Germany Moves to Reactivate European Travel as Virus Ebbs

(Bloomberg) -- German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government took a further step to reactivate European travel as the spread of the coronavirus dwindles.

Merkel’s cabinet approved plans Wednesday that pave the way for a broad travel warning to be replaced from June 15 with recommendations for individual nations in the 27-member European Union, countries in the passport-free Schengen area and the U.K.

“This wasn’t an easy decision for us after many intensive discussions with our European partners in recent days and weeks -- but the lockdown measures are being scaled back gradually everywhere,” Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told reporters.

The ultimate decision on the travel warning will be taken in coordination with the EU over the next two weeks as authorities gauge the virus’s spread.

An easing of restrictions on movement and social life across Europe helped lift a gauge of economic activity in the 19-nation euro region in May as the bloc’s economy slowly emerges from a slump that’s wreaked havoc on businesses and jobs.

Germany’s shift away from an across-the-board travel warning, put in place in March as the pandemic was sweeping across Europe, is the latest move toward normality even as authorities warn of a second wave of the pandemic in Europe.

German citizens, who have been asked to avoid any unnecessary travel outside the country, will now have advisories on select destinations as travelers slowly venture out.

“I realize that this decision will raise great hopes and expectations, but let me say that travel warnings are not travel bans -- and travel advisories are not invitations,” Maas said.

Maas, who said Tuesday he didn’t yet have vacation plans of his own, has indicated that opening up travel in Europe will be gradual and that holidays this year would not be the same as in the past. Germany has already moved to lift border restrictions with neighboring countries such as France and Austria.

(Updates with Maas comments from third paragraph)

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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