While North Americans will remain barred from traveling to Europe, there is a nation in Latin America that has an open invitation. As of this writing, Uruguay is the only country of the region whose citizens are allowed into the European Union.
Why are Uruguayans the only group of Latin Americans able to travel to Europe?
Reporting only 997 COVID-19 confirmed cases and 31 deaths as of July 14, Uruguay, located in the southeastern region of South America, should be considered as the reference point when it comes to handling the coronavirus pandemic. According to Dr. Giovanni Escalante, the country’s representative of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Uruguay was able to track with anticipation potential cases while having an active epidemiological surveillance system that followed the contagion. “Integrated response systems are critical to addressing these public health emergencies, meaning a nationally agreed plan with the best collaboration schemes [and] with clear decisions based on rationality and evidence,” he tells AS/COA Online’s Luisa Horwitz.
Dr. Escalante also mentioned how Uruguay’s health care system helped to manage the crisis and how the whole country has been willing to follow the guidelines. “Almost 100 percent of Uruguayans receive a comprehensive package of health services,” said the health expert. “There is a social network to avoid the catastrophic consequences of the pandemic,” adding that “for Uruguayans, the voluntary scheme was, in real action, auto-enforced.”
Although Uruguay’s COVID-19 situation is considered by many as a successful under control situation, Daniel Salinas, Uruguay’s health minister said “we cannot cry victory just yet. We have to stay alert.”
“People were treated like adults, and they reacted accordingly,” said political scientist Adolfo Garcé to the Financial Times, applauding the “responsible freedom” all Uruguayans are exercising.
Besides Uruguayans, residents of Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, and Tunisia are welcome into the EU and Schengen Area countries, as reported by CNBC. According to the European Commission’s checklist, the list of countries for which travel restrictions can be lifted will be updated on a regular basis and they should “be considered as being in a comparable or better epidemiological situation as the average” European area with regard to the “number of new infections; the trend in new infections, and response to COVID-19 taking into account available information on aspects such as testing, surveillance, contact tracing, containment, treatment, and reporting.”
Based on those criteria, we have a long way to go before we can start fantasizing about our next travels to Europe.