Australians have been given the green light by the European Union to travel to member countries after their local authorities declared the country ‘safe’.
Australia is one of a select few set to be allowed entry into the EU’s 27-member block from July 1, diplomats confirmed on Tuesday morning (Australian time).
Their so-called “safe list”, which is still being finalised, has excluded the US, Brazil and China, where the coronavirus pandemic is accelerating.
It comes as the EU drops all travel restrictions imposed on member states to enable its citizens to travel within the bloc.
As for the rest of the world, EU diplomats are deciding who is let in based on how well countries have been able to manage the pandemic.
They spoke anonymously because the procedure is still ongoing and politically sensitive.
Alongside Australia, at least 17 other countries will be allowed entry into EU nations again, from July.
They include New Zealand, Canada, Japan, Thailand and Rwanda.
The EU is also tossing up whether to allow in citizens from China as it’s reported that it will base its decision on whether Beijing lifts restrictions on travel from Europe.
The EU is expected to review its ‘safe list’ every fortnight, with countries being included or excluded depending on their handling of the pandemic.
‘Pandemic is speeding up’
The coronavirus is accelerating globally, warned World Health Organisation director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
“Although many countries have made some progress, globally the pandemic is actually speeding up,” he told a press briefing on Tuesday morning (Australian time).
Global cases have exceeded more than 10.1 million and the death toll has surpassed 502,000, according to the latest data from Johns Hopkins University.
“Most people remain susceptible. The virus still has a lot of room to move,” Dr Tedros said.
“We all want this to be over. We all want to get on with our lives.
“But the hard reality is: this is not even close to being over.”
He said countries must learn how to live with virus because that has become “the new normal”.
Victorians to find out lockdown fate
Back home, prime minister Scott Morrison is set to speak with Victorian premier Daniel Andrews about the possibility of lockdowns in the worst-affected suburbs.
On Monday, he stressed the Labor leader was the “final arbiter of what steps they take”.
About 70 more ADF members landed in Melbourne overnight and will be deployed to testing clinics in the 10 worst-affected suburbs.
Victorian health authorities are waiting on more results before deciding on any further measures to contain the virus.
Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said he expects to see “at least” as many positive cases in the coming days as test results pour in.
A testing blitz is underway in the suburbs of Albanvale, Broadmeadows, Brunswick West, Hallam, Fawkner, Keilor Downs, Maidstone, Pakenham, Reservoir and Sunshine West, which have seen high levels of community transmission in recent weeks.
Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said putting the suburbs into a second lockdown remains an option.
“It is absolutely an option and we flagged the possibility of using it and we will use it if it is required,” Professor Sutton said.