said plans will be unveiled this week for a “traffic light system” that would establish which countries UK residents could travel to without having to quarantine on their return home.
Countries would be rated green, amber or red based on coronavirus infection levels, the reliability of official data and confidence in test and trace systems.
The automatic 14-day quarantine requirement for travellers entering the UK would remain only for red-rated countries such as the US and Brazil. Travel between green and amber countries will be quarantine-free, but passengers would have to fill in a locator form to trace their movements.
The UK Foreign Office would also be lifting its advice against “all but essential travel” to low or medium-risk destinations, making it possible to obtain travel insurance.
The report also said it was hoped that an agreement would be reached with Australia and New Zealand in coming weeks, adding them to the list of green countries.
That would seem to have no chance of happening, given that even a trans-Tasman bubble between two countries with very low numbers of Covid-19 cases and deaths has failed to materialise.
According to Worldometers, New Zealand and Australia both have a Covid-19 death rate of four deaths for every million people, and both have around 300 confirmed cases for every million people. In contrast, the UK has among the highest confirmed death rates in the world at 642, and its confirmed case rate is 4584 per million.
Air New Zealand said customers were subject to the border controls of any countries they were travelling to, and it was up to customers to ensure they met entry and transit requirements. It suggested anyone thinking of travelling overseas refer to a guide published by the International Air Transport Association.
For now Air NZ was flying overseas to Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, some Pacific Islands, Hong Kong, Narita-Tokyo, Shanghai and Los Angeles.