Coronavirus: practical advice for safe travel

There is a great desire to travel in Italy and abroad this summer 2020, after a long phase of confinement due to the Covid-19 pandemic. But, as Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission said, “it is important to be vigilant, we all have a role to play in reducing the spread of the virus”.

The first step for those intending to travel abroad is to check out Re-open EU, a web platform activated on June 15 by the European Commission containing essential information that allows you to safely relaunch the free movement and tourism in the European Union. (EU). Designed to help people confidently plan their trips and vacations during and after the summer, the Re-open EU platform provides real-time information on borders, available means of transport, travel restrictions, health public and security measures, such as physical spacing or the use of masks, as well as other practical information for travelers.

Re-open EU acts as a key point of reference for anyone traveling within the EU, as it concentrates the up-to-date information provided by the European Commission and Member States into a single point of access. Information about each EU member state can be consulted through an interactive map that illustrates updates on applicable national measures and offers practical advice to visitors to the country concerned. The platform, available in the 24 official EU languages, is easily accessible on desktops and mobile devices by following the Re-open EU link.

Travel advice is a national competence and it is necessary to check whether your national authorities, for example the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, have issued an official travel warning regarding the intended destination. Travel tips are constantly updated as the situation evolves.

Here are some tips for traveling safely in Europe during the coronavirus era:

  • For air and train travel, if possible, buy tickets and check in online to avoid the crowds;
  • respect social distance when storing and collecting luggage, security checks and boarding;
  • There may be fewer passengers on planes and you may be asked to sit away from non-family passengers if you have difficulty maintaining safe distances, the port a mask may be required;
  • It may not be possible to purchase items such as food and drink on board.
  • For bus journeys, transport companies could install protective barriers, for example between the passengers and the driver; you may be asked to board through the back door; drivers must automatically open the doors at each stop to prevent passengers from touching buttons or handles.
  • In addition, stations, ports and airports should ensure regular cleaning and disinfection and provide sanitation products on board vehicles. In addition, adequate ventilation should be provided on all means of transport.
  • Finally, passengers can choose between a refund or an alternate itinerary for canceled trips; if the shipping company offers a voucher, you should still have the right to request a refund.

EU law establishes that if a ticket (plane, train, bus / coach and ferry) or tourist package is canceled, travelers have the right to choose between vouchers or cash refunds. By confirming this right, the European Commission intends at the same time to ensure that vouchers become a valid and more attractive alternative to reimbursement for trips canceled in the context of the current pandemic, which has also placed a heavy financial burden on tour operators.

The European Commission has defined a common framework which establishes the criteria for the safe and progressive restoration of tourist activities and the development of health protocols for hotels and other forms of accommodation, in order to protect the health of customers and workers. These criteria, which each Member State must then implement, include epidemiological evidence, a health system with sufficient capacity to meet the needs of the local population and tourists, a strong surveillance and monitoring system, the capacity to ‘perform analyzes and search for contacts.

Safety distances

Guests of hotels and other types of accommodation must respect safety distances when in common areas. In addition, infection prevention and control measures should be followed, such as coughing or sneezing with a tissue or covering your mouth and nose with your elbow, washing your hands and using a mask. Tourist facilities should provide guests with clear information and guidelines before their arrival and establish a plan of action in the event of contagion in the establishment where they are staying. They must also ensure regular cleaning, disinfect frequently touched surfaces and ensure a good ventilation system. Finally, it is important to ensure that the staff of tourist establishments have basic knowledge of preventing contagions and fighting infections.

Finally, EU Member States, supported by the European Commission, have agreed on a protocol to ensure cross-border interoperability of voluntary contact tracing applications, so that citizens can be alerted to a potential coronavirus infection. when they travel to the EU via its own tracking app.