The European Commission has revealed plans to lift borders and kickstart the tourism industry in time for the summer season.
Speaking in a press conference, Executive Vice President of the European Commission Margrethe Vestager along with other commissioners explained:
“Our message is we will have a tourist season this summer, even if it’s with security measures and limitations.”
The tourism industry has been put on hold during the COVID-19 pandemic, which grounded flights with nations shutting their borders. EU Commissioner’s explained that the bloc needed to act safeguard large industries on which millions of people depend.
The plans will first see the gradual removal of travel bans and could see the introduction of border checks. There will be targeted restrictions for those worst hit by the virus.
This means that countries experiencing a similar low caseload and infection rate can create ‘travel corridors’ between them.
Fewer passengers will be allowed onboard and passengers not from the same household should be sat apart from one another. Anyone showing any kinds of symptoms will not be allowed on board.
Wearing face masks on planes will be mandatory. Sanitising gel must also be freely available. Food and drink will not be allowed to be served on board.
The EU Commission made it clear that people will be allowed to ask for refunds, either in the form of cash or voucher, regardless of the lifting of measures.
The Commission says it cannot suspend the law, and is advising them to make the vouchers more attractive in order to incentivise passengers to choose them, for instance by not time-limiting them.
The European People’s Party yesterday proposed that the EU’s internal Schengen borders should reopen in time for summer while non-Schengen EU countries should also reopen for EU tourists with normal border control measures that were in place before the COVID-19 pandemic.
The proposal was fronted by Maltese MEP Roberta Metsola, the EPP’s spokesperson on Home Affairs, and MEP Marian-Jean Marinescu, the EPP’s spokesperson on Transport and Tourism, who argued that such a move is necessary to safeguard the tourism industry and the jobs of thousands of people who work in it.