The last few months were desperate for anyone with wanderlust in their souls.
The spread of the novel coronavirus has caused hotels and resorts to be closed, airplanes to be grounded, and most borders closed in front of foreigners.
The public health crisis has prompted authorities to impose restrictive measures we’ve never seen before.
A few weeks ago, it seemed that the whole summer of 2020 will go down the drain. In some European countries, in turn, the first big wave of the epidemic seems to have passed – the situation appears to have improved enough for them to tentatively reopen their borders and start their tourist season.
Gatherings with more than a few hundred people will likely not be possible for at least a few months, so events like concerts, kite festivals, and others are unlikely but even a few weeks spent on the beach might do the trick – observing strict social distancing rules, of course.
Greece will start its tourist season late this year – on June 15th. International visitors will only be allowed to land at the Athens and Thessaloniki airports at first, with other international airports opening on July 1st.
Visitors won’t be quarantined at arrival but you can expect mandatory spot tests to be completed. Face masks will be mandatory at the airport.
You’ll have to say good-bye to crowded beaches this year – beach clubs are required to limit their attendance to 40 people per 1,000 square meters.
Umbrellas will be placed four meters apart, and individual sunbeds can’t be closer than 1.5 meters to each other. And they’ll be disinfected after each user.
Beach bars and cantinas will work on a strict take-away basis, with no seating available. The number of people who can sit at the same table is limited at 6.
The golden rule of maintaining 1.5 meters (about six feet) between individuals will be observed pretty much everywhere.
Spain has already reopened its Atlantic beaches to locals (for now, only for swimming), and plans to reopen the rest of its tourist destinations to international visitors, too.
A few days ago, the government lifted the measure of the 14-day quarantine for travelers coming from abroad and announced the world that tourists can book their stay in the country from July 1st.
At first, popular destinations like Madrid and Barcelona will be off-limits for visitors, leaving destinations like the Balearic and Canary Islands, Mallorca, and Ibiza. For the time being, of course.
Italy was one of the countries hit hardest by the pandemic – but there, too, the first big wave of the pandemic has passed.
It will reopen its borders to foreign visitors but it will be selective with the countries where they come from: for now, it will only allow those coming from the EU, the UK, and European microstates to enter without spending two weeks in isolation – this means that the country is, for now, off-limits for tourists coming from the US.
As you might expect, tourists will be required to wear masks, keep their distance, and everything else the local authorities require to prevent the further spread of the virus – and the authorities reserve the right to tighten any of them if the need arises.
Other European countries
Many European countries are reopening their borders at least partially. Germany opened some of its border crossings with Austria, Switzerland, and France already, planning to go further by June 15.
It also reopened Europapark Rust – it’s the first major theme park in the world to resume operations since the beginning of the pandemic.
Austria also gave June 15 as a date for officially reopening, and so did France, although both of them will allow visitors only from specific locations. Portugal will also welcome its first visitors mid-June.
Slovenia already opened its borders for tourists coming from neighboring countries on May 15. Croatia, another popular destination, is doing the same – but it only allows visitors coming from specific countries (like Slovenia and Germany, for example) to enter without a mandatory quarantine.
The country will open its borders to visitors from other countries later in the month.
The New Normal
For a while, we thought this year’s tourist season was lost to the pandemic. Now, in turn, it seems not all is lost – while there will be many restrictions and rules to obey, we might still give our soul the cure for the wanderlust it feels.