EU promises a summer tourist season

May 13, 2020

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The European Union has proposed that member states lift travel restrictions for the summer holiday season in order to get the continent’s tourism industry back on its feet.

“Our message is we will have a summer tourist season”, the EU’s Economic Affairs Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni said on Wednesday, “even if it’s with security measures and limitations”.

The continent that was once the epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic now sees its borders opening up for summer holidaygoers. While the borders for a number of European countries still remain closed, the EU is encouraging member states to come up with a plan for opening to tourism.

Related: When will international travel return? A country-by-country guide to coronavirus recovery

“We all need a break, especially after this confinement”, said Thierry Breton, the EU’s internal market commissioner. “We want to enjoy summer holidays, we would like to see our families and friends even if they live in another region, in another country.

“But we want to be able to so while staying healthy and safe because we know the virus will stay for us for some time”.

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Some countries have already unveiled plans for reopening to tourism. For example, Greece’s prime minister has said that the country expects to open for tourists in July. Additionally, Austria and Germany are lifting border restrictions, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel saying that many internal EU border restrictions would be lifted by 15 June.

Related: Why your summer holiday to Greece looks promising

There are also talks of “travel bubbles” or “green corridors” that would allow countries with a declining or low infection rate to open up to select countries with similar rates. Those policies would be in place until borders are fully reopened.

The EU plans to set out policies for developing health and safety protocols for the hospitality sector, such as allowing hotel guests to book a time to use the pool or gym.

With these plans, the ability to visit for those coming from outside of participating member states is still unknown.

Also on Wednesday, the European Union ruled that it was standing by its rule that airlines have to refund passengers when a flight is cancelled. Last month, the transport ministers from some EU states asked the governing body for leeway on the policy to help their cash-strapped national carriers. However, the EU held its position that says the airlines must give passengers their refunds, rather than a voucher.

In recent days, some EU countries have announced that arriving travellers will be required to quarantine for 14 days. Additionally, the U.K. announced plans to require arriving passenger to self-isolate for 14 days. However, details remain vague at this point.

Featured photo by Jorg Greuel/Getty Images.

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