The EU has pledged to lift border controls and related travel restrictions by the end of the month, while the travel ban on non-essential travel applied to non-EU nationals entering the bloc was extended until 1 July.
Travellers coming from EU-associated countries (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland) will be exempted from the ban, as will UK citizens.
However, British citizens face two-week quarantine requirements from some European countries.
While some countries – like Italy and Germany – are opening swiftly and with almost no restrictions in place, others like Denmark, Greece and the Baltic States are proceeding more gradually, opting for “travel bubbles” or lists of approved countries whose citizens will be allowed to enter.
Almost every member state has its own rules and timetable to reopen borders to tourists this summer – a move that has been criticised for its “lack of coordination” by some member states and policymakers.
Italian premier Giuseppe Conte and Spanish prime minister Pedro Sanchez last week (5 June) sent a letter to European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen calling for coordination in the opening of EU borders.
Both are leaders of nations among the worst-hit by the pandemic, and highly-dependent on tourism.
“The time has come to re-activate our economies, regain normality and an important part of the European project, the freedom of movement within the Schengen area,” reads the letter.
Meanwhile, the director of Airports Council International Europe, Olivier Jankovec, said on Tuesday (9 June) that “Europe’s airports are anxiously waiting for travel restrictions to be lifted and airlines to resume operations”.
“Most national authorities are quite rightly taking a phased approach, but it’s vitally important that devices such as quarantine are risk-based and proportionate,” he added.
“If quarantine is used as a blunt instrument as it is in the UK, it is one which will deliver an economic and social blow from which we will all struggle to recover,” Jankovec also warned.
Additionally, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) released a list of “high-risk airports”, to enhance aircraft disinfection and mitigate the risks of new infections, which is being used by certain member states, such as Greece, to justified mandatory tests and quarantine measure.
EU commissioner for home affairs Ylva Johansson said “health authorities made clear that there is no longer a clear justification for travel restrictions or border measures in the EU and Schengen Area”.
However, experts warned that easing restrictions combined with summer weather could make people forget about social distancing and hygiene rules – triggering a new surge in coronavirus cases and, eventually, bringing back lockdowns into the bloc.