BRUSSELS – The European Union has announced its intention to relax the ban on non-essential travel to the continent, with foreign students, third-country nationals who normally live in Europe and some highly skilled workers likely to be exempted from the restrictions related to coronavirus from leaving from the next July 1st.After the virus began to spread across Europe in March, the EU gradually extended the ban to all non-essential travel to the 27 member countries as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, until June 15. While the area of free internal movement should be fully functional again by the end of June, the European Commission recommends opening up external borders to boost economies, especially the tourism sector.
“While we must all be careful, the time has come to actually prepare for the relaxation of restrictions with countries whose health situation is similar to that of the EU and to resume visa operations,” said the Commissioner for Internal Affairs, Ylva Johansson
. While the spread of coronavirus has eased in Europe, it remains high elsewhere and various countries still impose bans on the entry of some European citizens, so the Commission is reluctant to lift all travel restrictions.
In the “recommendation” issued today, the Commission instead urges European countries to make coordinated decisions on who to let in and from where, since visas for the Schengen area allow travel to 26 countries, and to base their actions on the data of the World Health Organization and the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control.