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Covid-19: Germany, France Not Eager to Re-start Travel

Tegel Airport, Berlin. Photo Source: @Berlin Airport – SXF & TXL

Germany has expressed it opposition to tourism for the time being extending its ban on non-essential travel until at least mid-June depending on how the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic evolves as some countries announce plans to re-open their borders to visitors.

Germany’s foreign minister Heiko Maas and French President Emmanuel Macron said this week that it was “too soon” to allow holidays, adding that mid-June would be a good time to reassess.

“The government is warning against all non-essential tourist foreign travel since travelers 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.

At the same time, Maas expressed his opposition to the “European race to see who will allow tourism travel first”.

On his part, Macron went as far as to warn that international travel was highly unlikely this summer and that traveling within the EU might be limited.

France “will limit major international travel even during the summer holidays. We will stay in Europe, and depending on how the epidemic evolves, we might have to reduce that a little more,” Macron said.

It should be noted that though France will start lifting lockdown restrictions on May 11, the measure will not apply to “anyone arriving from the European Union, the Schengen zone or Britain, regardless of their nationality”.

Both Germany and France have historically been among Greece’s top source markets.

Meanwhile, in efforts to re-launch travel, some countries are examining unilateral agreements that would in effect allow travel among partner countries willing to accept tourists.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Greece has been invited to join the so-called “seven-member alliance” made up of Australia, Austria, Israel, the Czech Republic, Denmark and New Zealand. The countries are examining ways to re-open their borders this summer in efforts to reboot their economies through tourism.

In this direction, Greece was earlier this week exploring the possibility of creating a “safe travel zone” with Israel and Cyprus – all countries with low Covid-19 infection and death rates.

It should be reminded that Greece has repeatedly called for a coordinated EU-approach for quarantine measures that will enable safe travel and at the same time protect host countries. The European Citizen Action Service has backed this idea.

Meanwhile, according to the EUObserver, the immediate future of travel and tourism in the EU is set to clear up on May 13, when the European Commission is expected to present a roadmap for the sector covering EU measures on non-essential travel, intra-Union travel, vouchers, air transport and health protocols for hotels and accommodation facilities.

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About the Author
Chicago-born and raised, Maria Paravantes has over two decades of journalistic experience covering tourism and travel, gastronomy, arts, music and culture, economy and finance, politics, health and social issues for international press and media. She has worked for Reuters, The Telegraph, Huffington Post, Billboard Magazine, Time Out Athens, the Athens News, Odyssey Magazine and, among others. She has also served as Special Advisor to Greece’s minister of Foreign Affairs, and to the mayor of Athens on international press and media issues. Maria is currently a reporter, content and features writer for GTP Headlines.

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