Europe could have its free travel zone up and running again by the end of the month, European Union Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson said on Friday after talks between the bloc’s interior ministers.
Countries in the 26-nation Schengen area had imposed border restrictions without consulting their neighbors after the coronavirus outbreak in Italy in February. The moves caused traffic jams and blocked medical deliveries.
“I personally believe that we will return to a full functioning of the Schengen area and freedom of movement of citizens no later than the end of the month of June,” Johansson told reporters after the video-conference meeting.
Europe’s Center for Disease Prevention and Control “believes that confinement and other health measures are working, according to the official.”
All but essential travel into Europe from outside is restricted until June 15, but many ministers have suggested that they want this deadline extended until early July, AP quoted Johansson as saying.
Spain Health Minister Salvador Illa said on Friday that some restrictions would be lifted in Madrid and Barcelona, which have so far lagged behind the rest of the country’s easing program.
From Monday, bar and restaurant customers will be allowed to sit inside rather than on outdoor terraces, and children will be able to play outside at any time of day.
Tourism Minister Reyes Maroto said on Thursday that land borders would reopen from June 22, but her ministry later walked back on the statement. “There has been no change in the government’s position since day one,” government spokeswoman Maria Jesus Montero told reporters, referring to the previously announced date of July 1.