Some border crossings with neighbors Austria, Switzerland, and France began to open on May 16 under tightly controlled conditions, with June 15 set as the date to fully relax borders and restrictions on inter-EU travel.
Germany also lifted its strict border controls with Luxembourg on the same day. A similar deal with Denmark has been reached, although a date has not yet been announced.
An official government proposal to reopen the borders by June 15, called the “Criteria for the Enabling of Intra-European Tourism” is set to be decided upon on Wednesday.
Vienna also gave June 15 as the official date for reopening the country’s inter-EU borders — but it reopened two crossings into Hungary on May 13 due to the difficulties faced by individuals who live on one side of the border but work on the other.
Austria also opened its border to some traffic from Germany on May 15. Austrian alpine tourism relies heavily on German visitors, as its mountain resorts are very popular with their neighbors.
Arrivals in France from the Schengen open-border zone, which includes Switzerland, will be exempt from the quarantine. France will still keep its borders mostly shut until June 15, except to people who need to travel in and out frequently for work.
France had entered into an agreement with the UK to allow passage back and forth without the country’s mandatory 14-day quarantine, seen as an essential economic measure due to the flow of delivery vehicles that passes between the two countries.
While the country where Europe’s outbreak first took serious hold has never technically ordered its borders closed, the extreme measures put in place at airports to stop the spread of the virus and border closures ordered by its neighbors have pretty much cut it off to international travel.
Starting on June 3, citizens of EU countries will once again be allowed to travel to Italy. Curbs on inter-regional travel within Italy will also be lifted in early June.
Also heavily reliant on foreign tourism, Spain has reopened its borders but imposed a mandatory 14-day self-quarantine regulation on anyone who arrives in the country.
However, Spain announced that it will lift the mandatory 14-day quarantine for visitors from July, with its foreign minister issuing an enthusiastic tweet to welcome foreign tourists.
“The worst is behind us,” Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya tweeted, with emojis of a bikini, sunglasses and a suitcase.
Another top tourist destination, Portugal’s tourism board has said that the country’s beaches and hotels will be ready to welcome tourists by mid-June. However, there is still concern about how to check that new arrivals have been tested for the coronavirus, a measure the government wants to see implemented, and how to control whether social distancing rules are maintained on beaches.
Greece has said it aims to open its borders to European tourists by June 15, along with several other EU countries. However, an official date and has not been formally confirmed.
Greece has had one of the lowest rates of infection and fatalities due to the pandemic in Europe as the result of an early and extremely strict lockdown — in some cases, residents were not even allowed to go grocery shopping, and were brought supplies instead. As such, the country is emerging perhaps healthier from the crisis than its neighbors. However, the government is still wary to open its borders in order to keep it that way.