Ahead of the EU Ambassadors’ meeting on 11 June, the European travel and tourism industry associations call on Member States to approve the Commission’s proposal to start lifting travel restrictions in the EU in a coordinated way. After months of lockdowns and a patchwork of measures across the continent, this proposal is very timely. In view of the rapidly advancing vaccination programs and improving epidemiological outlook in Europe, safe travel is possible this summer – fuelled by the strong desire of European citizens to travel again and secured by the readiness of our sector to provide safe and responsible travel.
If adopted and fully implemented, the text – initially proposed by the European Commission on 31 May – should restore freedom of movement within the EU. In particular, the undersigned associations support the following elements:
- Fully vaccinated people can travel without tests or quarantines, from 14 days after having completed their vaccination.
- People who have recovered from COVID-19 can equally travel without being subject to tests or quarantines for 180 days after their positive test.
- For other travellers, travel from green zones should remain possible without any restrictions, and travel from both orange and red zones should be possible without quarantine, on the basis of a negative test.
- Member States should adopt a uniform approach of accepting a negative PCR test result 72 hours before arrival and 48 hours in the case of rapid antigen tests.
- Unified rules for children: minors accompanying their parent(s) should not test/quarantine where the parents are not required to do so. Children under 6 years old should be exempt from testing
- Increase in the thresholds of the ECDC map (14-day incidence rate for the ‘orange’ category increased from 50 to 75).
- Vaccination, recovery from COVID-19 or a negative test result can be proven by producing a Digital COVID Certificate (DCC) or by other means, until the DCC is available.
- The EU has provided for an Emergency Brake system whereby if the status of a region deteriorates rapidly because of a high incidence of variants resulting in it changing to ‘dark red’, Member States should impose a testing and or quarantine even if travellers hold a DCC.
“Travel and tourism industry associations wholeheartedly welcome this important initiative towards a coordinated lifting of travel restrictions in Europe. This is an essential move to restore travellers’ confidence and reopen Europe. We believe that the European Commission has played its part, the industry is ready to ensure safe and responsible travel: we now need Member States to act fast”, declared the stakeholders.
To ensure that all European citizens who wish to travel over the coming period can do so under the best possible conditions, the undersigned travel and tourism stakeholders are therefore urging Member States to:
- Swiftly agree and fully implement the EU Council Recommendations for intra-EU travel, as proposed by the European Commission.
- Refrain from imposing any travel restrictions other than in the conditions detailed in the updated Recommendations.
- Ensure that tests (PCR or antigen) are free or at least very affordable for travellers who need them to make use of their right to free movement, for whichever purpose.
- Ensure the full integration of the Digital COVID Certificate (DCC) in the passenger journey – in particular its verification before travel (e.g. via state portals) in order to reduce waiting times and queues at departure / on arrival (airports, ports, stations, etc).
- Integrate the Passenger Locator Form (PLF) and DCC verification into a single platform with single checks to avoid duplications in order to also reduce waiting times and queues at departure.
- Ensure the deployment of adequate resources (staff) by competent public authorities for border control and other manual document verifications at airports, ports, stations, etc.
- Ensure the latest COVID-19 status of their country is displayed on the Re-Open Europe EU website: reopen.europa.eu
- Agree to provide a more precise outlook on their country’s latest epidemiological situation on a detailed ECDC map.
They added: “There is huge pent-up demand for travel and everyone in the aviation, travel and tourism industries is working on detailed plans to welcome travellers back – so it’s crucially important that everyone plays their part in ensuring that when our sector reopens, it stays open”.
 Through an update of the Council Recommendation 2020/1475 on a coordinated approach to the restriction of free movement in the EU as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic (link)