More borders open up across EU, internal traffic by the end of June
Poland and the Baltic states will open their borders to each other next week in an easing of coronavirus travel restrictions, Lithuanian Prime Minister said on Friday after a video conference with his Polish counterpart. Furthermore, the Czech Republic has opened its borders with all neighbouring countries except Poland, which should join soon. All internal EU borders will most likely open by the end of June.
The Baltic states - Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia - opened their common borders on May 15, creating the first so called "travel bubble" within the European Union in a bid to jump-start stalled economies.
"We agreed that free movement between the Baltic states and Poland will be restored next week," Lithuanian Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis said on his Facebook page after the talks with Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki. "Ministries of both countries were told to work on this as fast as possible," he added.
Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia each allow entry into their common travel area from most EU countries, singling out those where infection rates are deemed low enough to mitigate any risk of rekindling outbreaks that have slowed across the Baltics. Travellers from other countries are told to self-isolate for 14 days. Travel from countries where infection rates are high, such as Britain, remains banned.
In response to an emailed request for comment, Poland's interior ministry said that, as previously announced, controls on the borders with Lithuania, Germany, the Czech Republic and Slovakia had been extended until June 12 and that it would issue a statement about any further developments.
Czechs open to neighbours
The Czech government agreed to fully open its borders with neighbours Austria and Germany and allow unrestricted travel to and from Hungary from noon on Friday, Prime Minister Andrej Babis said. It fully opened its border with Slovakia on Thursday.
"People who visit these countries do not need any coronavirus test nor quarantine," Babis told a news conference shown live on television. "We want to return to normal, it can also be beneficial for the Czech Republic when people from these countries come and spend money here," he added.
Foreign Minister Tomas Petricek said all restrictions on travel to and from Austria and Hungary had been removed, though travellers to Germany still needed to observe Germany's current conditions for entry. The Czechs are planning to allow unrestricted entry from more than 20 European states from June 15. Visitors arriving from places where the epidemic is still widespread will have to provide a negative COVID-19 test or be quarantined on arrival.
EU to open by July
The European Union will only fully open internal borders by the end of June and begin lifting restrictions on travel to and from other countries in July, EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson said on Friday.
Johansson told a news conference after a video call among EU interior ministers that most EU governments would lift internal border controls by June 15, but that some would take until the end of the month to do so. "So that means that internal border controls are lifted by the end of June, I guess. We should consider the gradual lifting of restrictions on non-essential travel to the EU early July," she said.
Źródło: TVN24 News in English, Reuters