TRAVEL | EU Pushed To Reopen Borders For Summer Tourism Amidst Coronavirus

BRUSSELS – The European Union on Wednesday pushed to reopen internal borders and restart travel, although the prospects of reviving tourism ahead of the summer seasons were mixed as public fears over health and safety weight during the coronavirus pandemic.

With the tourism sector, which usually accounts for about a tenth of the bloc’s economy, now decimated by the pandemic, the EU’s executive Commission urged a return to ‘unrestricted free movement’, albeit with safety measures such as masks on airplanes.

‘Our thoughts are nor turning toward summer and to the places that we love to travel’, said Margreth Vestager, a Commission deputy. ‘That means taking gradual, careful steps to help travel restart in line with what science tells us’.

Tourism industry groups praised the recommendations as a first step to help save their businesses, but the Commission’s proposals are non – binding on the 27 EU members.

Furthermore, it recommended Europe’s external borders remain closed for most travel at least until mid-June.

Nations that have experienced some of the world’s worst outbreaks appear in no hurry to let in large numbers of visitors. Two Spanish foreign ministry sources told Reuters that Spain plans to keep its borders closed to most travellers from abroad until July.

Many Europeans have already cancelled plans.

‘We were all set to take the kids to Spain and Italy this summer. But not now, it’s too risky even if it is allowed’, said Jean-Paul, a 57-year-old Frenchman, who had frozen hotel reservation he now hopes to use with his family in 2021.

‘For now, we’ll stay close to home and just enjoy some cycling, walking and fishing instead’.

Europe’s museums, beaches and plazas have been virtually empty since mid-March under a near-blanket travel halt that has destroyed jobs, pulverized the airline and hospitality sectors and undermined Europe’s cherished principle of free movement in a bid to contain the virus.

Social – Distance Travel

Under the Commission’s proposals, airlines and airports would insist passengers wear masks, and reorganize check-ins, drop-offs and luggage pickups to avoid crowds. They would not require that middle seats be left empty on planes, a measure some airlines say would make profitable flying impossible.

The Brussels-based Commission also wants vouchers for cancelled flights or holidays to be valid for at least a year, with protection against bankruptcies, so people would accept them instead of demanding refunds from cash-strapped airlines and travels firms.

It said people should be able to stay in hotels, eat in restaurants or go to beaches – though it stressed the situation would have to be monitored to prevent a new surge in infections.

‘This looks like good news’, said Toni Mayor, president of a hotels’ association in Spain’s Valencia region which includes the major package holiday destination Benidorm. ‘If this combines with less pressure from the virus, as it seems, … we might just be able to half – save the summer season’.

European governments are pressing ahead with their own plans to reopen at different speeds, depending on national circumstances, and some are promoting domestic tourism.

Already, the three Baltic states have decided to reopen borders to each others’ citizens  from May 15, creating a ‘travel bubble’.

Austria and Germany plan to fully reopen their border on June 15. That will particularly help Austria’s tourism industry, which relies heavily on German visitors.

And Switzerland plans to completely reopen borders to all neighbors except Italy on June 15, provided the pandemic allows.

However, Italy warned against borders pacts between individual EU nations, saying such deals could destroy the single market.

‘We will not accept bilateral accords within the European Union that might create privileged tourist channels’, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said in Rome. ‘That would leave us outside the European Union and we will never allow this’.

German Travel Agents Protest

Some of the biggest tourist destinations are in the hardest – hit countries, like Italy, Spain and France, which are only opening up slowly.

Spanish authorities are planning to keep the country’s borders closed to most travellers from abroad until July, two foreign ministry sources said on Wednesday.

Some countries are also planning to impose two-week quarantine periods for travellers arriving from abroad – including Britain, which has left the EU but is observing its trade and travel regulations until the end of the year while it negotiates its future relations with the bloc.

Within Europe’s ‘Schengen’ area, where borders are normally invisible, at least 17 nations have imposed emergency border controls.

With more than 6 million jobs in the tourism sector at risk across Europe, German travel agents protested on Wednesday to demand more government support for the industry.

In Berlin, some drove buses past the Brandenburg Gate, emblazoned with banners. Hamburg airport tweeted a video showing socially distanced protesters at a terminal with suitcases on carts displaying signs saying ‘We travel agents won’t leave our clients out in the rain’.

German – based travel group TUI said on Wednesday it would cut 8,000 jobs and look to shed 30% of costs even as it gears up for a July restart to European tourism.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the aim was to eliminate border controls again from June 15 in the Schengen area, but also warned people against rushing back to normality too fast and thus endangering a tentative improvement of the health situation.


NEWS ALERT | Saudi Crown Prince Congratulates Romania’s President On National Day

HRH Prince Mohammed bin Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Crown Prince, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense, has sent a cable of congratulation to President Klaus Iohannis of Romania on the anniversary of his country’s National Day. In his cable, HRH Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman wished the President constant good health and happiness … Continue reading NEWS ALERT | Saudi Crown Prince Congratulates Romania’s President On National Day

TRAVEL | Saudi Arabia Is Among 6 Safest Travel Destinations In World, In Light Of Covid-19 Pandemic

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has ranked 6th among the world safest travel destinations, in light of the novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, and the only one in the Middle East. This come according to an article published on the Wego Travel Blog website, entitled ‘Safe Placed to Travel During Covid -19 Pandemic”. The classification was … Continue reading TRAVEL | Saudi Arabia Is Among 6 Safest Travel Destinations In World, In Light Of Covid-19 Pandemic

NEWS ALERT | Jordan’s King Abdullah And Palestinian Leader Abbas Meet, Hope Biden Revives Peace Process

Jordan’s King Abdullah on Sunday met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and both leaders et high hopes the U.S. President – elect Joe Biden will revive peace talks over a two-state solutions to the decades – old Arab – Israeli conflict, officials said. In a palace statement after meeting with Abbas in the Red Sea … Continue reading NEWS ALERT | Jordan’s King Abdullah And Palestinian Leader Abbas Meet, Hope Biden Revives Peace Process

NEWS ALERT | Trump Senior Aide Kushner And Team Heading To Saudi Arabia, Qatar

White House senior advise Jared Kushner and his team are headed to Saudi Arabia and Qatar this week for talks in a region simmering with tension after the killing of an Iranian nuclear scientist. A senior administration official said on Sunday that Kushner is to meet Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the Saudi … Continue reading NEWS ALERT | Trump Senior Aide Kushner And Team Heading To Saudi Arabia, Qatar

NEWS ALERT | France Must Review COVID-19 Crowd Limits On Church Attendance

France’s State Council, the country’s highest court, on Sunday ordered the government to review a law limiting the number of people in churches during religious services to 30. The Council said in a statement that the measure was not proportionate to coronavirus infection risk. Last week, the government announced that a nationwide lockdown in place … Continue reading NEWS ALERT | France Must Review COVID-19 Crowd Limits On Church Attendance

LIFESTYLE | Moscow Opens Its Biggest Outdoor Ice Rink For Winter Amid Pandemic

RIYADH – – Across town one ice rink has been converted into a COVID-19 hospital, but some Moscow residents took to the ice late on Friday as the city’s biggest outdoor rink opened for winter during the pandemic. The rink in the Soviet – era VDNKh amusement park in northern Moscow opened its doors despite … Continue reading LIFESTYLE | Moscow Opens Its Biggest Outdoor Ice Rink For Winter Amid Pandemic

NEWS ALERT | Qatar Condemns Killing Of Iranian Nuclear Scientist – Statement

MILAN – Qatari Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani condemned the killing of Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh in a phone call on Saturday with his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Jawad Zarif, a ministry statement said. Al-Thani extended Qatar’s condolences to the government and the people of Iran and called for self-restraint following Friday’s killing which … Continue reading NEWS ALERT | Qatar Condemns Killing Of Iranian Nuclear Scientist – Statement

SPORTS | Hamilton Puts In Record Lap To Take Bahrain Pole

Seven – times Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton stormed to pole position for the Bahrain Grand Prix with a record lap in Saturday’s qualifying session, ahead of team mate Valtteri Bottas who completed a front – row lockout for Mercedes. The Briton lapped the 5.4 – kilometre floodlit Sakhir desert track in one minute 27, 264 seconds, … Continue reading SPORTS | Hamilton Puts In Record Lap To Take Bahrain Pole

NEWS ALERT | Montenegor Declares Serbia’s Ambassador Persona Non Grata

BELGRADE – Montenegro on Saturday declared Serbia’s ambassador persona non grata for interfering with the country’s internal affairs, the ministry of interior said in a statement. Following the announcement, Serbia declared non grata the Montenegrin ambassador to Serbia and gave him 72 hours to leave the country. In the statement, Montenegro’s ministry said that despite … Continue reading NEWS ALERT | Montenegor Declares Serbia’s Ambassador Persona Non Grata

NEWS ALERT | Russia Scrambles Fighter Jet To Escort U.S. Spy Plane Over Black Sea: RIA

Milan – – Russia scrambled an SU-27 fighter jet to intercept a U.S.RC-135 reconnaissance plane flying over neutral waters in the Black Sea, the RIA news agency cited Russia’s defence ministry as saying on Saturday. Russia said its warplane returned to its base after the U.S. reconnaissance aircraft turned away from Russia’s border. Similar incidents … Continue reading NEWS ALERT | Russia Scrambles Fighter Jet To Escort U.S. Spy Plane Over Black Sea: RIA

Loading…

Something went wrong. Please refresh the page and/or try again.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s