Summer vacation 2020 should be possible despite the ongoing corona pandemic. However, tourists have to expect restrictions.
The corona pandemic continues to limit life in Germany and the world – including the opportunity to travel. The Federal Foreign Office just extended the current worldwide travel warning up to and including June 14th. Nevertheless, there are bright spots. Corona measures are slowly being relaxed; after retailing, catering, hotels and other holiday accommodations will soon be able to reopen under certain conditions. Summer vacation 2020 should even be possible in other European countries – under certain conditions, as the EU Commission announced on Wednesday (May 13).
The German border controls are to be gradually relaxed as of next Saturday (May 16) by decision of the Federal Ministry of the Interior, but so far no tourist trips have been made. Federal Minister of the Interior Horst Seehofer (70, CSU) extended the controls at the borders with France, Austria and Switzerland until June 14, “with the clear objective that we would then like to have free travel again from mid-June,” he said. Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (53, SPD) did not present a precise timetable, but announced that the travel warnings would first be lifted in Europe.
Infection numbers as a yardstick
The recommendation of the EU Commission looks similar. It makes falling infection numbers on both sides and identical hygiene regulations a prerequisite for free travel between two EU countries. In addition, travel should only be permitted in areas where there is sufficient medical capacity to be able to treat tourists if necessary – including a sufficient number of corona tests. In contrast, entries from other EU countries should remain prohibited until mid-June.
The tourism industry, which is one of the worst affected by the Corona crisis, must be prepared to present strict hygiene concepts and to adhere to security measures. Travelers are likely to keep distance rules and wear mouth and nose protection on vacation, for example. In some cases, it may also be necessary to reduce the number of guests in accommodation and restaurants.
Comprehensive requirements for hotels and airlines
The EU makes particularly stringent recommendations for the hotel industry. Personnel should be trained separately and the guests should be regularly informed about news from the local authorities. It is also important to be able to track contacts in the event of a virus outbreak. The “Corona app”, which has already been discussed extensively and is currently under development, could be used here. In addition, there should be special regulations for members of risk groups, for example the provision of meals in the hotel room.
To ensure the necessary minimum distance, hotels are recommended to allocate slots for eating meals in restaurants and cafés as well as for spending time by the pool or in the fitness area. In addition, travelers will have to make friends with the fact that they only come into contact with employees through glass panes or alternative protective walls, and that the safety distance is indicated by markings on the floor. Another recommendation concerns the use of lifts: They should be reserved for guests who have difficulty climbing stairs.
Air travelers should be prepared to continue wearing their protective masks at airports and during the flight, since the mask requirement is likely to remain for the time being despite further loosening. Airlines are also said to have air conditioning in their aircraft that cleans the air just as well as it does in hospitals. However, the EU Commission does not want Lufthansa, Ryanair and Co. to make any regulations regarding seat allocation. So the middle seat should not necessarily remain free. However, passengers should be able to keep their distance from other passengers.
Quarantine requirements cause problems
What awaits holidaymakers after arrival in the respective country? In Spain, for example, problems have arisen with the recently agreed 14-day quarantine obligation for passengers arriving from abroad, which will apply from Friday (May 15). The regulation will remain in force until May 25 and will make it more difficult to resume tourism in the Mediterranean country, which is popular with Germans.
Negotiate the Balearic Islands according to a report by the “Mallorca newspaper” currently with Germany on the possibility of a safer tourism corridor and rely on bilateral agreements. The quarantine requirement decided by the central government in Madrid now makes this process considerably more difficult.
An announcement from Greece gives a little foretaste of what holidaymakers can expect on the European beaches this year. Due to an impending heat wave, the local corona crisis team has agreed, according to a report by the Greek state television (ERT), that all organized bathing establishments in the country will open prematurely from Saturday. However, only 40 people are allowed to stay there, each on 1,000 square meters. In addition, the distance between the parasols must be at least four meters, and there can be a maximum of two loungers under the parasols.
Travel map is intended to give vacationers clarity
The EU Commission wants to use a map to make it easier for holidaymakers to get an overview of the current situation at their destination – including the infection rate and the currently applicable measures. It is to be developed by the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control.
With regard to the reimbursement of tickets that have already been booked, the EU Commission has so far kept its line. Consumers should continue to have the choice of getting their money back or accepting a voucher. Germany previously urged customers to accept vouchers. However, the Federal Government is now refraining from this project after announcing tough headwinds from Brussels.
The EU Commission can only make recommendations with regard to measures and requirements; decisions are ultimately made by each EU country independently. Holidaymakers should therefore inform themselves extensively about the respective location at their destination. It is also important to remember that the development of the corona pandemic is dynamic. Based on the infection process, changes regarding the necessary measures that affect the vacation can take effect again at any time.