Thursday

28th Jan 2021

Coronavirus

Conflicting signs ahead of EU summer holiday 'roadmap'

  • While France hopes for some form of holidays, Germany has extended its warning for all non-essential travel until at least mid-June and foreign minister Heiko Maas has spoken up against a race to see who will allow tourism first (Photo: cedric.chan)

French president Emmanuel Macron has warned that international travel trips will be unlikely this summer and that even travelling within the European Union might be limited.

"It is too soon to say whether we can take holidays. We will know early June," Macron said on Tuesday (4 May).

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"We will limit major international travel even during the summer holidays. We will stay among Europeans and, depending on how the epidemic evolves, we might have to reduce that a little more," he added.

The EU shut down its borders until mid-May as a measure to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, although cross-border travel within the bloc is still permitted under certain exceptions.

Additionally, most member states have imposed 14-day-quarantine period for those arriving into their territory, including their own nationals, to stop the spread of the virus.

However, a new debate started this week when France clarified that, once the country starts easing lockdown restrictions from May 11, this measure would not apply to "anyone arriving from the European Union, the Schengen zone or Britain, regardless of their nationality".

Although it is still unclear how the quarantine will apply to French and EU citizens arriving into the country from outside the bloc, Schengen area or UK.

According to the European Commission, any restrictive measure on free movement is justified in the interest of public health as long as they are "proportionate and non-discriminatory".

Likewise, the European Citizen Action Service stressed that a coordinated EU-approach for quarantine measures must be in place to avoid questions linked to: lack of public awareness, lack of training of the civil servants who must inform citizens (as the instructions could change very often) or uniform application of national restrictions depending on whether a mobile citizen enters by car (often without any checks) or by other transport.

This might be why British airlines warned the UK government on Sunday that 14-day quarantine for anyone arriving in the country "would effectively kill air travel" and "shut off the UK from the rest of the world".

Meanwhile, Germany has extended its warning for all non-essential travelling until at least mid-June and its foreign minister Heiko Maas has spoken up against "a European race to see who will allow tourism travel first".

"The government is warning against all non-essential tourist foreign travel since travellers can expect to find quarantine measures in place worldwide along with drastic restrictions on both public life and air and other transport services," said the German government in a statement.

However, several countries - Australia, Austria, Israel, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Greece and New Zealand - have launched an alliance to reopen the borders between each other for this summer, the Wall Street Journal reported.

As a result, travelling this summer from Greece to Israel could be easier than from Greece to Italy, but it is unclear how these unilateral agreements might affect the coronavirus strategy of the bloc.

Austria and the Czech Republic, meanwhile, want to have bilateral agreements with neighbouring countries such as Germany to allow tourists to enter the country during the summer.

The European Commission is set to unveil next Wednesday (13 May) a roadmap focussed on the tourism sector, especially regarding EU's restrictions on non-essential travelling, internal borders, travel vouchers, resumption of passenger transport and protocols for hotels and accommodations.

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