Europe reopened more widely on Monday, allowing people into the Acropolis in Greece, shops in Italy, markets and museums in Belgium, golf courses in Ireland and beer gardens in Bavaria while its leaders discussed how to salvage hallowed summer vacations.
New infections and deaths have slowed considerably in Europe, where some countries started easing lockdowns a month ago and even the harshest shutdowns – such as those in Italy and Spain – have loosened significantly. Many nations are now preparing to open their borders next month, trying to sketch out the parameters for a highly unusual summer tourist season.
Tourist destinations are beginning to release reopening dates, but there will be new rules in place governing activities and the number of people allowed.
Germany’s foreign minister says European countries will work over the next two weeks on criteria that would help make international vacations on the continent possible this summer.
Foreign Minister Heiko Maas consulted Monday with counterparts from 10 countries that are popular with German tourists, most in southern Europe. He stressed the need for a co-ordinated safety-first approach rather than a bilateral “European competition for tourists.”
At present, many European borders are at least partly closed and some countries require all or most people arriving to go into quarantine for two weeks.
Greece reopened the Acropolis in Athens and other ancient sites Monday, along with high schools, shopping malls, and leisure travel. There is some urgency. The EU Commission warned that Greece is likely to suffer the worst recession in the EU bloc this year.
Ireland is taking its first steps out of lockdown, with some stores reopening and outdoor work resuming. Garden centres, hardware stores and opticians are among the businesses being allowed to open Monday.
Scotland could begin easing its lockdown measures by the end of the month. The country has clashed with London over the lifting of restrictions. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said Monday that if progress is made in reducing the spread of the coronavirus, Scots may be allowed to meet people in other households, and some sporting events may be permitted.
Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan eased lockdown restrictions Monday. In Kazakhstan’s capital, some mosques, markets cafes and restaurants reopened Monday. In Azerbaijan, cafes and restaurants reopened in the capital, Baku, and four others cities.
Rome’s blockbuster exhibition of masterpieces by Renaissance artist Raphael will reopen to the public on the day it had been due to close. Organizers said on Monday that art lovers can see the works, including 120 paintings, drawings and sketches by Raphael, starting on June. 2. That day, a national holiday, was supposed to be the final date of the run. Instead, lenders, including the Uffizi Galleries in Florence, which has the world’s largest collections of Raphael works, agreed to let their pieces stay until Aug. 30, allowing for a significant extension of the show. The exhibit, marking the 500th anniversary of his death as a young man from a fever, will stay open until late at night to reduce crowding risks.
Under gradual easing of COVID-19 lockdown measures, Italians can resume travelling between regions on June 3. With tourism a key revenue-maker, Italy hopes other countries will allow their citizens to soon travel for pleasure. Italy is where Europe’s coronavirus began, and it is one of the world’s most stricken countries.
Given the uncertainty of travel and safety precautions because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Venice Biennale said Monday that the architectural exhibit won’t take place this year after all.
The event has instead been delayed until 2021, forcing the postponement of the contemporary art exhibit to 2022. The Venice Biennale still plans to hold the 77th annual film festival from Sept. 2-12, as well as festivals dedicated to theatre, contemporary music and contemporary dance scheduled between September and October.
The US Transportation Security Administration is set to begin airport temperature screening for departing passengers. It will be phased in at about a dozen airports, as early as this week, according to the Wall St Journal. It is still unclear which at which airports it will start. Details are reportedly still under review by White House officials.
National flag carriers including Air France, Singapore Airlines and Air Canada have also started conducting mandatory temperature screening for their passengers.
European airlines are planning for a return to the skies this summer after being grounded almost completely for weeks over the coronavirus pandemic. The outlook, however, remains uncertain, with companies forecasting a slow recovery even next year due to public health restrictions and concerns.
Finland’s national airline, a major carrier between Europe and China, said Monday it will add more flights and routes beginning in July if governments ease their lockdowns enough for travel to resume.
It will restart in phases, with a strong focus on Asia, which is strategically important for the state-controlled airline. Finnair said it will fly to Beijing, Hong Kong, and Shanghai, adding it was pending government approval, but also to Nagoya, Osaka and Tokyo Narita in Japan; and to Singapore, Seoul and Bangkok.
Finnair COO Ole Orver said, “Our intention is to operate approximately 30% of our normal amount of flights in July, and we will also start long-haul flights to our key Asian destinations. We will then add routes and frequencies month by month as demand recovers.”
In July, Finnair also aims to resume flying to several cities in Europe as well as six domestic routes. Destinations in Spain, Italy and Poland would be added in August.
The airline does not expect passengers to have to sit next to each other as the numbers are forecast to be small.
Spokesperson Paivyt Tallqvist told the AP that customers “are seated as far away from each other as possible” with the exception of families, which can sit together. Seating is reviewed at the gate.
She said that as of Monday, “we require everyone to wear a mask onboard, as masks are considered to be a good solution for those situations where maintaining distance is not possible.” The masks are to be worn during the entire flight but doesn’t apply to children under 7.
Passengers will be asked to stand at least 1 metre (3.3 feet) from each other at the airport, buses will be kept half empty, and customers will be are asked to avoid unnecessary movement in the cabin.
Other airlines are likewise preparing to increase flying, though the prospects remain uncertain.
The Lufthansa Group’s low-cost carrier Eurowings said Monday it was expanding its summer vacation flights starting from June by adding 40 destinations including Spain’s Mallorca, Split in Croatia and the Greek island of Santorini. The airline warned that customers should check the status of local restrictions. It offered free rebooking up until 14 days before departure, including changing destination on flights within Europe.
Ryanair is cutting around 3,000 jobs and is looking at pulling out of a number of airports in Europe. Ryanair, which had been the busiest carrier in Europe before the pandemic hit, has also said it is preparing to restart flights in July, pending an easing in lockdowns. On Monday, it said it expects a record loss of €200 ($303.5) billion for the April-June quarter, when the heaviest restrictions on public life were implemented across Europe. It also expects a slow recovery, estimating it will carry only 50% of its previously forecast number of passengers in the fully year 2021.
The last word…
Donald Trump tweeted ‘REOPEN OUR COUNTRY’ Monday morning in fresh encouragement of the lockdown protestors across the US.
He also shared a video of a local news reporter being verbally harassed at a protest on Long Island. ‘This love of Country went all over,’ Trump wrote. ‘They hate Fake News, and so do I!’
Source: Travel Industry Today
OPENING UP: Europe moving ahead and Trump encourages protests