Travelling to the Schengen Area despite the COVID-19 Coronavirus
The latest information
What is the Coronavirus?
The real name of the virus is SARS-CoV-2 for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2, responsible for the COVID-19 disease.
Coronavirus Transmission, Symptoms and Recommendations
The coronavirus has been first transmitted by animals to people (the scientists are still unsure if pangolins or bats are responsible for it) but it is now transmitted from person-to-person. However, there is still no evidence that you can catch coronavirus from pets.
The Coronavirus symptoms are very close to the flu symptoms (WHO data):
- Fever 88% of cases
- Cough: dry 68%, with mucus 33% of cases
- Shortness of breath and breathing difficulties 19% of cases
- Pain in the muscles and tiredness 38%
- Headaches: 14% of cases
In the most severe cases (20% of cases): pneumonia due to infection, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and death
Incubation period: to 6 days to up to 14 days
In order to prevent germs for spreading, you should:
- Wash your hands with soap and water (at least 20 seconds) or use hand sanitizer
- Cover mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing (not doing it in your hands) – catch it in a tissue and bin it straight away.
- Thoroughly cook meat and eggs
- Avoid touching your nose, eyes, mouth if your hands are not clean
- Avoid close contact with people suffering from ARI (at least 3 feet distance between yourself and anyone else who is sick. This has now been advised to extend to 2 meters distance between you)
- Throw tissue into closed bin immediately after use
- Don’t wear a surgical mask if you are not sick (N95 masks are the right ones: use it for a maximum of 8 hours).
If you get infected, the symptoms will generally appear after 5 to 6 days, but you are already contagious a few days before. It seems that people under the age of 20 don’t have significant symptoms or could be asymptomatic.
The latest coronavirus statistics for the Schengen countries and the UK: confirmed cases, deaths and recoveries
(Last update, March 27, 2020)
For now, more than 537,881 reported cases of COVID-19 in 199 countries and territories. The list of cases of COVID-19 in the Schengen zone and Europe below are organised by the highest number of confirmed cases. As a benchmark, please note that China, the first infected country, has had 81,340 confirmed cases 3,292 deaths, 74,588 recovered. Compared to the USA, which was one of the most recent western countries, currently has 85,612 confirmed cases 1,301 deaths, 1,868 recovered and is well on course to be the worst affected country.
- Italy: 80,589 confirmed cases 8,215 deaths, 10,361recovered
- Spain: 57,786 confirmed cases 4,365 deaths, 7,015 recovered
- Germany: 47,278 confirmed cases, 281 deaths, 5,673 recovered
- France: 29,155 confirmed cases, 1,696 deaths, 4,948 recovered
- Switzerland: 11,811 confirmed cases 194 deaths, 131 recovered
- UK: 11,658 confirmed cases, 578 deaths, 135 recovered
- Netherlands: 7,431 confirmed cases 434 deaths, 3 recovered
- Austria: 6,962 confirmed cases 49 deaths 112 recovered
- Belgium: 6,235 confirmed cases 220 deaths, 675 recovered
- Portugal: 3,544 confirmed cases 60 deaths, 43 recovered
- Norway: 3,372 confirmed cases 14 deaths, 6 recovered
- Sweden: 2,840 confirmed cases 77 deaths, 16 recovered
- Czech Republic: 2,062 confirmed cases 9 deaths, 10 recovered
- Denmark: 1,877 confirmed cases, 41 deaths, 1 recovered
- Ireland: 1,819 confirmed cases, 19 deaths, 5 recovered (not a Schengen state)
- Luxembourg: 1,453 confirmed cases 9 deaths, 6 recovered
- Poland: 1,244 confirmed cases 16 deaths, 7 recovered
- Finland: 958 confirmed cases, 5 deaths, 10 recovered
- Greece: 892 confirmed cases 27 deaths, 42 recovered
- Iceland: 802 confirmed cases 2 deaths, 82 recovered
- Slovenia: 562 confirmed cases, 6 deaths, 10 recovered
- Estonia: 538 confirmed cases, 1 deaths, 8 recovered
- Lithuania: 345 confirmed cases, 4 deaths, 1 recovered
- Hungary: 300 confirmed cases, 10 deaths, 34 recovered
- Latvia: 244 confirmed cases, – deaths, 1 recovered
- Slovakia: 226 confirmed cases, – deaths, 2 recovered
- Malta: 134 confirmed cases, – deaths, 2 recovered
- Liechtenstein: 56 confirmed cases, – deaths, – recovered
- San Marino: 208 confirmed cases, 21 deaths, 4 recovered
- Monaco: 33 – 1
According to the WHO, around 3.4% of reported COVID-19 cases have died.
However, there is a huge gap in the death rate that varies by age, health and sex. There is a 5 to 15% risk for 70 to 80+ years old people, and/or people with Hypertension, Respiratory disease, Diabetes or Cardiovascular conditions. Men have a higher mortality rate than women (Males are a little more willing to die than women).
Younger adults and people under 20 years of age seem fortunate to be less infected and the illness less severe.
UPDATE: The numbers of infections kept rising over the spring and started to be understood over the summer, with a drop in infections and deaths from the virus. With the US topping the numbers of infections and the UK being worst hit out of the European countries. The coronavirus numbers has been widely tracked.
As early as July, countries such as Germany were predicting a second wave of coronavirus after largely getting the numbers under control over the summer. The prediction came to fruition as all of Europe started to record the second wave of increasing numbers of coronavirus infections.
This led to almost all European countries and worldwide start to introduce the second round of lockdowns in the hope that they can get the numbers under control over the Christmas and New Year holidays. Unfortunately, countries, like the UK, had to return back to lockdowns before Christmas and others lightly loosened restrictions for a limited time and limited periods over Christmas.
Quarantine and event cancellations
After a G7 video conference, the G7 leaders decided to close the EU borders to all non-essential travel for 30 days to contain the spread of coronavirus.
Belgium: although “no lockdown” is in place, schools, cafes, restaurants and some shops are ordered to close until 3rd April 2020.
Czech Republic: Ban on all travel to the Czech Republic by all foreign nationals. Additionally, all Czech nationals are also banned from exiting the country from 16 March 2020. Special exemptions are in place for truck drivers, diplomats and commuters that live or work 50km from the borders of Germany and Austria
Denmark: All travel to Denmark by foreign citizens. From midday on 14th March 2020, only Danish citizens are permitted to enter Denmark. All foreign nationals who cannot prove a credible reason to enter Denmark will be refused. Only supplies allowed into the country.
France: the events and all gatherings of more than 100 people in attendance are banned. Schools and universities are closed in some parts of the country (Oise, Rhin and Corsica).
From March 17, 2020 midday, a 15-day lockdown will apply with restrictions on people’s movement: 100,000 police officers will be deployed to enforce the lockdown.
Germany: closure of all theatres, concert halls and opera houses in Berlin and cancellation of even of more than 1,000 people in attendance.
Religious services have been banned and Angela Merkel asked germans to cancel their holiday travels, even inside the country.
Greece: All museums and attractions closed until the end of the month. Schools, theatres, cinemas and gyms are closed as well as all public gatherings. The remainder of the Olympic torch relay has also been suspended.
Italy: the quarantine is extended to the entire country and the government recently asked to close all stores except pharmacies and groceries.
Latvia: All public gatherings of over 50 people banned with immediate effect on the 14th March 2020. Only Latvian nationals and those with residency permits are permitted to enter Latvia. Only non-nationals will be able to leave Latvia from 17th March 2020..
Poland: Bans on all travel to Poland except Polish nationals. Returning nationals to face 14 days quarantine. Certain shops in shopping malls to be closed. Restaurants, bars and casinos to be closed and public gatherings reduced to 50 or less.
Portugal: All schools shut until further notice til 9th April 2020. Nightclubs also to be shut and restrictions are put into place for entry into shopping malls
Spain: Schools and universities in Madrid and Victoria are closed. State of emergency declared. All bars and clubs are closed. Curfew put in place in Catalonia.
There is now a partial lockdown for 15 days (started on Saturday March 14th).
Switzerland: Gatherings of 100 or more people have been banned. Restaurants & bars must not exceed 50 people and remain apart. Schools to be closed, unless there are less than 50 students, and depending on the administrative area. Border controls have been re-introduced and people can no longer automatically enter Switzerland from the Swiss-Italian border. Only Swiss nationals, residence permit holders, cross border workers and deliveries can cross. People have been requested to reduce social interactions and to stay away from people over 65 and those with underlying health conditions. Parents have been asked not to use grandparents to look after their children to reduce the risk of infection.
To help businesses, measures for unemployment, payroll support and government loan funds and loan guarantees have been set up for struggling businesses.
Coronavirus – Europe Travel & COVID-19 Updates
Reinforcing health measures at the Schengen borders
According to the European Commission and the Schengen Border Code, it is the responsibility of the Member States to refuse entry on public health grounds to individual third-country nationals.
Member States can reintroduce border controls at international borders for reasons of public policy or internal security.
Despite harmonised EU rules, each Member State of the Schengen Area has its own visa policy, and a Member State can refuse an application for a short-stay as well as entry to the Schengen area to visa holders on grounds of threat to public health.
Every migrant arriving at the hotspots borders undergo a mandatory health check.
The UK’s Foreign Office said that anyone who is coming back to the UK from Italy should be self-isolate for 14 days.
Cancellation of flights: the new flexible EU rules
Despite the fact that “No cases of COVID-19 have been reported to have been infected on-board an aircraft” according to the Rapid Risk Assessment by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), the flying industry is facing the fear of travelling due to COVID-19.
Under EU rules, Member States can take measures such as suspending flights from other EU MS (article 21 of Regulation 1008/2008)
New information on the package travel directive in connection with the COVID-19 have been published by the European Commission on March 5, 2020:
- “If you have booked a package tour and you have not yet left for your trip: both the traveller and the tour operator can cancel the trip without penalty in case of “unavoidable and extraordinary circumstances” (which includes significant risks to human health)
- If you have booked a package tour and you are stranded abroad: your tour operator must provide assistance by providing information on health services and consular assistance, and by assisting to make distance communications and helping to find alternative travel arrangements
If your flight is cancelled due to “unavoidable and extraordinary circumstances”, tour operators must bear the cost of accommodation for maximum three nights, if the carriage of the traveller back home was part of the package”.
Due to a huge amount of cancellation and lack of flight reservations, the UK bases airline, Flybe, has collapsed. Other airlines such as Virgin Atlantic fly near-empty planes. Others have decided to simply cancel their flights: Norwegian airlines have canceled 3,000 flights from mid-march to mid-June which is about 15% of the airline’s capacity for this period, and Air France has cancelled 3,600 flights for March.
Many companies have also specifically cancelled flights to Italy and Spain (Ryanair, EasyJet, British Airways,…).
Travel insurance coverage for the Coronavirus
Less than half of travel insurance covers cancellation in case of a pandemic or epidemic: you might not be able to purchase travel insurance that covers coronavirus claim after the 31st January 2020.
Good2Go, Insure and Go and Travel Insurance Direct insurances don’t cover for coronavirus.
However, the following insurances recently confirmed that they will cover you for the coronavirus:
- World First Insurance
- Allianz Travel Insurance
- Zurich Insurance
- Starr Indemnity Insurance
- Berkshire Insurance
Cooperation and research in Europe
The EU Civil Protection Mechanism was activated on January 29, 2020 to strengthen cooperation between the EU Member States and other 6 participating states to face the coronavirus spread.
They asked on March 6, 2020 for at least €1.4bn for the Emergency Response Coordination Centre to coordinate the delivery of assistance (including repatriation), emergency support and civil protection.
Accordingly, the same day the European Commission has decided to secure an additional €37.5 million (following the €10 million already secured in January) for research on vaccine development, treatment and diagnostics of the COVID-19 coronavirus.
To address the impact on the European economies, the EU will establish a €37bn investment initiative to cushion the European bloc from the economic impact of the coronavirus. It will also establish an €8bn loan fund to support corporations in the Eurozone.
On March 16, 2020, Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the European Commission, proposed to use the EU Solidarity Fund, the EU tool usually used to support member states hit by natural disasters, to help countries to face the coronavirus outbreak and the resulting financial crisis.
Official resources for the public on COVID-19
To be better prepared and informed to face the Coronavirus outbreak, check out the official sources below:
- The World Health Organization website
- The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control website
- The European Commission website
- The United Nations Foundation website
- The Foreign travel advice website
This article will be updated regularly.
You can contact the IaM for more information about British Passport, Schengen Visas, or any other type of visas, immigration, and migration advice.
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