Reopening the Borders | What Our Neighbors Are Doing

Austria, Czechia, Slovakia and Hungary plan a coordinated opening in mid-June.

“Long-distance travel to America or Asia is unlikely to be possible for some time yet,” it reads on the website of the Austrian automobile club ÖAMTC. So we will all have to have patience. Travel within the EU on the other hand is becoming easier – beginning with our neighboring countries.

Slovenia

Slovenia opened first, at the end of last week – and three days later closed again, except for a “good reason.” The “reciprocity” wasn’t there, the Slovenian government said.  The Austrian Foreign Ministry, you could say, felt the same way:  The Slovenians has opened its borders to all EU citizens, so that people from Italy, for example, would theoretically have been able enter Austria via Slovenia – something the Austrian government is reluctant to do at this point.

The Slovenian government now hopes to reopen the border with Austria by June 1.

Czechia, Slovakia and Hungary

Other neighboring countries are moving a bit more slowly. The Czech Republic announced Monday evening (May 18) a relaxing of regulations by June 8, while Slovakia and Hungary are still waiting. However a video conference Tuesday, May, 19 – when Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg (ÖVP) talked with counterparts Tomas Petricek from the Czech Republic and Ivan Korcok from Slovakia – seemed to break the ice.

“The decision on the opening of the border could be made as early as next week,” Schallenberg told the news agency APA following the conference. At the moment there is “intensive work on returning to full freedom of travel with the Czechs, Slovaks and Hungarians by mid-June,” he said. “The infection figures of our neighboring states are very good.” Another video conference is planned in the next few days, in which the Hungarian Foreign Minister will also participate.

Germany, Switzerland and Liechtenstein

Due to the drop in the number of infections, these three countries were already able to relax the entry restrictions. They will add the reopening the borders to Austria on June, 15.

Italy

For Italy there is no timetable yet.

Worldwide travel restrictions

As of today, the Foreign Ministry continues to advise against travel to other countries:

“Due to the unpredictability of the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), the Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs strongly urges to refrain from all trips not strictly necessary, and especially not to go on holiday trips. Ongoing travel restrictions, quarantine measures and extensive restrictions of public life in numerous countries are to be expected until further notice. Furthermore, in numerous countries the security of the healthcare systems can no longer be guaranteed. Austrian travelers abroad are strongly advised to make use of the return travel options, currently still available but increasingly restricted.”

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Julia Seidl
Julia started out at "Die Presse." She went on to study "Journalism & Media Management" in Vienna and worked for several local news outlets such as ORF, Kurier and Falter before joining Metropole as online content and social media manager.

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