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EU launches website to help travelers navigate complicated patchwork of border reopenings

EU launches website to help travelers navigate complicated patchwork of border reopenings
Countries across the EU have begun to reopen their borders, but the complex mixture of sundry rules is baffling would-be travelers. As a result, the EU has launched a website to help people navigate various Covid-19 restrictions.

A number of EU governments have started to open their borders on Monday after weeks of closure due to the coronavirus pandemic – but no single strategy has been developed to organize this process. Many states have banned countries with worrying coronavirus levels and have developed their own limitations and guidelines for incoming visitors. Various restrictions are being adjusted continuously, with the result being that people across Europe are wondering when, where and how they will be able to travel this season.

Given the pace of change, the European Commission has launched a 'Reopen EU' website that allows people thinking about their vacation to search for up-to-date information on which borders are open or are about to open, which destinations accept flights from where, and what means of transport and tourism services are available. The website will also let travelers know whether beaches, museums, bars, and restaurants are open.

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With the summer holiday season already underway, the Commission is attempting to save the EU's tourism sector, which accounts for around 10 percent of the bloc’s GDP, so they are trying to encourage people to take summer vacations abroad. The new tool is part of the Commission’s Tourism and Transport package, developed to serve the recovery of Europe's travel industry.

“Europe’s vast and rich cultural heritage is one of our major assets. But with no possibility to travel and with most venues closed these past months, culture and tourism have been hit hard,”said Mariya Gabriel, EU Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth.

The Commission has issued recommendations to governments to begin the opening processes from June 15, and most states have done so by selectively opening borders to fellow member states.

Denmark, for example, has only opened to Germany, Iceland, and Norway. France has opened its borders for everyone, but tourists arriving from Spain and the UK will be required to self-isolate for 14 days. In Greece, some passengers will have to undergo mandatory testing upon arrival. Norway, similar to Denmark, will only open to neighboring states – but will exclude Sweden, which was the only country in Europe that followed a 'no-lockdown' strategy in the fight against the pandemic.

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The UK’s borders are currently open, and since June 8, visitors from abroad have been required to quarantine for 14 days. Having officially departed the EU at the end of January, the UK was nonetheless welcome to be included in the ‘Reopen EU’ tool but did not request it, an EU Commission spokesperson said.

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