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Gabon blocks European travelers after EU ‘safe list’ snub

LIBREVILLE, July 1 – Gabon’s government said on Wednesday that European tourists and business travelers would not be granted visas after the European Union excluded it from a “safe list” of countries from which the bloc is allowing non-essential travel.

The European Union re-opened on Wednesday to leisure or business travel from 14 countries beyond its borders based on their success in containing the coronavirus. The list was approved by a majority of member states on Tuesday.

In response to its exclusion, Gabon’s foreign ministry instructed diplomatic missions to deny tourist visas to citizens of EU member states when Gabon’s air borders re-opened on Wednesday.

A letter from the ministry said the policy had been adopted “in application of the principle of reciprocity.” Some visas will be granted for missions authorized by the government, it said.

Four African countries – Algeria, Morocco, Rwanda and Tunisia – are included on the EU’s list. Gabon has recorded 5,394 cases of COVID-19, including 42 deaths, one of the higher rates in Central Africa.

The EU’s list excludes the United States, Russia, Brazil and Turkey, countries whose containment of the virus is considered worse than the EU average. (Reporting by Gerauds Wilfried Obangome; Writing by Aaron Ross, Editing by William Maclean)

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