EFTA Citizens Exempt from Ban on Travel to EU

Vala Hafstað

Citizens of EFTA countries and the UK are exempt from the ban approved by the EU yesterday on non-essential travel to the European Union, Morgunblaðið reports. The 30-day ban is being imposed to control the spread to the COVID-19 pandemic.

EFTA countries include Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland.

MP Sigríður Á. Andersen, who also chairs Alþingi’s Foreign Affairs Committee, tells Morgunblaðið that in her view, it would be best for Iceland not to be part of the travel ban. “In my view, at least, closing Iceland’s borders to everyone outside the Schengen area would require further examination,” she states. “We’re not interested in that yet, in my view,” she adds.

She believes the purpose of closing the EU borders is to discourage individual EU nations from closing their own borders and to encourage those who already have done so to open them again.

Yesterday, Foreign Minister Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson spoke with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on the phone about the recently imposed travel ban for non-US citizens from the Schengen Area to the US – a ban that includes Icelandic citizens.

“We discussed the importance of maintaining good relations until this pandemic is over. In addition, I emphasized the importance of maintaining air service between the countries, due to [Iceland’s] unique position.”

Guðlaugur stressed that everything is being done to minimize the damage caused by the pandemic.

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