TRAVEL | How To Travel In Europe In The Era Of Coronavirus

BUCHAREST | ROMANIA – The European Commission unveiled a series of measured aimed at ensuring people can start travelling safely across the continent again as governments try to revive tourism and airline industries brought to a halt by the coronavirus.

Below are the general guidelines for air, rails, water and road travel and steps for each mode of transport:

General Guidelines:

  • Passengers will be encouraged to buy tickets, reserve seats and check in online.
  • Passengers should wear facemasks, especially where physical distancing measures cannot be fully observed at all times. These do not need to be medical masks.
  • Physical distancing should be ensured at security checks and luggage drop-off and collection.
  • Dedicated lanes should be set up to keep passenger flows separate at ports, airports, train stations, bus stops, ferry landings and urban public transport hubs.
  • Hubs should remove facilities that encourage crowding, such as benches, tables or, re-arrange them to ensure distancing.
  • Fewer passengers may be allowed on board buses, trains or ferries, and passengers who are not from the same household may be seated apart.
  • Transport staff should have adequate protective equipment.
  • Sanitizing/disinfecting gel should be available and vehicles cleaned and disinfected regularly.
  • Food, drinks and other goods may no longer be on sale on board.
  • Duty-free shops and other travel retailers should control passenger movement with floor markers and restrict customers numbers, boost cleaning and set up barriers at till points among other measures.
  • Contact tracing and warning measures with the use of mobile apps could be used on a voluntary basis. Such apps should be able to function across borders.

Air Travel:

Protocols will be outlined by regulators in the next few weeks and should include:

  • Ventilation should be strengthened, with hospital-grade air filtering and vertical airflow.
  • Movement needs to be reduced in the cabin, such as less cabin baggage, fewer interactions with the crew.
  • Passenger flows should be managed with early arrival times at the airport; prioritizing electronic/self-check-in; minimizing contacts at baggage drop-offs, security and border control points, boarding, and during baggage collection.
  • Pre-ordering of on-board of on-board services and meals should be, were possible, done at the time of booking.

Road:

  • Terminals, rest areas along motorways, parking, fuelling and charging stations should maintain high levels of hygiene.
  • At stations, passenger flow should be managed.
  • Where adequate levels of public health cannot be ensured, closing stops or stations should be considered.

Bus & Coach:

  • Rear-door boarding and the use of windows for ventilation instead of air conditioning should be used.
  • Seating should be organized where possible so that families sit together, while people not travelling together should be separated.
  • In mini-buses, passenger should not be allowed to sit next to the driver unless physical separation is possible.
  • If possible, passengers should handle the their own luggage.

Rail:

  • Frequency and capacity of trains should be increased if necessary to reduce passenger density.
  • Rail operators should implement mandatory seat reservations on long-distance and regional trains.
  • For short-distance trips, passengers should leave seats empty between them, except for passengers from the same household.
  • Rail operators should use passenger counting systems, especially on commuter and suburban trains, to manage capacity.
  • Passenger flow should be managed at stations and stops closed if adequate levels of public health cannot be ensured.
  • Off-peak hour travel should be encouraged with incentives, such as adjusted pricing, or flexible working hours in the case of commuter trains, to avoid crowding.
  • Doors should be opened at each stop wither automatically or remotely by the driver.

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