November has found the European Union Member States struggling to control the spread of the Coronavirus within their territory, scared of a possible collapse of their health systems and more deaths to come, as the worldwide number of people who have died because of the virus has surpassed 1.2 million.
Amid the second wave of the pandemic, predicted by epidemiologists since early in spring, the EU governments have rushed on undertaking new stricter measures in order to slow down the further spread of the virus.
And while the lockdowns that ended before summer are being reimposed, one of the most touched sectors remains travel and tourism. With Christmas year-end celebrations approaching, even the number one person of the EU Commission, President Ursula von der Leyen has pointed out that these celebrations will not resemble those of previous years.
“I think that this year’s Christmas will be a different Christmas,” she said.
Travel and tourism will be even more affected with the new lockdowns being imposed all across, and some of the most powerful EU states have already warned on the measures undertaken on travel and advised to avoid all trips that are not absolutely necessary.
The curfew in Italy started in the very first hours of Tuesday, November 3, and will last every night from 8 pm to 6 am, until the end of November.
While Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said that the curfew could be broken for reasons as to go to work, provide help and sports, others events will not be possible due to the increase in cases in the past weeks, and in particular the last week.
“All events will not be possible. This will affect the sports, cultural and leisure sectors. Hotels will have to close with the exception of work travel and we must also close restaurants and cafes, with the exception of delivery and takeaway services,” Kurz noted.
And while shops will remain open, the Christmas markets will have to stay closed.
Last week, the French President Emmanuel Macron announced France would go into a second lockdown since the outbreak of the pandemic, which latter on happened between Friday and September.
Amongst other measures Macron noted that non-essential trips would no longer be authorized, and through internal borders with the European Union area remain open, the external borders have been closed.
“Obviously, the French abroad will remain free to regain the territory. At ports and airports for international travel, mandatory rapid tests will be deployed for all arrivals. No traveller should be able to enter European territory without being certain that he is not carrying the virus,” President Macron said.
Whereas, the French Prime Minister Jean Castex emphasized that all arrivals would have to undergo a COVID-19 test in France, which obligation has previously been imposed to only some certain categories of travellers.
Germany has gone into lockdown on November 2, among others making travelling there even more impossible than what it has been so far, by restricting overnight stays at hotels for non-essential purposes.
“From November 2, according to a resolution by the federal and state governments, hotels or other accommodation will only offer overnight stays for necessary trips. Accommodation offers for tourist trips are generally no longer permitted. A visa for tourism purposes will therefore only be possible in exceptional cases,” the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs explains.
Those travelling to Germany from a risk area or have been in a risk area in the previous 14 days, will have to get tested upon arrival and then self-isolate until he/she results negative. The test remains free of charge for travellers from risk areas within 72 hours of entry.
However, from November 8, the rules will change, and only those who have been at a high-risk area in the last ten days before arrival will need to undergo a shorter quarantine of 10 days. Those who enter the country with a negative test will also need to quarantine for five days.
Portugal, on the other hand, has announced a partial lockdown that would include only some regions in the country, that have been more affected by the second wave of COVID-19, like Lisbon and Porto, from Wednesday, November 4.
As a result of the lockdown in Portugal as well as the ones imposed in other countries, authorities have advised all travellers to postpone any trips that are not absolutely essential.
“Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travellers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question,” the Portuguese authorities point out.
The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Boris Johnson announced on October 31 that starting from November 5, the whole of the UK would go into lockdown, which would also affect travel to and from the UK.
“There is no exemption for staying away from home on holiday. This means people cannot travel internationally or within the UK unless for work, education or other legally permitted exemptions. Overnight stays away from primary residences will not be allowed, except for specific exceptions including for work,” PM Johnson said.
He also explained that inbound international travel would continue to be governed by the travel corridor system. Those currently on a domestic holiday can finish their holidays but are reminded that they will still be subject to the requirements in England not to go out without a reasonable excuse.