Europe's borders open up to travelers as coronavirus restrictions eased

Restrictions and new ways of working mean pre-pandemic levels of travel are a long way off however.

A view shows the border check point Saint-Ludovic at the Franco-Italian border after France reopened its border to Italians as coronavirus disease (COVID-19) travel restrictions across Europe are gradually eased, in Menton, France, June 15, 2020 (photo credit: REUTERS/ERIC GAILLARD)
A view shows the border check point Saint-Ludovic at the Franco-Italian border after France reopened its border to Italians as coronavirus disease (COVID-19) travel restrictions across Europe are gradually eased, in Menton, France, June 15, 2020
(photo credit: REUTERS/ERIC GAILLARD)
European countries are easing some border controls on Monday after months of coronavirus lockdowns, ahead of what is expected to be a low-key summer in the tourist industry.
Restrictions and new ways of working mean pre-pandemic levels of travel are a long way off however.
European Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson urged Schengen members last week to lift internal border controls by Monday, to allow a gradual reopening to other countries from July.
"International travel is key to tourism and business, and for family and friends reconnecting," Johansson said last week. "You should open up as soon as possible."
It is hoped the move could help salvage part of the summer season for Europe's battered travel and tourism industry. With recreation and culture, the sector makes up almost 10% of the EU economy and an even bigger part in Mediterranean countries, some of which were the hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
Before the crisis, an average of 3.5 million people crossed an internal EU border every day, according to a European Parliament report last year, some 1.7 million of the commuting to work. Millions of employees across the world experienced working from home at the height of the pandemic and it is expected that a continuation of this policy in certain companies will continue to affect numbers, while continued restrictions and health concerns are expected to curb tourism and business travel.
The Schengen area of 22 EU countries plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland operates control-free crossings, but they have been mostly closed for three months to all but goods traffic and critical workers.
From Iceland to Greece, many restrictions for EU and Schengen visitors will ease on Monday, but it will not be a return to unfettered travel for the Schengen area's 420 million inhabitants.
Belgium, Croatia, Switzerland and Germany are fully opening their borders on Monday.
Austria, which opened its land borders with Germany, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Slovakia, Slovenia, Hungary and the Czech Republic on 4 June will open up its land border to Italian travelers from Tuesday, although those travelling from the coronavirus-hit region of Lombardy will be subject to extra restrictions.
Spain will allow no foreign tourists until June 21, except for Portugal, which currently has over 12,000 active cases. German tourists will be allowed to visit certain Balearic Islands as part of a pilot scheme to boost tourism in the islands which are almost entirely dependent on the tourist industry for their economies.
Greece have mandated testing upon arrival in the country from specific airports from Monday, and visitors will be required to entire a 7-day quarantine with a negative test, and a 14-day period for positive tests.
All other passengers, including travelers coming from countries such as Australia, Germany, Denmark, Switzerland, Japan, Israel, China, Croatia, Cyprus, Latvia, Lebanon and New Zealand will be subject to random tests but no further restrictions.
The Czech Republic, whose numbers rose to over 10,000 active cases on Monday morning, has a traffic-light system, barring entry for tourists from 'orange' or 'red' countries such as Portugal and Sweden, Belgium and the UK.
Denmark will allow in tourists from Iceland, Germany and Norway, but notably not neighbors Sweden, on condition they book at least six nights' accommodation.
Since June 8, travelers to the United Kingdom have been required to enter quarantine for 14 days. Exemptions have included those traveling from neighbors Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man.
Britain's mandatory two-week quarantine for visitors means Brits will face the same restrictions in France. Spanish visitors are also required to enter quarantine upon arrival in France, but visitors from all other European countries will be allowed to enter without any restrictions from Monday.
French President Emmanuel Macron said in a televised address Sunday night that, "This does not mean that the virus has gone and that we can completely drop our guard. The summer of 2020 will be a summer unlike any other, and we will need to watch the evolution of the epidemic to be prepared in case it comes back with renewed strength."
Macron has also stated the countries outside the EU will be evaluated and if the pandemic is under control, restrictions could be lifted for those countries from July 1.
Tourists who wish to travel from the US, Asia, Latin America or the Middle East are still subjected to restrictions. Other European countries are expected to join France and start opening up to some visitors from around the world in July.


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