Current controls that restrict cross-border travel for all but essential purposes will also be relaxed. Although residents still need a reason to travel, the authorized justifications will be expanded to include family and personal reasons.
Seehofer also said that he had recommended to the German states responsible for quarantine measures to end a 14-day isolation period for travelers from EU countries who previously benefited from borderless travel. It should stay in place for those coming from countries outside of Europe, including the United States, he said.
If the spread of the virus remains under control, Germany predicts that a complete lifting of controls at its land borders will follow on June 15.
“But if the situation gets worse, we will have to take different measures,” he warned.
Germany imposed border restrictions two months ago, when the coronavirus triggered a random reintroduction of controls in the Schengen area without borders of 26 European countries. So far, European countries have failed to come up with a coordinated border reopening plan which, in non-pandemic circumstances, allows travelers to travel from Lisbon to Helsinki without having to flash a passport. Instead, the leaders acted on their own, taking radically distinct approaches to tackling the virus and determining with what force to barricade their borders.
Restrictions pose a particular challenge to the European tourism sector, which accounts for 10% of its economy and an even larger share in countries like Greece and Italy. There, leaders are trying to balance public health pressures with the desire not to lose a full summer season of tourist cash.
Now that European countries are delicately relaxing the restrictions, U.S. Brussels leaders are trying to avoid a repeat of the chaotic stops. In a wide range of recommendations released Wednesday, they suggested that until countries feel they can open their borders to everyone, they would open travel to all countries where the pandemic is also under control.
“When managed properly, safely and in a coordinated manner, the coming months could offer Europeans the opportunity to rest, relax and take the much-needed air, and to find friends and family in their homes. own member states or across borders. , “It said.
For the moment, the countries of Europe have started to open up gradually. Austria also said last week that it would like to open its borders by June.
Greek leaders are chatting with a handful of other countries where the pandemic is under control to allow their people to enter. Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have started to allow their residents to move freely within their collective territory.
But the European Commission has also suggested that countries should make sure they have enough medical capacity to handle both residents and visitors before opening up fully to tourism.
“Deconfinement and tourism will not be without risk as long as the virus circulates among us. We must maintain vigilance, physical remoteness and rigorous health precautions throughout the tourism and transport ecosystem to avoid as much as possible new epidemics, “said Stella Kyriakides, senior EU official. health official.
EU. leaders also encouraged the development of contact tracking applications for phones that would be compatible across borders, so that Europeans can start circulating again and digital tools designed to fight the pandemic can continue to work.
Birnbaum reported from Brussels. Luisa Beck in Berlin contributed to this report.