EU wants borders open for summer holidays

Updated: May 14, 2020, 08:44 IST | Agencies | Rome/Brussels

Spain has no immediate plans to roll out an app for contact tracing. Germany has engaged over 10,000 people in contact tracing. An app is planned but is still weeks away

Despite the threat of infection spikes, European nations have been seeking to restart cross-border travel, particularly for countries whose economies rely on tourists flocking to their beaches. Pic/AFP
Despite the threat of infection spikes, European nations have been seeking to restart cross-border travel, particularly for countries whose economies rely on tourists flocking to their beaches. Pic/AFP

Italy's virus reopening was supposed to be accompanied by a series of measures to limit infections: the distribution of millions of inexpensive surgical masks to pharmacies nationwide, a pilot project of 1,50,000 antibody tests and, eventually, the roll-out of a contact-tracing app.

None of these is in place as Italy experiments with its second week of loosening restrictions. Italy's commissioner for the emergency, Domenico Arcuri, said, "Italians know well what to do to protect themselves, even if they don't have tests, masks, or other measures." Spain has no immediate plans to roll out an app for contact tracing. Germany has engaged over 10,000 people in contact tracing. An app is planned but is still weeks away.

EU focuses on tourism
Meanwhile, a debate erupted in Europe over the summer travel season even as new clusters appeared. Authorities in Wuhan were pressing ahead on Wednesday to test all 11 million residents. Lebanon reinstated a lockdown for four after a spike in reported cases.

The European Union's executive arm, the European Commission, unveiled a plan to help citizens in its 27 nations salvage their summer vacations. It laid out advice for lifting ID checks on closed borders, helping to get airlines, ferries and buses running while ensuring the safety of passengers and crew, and preparing health measures for hotels to reassure clients.

It's not clear whether nations will follow that advice, since they, not Brussels, have the final say over health and security matters. Some EU nations have sought bilateral agreements with their neighbors.

1,602,977
No. of cases across Europe

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