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.
1. Restoring freedom of movement within the EU
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 several elements. These include Fully vaccinated people being able to travel without tests or quarantines, from 14 days after having completed their vaccination, as well as people who have recovered from COVID-19 also being able to 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.
Ahead of Friday’s EU ambassadors’ meeting, we urge Member States to approve the @EU_Commission proposal & start lifting travel restrictions across the 🇪🇺 in a coordinated way.— HOTREC (@HOTREC_EUROPE) June 8, 2021
Our PR▶️ https://t.co/O9ABaWpEi2@EUCouncil @2021PortugalEU pic.twitter.com/8wzuvQl2Da
Member States should also 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. There should also be unified rules for children; minors accompanying their parent(s) should not test/quarantine where the parents are not required to do so and children under 6 years old should be exempt from testing. There should be an increase in the thresholds of the ECDC map (14-day incidence rate for the ‘orange’ category increased from 50 to 75) and vaccination, recovery from COVID-19 or a negative test result must be allowed to 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.
2. Stakeholder demands
The stakeholders declared that, “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”.
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: www.reopen.europa.eu
- Agree to provide a more precise outlook on their country’s latest epidemiological situation on a detailed ECDC map.
The stakeholders 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”.