EU to push countries to reopen borders as global coronavirus cases pass four million

This comes as global coronavirus cases surpass four million. More than 200,000 people worldwide are known to have died of the virus. As a result of the crisis, nearly all travel has been halted in Europe. Tourism is a major industry across the 27-country bloc.

The halt of travel has been devastating blow for the tourism sector, which normally contributes almost one-tenth of the EU’s economic output.

Even within the Schengen area, comprising 26 EU and other European countries, and where frontiers are normally invisible, at least 17 countries have put emergency border controls in place to contain the virus.

The executive European Commission will make a slew of non-binding recommendations on Wednesday, Reuters reports.

This is set to include that targeted restrictions replace a general ban on travel, and that internal border checks slowly be lifted as the health situation improves.

The three Baltic states have already decided to reopen borders to each others’ citizens from May 15.

This is to create a “travel bubble” within the EU as pandemic curbs are eased.

However, even countries that are cautiously relaxing their strictest lockdown measures are moving towards imposing a two-week quarantine period for travellers arriving from abroad.

The Commission estimates some 6.4 million jobs could be lost in tourism.

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The industry employed 12 million people before the crisis.

The sector suffered an 80-90 percent loss in turnover in the first quarter of 2020, four hospitality industry lobby groups said.

The industry is braced for a disastrous summer season as the EU faces its deepest-ever recession.

EFFAT, FoodDrinkEurope, FoodServiceEurope and HOTREC said a significant share of the trillion-euro COVID economic recovery fund the bloc is discussing should go toward supporting their sector.


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They said they needed liquidity support and fiscal relief, as well as other resources to protect jobs.

The Commission is to defy calls from airlines and a group of EU member states led by Germany for the EU to suspend laws guaranteeing travellers a full cash refund for cancelled flights and trips.

It will instead recommend that cash-strapped airlines and travel companies make vouchers they are offering instead of cash.

Meanwhile, the UK is seeking arrangements for a free trade deal with Japan.

Talks will take place online due to the ongoing coronavirus crisis Negotiation objectives have been published ahead of online talks.

Secretary of State for International Trade Liz Truss has said that both sides are committed to an “ambitious timeline”.

Ms Truss said: “Japan is one of our largest trading partners and a new trade deal will help to increase trade, boost investment and create more jobs following the economic challenges caused by coronavirus.

“Both sides are committed to an ambitious timeline to secure a deal that goes even further than the existing agreement especially in digital and data.

“Negotiations with Japan are an important step in CPTPP (Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership) accession, a key UK priority, which will help us diversify our trade and grow the economy.”

Among the objectives are ambitions to increase UK GDP and provide new opportunities for businesses.

This is as well as increasing the resilience of British supply chains by diversifying beyond the EU and China.

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