On 13 May, the Commission presented a package of guidelines and recommendations to coordinate and support Member States gradually lift travel restrictions and allow tourism businesses to reopen while respecting health precautions.
The Commission’s Tourism and Transport package includes:
- An overall strategy towards recovery in 2020 and beyond;
- A framework to support the gradual re-establishment of transport whilst ensuring the safety of passengers and personnel;
- A recommendation which aims to make travel vouchers an attractive alternative to cash reimbursement for consumers;
- Criteria for restoring tourism activities safely and gradually and for developing health protocols for hospitality establishments such as hotels;
- Guidelines for Ensuring cross-border interoperability of tracing apps (so that citizens can be warned of a potential infection with coronavirus also when they travel in the EU, with such criteria as voluntary, transparent, temporary, cybersecure, using anonymised data, rely on Bluetooth technology and be inter-operable across borders as well as across operating systems, in line with the principles set out in the EU toolbox and the Commission guidance on data protection).
Of most direct interest for the whole economy and the technology industries in particular is the common approach to restoring free movement and lifting restrictions at EU internal borders in a gradual and coordinated way. This document aims to give people the ability, confidence and safety to travel again.
Member States, as they manage to reduce the circulation of the virus, are invited to replace blanket restrictions to free movement by more targeted measures, in a phased and coordinated approach that starts by lifting restrictions between areas or Member States with sufficiently similar epidemiological situations. The approach is meant to be flexible, including the possibility to reintroduce certain measures if the epidemiological situation requires.
Member States should act on the basis of the following 3 criteria:
- epidemiological, notably focusing on areas where situation is improving, based on guidance by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and using the regional map developed by the ECDC;
- the ability to apply containment measures throughout the whole journey including at border crossings, including additional safeguards and measures where physical distancing may be difficult to ensure and
- economic and social considerations, initially prioritising cross-border movement in key areas of activity and including personal reasons.
The Commission also insists on the principle of non-discrimination: when a Member State decides to allow travel into its territory or to specific regions and areas within its territory, it should do so by allowing travel from all areas, regions or countries in the EU with similar epidemiological conditions. Likewise, any restrictions must be lifted without discrimination, to all EU citizens and to all residents of that Member State regardless of their nationality, and should be applied to all parts of the Union in a similar epidemiological situation.