With the current lockdown looking to be going well within Spain and other European destinations the announcement of borders re opening as soon as June/July will make many people very happy.

The European Commission considers the Europe to be in ‘Phase 0’ right now – with borders between member States still shut, but the countries in question are starting to apply mechanisms to gradually open up restrictions on movement.

‘Phase 1’ in Europe will see a ‘partial’ lifting of border controls and restrictions, and if this cannot be across the board and immediate, an easing off could start between ‘region, areas or member States’ whose ‘situation and evolution’ in terms of virus control are similar.

As yet, the respective situations in each member State, or parts thereof, are not clear enough to be able to work out a possible strategy, but it is expected this will be on the cards soon.

Where travel between two areas or countries whose contagion situation is different – one being farther ahead and nearer recovery than another – ‘extra steps’ will be taken when crossing borders, including ‘additional vigilance and control’.

Authorisation by the different member nations to travel to given areas must be in an ‘informed and coordinated manner’, based on ‘three criteria’ and cannot be ‘discriminatory’, the Commission warns – meaning permission to travel must be for all territories which comply with the criteria and for all citizens, with no ‘cherry-picking’ between them.

As an example, if Spain, Portugal and France were all in similar situations concerning the Covid-19 pandemic, Spain could not allow its residents to travel to Portugal but not France, and could not permit travel to ‘Spanish nationals only’.

Also, says the Commission, no country will be permitted to open borders with neighbouring countries but not with anywhere else in the EU – the criteria to follow will be based upon the ‘epidemiological situation’ in given member States, not the distance between them. So, for example, if Portugal, France and Germany were in a similar position to Spain, then Spain would not be allowed to permit travel to Portugal and France but not Germany.

This is excellent news for those with property here that want to come and spend the summer here.

‘Phase 1’ in Europe would mean ‘prioritising’ cross-border movements in ‘key areas of the economy’, says the Commission – which may well include international tourism, in the case of Spain and other Mediterranean nations where the holiday industry forms a major chunk of their income.

The Commission says it is ‘very concerned’ that the pandemic may affect the common market, ‘just as it’s recovering now from the financial crisis of 2008’, and for this reason wants any restrictions on international travel within the bloc to be ‘proportionate, effective, and not to go beyond what is necessary to contain the pandemic and protect public health’.

Countries whose Covid-19 situation is ‘improving’ will be among the first to open up to each other, but they will also be required to have ‘mechanisms in place’ for containing the pandemic, both at the border and beyond, including restrictions in areas where social distancing is not possible.

One of these mechanisms, the Commission says, could be that a tourist automatically receives an SMS on their mobile phone when crossing a border giving them information about national and regional restrictions, and who to contact if they experience Covid-19 symptoms.

‘Phase 2’ in Europe, which will be the equivalent of Spain’s ‘Phase 3’, will come with a general internal border opening and will happen once the ‘epidemiological situation’ in all EU member States is ‘sufficiently positive and comparable’, but precautions will still apply, including hand-sanitiser dispensers, information campaigns, social distancing and, in countries where it is compulsory, masks being worn.

Air travel

Several airlines have announced their plans to reinstate flights albeit fewer of them in June which is good news. Brussels recommends all member States ‘limit contact’ between passengers and between employees in the transport industry, largely by ‘reducing numbers’ on board and making mask use compulsory.

The Commission recommends tickets be available online at all times and this method encouraged where possible, so as to avoid touching more than necessary and limiting person-to-person contact. Additionally, physical distancing should be maintained at security, baggage re-claim and check-in.

“Fewer passengers should be allowed on board,” the Commission says, “to enable physical distancing, particularly between passengers who are not part of the same household.

Hotels, apartments and other accommodation

Parts of Spain whose tourism is largely based upon holiday homes, either owner-occupied or rented, are expecting to be able to open to visitors much sooner than those which rely mostly on hotels – holiday homes, even when used by multiple sets of guests over the course of a summer, have fewer, or no, communal areas, and self-catering trips reduce the necessity for people having to eat in restaurants.

The European Commission wants all accommodation to have ‘health and hygiene procedures’ in place, and tourism will only be opened up in places where hotels, holiday parks, resorts and other types of living quarters are near to a health service which has ‘sufficient capacity’ to treat not only locals, but also tourists on top of locals.

In some coastal areas in Spain, the population doubles or even quadruples in summer, and health service reinforcements for the season must be able to cope with this influx more than ever before – in addition to the usual heightened hospital and GP surgery traffic, they need to be able to handle a hypothetical Covid-19 outbreak among tourists and residents alike, and have the resources available for testing and for tracing anyone who may have been in contact with a person diagnosed.

“These regulations are to allow people to stay in hotels, holiday parks, B&Bs and other accommodation, eat and drink in restaurants, bars and cafés, and go to the beach, safely,” the Commission says.

All of this is progress for Spain and nearby countries and gets us closer to being as back to normal as can be hoped as soon as possible. Bromley Estates Marbella are fully operational whilst observing a safe environment for our customers and staff at all times. We are contactable via email and phone and very much look forward to welcoming you soon!

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