France, Italy and Spain have all announced this week that some coronavirus lockdown restrictions will be lifted in a bid to restart their economy. As the summer months approach, many regions across the European countries rely on tourism, and local businesses are hoping to reopen in time for the peak season.
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However, across the board, it is likely that Britons may be some of the last to enjoy these tourist hot spots – if they are allowed to enter the countries at all.
In France, ministers will put forward plans to relax the current rules in place on Tuesday.
Officials have highlighted seventeen priorities which will take precedence for relaxation, including reopening schools, returning people to work and getting public transport up and running.
The government also hopes to make masks and sanitiser widely available for the nation.
It comes after a poll by YouGov for the Huffington Post revealed that more than 50 percent of French citizens are now against the government’s stringent lockdown enforcement.
However, according to Schengenvisainfo.com: “The presidents of the Travel Companies (Jean-Pierre Mas) and the Tour Operators Union (René-Marc Chikli) which represent 3,500 companies that employ 35,000 people said that they do not anticipate a resumption of concrete activity of tourism given the current state of border closure before 2021.”
In his address to the nation president Emmanuel Macron made clear that while some businesses would be reopening on May 11th, bars, cafés, restaurants and other tourist sector sites would not be included.
He also said that museums, cinemas and major tourist destinations would have a delayed reopening date.
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Though domestic tourism is likely to be prioritised within France, Secretary of State to the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs in France, Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, said that it is “too early to give a perspective and cannot provide answers to French citizens who wish to organise summer holidays.”
In Italy, citizens are being allowed to visit families, meanwhile, parks, factories and building sites are set to reopen.
Hairdressers, beauty salons, bars and restaurants are expected to reopen for dine-in service from June 1, and retail shops which remain closed will be opened on May 18 along with museums and libraries.
Parts of the country which rely heavily on tourism are also looking at ways of achieving much-needed income.
Sicily’s regional government has put forward a plan to pay up to half of tourists’ flight costs, as well as footing the bill for one in three of their hotel nights.
According to The Times, the scheme will be covered by a €50 million budget after the country faced financial losses due to reduced tourism in March and April.
Vouchers for travel costs are to be made available on Sicily’s tourism website.
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However, it is not yet known when international travellers will be welcomed, of if Britons will be amongst the nations initially allowed to visit.
In Spain, officials have suggested that British holidaymakers might be some of the last to be allowed to return to the holiday hotspot.
The government is now allowing children under 14 to play outside for one hour a day, between 9 am and 9 pm, so long as they are being accompanied by an adult.
Yet officials have also announced plans to reopen some of its popular beaches, with police overseeing social distancing.
The Balearic Islands are also looking at ways to reignite tourism, prioritising domestic travel initially.
The Spanish authorities have outlined a three-step recovery plan for the region, putting locals first in line to enjoy the holiday hotspot.
Speaking to local newspaper El Mundo, Canary Islands president Angel Victor Torres explained: “That way, in October, November or December, which are good months in the Canary Islands, we can begin to receive tourists from other countries.”
The Balearic islands’ Restauración Mallorca also recently presented an idea for ensuring social distancing while being able to reopen restaurants and bars.
Despite this positive progress, Balearics Tourism minister Lago Negueruela hinted that Britons will not be amongst those allowed to visit.
He said: “There are countries like the United Kingdom that have taken too long to adopt containment measures that also puts us in a different situation with respect to them.”
The UK remains in lockdown, with no sign of restrictions being lifted.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) continues to advise Britons to avoid “all but essential travel” for an indefinite period of time.
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