According to EU sources, European Union nations agreed on Wednesday to add Japan to their narrow list of nations from which they will allow non-essential travel, while deferring British tourists until at least mid-June.
At a meeting on Wednesday, ambassadors from the EU’s 27 member states agreed the accession of Japan, which will take effect in the following days.
The current seven nations on the list – Australia, Israel, New Zealand, Rwanda, Singapore, South Korea, and Thailand – are encouraged to gradually ease travel restrictions.
Individual EU countries can still opt to demand a negative COVID-19 test or a period of quarantine.
The EU last month eased criteria for adding new countries to the list, by changing to 75 from 25 the maximum number of new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people in the previous 14 days.
Britain met that revised target but was left off the list because of an increase in COVID-19 cases arising from an infectious coronavirus variant first identified in India.
Britain recorded no COVID-19 deaths on Tuesday, for the first time since March 2020, but cases of the Indian variant doubled last week and the government has said it is too early to say whether Britain can fully drop restrictions on June 21.
Britain might be added to the list in mid-June, depending on the outcome of the variation, when a broader group of countries is expected to be examined, according to EU diplomats.
The list aims to eliminate inconsistencies in travel restrictions throughout the EU.
Quarantines have been enforced on UK visitors in France and Germany, and Austria has prohibited British tourists, but Portugal and Spain are already welcoming them.
Meanwhile, the United Kingdom warns against traveling to all EU nations save Portugal, and solely exempts those arriving from Portugal from quarantine requirements.