Border openings

Germany will allow holidays in Europe this summer

This summer, Spain won't allow masses of tourists like here on the beach of Barcelona. But there are hopes that the summer holiday season is not completely lost.
This summer, Spain won't allow masses of tourists like here on the beach of Barcelona. But there are hopes that the summer holiday season is not completely lost.

The German government plans to end its global travel warning in mid-June and permit holidays in many European destinations this summer under certain conditions.

After a video conference with colleagues from 10 popular EU destinations on Monday, German foreign minister Heiko Maas said the countries had agreed on a "coordinated and gradual" approach to opening their borders for international visitors. These are Austria, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Slovenia, Croatia, Greece, Bulgaria, Malta and Cyprus.

Individual advice instead of general ban

In response, Maas said he hopes to lift the blanket ban on international travel, which currently runs until June 14, for EU destinations. Individual travel advice about potential risks in each country would resume instead. Berlin is also considering reinstating specific travel advice for some non-EU destinations, such as Turkey.

However, it is still unclear what kind of quarantine arrangements German visitors might have to undergo in these destinations, most of which currently have 14-day quarantine periods for any international arrivals. In addition, travel arrangements for airports, airlines, ground transport and hotels also need to be clarified before cross-border leisure travel can resume properly.

Mediterranean countries take different approaches

Major Mediterranean destinations where German visitors play an important role are taking different approaches to relaunching their tourism industries.

Italy, which has been hit particularly hard by the coronavirus pandemic, is aiming for a quick recovery and wants to re-open its border for tourists from June 3 onwards. The two-week quarantine will be lifted. Prime minister Giuseppe Conte admitted it was a "calculated risk" but stressed the country’s tourism industry "cannot wait for a vaccine".

Greece plans to follow soon afterwards and welcome international tourists from the start of July onwards. The country’s beaches have already re-opened with strict social distancing measures, bars and restaurants are due to follow on May 25, and then hotels on June 1. Foreign minister Nikos Dendias declared: "Freedom of movement within the country will be restored, our hotels are preparing to re-open, the beaches are accessible again and archeological sites are re-opening again to the public."

In Portugal, which was hit only mildly by the pandemic, the Algarve region is preparing to reboot its tourism business quickly. About 75% of the region’s hotels should be open in June and the remainder will follow in July. The regional tourism authority is currently drawing up measures to regulate access to beaches.

Turkey also wants to welcome foreign tourists again next month and hotels are implementing detailed governmental 'safe tourism' concepts at present.

In contrast, Spain currently plans to extend the state of emergency until the end of June, although some restrictions have been lifted recently, and it is unclear when the border might be opened again for international visitors. Transport minister José Luis Ábalos commented: "We cannot allow foreigners to come while we impose a curfew on the Spanish population."