If we take French President Emmanuel Macron at face value, it seems clear he views American tourists as more of a liability than a reward. Hence, he’s pushing the idea of keeping European borders shut through September.
European Travel Ban May Be Extended Six More Months
The European travel ban, which prohibits non-essential travel to Schengen nations, is set to expire on April 15, 2020. The European Commission has urged nations to extend the travel restrictions until May 15, 2020.
We invite EU countries to prolong the temporary restriction on non-essential travel to the EU until 15 May.
— European Commission 🇪🇺 (@EU_Commission) April 8, 2020
But speaking to trade unions last Friday, Macron said the virus is at different stages in different parts of the world and the Schengen Area, the border-free area of 26 European nations, must protect itself from high-risk countries. Icleland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland, all non-EU states, have also added travel restrictions.
French media reported that Macron specifically singled out the United States, stating that COVID-19 had not reached its peak there. He also mentioned fears of a second wave in Asia and a growing threat from Africa. Macron is now in talks with other EU leaders about this potential extension.
Who Is Exempted From Travel Ban?
It’s worth noting that are exceptions to the travel ban and if it is extended, one fairly large exemption that may lessen the blow.
The following are currently exempted from the travel ban:
- Cross-border workers
- Families of EU citizens
- Long-term residents
- Medical staff
- Transit passengers
The families exception is huge. We checked with the German Embassy and I’d be allowed, traveling with my wife, to visit Germany (not that we have any trips planned).
Such exceptions won’t save the tourist season, but will still enable families to unite and serve as a basis for airlines remaining some service to European capitals.
Border Controls Will Stay
Even if non-citizens are allowed in, you will experience a different Europe than you are used to. France, Sweden, and Denmark have just announced that its border controls will remain in effect until November. The vision of the Schengen Area was visa-free, border-free travel between member states.
Since COVID-19 broke out, many nations have reintroduced border checkpoints. While people are not necessarily blocked from traveling from member state to member state, the re-introduction of national borders marks an alarming trends for the future of the Schengen Area (as originally envisioned).
If you were hoping for a vacation in Europe this summer, you may need to start reconsidering. With France considering long-term travel restrictions, we may see COVID-19 closures linger far longer than initially forecast.
(H/T: Running with Miles)