German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas on Sunday urged European countries not to reopen tourism destinations too early, or risk another wave of coronavirus contagion.
“A European race to see who will allow tourist travel first will lead to unacceptable risks,” he told German outlet Bild am Sonntag.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen last week said Europeans will find “smart solutions” to allow them to take summer vacations despite the coronavirus pandemic.
Maas said European countries would have to agree on common criteria on freedom of travel “as quickly as possible, but as responsibly as necessary.” Earlier this week, Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton told French media that restarting touristic activity would require “harmonization of best practices, in particular regarding border crossings and seasonal workers.”
“We must not let the hard-won successes of the last few weeks be ruined,” Maas said, mentioning the Austrian ski resort of Ischgl that became a coronavirus contagion cluster in March. (The resort reopened on April 23.)
A slightly different tone came from the Bundestag, as Wolfgang Schäuble said in an interview with Der Tagesspiegel that everything should not be “subordinated” to the “protection of life.”
“But when I hear that everything else has to step back before the protection of life, then I have to say: That is not right in this absoluteness. Fundamental rights restrict each other,” the president of the Bundestag and former finance minister said.
“We must not leave decisions to the virologists alone, but must also weigh up the enormous economic, social, psychological and other implications,” he added.
On Sunday, Angela Merkel’s chief of staff Helge Braun and Health Minister Jens Spahn also announced that Berlin would change course and adopt a “decentralized” approach to a coronavirus contact-tracing app — now backing an approach championed by U.S. tech giants Apple and Google.
Janosch Delcker contributed reporting from Berlin.