Will we be able to travel freely in Europe again from mid-June? The European Commission pushed on Wednesday, for a “concerted” reopening of borders, in order to boost tourism. The German and Swiss authorities say they have signed an agreement with Austria and France for a total reopening of the borders between these four countries by June 15, if the health situation has improved by then.
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The news made headlines in the Swiss and German media on Wednesday evening. “Switzerland will reopen its borders to tourists with France”, explained the Swiss media. There is indeed an agreement, announced by the Swiss executive as by the German Ministry of the Interior. “Subject”, obviously, “that the health situation allows it”.
“June 15, not a contractual date”
But neither the Quai d’Orsay nor the Place Beauvau on the French side made such a press release. Christophe Castaner has limited himself, in a joint press release with his German counterpart, to mention “the gradual opening of border crossing points” by June 15 for “separated parents, the exercise of custody rights , visiting or hosting a child or continuing schooling, as well as visiting a parent in a nursing home or a child in a specialized institution “.
Regarding the total reopening of borders, “June 15 is not a contractual date”, explains a ministerial adviser, according to whom “it is only an objective”. Clearly, the French authorities do not want to give overly optimistic signals, while the deconfinement is just beginning and population gatherings have already had to be dispersed in Paris. The fear of a second wave via the influx of tourists is an obsession, at the Quai d’Orsay.
“We do not know, especially, if the epidemic will have subsided enough by then, at home as with our neighbors,” said a diplomat. “We are not going to say to people: you can move, let them buy train tickets, hotel nights and finally say no at the last moment.” He also recalls that nothing has yet been decided on the lifting of travel restrictions beyond 100 km in France. The point will not be made until early June.
French people abroad? “Not imagined yet”
Could this restriction continue during the summer? And apply to foreign tourists coming to France? Within the Scientific Council, we are clearly not in favor of this option: “The situations are too disparate on one side and on the other on the same border for this to really make sense”, underlines one of the experts. Conversely, letting French people go on vacation outside of France is, he says, “not imagined for the moment”.
All of this will have to be decided by June 15. How else to explain that Swiss tourists can come and sunbathe on the French Riviera, while the Tyrolean mountains would remain inaccessible to French hikers?