Summer holidays – which European countries are easing travel restrictions?

As several European countries reopen restaurants, bars, shops and some attractions, here is a round up of easing measures and travel restrictions in a selection of destinations.

The UK Foreign Office (FCO) is currently advising against all but essential international travel for an indefinite period. However, countries across Europe have begun to ease lockdown measures and border restrictions and prepare for the return of both domestic and international tourists.

Border bubbles

European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen cautioned that nobody can make reliable forecasts as to when borders will reopen and urged people not to make summer holiday plans in Europe. However, the European commission is now drafting plans to create tourism “bubbles” – allowing countries to open borders with similar coronavirus epidemiology profiles.

Portugal plans to welcome visitors this summer

In southern Portugal, the Algarve tourist office has said that the region will be ready to receive visitors once international borders reopen. Three-quarters of its hotels are expected to be open by mid-June, with a full reopening by July. Beaches will reopen in June, with new health and safety measures in place. The Portuguese Environment Agency will set out rules in the coming days. The Algarve has recorded 340 Covid-19 cases since January.

Spain’s gradual process

No date announced for borders reopening to non-essential travel by UK nationals. A de-escalation process is gradually reopening the country in stages throughout June (some measures vary depending on region and throughout the islands). Very limited flights running and are for essential travel only. Currently, arrivals must self-isolate for 14 days. Travel by car around a province is permitted, but not between different provinces in the country yet. Many hotels were allowed to reopen from 11 May (minus communal spaces and catering) but not all are expected to do so until borders open to domestic and international tourism.

When can we start visiting France?

France is now emerging from lockdown, but its borders remain closed to non-EU citizens until further notice (British nationals are considered EU nationals until the end of this year). According to a spokesperson for the France Tourism Development Agency, the country’s tourism sector is expected to remain closed until mid-July.

However, President Macron and Prime Minister Boris Johnson have spoken about the “need for close bilateral, European and international cooperation in the fight against Covid-19”. The British government has announced that quarantine measures will not apply to arrivals from France. The two leaders have agreed to work together on the consultation over the coming weeks, indicating a reciprocal agreement allowing British nationals to enter France without the need to quarantine once borders reopen, nor the need to quarantine on their return home.

Greece offers glimmer of hope

Greece is keen to kickstart its tourist economy, hoping to welcome visitors from 1 July, perhaps contingent on arrivals being permitted into the country only if they have been confirmed to be Covid-free. Throughout June, malls, restaurants, cafes, cinemas, hotels, amusement parks, playgrounds and other sports facilities will open gradually. Public transport and taxis operating (up to two passengers per taxi). Large gatherings, including festivals and sporting events, are unlikely to return this summer.

Italy has some flights operating

Borders are due to reopen to tourists on 3 June. Parks are open and restaurants can sell takeaway food. Bars, restaurants, non-essential shops and museums are due to open on 18 May. Some hotels will reopen in June, depending on bookings. Some flights are operating and one airport is open per region.

Turkey targets mid-June

The government is aiming to have domestic tourism return by the end of May and international tourism by mid-June. International flights are limited, domestic flights remain suspended and inter-city travel restricted. Hotels and restaurants are permitted to open from 27 May. Face masks are mandatory in public areas. Measures vary across provinces and may change at short notice.

Malta still closed to tourists

No date announced for borders reopening to non-essential travel or tourists. The airport could reopen by the end of May. All arrivals must currently self-isolate for 14 days. Masks mandatory in shops and on public transport. Some non-essential shops are open; bars, restaurants and hotels may open by early June.

Is the UK a safe bet for a summer holiday?

Boris Johnson has announced that as part of the three-part phased plan to reopen society, hospitality venues including hotels, B&Bs and self-catering accommodation, could reopen from 4 July, providing they meet new Covid Secure Guidelines to ensure public health and safety.

However, the nation’s beauty spots are cautious about welcoming a surge of holidaymakers after lockdown, with many destinations such as Cumbria, Wales and Scotland, urging visitors to stay away. If infection rates continue to fall, it is possible that they may gradually begin to welcome visitors this summer, although this is likely to be in a controlled manner.


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