The European Commission on Wednesday presented a Tourism and Transport package of guidelines and recommendations to help Member States gradually and safely restore freedom of movement; lift travel restrictions and internal border controls; and allow tourism businesses to reopen, after months of lockdown, while respecting necessary health precautions in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Tourism is vital to the Single Market and its four freedoms and a key contributor to the EU’s economic, social and cultural way of life,” said VP for Promoting our European Way of Life, Margaritis Schinas, adding that the sector has been deeply impacted by the measures needed to contain the coronavirus.
“As our Member States gradually lift restrictive measures, we are putting in place the foundations for rebooting the tourism eco-system and Single Market in a safe, proportionate way that will prevent the resurgence of the virus within the EU, whilst safeguarding our way of life,” Schinas added.
The Commission’s tourism and transport package includes a common approach for member states to restore free movement and lift restrictions at EU internal borders in a gradual and coordinated way.
As noted, if a generalised lifting of restrictions is not justified by the health situation, the Commission proposes a phased and coordinated approach that starts by lifting restrictions between areas or Member States with sufficiently similar epidemiological situations.
“The approach must also be flexible, including the possibility to reintroduce certain measures if the epidemiological situation requires,” the Commission said.
According to the Commission, member states should act on the basis of the following 3 criteria:
– epidemiological, notably focusing on areas where situation is improving, based on guidance by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and using the regional map developed by the ECDC;
– the ability to apply containment measures throughout the whole journey including at border crossings, including additional safeguards and measures where physical distancing may be difficult to ensure and
– economic and social considerations, initially prioritising cross-border movement in key areas of activity and including personal reasons.
Moreover, the Commission said that the principle of non-discrimination is of particular importance and underlined that when a member state decides to allow travel into its territory or to specific regions and areas within its territory, it should do so in a non-discriminatory manner – allowing travel from all areas, regions or countries in the EU with similar epidemiological conditions.
“In the same vein, any restrictions must be lifted without discrimination, to all EU citizens and to all residents of that Member State regardless of their nationality, and should be applied to all parts of the Union in a similar epidemiological situation,” the Commission added.
Click below to download the Commission’s guidelines:
Restoring EU transport services
Regarding transport in the EU,the guidelines present general principles for the safe and gradual restoration of passenger transport by air, rail, road and waterways.
“We aim to create safe conditions in every mode of transport, to the extent possible, both for people traveling and transport workers. As we re-establish connectivity, these guidelines will provide authorities and stakeholders a standard framework,” Commissioner for Transport, Adina Vălean, said.
The guidelines put forth a series of recommendations, such as the need to limit contact between passengers and transport workers, and passengers themselves, reducing, where feasible, the density of passengers.
“Our priority is to restore mobility as soon as possible, but only with clear provisions for safety and health,” Vălean added.
The guidelines also include indications on the use of personal protective equipment such as face masks and on adequate protocols in case passengers present coronavirus symptoms. The guidelines also make recommendations for each mode of transport and call for coordination among Member States in light of re-establishment of gradual connections between them.
Click below to download the Commission’s guidelines:
The Commission’s Tourism and Transport package also includes criteria for developing health protocols for hospitality establishments such as hotels; and a recommendation which aims to make travel vouchers an attractive alternative to cash reimbursement for consumers.
“We know how much European citizens are looking forward to summer and to travel. Their huge sacrifices over the past months will make a cautious and gradual reopening possible – for now,” said the Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Stella Kyriakides, adding that deconfinement and tourism will not be risk free as long as the virus still circulates among citizens.
“We need to maintain vigilance, physical distancing and rigorous health precautions across the whole tourism and transport ecosystem to prevent further outbreaks as much as possible. We will not allow our efforts to be lost,” she added.
The Commission’s overall strategy towards tourism’s recovery in 2020 and beyond, can be downloaded below: