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As European countries begin to ease coronavirus restrictions, France warned its citizens that they may need to scale back vacation plans this summer as international travel likely will remain limited.
While France is expected to gradually lift the nationwide lockdown beginning May 11, the government said life won't return to normal overnight, especially for travelers.
The external borders of Europe’s visa-free Schengen area, incorporating 26 nations, will remain closed “for several weeks, for several months,” Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, a deputy minister at the French Foreign Ministry, said Wednesday.
“A trip of several thousand kilometers is, for sure, excluded,” Lemoyne said.
The government has instead advised citizens to plan vacations and trips around France, in part to help the battered tourism sector recover from the pandemic.
Lemoyne’s comments are the latest warning from the French government that vacationers should taper their expectations this summer.
President Emmanuel Macron told reporters Tuesday that “it is too soon to say” how the pandemic will impact summer holidays, saying it won’t be clear until “early June.”
“What I can say is that we will limit major international travel, even during the summer holidays,” Macron said, according to France 24. “We will stay among Europeans and, depending on how the epidemic evolves, we might have to reduce that a little more.”
Meanwhile, Italy’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and Germany’s federal tourism commissioner, Thomas Bariess, separately told local newspapers that summer travel was likely for citizens in their respective countries as long as the pandemic remained under control, the BBC reported.
France is currently restricted to essential travel, and a travel certificate is required for everyone entering the country. A 14-day quarantine will be required for most travelers, including returning French citizens, who enter from outside Europe.
When lockdown measures begin to lift next week, citizens will be allowed to travel up to 60 miles from their homes without justification papers, France 24 reported. Those traveling beyond that distance will still require forms.
France is one of the hardest-hit nations in the world, with the virus sickening at least 170,694 people and killing 25,538 as of Wednesday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.