The European Commission has recommended that summer holidays be planned this summer in the home country or in the neighborhood to limit the coronavirus epidemic.
“It will not be a normal summer, but spring has been long and difficult and we all need a break,” European Commission Senior Vice President Margrethe Vestager said on Wednesday, presenting a package of recommendations to member states.
The Commission has advised member states on how to lift restrictions, resume international travel, tourism activities and reimburse passengers for burned tickets and reservations.
According to the Commission, the lifting of restrictions should start at regional and neighborhood level, gradually covering all European countries. The neighborly fall of the border is seen as the first stage in easing the restrictions, while the removal of all restrictions and all types of travel will take place at the next stage in compliance with certain health measures.
“We prefer to see open areas, districts, regions where the epidemiological situation is similar, before whole countries open up,” said Thierry Breton, who is in charge of tourism.
The abolition of border restrictions must take place between countries in a similar situation to the development of the coronavirus epidemic and provided that their health systems take on all patients, test all suspicious cases and monitor their contacts, the instruction issued. from Brussels. The Commission believes that only part of the borders can be opened and others can remain closed if the epidemic continues to rise in the neighborhood. It is also possible to be allowed to cross only certain types of borders – airports, water or land points.
The decision to open the borders is a national competence and the Commission’s recommendations are only desirable.
The Commission has called on tour operators to exercise extreme caution if they offer destinations outside the EU, assessing the country’s ability to take care of tourists. European external borders are currently closed to visitors from non-European countries until 15 June.
Conditions for opening borders
EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakidis said coronavirus cases should not only be reduced but stabilized before a country decides to open it to travel.
“As long as there are no vaccines, the virus will remain, as will the risk of infection,” she warned.
For countries that are at a similar stage in the development of the epidemic, it is believed that the transition from one to another does not increase the risk of a jump in those infected, provided that measures are taken to control the situation.
Hospitals should have beds, including intensive care, enough to accommodate all those who need medical care – both local and foreign tourists. States must have the potential for mass testing and an established system for tracking the contacts of those infected. States, transport and tour operators must inform holidaymakers in advance how to protect themselves and what measures they provide.
If a country decides to open its borders only to travel from neighboring countries, it also commits itself to citizens of other European countries who reside permanently in that country.
“If a border opens, it opens to all European and British citizens,” EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ilva Johansson warned.
The European Commission recommends that additional travel security measures be taken. Masks and disinfectants must be worn at airports and train stations. Only families will be allowed to sit together in the vehicles, while the rest will be accommodated so as to provide distance. Separation of passengers can be done with bulkheads and wearing masks, but the release of a middle seat in vehicles is not recommended. According to the European Commission, aircraft can control the flow of air so that it does not spread viruses between passengers, so there is no need to reduce the capacity of people transported.
It is recommended to sell tickets online and print them by customers, so as not to wait in queues for check-in, as well as to create mobile applications that allow to avoid the crowding of waiting people.
The European Commission also advises not to serve food and beverages in vehicles, not to use air conditioners and, where possible, to replace them with natural ventilation.
Border testing or before departure is not necessary, according to the European Commission. According to experts, even if tested, anyone can become infected after the test, so it makes no sense to test tourists and travelers. Temperature measurement is also not considered a reliable method of screening patients for healthy ones, as the temperature can be controlled with medication.
Compensation for canceled trips
The European Commission has said that any passenger or tourist whose trip or holiday is canceled due to the pandemic is entitled to a refund. At the same time, Brussels has recommended that people who can afford it or want to help their local economy take vouchers.
“These vouchers must be attractive enough for consumers, and we are ready to support schemes if they are state-guaranteed,” said Margrethe Vestager, vice-president of the European Commission.
According to her, vouchers could be longer, allow a refund after their expiration or include various additional services.
The European Commission will send letters to national authorities explaining how to make compensation attractive, Transport Transport Commissioner Adina Valean said. Twelve countries will also receive warning letters that they are violating consumer rights by allowing hotels, tour operators and transport companies not to refund money if specifically requested.