THE European Commission (EC) has set out a plan to salvage this year’s summer tourist season.

It proposes a phased approach across the European Union that sweeps away closed borders and travel restrictions and may help Spain’s beleaguered holiday sector.

The EC today (May 13) said it is looking to give people the ability, confidence and safety to travel again.

Beach Credit Unsplash
PLAN: Return of tourism is essential.

One of the most important proposals is to restore freedom of movement and restrict border controls.

The EC said: “Free movement and cross-border travel are key to tourism.”

It added that as the pandemic is brought under control,  blanket restrictions to free movement should be replaced by more targeted measures.

Where a complete lifting of restrictions is not justified by the health situation, the EC wants countries to take a more coordinated and phased approach.

This would start by lifting restrictions between areas or Member States with ‘sufficiently similar epidemiological situations’. In other words areas and countries in a similar stage of the pandemic should allow travel between them.

But the EC warns: “This approach must also be flexible, including the possibility to reintroduce certain measures if the epidemiological situation requires.”

It suggests that under the plan, Brits would not be permitted to visit Spain or elsewhere unless their COVID-19 numbers were in good shape and in line with the country they want to visit.

The EC adds that three criteria will be studied before restrictions are lifted:

  • Epidemiological analyses, focusing on areas where the situation is improving, based on guidance by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).
  • The ability to apply containment measures throughout the whole journey including at border crossings, including additional safeguards and measures where physical distancing may be difficult to ensure.
  • Economic and social considerations, initially prioritising cross-border movement in key areas of activity and including personal reasons.

The EC said that its plan provides a common framework to safely restore tourism and develop health protocols to protect hotel guests and employees.

These mean certain safeguards are met before tourism restrictions are lifted. These include having enough evidence to say the coronavirus is under control in the region; that enough hospital beds and medical facilities are available for both locals and visitors;  and robust monitoring and testing capacity is in place.

The EC said: “These guidelines will allow people to safely stay at hotels, camping sites, Bed&Breakfasts or other holiday accommodation establishments, eat and drink at restaurants, bars and cafés and go to beaches and other leisure outdoor areas.”

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