EU pushes to unlock borders as coronavirus ravages travel
The European Union’s borders must reopen fast as coronavirus transmissions ease, with air passengers wearing masks, the bloc’s executive was to say on Wednesday in efforts to salvage the ravaged tourism sector for the lucrative summer season, Trend reports with reference to Reuters.
Europe’s museums, castles, beaches and plazas have been empty since an almost continent-wide lockdown from mid-March, but the EU wants to revive what is possible of travel for the June-August season worth 150 billion euros ($162.59 billion).
Draft proposals seen by Reuters say the bloc’s executive, the European Commission, will on Wednesday urge a return to “unrestricted free movement”, though that push will stop if there is a major second wave of infections.
It was not clear whether non-Europeans would be allowed to visit this summer, with the Commission saying: “Domestic and intra-EU tourism will prevail in the short-term.”
The pandemic has pulverised the global economy but hit travel particularly hard. The World Tourism Organisation expects losses of 280 to 420 billion euros for the industry this year, amid a 20%-30% reduction in international arrivals.
While the Commission can only make non-binding recommendations to governments that have control over their borders, Brussels did offer some specifics.
Airlines and airports must insist passengers wear masks, but there is no need to leave the middle seat empty on planes, the draft proposals said.
People should be able to stay in hotels, eat in restaurants or go to beaches safely, the draft added, though it cautioned that would change if there is a new wave of infections.
“Until a vaccine or treatment is available, the needs and benefits of travel and tourism need to be weighed against the risks of again facilitating the spread of the virus that may result in a resurgence of cases, possibly leading to a reintroduction of confinement measures,” the draft said.