New travel guidelines from the EU
On Wednesday May 13th, the European Union recommended that border restrictions should be gradually lifted, and travel can restart to revive tourism in the 27 member states. More than one in ten enterprises in the European non-financial business economy belong to the tourism industries. The industry employs nearly 12 million people and normally contributes almost one-tenth of the EU’s economic output.
I’m excited about this because it somehow gives hope and makes me more excited about the future. I do realize it will take time before travel returns to something resembling normal, but these new guidelines indicate that it may not take years. There are five points in the new guidelines.
Safely restoring freedom of movement and lifting internal border controls
If possible, border controls will gradually be lifted within the entire EU area but if the health situation does not justify this, a phased and coordinated approach is proposed that starts by lifting restrictions between areas or Member States with sufficiently similar epidemiological situations. If the epidemiological situation requires, certain restrictions may also be reintroduced. The criteria for lifting the restrictions are the epidemiological situation, the ability to apply containment measures throughout the journey, and economic and social considerations.
Restoring transport services across the EU
General principles for gradual restoration of passenger transportation by air, rail, road, and waterways are given. There are also practical recommendations on how to e.g. limit contacts between passengers themselves and with workers, and on the use of protective equipment while traveling. Separate recommendations are given for each mode of transport.
Safely resuming tourism services
A framework has been created with criteria for resuming tourism activities and the development of health protocols for hotels and other forms of accommodation to protect both guests and personnel. These criteria include epidemiological evidence, sufficient health system capacity being in place for local people and tourists, robust surveillance and monitoring, testing capacity, and contact tracing.
Ensuring cross-border interoperability of tracing apps
The Member States have agreed on a protocol to ensure cross-border interoperability of voluntary contact tracing apps, so that citizens can be warned of a potential infection with coronavirus when they travel in the EU.
Making vouchers more attractive to customers
Under EU rules, travelers have the right to choose between vouchers or cash reimbursement for canceled transport tickets (plane, train, bus/coach, and ferries) or package travel. The Commission reaffirms this right and aims to ensure that vouchers become a viable and more attractive alternative to reimbursements in the current situation.
The Commission has also published more detailed documentation on each point, which you can find on the European Commission’s website. I’m excited that the EU now has a roadmap towards making travel possible again. I’m still not too hopeful about international travel this summer but towards the end of the year I think we might be able to experience new adventures.