European tourism provides nearly 10% of economic output and millions of jobs rely on it. The industry has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.
But, EU executives have proposed gradually re-opening borders in the coming weeks.
Borders have been closed in the EU, including between members of the Schengen zone.
Several countries, including Germany and Austria have now agreed to remove travel restrictions – although there will be additional safety measures in place.
“Our message is we will have a tourist season this summer,” said economic affairs commissioner Paolo Gentiloni, “even if it’s with security measures and limitations.”
The UK has announced a 14-day quarantine period on air arrivals, with the exception of those travelling from France and Ireland.
What are the plans?
According to the Commission, the guidelines it has issued are based on safety and non-discrimination.
It’s recommending a phased approach, which would start with seasonal workers being allowed to cross borders. This would be followed by restrictions being lifted for countries that have the virus under control.
These plans are non-binding, and would be subject to measures to control COVID-19.
Commissioner Vice-President Margrethe Vestager said anyone experiencing symptoms should avoid travel, and that various contact tracing apps are being implemented across Europe.
“Workers and travellers need to know that hotels, restaurants and beaches are safe,” she added/
For cancelled trips, she said “European consumers have the right to a cash refund if that’s what they want. Of course this isn’t going to be a normal summer but when we all work together… then we don’t have to face a completely lost summer.”
How can member states work together?
If the EU wants countries in the Schengen zone to work together, it is crucial measures are in place to ensure the safety of citizens.
Different countries have different restrictions, and many have already imposed quarantine measures on new arrivals.
Going forward, the Commission has recommended that:
- Travellers should check in online to avoid contact at airports and stations
- The number of passengers on aircraft, ferries, trains, and other transport be limited
- All transport staff are provided with PPE – and possibly protective barriers
- Food and drink not be sold on flights to limit contact with passengers
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