‘Symbolic’ moment: Freedom of movement returns to Europe as borders re-open

Border guards re-open the border between Switzerland and France on June 15, 2020.
Border guards re-open the border between Switzerland and France on June 15, 2020. © AFP / FRANCE 24

Germany and France were among several European countries to re-open their borders Monday as the continent begins lifting travel restrictions triggered by the Covid-19 crisis, giving Europeans the chance to rediscover the freedom of movement they enjoyed before the pandemic.

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In Paris, passengers waited early Monday morning to board a train to Dortmund, the first to leave the French capital for Germany in three months.

”We’re going with our children to see their grandmother and to spend some family time together for the holidays. It feels good, finally!” said Alexis, as he waited with his partner and children;

"It is symbolic because we have been used not to have any borders between the countries in Europe and it has been changed for a few months so it is such a symbol,” added fellow passenger Natalia.

The Schengen area of 22 EU countries normally operates without border controls, but for the past three months most have been closed to all but essential traffic, disrupting daily life for many Europeans used to being able to cross borders for work, leisure or visit friends and family.

With Covid-19 cases across the continent falling, however, the EU had urged member states to begin opening borders from this week, though some countries, such as Italy, had already done so, while others, including Spain, have decided to wait longer to welcome back foreign visitors.

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