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Travel restrictions: UK remains closed while Europe reopens to tourists

At the government’s daily press briefing on May 28, Boris Johnson announced imminent changes for schools, retail and social interactions, but the lifting of travel restrictions remained on the backburner. 

Since his speech on May 10 where it was announced that hotels and restaurants may be able to reopen in England on July 4 at the earliest, there has been no further information. This date is dependent on a number of factors and will not be confirmed until closer to the time. There have been no official statements about a date for when international travel will be allowed again either.

Meanwhile, across Europe a number of countries are already beginning to lift restrictions so that domestic and international travel can return in a phased way. 

Norway has announced it will allow entry to business travellers from all the other Nordic countries, including Sweden, from June 1 with no quarantine required. The inclusion of Sweden was a point of contention, given the country has a significantly higher rate of Covid-19 infections, but in the end Norway opted for a blanket rule.

Across the Channel in France, cafés, restaurants and bars can reopen as of June 2. The ban that was in place in regards to distance you are allowed to travel, previously no more than 100km (60 miles), has also been relaxed. France’s PM Edouard Philippe said: “Freedom will become the rule, bans the exception.”

Italy will open its borders on June 3, and a number of hotels across the country are already preparing to open their doors to tourism, including the luxury Villa D’Este hotel on Lake Como. Zermatt in Switzerland will reopen for summer skiing on June 6. Slovenia and Hungary also opened their borders to each other on May 28.

EuropeanCommissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, underlined at the beginning of May: “We need a phased and coordinated approach. Restoring the normal functioning of the Schengen area of free movement is our first objective as soon as the health situation allows it. Restrictions on free movement and internal border controls will need to be lifted gradually before we can remove restrictions at the external borders and guarantee access to the EU for non-EU residents for non-essential travel.”

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