I imagine that it’s the same thing I want to know….when can we travel to Europe again? During this time spent at home, sheltering in place and working on helping flattening the curve, we can’t help but ask ourselves when, and in what form, we’ll be able to travel to Europe again
Each individual European country is coming out with its own policies and road-map for opening up their economies after week’s long lock-down measures of its citizens.
For the vast majority of European countries, it’s still unclear when exactly they might open up to international visitors—and what it will entail when they do.
Additionally, airlines that have slashed their international capacity up to 80 and 90 percent in some cases have plans to start adding some of their transatlantic airlift back into the schedule for the summer and fall—Delta, American, and United have all decided that they will resume several European routes between June and October, predominantly to major hubs such as London, Paris, Frankfurt, and Amsterdam—another indication that international travel that has come to a near standstill in the wake of the global corona virus pandemic may slowly start to pick up in the coming months.
On May 8, the European Commission recommended another 30-day extension of the ban on nonessential travel into the European Union, which would leave it in place until June 15, 2020. This travel restriction covers what is referred to as the “EU+” area: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.
Before any external borders can be open, the European Commission stated that internal border controls would first need to be lifted “gradually” and in a “coordinated effort.” In recent weeks, individual countries have begun releasing more information about what that looks like. Here’s the latest on the countries Travels with Audrey specializes in:
Italy reopened its borders to tourists from within Europe and travel between regions as of June 03, 2020. Italy has been one of the destinations worst hit by the pandemic, but the hugely popular European country is keen to get its tourism industry up and running now that infection rates have slowed down. Travelers from the EU, along with the UK and the micro-states and principalities of Andorra, Monaco, San Marino and the Vatican, will be allowed to enter without having to go into quarantine. All museums, including Rome’s Vatican Museums, have been slowly reopening throughout May with strict social-distancing rules. Bars and restaurants were permitted to reopen with reduced numbers of diners as well as plastic shields to divide customers, on May 18.
St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican also opened its doors again on May 18 after being closed for over two months, the Leaning Tower of Pisa has also reopened, while the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express is scheduled to return to railways on July 8.
Some flights are operating and one airport is open per region (Rome Ciampino and Terminal one at Rome Fiumicino airport are closed). Trains are operating reduced services, but no international services are running. Not all restrictions have been removed from June 3rd, however: some rules remain in place, such as the ban on gatherings and a requirement to wear masks on public transport. And while travel to and within Italy is allowed, it may still be difficult in practice: trains and ferries are still operating on a reduced schedule, and many airlines are yet to resume flights to the country.
France was the most visited country in the world before the coronavirus pandemic. Now, like the rest of the EU, restrictions are currently in place on all nonessential travel from outside the Schengen Zone (a grouping of 26 countries which normally have open borders). Travelers who do enter the country, with the exception of EU citizens or arrivals from the UK, will be subject to a compulsory 14-day coronavirus quarantine until at least July 24. It was announced on May 29 that the country’s most visited museum, the Louvre, will reopen July 6.
France reopens its cafés and bars in ‘phase 2’ of lock-down lifting. In Paris, where the coronavirus remains more active than in the rest of mainland France, cafes, bars and restaurants will be limited to outside terraces. Public transport is starting to run more frequently, masks are mandatory. A déclaration de déplacement(certifying the reason for travel and proof of address) is required for domestic travel beyond 100km of the home. P&O and DFDS are operating reduced ferry services on cross-Channel routes. Some flights are operating. Eurostar is running a limited service between Paris and London (passengers are required to wear masks). For vehicle crossings, Eurotunnel Le Shuttle is operating a limited service.
Spain’s lock-down was one of the toughest in Europe, but restrictions are gently being lifted. Beaches set to reopen in June while hotels in some parts of the country have already been permitted to resume business. From July 1, the European destination, which welcomed a record 84 million visitors in 2019, will grant EU travelers permission to enter without having to quarantine for two weeks. At present, it’s mandatory for anyone 6 and older to wear face masks while in public, both indoors and outdoors, “where it is not possible to maintain [an interpersonal] distance.”
Travel by car around a province is permitted, but not between different provinces in the country yet. Many hotels were allowed to reopen from 11 May but not all are expected to do so until borders open to domestic and international tourism. In less affected regions, some outdoor spaces at restaurants and bars open, although most will not be fully operational until June. Museums are allowed to open at a limited capacity. Barcelona’s beaches are open to anyone living within a kilometre. Non-essential travel from the mainland to the Balearic and Canary islands is not yet permitted, although these are likely to be some of the first regions to relax measures further. In partnership with the World Health Organisation, the Canary Islands are set to be the first destination in the world to trial digital health certificates when they open to international tourists in July.
Portugal is still in the process of relaxing lock-down restrictions, having allowed restaurants, museums and coffee shops to reopen at reduced capacity from mid-May. At the end of May, Portugal’s tourism officials told media that the country was “open for business” and that beaches would reopen on June 6.
The European country is keen to revive its struggling tourism industry, with Foreign Minister Augusto Santos Silva recently declaring “tourists are welcome.” Rita Marques, the country’s Secretary of State for Tourism, has launched a “don’t cancel, postpone” scheme, allowing tourists to reschedule any pre-arranged holidays to Portugal until the close of 2021. In addition, national tourism authority Turismo de Portugal has created a free hygiene-certification stamp to distinguish “Clean & Safe” tourism enterprises to increase visitors’ confidence.
While visitors from outside the EU are banned until at least June 15, some routes in and out of Portuguese-speaking nations such as Brazil are still operating. The land border between Portugal and Spain, which has been closed to tourists since March, is unlikely to reopen until EU travel restrictions are lifted.
Public transport across the country is running at a reduced capacity, though there are rail and bus links to Lisbon city center from most parts of the country, and taxis are still operating. Many of the Algarve’s hotels are already open and its beaches are due to open in June. Non-essential travel is not permitted to Madeira and the Azores, where there are health screenings and mandatory 14-day self-isolation is still in place.