Traveling in Europe in the time of COVID-19

The European Commission (EU) unveiled a series of measures aimed at ensuring people can start traveling safely across the continent again as governments try to revive tourism and airline industries brought to a halt by the coronavirus. Earlier this month, options were considered.

Here are the general guidelines for air, rail, water and road travel and steps for each mode of transport:


* Passengers will be encouraged to buy tickets, reserve seats and check in online.

* Passengers should wear face masks, especially where physical distancing measures cannot be fully observed at all times. These do not need to be medical masks.

* Physical distancing should be ensured at security checks and luggage drop-off and collection.

* Dedicated lanes should be set up to keep passenger flows separate at ports, airports, train stations, bus stops, ferry landings and urban public transport hubs.

* Hubs should remove facilities that encourage crowding, such as benches, tables or, re-arrange them to ensure distancing.

* Fewer passengers may be allowed on board buses, trains or ferries, and passengers who are not from the same household may be seated apart.

* Transport staff should have adequate protective equipment.

* Sanitizing/disinfecting gel should be available and vehicles cleaned and disinfected regularly.

* Food, drinks and other goods may no longer be on sale on board.

* Duty-free shops and other travel retailers should control passenger movement with floor markers and restrict customer numbers, boost cleaning and set up barriers at till points among other measures.

* Contact tracing and warning measures with the use of mobile apps could be used on a voluntary basis. Such apps should be able to function across borders.


Protocols will be outlined by regulators in the next few weeks and should include:

* Ventilation should be strengthened, with hospital-grade air filtering and vertical airflow.

* Movement needs to be reduced in the cabin, such as less cabin baggage, fewer interactions with the crew.

* Passenger flows should be managed with early arrival times at the airport; prioritizing electronic/self-check-in; minimizing contacts at baggage drop-offs, security and border control points, boarding, and during baggage collection.

* Pre-ordering of on-board services and meals should be, where possible, done at the time of booking.


* Terminals, rest areas along motorways, parking, fueling and charging stations should maintain high levels of hygiene.

* At stations, passenger flow should be managed.

* Where adequate levels of public health cannot be ensured, closing stops or stations should be considered.


* Rear-door boarding and the use of windows for ventilation instead of air conditioning should be used.

* Seating should be organized where possible so that families sit together, while people not traveling together should be separated.

* In mini-buses, passengers should not be allowed to sit next to the driver unless physical separation is possible.

* If possible, passengers should handle the their own luggage.


* Frequency and capacity of trains should be increased if necessary to reduce passenger density.

* Rail operators should implement mandatory seat reservations on long-distance and regional trains.

* For short-distance trips, passengers should leave seats empty between them, except for passengers from the same household.

* Rail operators should use passenger counting systems, especially on commuter and suburban trains, to manage capacity.

* Passenger flow should be managed at stations and stops closed if adequate levels of public health cannot be ensured.

* Off-peak hour travel should be encouraged with incentives, such as adjusted pricing, or flexible working hours in the case of commuter trains, to avoid crowding.

* Doors should be opened at each stop either automatically or remotely by the driver.

4 thoughts on “Traveling in Europe in the time of COVID-19

  1. I understand that our travel sectors need to make money, but I don’t think it’s ideal to go travelling at a time like this because it’s so easy to pick up colds/flus/covid while travelling (especially in airplanes!) What do you think?

  2. I cannot wait for the go ahead to travel. This was good information for someone from the states. I’ve been curious how things are being handled overseas.

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