The European Comission (CE) presented this Wednesday, May 13, its recommendations to gradually reopen the internal borders of the European Union (EU), with a de-escalation in three phases and safe brokers between countries with similar situations in terms of pandemic containment.
The Commission’s objective is that this process, facing the summer high season in the EU, where the tourism industry represents around 10% of GDP, be done “in a coordinated, concerted and non-discriminatory manner” and according to criteria of “proportionality”.
The Brussels recommendations are presented after several countries have been announcing their own measures. France and the United Kingdom have reached a bilateral pact not to require quarantines for those who transit between the two countries, and Spain will apply a 14-day quarantine from May 15 to travelers arriving from other countries.
The “tool box” proposed by Brussels divides the situations of the countries into three phases, based on the freedom of movement that their epidemiological situation allows, and contemplates applying regional criteria and not only national ones, but not quarantines.
“General restrictions” on free movement “should be replaced by more specific measures”, according to Brussels, which stresses that these firewalls, in any case, should be flexible and include “the possibility of reintroducing certain measures if the epidemiological situation requires it.”
“What we recommend is that when they make decisions, they do so based on certain criteria, for example, health capacity,” so that countries are able to take on new cases, says Brussels.
The EC also requests that these criteria be updated through “surveillance and monitoring” and the evolution of the situation in each country and the “traceability” of infections, although it suggests that tracing computer applications be ” voluntary “and not compulsory, while highlighting the importance of coordination between them.
In the first phase, mobility would be restricted at current levels. The phase change to enter the stadiums that would allow moving between countries with similar situations. Brussels relies on the information provided by the member states on their own reality, despite the fact that there is no harmonization of criteria to measure the impact of the pandemic and each country uses its own methodology.
It will be the Agency for the Control of Diseases of Europe (ECDC) that, based on the information provided by the States, draw up the list of countries and phases.
On the second rung, between countries that are in the same phase, mobility should be guaranteed, although means of transport will play a key role.
If the connections were between Germany and Greece, take European sources as an example, journeys should be made by plane to avoid crossing countries that are not aligned with each other.
The third phase would involve restoring the normality of the Schengen area.
Protocols for tourism and transportation
Brussels recommends that it be used mask in all means of transport and respect the safety distanceas well as enable “suitable protocols in case of passengers who present symptoms of coronavirus”.
The community executive proposes sanitary protocols for Hotels and similar establishments, as well as reinforcing hygiene measures and demanding social distancing in common areas and also guaranteeing good ventilation in closed spaces.
In the specific case of planes, and taking into account that in recent days there have been almost full flights, from Brussels they recognize that there are places where it is difficult to keep precautionary distances.
But they stress that “additional health protocols” in which Brussels is working with Member States and related agencies and bodies can be “applied.” Guidance will be released “a couple of days after” the general recommendation.
Brussels again validates its recommendations airlines and other transportation companies with severe liquidity problems offering travel coupons to passengers whose flights have been canceled by the pandemic, instead of cash reimbursement. He proposes that the State in question act as guarantor of the coupons and asks consumer associations to support the measure.
However, the passenger rights regulations continue to allow the traveler to claim the money.
“We are helping European tourism get back on track as long as it is healthy and safe. Today we propose a common European approach to managing what will remain a difficult summer 2020 season, as we prepare for a more sustainable and digital tourism ecosystem in the future, “summed up Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton.