Coronavirus travel restrictions: Is Summer holiday travel back on?
The lifting of containment measures and the future of travel in 2020
The President of the EU Commission warned travellers on April 13, not to rush on making summer holiday plans. She added that “we will need to learn to live with this virus for many months, probably until next year”.
Unless someone finds a vaccine, obviously.
So will you be able to travel this summer or will you still be stopped by the containment measures of your home country or the European borders?
Containment measures: The EU Roadmap for an exit strategy & removing coronavirus travel restrictions
On April 15, 2020 , the President of the EU Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, published a Joint European Roadmap towards lifting COVID-19 containment measures.
This Roadmap discusses the importance of restarting “economic and social activities“, without “minimising any impact on people health”.
Here is a quick summary of what you need to know about when and how the confinement measures might be relaxes:
3 sets of criteria have to be taken into account in order to find the best time to start to relax the confinement and ease the coronavirus travel restrictions:
- Epidemiological criteria: significant decrease and stability of the spread of the Covid-19 disease for a sustained period of time
- Sufficient health system capacity: to be sure that Member States health care systems will be able to cope with future increases of the disease as a consequence of lifting of the containment measures
- Appropriate monitoring capacity: The EU authorities are asking for large-scale testing capacity to detect the Sars-Cov-2 Coronavirus and Antibody detection capacities
3 basic principles EU Member States should follow are:
- Action should be based on science and have public health at its centre: the decision to end the lockdown should be based on public health benefits and social and economic impacts
- Action should be coordinated between Member States: Member States should notifiy each other and the European Commission before they announce the end of the lockdown
- Respect and solidarity between Member States: shared knowledge between European countries and mutual assistance remain essential
What are the main recommendations to Member States on how to lift containment measures?
- Gradual action
- General measures progressively replaced by more targeted measures (longer periods of protection for vulnerable people, quarantine for people diagnosed as infected, intensify disinfection of public transport, the end of “State of emergency”,…)
- Lifting measures in targeted regions first, gradually extended to the whole country
- A coordinated lifting of internal borders with a reopening of external borders and access of third-country nationals to the EU in a second stage
- A safe way to re-start economic activity (with different measures applying to different sectors)
- Gatherings of people progressively permitted: with a focus on schools and universities, commercial activity, social activity measures and mass gatherings
- Sustainable effort to prevent a new wave of the pandemic: awareness campaigns, social distancing guidelines, use of facemasks, …
- Prepardness for returning to stricter containement measures if needed
The EU Commission said that it will interact with Member States to discuss those measures and initiatives in order to lift the coronavirus travel restrictions.
The lifting of containment measures inside the European countries – when will travel restrictions be lifted?
Despite the fact that the most popular countries in Europe – and worst hit by the Covid-19 disease- (France, Italy, and Spain) are still fighting a huge wave of infection, there are now encouraging signs that those countries are, little by little, winning the war against the Sars-Cov-2 Coronavirus (hospitals admissions and death rates show slight drops in infections and deaths).
Now what about the future of the lifting of containement measures in those countries and in the rest of Europe?
Will you be able to travel inside or outside the Schengen Area for summer holidays?
France is in strict lockdown until May 11, 2020. Despite the fact that creches, schools and colleges and lycées will be reopened – progressively – from this time, restaurants, bars, cafes, hotels, and cultural sites will stay closed for an indefinite period of time. Large festivals and events will not be allowed after… mid-July.
The French President Macron also mentionned the possibility of European border closures until September.
All services welcoming third-country nationals in Spain are closed indefinitly. Despite the fact that Spain is one of the worst hit country by the coronavirus, the Spanish government decided to begin to ease strict containment measures to bring back to work people in manufacturing, construction and other services. All applications for residency have been suspended indefinitly.
Italians have been confined at home since March 8th, 2020 and the strict containment measures have been extended until May 5, 2020. Only a limited number of specific businesses and factories have reopened. Hotels, restaurants and cafés have delayed opening until June or a later date.
So…any positive news inside Europe?
Austria is the first country in Europe to lift lockdown measures. However, large events will remain banned until August 31, 2020. Knowing that the internal border controls have been extended to April 27, it may mean that you will have the chance to spend some days in Austria this summer!
In Denmark, festivals also remain canceled until the end of August, but the reopening of schools and churches for Easter holidays is promissing.
Czech Republic will reopen its restaurants and bars on May 25 and all retail stores will reopen at the beginning of June.
Don’t loose hope!
The hypothetical end of border controls at internal borders for EU Member States
Will you be able to travel to the 26 Member of the European Union without border controls?
Member States have notified the EU Commission on the duration of the reintroduction of border controls at internal borders as part of the coronavirus travel restrictions. Be aware that it doesn’t mean that non-essential travel will be authorise after this time.
Check our blog article on when Europe will open it’s borders again!
Have you already booked your flight or accomodation for this summer?
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Let’s stay positive about future travels: contact the IaM Team if you would like to apply for a Passport or Visa and organize your next trip!
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