France, Belgium, Greece lift restrictions for EU travel as members chart sundry course
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As European countries emerge from their coronavirus lockdowns and lift travel restrictions to revive their tourist industries, the EU has been aiming to coordinate the border reopening among its 27 members.
The bloc has recommended that the member states fully reopen their frontiers with each other on June 15, and many countries are planning to relax controls on that date.
Early birds... and those that never closed
Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Slovakia and Slovenia have also already begun to lift restrictions for foreigners entering their countries but excluded those from nations they deem as not safe -- in many cases that list includes Sweden and the UK.
Since the signing of #Schengen Treaty 35 years ago today, citizens have learned to enjoy the value of freedom of movement in the EU. I am happy that after the restrictions imposed by the #coronavirus pandemic, borders are now reopening across the Schengen area and the EU. pic.twitter.com/xy7UrkeIJ1— Ursula von der Leyen #UnitedAgainstCoronavirus (@vonderleyen) June 14, 2020
Poland has reopened its borders to all fellow EU members and the UK from June 13.
Sweden meanwhile never closed its borders to EU countries.
Neither did tiny Luxembourg -- but quickly found all its neighbours closing their borders instead.
EU's mid-June plans
Paris, however, has specified it wants reciprocity and so may impose restrictions on those countries blocking travellers from France.
Greece, on the other hand, has gone further, also allowing travellers from farther afield, such as Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, China, Israel and Lebanon.
Germany is due to end land border checks on June 15, while the Dutch government has announced it would ease warnings against non-essential foreign travel from the same date.
Austria, which has already opened its borders to most of its neighbours, will on June 16 lift travel restrictions with a total of 31 countries -- but has excluded Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.
The Czech Republic is also allowing free travel with a number of European countries from Monday, but restrictions are still in place with those deemed a risk due to their levels of coronavirus infections.
5:30 in the morning, all volunteers here to greet our first passengers after almost 90 days of grounding. Simply amazing ... ❤️❤️❤️ pic.twitter.com/ChNj55l4S2— Austrian Airlines (@_austrian) June 15, 2020
Spain will only lift travel restrictions on June 21, re-establishing free travel with fellow EU countries.
The land border with Portugal will however remain closed until July 1. Portugal has suffered a much lower death rate than Spain from the coronavirus epidemic.
However, Spain's Balearic Islands will see an earlier contingent of foreign guests when they welcome 11,000 Germans from June 15 in a pilot project for the revival of the crucial tourism sector.
Romania has not yet announced when it will re-open its borders to foreigners without restrictions.
Meanwhile, others are lifting border controls, but are still doing so more gradually.
Denmark opens its borders to Germany, Norway and Iceland for visitors from Monday as long as they can show they plan to stay outside the capital Copenhagen for at least six consecutive nights.
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