Europe reopens many borders but not to Americans, Asians
BERLIN (AP) - Europe is taking a big step towards a new normal as many countries open the borders to other Europeans after three months of coronavirus blocking - but although Europeans love their summer vacation, it is not clear how many are ready to go again to travel.
Tourists from the US, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East just have to wait. Europe is expected to open to some visitors from other countries next month, but details are still unclear.
European Union Interior Commissioner Ylva Johansson told Member States last week that they should "open as soon as possible" and suggested Monday was a good date.
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Many countries do just that and allow travel from the EU, Great Britain and the normally passport-free Schengen travel area in Europe, which also includes non-EU countries such as Switzerland.
The reopening of Europe will not be a repetition of the chaotic all-rounder in March, when panicked, uncoordinated border closures led to kilometers of traffic jams. Nevertheless, it is a complicated, changing patchwork of different rules. And although tourist regions are desperately counting on them, many Europeans may choose to stay near their home this summer.
Mediterranean tourism-dependent countries like Greece want to avoid that. Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis admitted on Saturday that "much will depend on whether people feel good and whether we can project Greece as a safe travel destination".
Greece has stressed how to deal with its outbreak, in which only 183 people died. In total, there were more than 182,000 virus-related deaths in Europe this year. This is the result of a balance sheet by Johns Hopkins University, which shows that 2.04 million of the 7.8 million infections worldwide have occurred in Europe.
The hard-hit Spain, which has moved its opening for European travelers forward by 10 days to June 21 on Sunday, allows thousands of Germans to fly to the Balearic Islands for a test run from Monday - and waives the 14-day quarantine for the Group.
"This pilot program will help us learn a lot for the coming months," said Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez. “We want our country, which is already known as a world-class travel destination, to be recognized as a safe destination. "
Border controls at some points have already been completed. Italy opened its borders on June 3 and cities on the German-Polish border celebrated early Saturday when Poland opened the gates. At midnight the mayors of Görlitz (Germany) and Zgorzelec (Poland) cut chains on a makeshift fence that had divided the cities.
Germany, like France and others, lifted the remaining border controls on Monday and scrapped the demand that arrivals must prove that they have a good reason to enter. It also eases a worldwide warning of non-essential travel to exempt European countries - except Finland, Norway and Spain, where travel restrictions apply, and Sweden, where the number of new coronavirus infections is considered too high.
Many German regions have again introduced a quarantine request for arrivals from Sweden, whose virus strategy prevented blocking but caused a relatively high mortality rate.
The Czech authorities require arrivals from Sweden to have a negative COVID-19 test or self-quarantine - along with travelers from Portugal and the Polish region of Silesia.
Austria opens to European neighbors with the exception of Spain, Portugal, Sweden and Great Britain on Tuesday - and holds a travel warning for Italy's most affected region in Lombardy. France asks people from the UK to quarantine for two weeks.
Britain has recently introduced a 14-day quarantine request for most arrivals, to the horror of its tourism and aerospace industries, stating that the move will hit UK visits this summer.
Denmark only opens to tourists from Germany, Norway and Iceland - and only if they can prove that they are staying at least six nights. Norway also keeps its long border with Sweden closed.
"I realize that this is a big disappointment. However, the restrictions are based on objective criteria that are the same for everyone, ”said Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg. "If we open too quickly, the infection can get out of control."
With flights increasing gradually, nervousness about new outbreaks abroad, uncertainty about social distance at tourist locations, and many people affected by unemployment or cut wages, this could be a good summer for domestic tourism.
Chancellor Angela Merkel and Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz are planning a vacation in their home countries this year.
"The recommendation is still, if you really want to be sure, a vacation in Austria," said Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg to ORF television, recalling the struggle in March to bring thousands of tourists home than that Borders were struck. "In Austria you know that you don't have to cross a border if you want to go home, and you know the infrastructure and the health system well."
The federal government, which has brought 240,000 people home when the pandemic increased exponentially, has no desire to repeat this experience.
"My appeal to all travelers: Enjoy your summer vacation - but enjoy it with caution and responsibility," said Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas. "During the summer holidays, we want to make the spread of the virus in Europe as difficult as possible."
Follow AP pandemic reporting at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
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