The world's biggest tourist playground has been roped off since it became a coronavirus epicenter, but as summer looms1
Europe is desperate to lift restrictions2
to get visitors pumping much needed cash into stricken economies.
Across the continent, various nations currently sitting behind the firewall of quarantines or sealed frontiers, are figuring out how they can once again welcome holidaymakers.
Last week, the European Union unveiled an action plan to get its internal borders reopening, safely fire up its hospitality sector3
and to revive rail, road, air and sea connections that have been strangled during the pandemic.
It's a situation eagerly anticipated by millions of would-be travelers, desperate to enjoy a slice of European sunshine and culture after weeks or months being sequestered4
at home under lockdown.
"We all need a break, especially after this confinement," Thierry Breton, the EU's internal market commissioner5
, said. "We want to enjoy summer holidays, we would like to see our families and friends even if they live in another region, in another country.
"But we want to be able to do so while staying healthy and safe because we know the virus will stay [with] us for some time."
Europe accounts for 50% of the global tourism market in terms of arrivals and has been particularly hard hit by the restrictions. Normally crowded cities such as Venice, Rome, Paris and Barcelona have stood empty.
he EU currently has recommendations in place to all its member nations that they restrict all non-essential visitors from outside. But with infection rates dropping off in some countries, this looks set to change.
Some countries, such as Greece and Italy, are already naming specific dates. On Saturday, Italy announced plans to reopen its internal borders next month, while German Chancellor6
Angela Merkel has said that many internal EU border restrictions would be lifted by June 15.
There's even talk of permitting special "green corridors" or "travel bubbles" that would allow certain countries with low or sharply declining infection rates to open up to a select few destinations until borders are fully7
Those moves have been backed in the EU plan which proposes lifting restrictions between member states of "sufficiently8
similar epidemiological situations," in other words, the same rate of coronavirus infection.
Visitors from outside the EU could still face an indeterminate wait though.