Maltese MEP Josianne Cutajar has welcomed the European Commission’s new guidelines for member states to gradually lift their travel bans in time for summer.
“The Commission today issued a set of important guidelines and recommendations to help Member States gradually lift travel restrictions and assist the gradual tourism recovery, after months of lockdown, while respecting necessary health precautions,” Cutajar, who is a substitute member on the European Parliament’s transport and tourism committee, said.
“Until the vaccine is out we need to learn to live with this virus, and the transport system also needs to adapt.”
“This doesn’t mean the free re-opening of airports, and other types of transport, without precaution by the national authorities – we have to look at safe corridors, implement protective and precautionary measures for passengers and workers and go one step at a time, to ensure public health interest, whilst continuing to monitor developments.”
“We need to foster trust in transport through sensibility.”
On a Maltese level, Cutajar noted that the island’s approach to tackling the COVID-19 pandemic has been praised by international bodies such as the World Health Organisation and the World Tourism Organisation.
“If the same sensible approach is adopted when it comes to travel and tourism, always in consultation with the medical professionals, this should lead to positive results once again,” she said.
The European Commission today urged member states who have managed to contain the pandemic to replace blanket travel bans with more targeted measures.
This basically means the establishment of safe travel corridors between countries and regions which have successfully contained the virus, with fresh public health safeguards and social distancing measures.
For flights, this will mean fewer passengers on board, the mandatory wearing of face masks, the availability of hand sanitisers, the physical distancing of passengers not from the same household and no serving of food and beverages.
The European Commission acknowledged such a travel ban easing must be flexible, with the possibility of member states to reintroduce restrictions if the COVID-19 situation worsens.