Beach visitors enjoy the sun and sea on a public beach during the official beach reopening for … [+] public in Varkiza, Greece.
What are the most common elements among careful recommendations from health officials, differences in approaches to handling the corona virus crisis among European countries and differences in decisions and guidelines related to opening borders from one country to another?
Also common is an almost hopeless mood when the travel industry is destroyed, important for the European economy, nearing irreparable collapse and the government feels an urgent need to relax restrictions and open borders before summer, when at normal times most of Europe is on vacation.
Officials are under enormous pressure to reactivate the sector while preventing a second wave of the disease.
As explained by the Nesta Innovation Foundation, the current travel and tourism scene “combines elements of continuity and discontinuity, realism and idealism, optimism and pessimism.”
Woman wearing face mask posing on the beach after swimming during the reopening … [+] Mediterranean beaches along the coastal city of Nice Riviera, France.
AFP through Getty Images
Urgent Need: Open Borders
The shocking figures illustrate the dire situation: Last year today, the world is more mobile than ever, with people taking 4.6 billion flights. Pandemics reduce that number to a very small percentage.
The United Nations World Tourism Organization, (UNWTO), which has released a Tourism Recovery Technical Assistance Package to help guide the next steps, calculates that international tourism can be reduced by 80% this year compared to 2019, putting 100 million jobs at risk.
“This could translate into a decline in export revenues from tourism between $ 910 billion and $ 1.2 trillion,” UNWTO warned. “The social ripple effect is also feared to be at least equally challenging for many communities throughout the world.”
In a recent article entitled “The Future of Travel,” the New York Times reported: “About 100 million travel sector jobs, according to one global estimate, have been eliminated or will be lost. Passenger traffic on U.S. airlines down 95% compared to last year, while international passenger revenue is expected to decrease by more than $ 300 billion. Domestic hotel occupancy rates fell from the cliff and now around 25%. ”
More than 27 million people in the European Union, equivalent to 12% of the bloc’s workforce, have jobs in tourism, a number that reaches 20% in southern member states and accounts for as much as 20% of their economy.
Because of this, an urgent need to reopen the border.
The latest set of general non-mandatory guidelines by the EU. The Commission recommends that the reopening of the border give hope when summer is approaching but also leaves it to individual countries to decide when and how to do it.
This has led to strong pressure from several countries for the formation of new concepts including ‘travel corridors’ and ‘travel bubbles’ as an alternative to the possibility of an alarming “staycation” – which means staying home for traditional summer holidays.
People sit on the terrace of a bar in downtown Zagreb, Croatia, on the first day … [+] reopening of cafes, bars, restaurants, hotels and inter-city transportation.
AFP through Getty Images
Travel Bubbles and Travel Corridors
“With new infections receding and the government from Riga to Rome is reducing lockouts, concerns are now turning to the resumption of cross-border holiday travel, which is expected to generate 2020 expenditures of 1.3 trillion euros, or $ 1.4 trillion, 2020 New York Time .
The ‘tourist corridor’ is considered a Covid-19-safe travel zone that connects places that have brought the controlled corona virus outbreak, as considered between the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Croatia – countries that have experienced relatively few cases of the virus. – allows some beach resorts to reopen with restrictions, just in time for peak summer.
The “travel bubble” that The Economist calls “a kind of good bubble” is similar to a corridor and has also gained support as a way to recover the industrial economy, although, as the magazine writes, “economic benefits will be large, but its health requirements can be confusing. ”
The bubbles will bind groups of countries that have good fortune towards coronaviruses, allowing residents of each other to enter and exit freely. For those outside the bubble, quarantine restrictions still apply.
According to the World Economic Forum, the Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania created a ‘travel bubble’, which allowed citizens to travel freely between them. Anyone who enters from outside the area will be asked to spend 14 days in quarantine.
New Zealand and Australia have also committed to introduce the “trans-Tasman” bubble as soon as it is safe to do so.
All actions aimed at opening travel activities are still and will be carefully controlled and implemented in a limited manner, with agreements such as ‘travel bubbles’ and ‘tourist corridors’ struck between neighboring countries, while trips for or to further destinations remain restricted.
A woman enjoys the first largest live car concert in Ostrava, Czech Republic. That concert … [+] played in an industrial area in the Lower Vitkovice area. The organizer stated that the total capacity of 500 cars was sold out. Viewers are not permitted to leave their vehicles.
Anadolu’s agency via Getty Images
Huddle to the beach, but not free
Countries in Eastern Europe – Poland, for example – have said that they would choose to keep their borders closed to Western European travelers at least until mid-June. They aim to increase domestic tourism and facilitate the entry of eastern European neighbors including the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary.
Domestically, easing of restrictions has resulted in the influx of local tourists to popular places. This weekend, Greece opened 500 of its beaches as a heat wave struck the country and as a test of the country’s readiness for its greatest hopes: ready for international summer tourism, which means 25% of the country’s income and one in every four jobs.
“Sunbathers swarmed beaches throughout the country, taking cold relief from extremely hot temperatures and for more than a month in captivity,” wrote the New York Times. “But when they enter the ticket facility, a new reality occurs. Sunbeds on many sites are tied to the ground to secure social distance.”
Shaded umbrellas must be planted at least four meters (13 feet) apart, a maximum of 40 beach visitors are permitted per 1,000 square meters (11,000 square feet) of beach, stalls do not play music, bars are prohibited from serving alcohol, water sports and other recreational activities on the beach have been banned , city workers and police are mobilized to identify offenders. Sun-seekers caught violating social distance rules incur a fine of around $ 1,100.
Sex Friends and Freedom as Much as Possible
In the Netherlands, a sense of normalcy returned, with schools and shops reopening and the relaxed attitude of the characteristics of Dutch culture emerging as a country loosening rules about sex during a pandemic, among others.
After instructing people to have sex only with their permanent partners, the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment has published guidelines that allow single people to have sex again with people outside their homes, or “sex partners,” as long as they follow rules that limit the spread of viruses. “Discuss together how best to do it,” said the document. “Follow the rules around the new coronavirus.”
The authorities quickly explained that the advice should not be interpreted as official authorization for random sex but that people who knew each other or were in a relationship and did not live in the same house were allowed to have sex again. “You are your safest sex partner.”
Despite protests across the country over the handling of the pandemic by the government, Germany – along with Austria, Switzerland and France – has begun to reduce border restrictions, hoping to lift them fully on June 15, during the summer holidays.
The plan is to simplify the checkpoint first and then fully reopen the border on the principle of “as much freedom as possible and as many restrictions as needed.”
In France, the government has endorsed a meeting of more than 10 people in private arrangements but banned them in public places. The lockdown begins on May 11, with the opening of shops, children returning to school and people can move freely without the necessary permission.
Italy and Spain, the countries hardest hit by contagion, are further away from other parts of the continent from the prospect of unlimited holiday travel.
Government and travel officials in both countries say they aim to reopen beaches and tourist sites in the summer, but many worry 2020 will be a total loss unless flights are restored, which most experts doubt will happen soon.
Italy, which began to relax restrictions in early May, has worked hard to find a balance between opening up the country without triggering a new wave of infection. Officials have announced that they plan to lift travel restrictions starting June 3.
Croatia, which experienced a 99% drop in visits in the spring compared to last year, hopes to attract at least a few visitors who are looking for the sun that won’t be able to go to Italy or Spain.
The country also wants to build a tourist corridor with several neighboring countries, including Slovenia, to ensure tourists can visit the popular Dalmatian coast in the country.
In the UK, “good weather attracts many people to their favorite beauty spots after the government permits unlimited travel to exercise outdoors or sunbathe. Visitors flock there even though people are asked to “think carefully” before visiting national parks and beaches, The Guardian writes. “In some parts of the UK, tourism heads have carefully opened their doors to visitors at several other national parks and beaches, but warned that people might be rejected if the hotspots became too busy.”
At the international level the UN World Tourism Organization, has calculated that international tourism can be reduced by 80 percent this year compared to 2019, putting 100 million jobs at risk. Facing this scenario, governments, companies and even tourists are thinking of safe ways to continue activities so that companies and small businesses that make a living from tourism do not go bankrupt in the medium term.
last year the world was more mobile than ever, with people taking 4.6 billion flights
President Macron said it was “too early to win,” and that the first milestone will be reached on June 2.
“Depending on the evolution of the epidemic, we will be able to continue with a new phase of locking up,” he said.
France on Monday, May 11, began lifting locks, with some shops reopening, some children returning to school, and people able to move freely without requiring a permit slip.
On Wednesday night, the interior ministry confirmed to the French daily Le Parisien that the rules restricting meetings to only 10 people to those in the public sphere.
Meeting more than 10 people in a private area such as a home will be tolerated.
It has been left to “civic responsibility
LOCAL: The Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs has extended its recommendations to avoid unnecessary overseas trips until July 15, the government announced Wednesday afternoon.
This advice was originally issued on March 14 for two months, but this is the second time it has been extended, and further extension may still come, Foreign Minister Ann Linde warned.
He said that the advice was mainly related to travel restrictions and the rapidly changing global situation that could leave travelers stranded rather than the risks posed directly by coronavirus.
“Quarantine is a reality in most countries in the world. Uncertainty is great. It is impossible to predict when it will be possible to travel freely. This advice can be extended, or can be raised before July 15,” Linde warned.
so it is still possible for individuals to travel even if they have to compete with a significant reduction in flight and quarantine traffic for travelers entering many countries.
When the Ministry of Foreign Affairs advises against traveling, this also impacts things like the validity of travel insurance, so people who travel unnecessarily oppose the advice and find themselves stranded or in need of assistance may lose a lot of money.
Linde also said that Sweden welcomed the European Commission guidelines on international tourism published today.
This includes recommendations that face masks should be worn during the trip, although the Swedish Public Health Agency has expressed doubts over the effectiveness of such actions.
“There is a risk of false security, that you feel cannot be infected if you have a face mask,” Prime Minister Stefan Löfven also said.
At the same press conference, the government announced a little relaxation related to domestic travel. Unimportant long trips must still be avoided, but a trip of up to two hours by car, in small groups of family or close friends, is possible if people use common sense, the minister said.