German medical chief says there will be no summer holidays this year
With many countries still in lockdown and seemingly no end in sight, Germany’s top doctor has delivered the news that we were all dreading to hear: no summer holidays this year.
According to Klaus Reinhardt, chairman of the Association of Doctors in Germany (Hartmannbund), there will be massive restrictions on summer holidays in Germany this year. “I don’t think that Germans can go on holiday trips this summer,” he told reporters.
Reinhardt’s prediction is down to two main factors. First, that even with a gradual return to normal life in Germany, there will be lots to do before the country can get back to normal. Border controls still apply at some of external borders and arrivals into Germany must quarantine themselves for 14 days.
Secondly, tourism to popular holiday destinations like Italy, Spain or France is unlikely to be possible during the summer, as they will also still be recovering from the effects of the virus.
Echoing Reinhardt’s sentiment, the Prime Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia, Armin Laschet (CDU), has advised against booking trips abroad. “No one can reliably predict when normalisation can be expected in the tourism sector. I would not plan big long-distance trips at the moment,” he said.
Mecklenburg-Vorpommern suggest postponing summer holidays
The Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Tourism Association has suggested the postponement of all summer holiday days to August and September, in light of expected travel restrictions. Director Tobias Woitendorf said that more rooms for holidaying and leisure activities will probably be available in these months.
According to Woitendorf, the tourism industry was disproportionally affected by the crisis. So, a postponement of the summer vacation could allow for the federal states, in which the summer holidays start in June, to recover from the slow start to 2020. It would also allow students, whose studies have been interrupted by the pandemic, more time to complete their work for the remaining year.
Protecting the tourism industry
Three federal ministers, Christine Lambrecht (SPD), Peter Altmaier (CDU) and Olaf Scholz (SPD) have written to the EU Justice Commissioner, demanding that the EU commission accept a voucher solution for holiday trips that were cancelled due to the coronavirus.
The three ministers want tour operators to be allowed to issue a voucher as a reimbursement for cancelled trips so that tour operators and travel agencies do not have to pay back customers' money. The money will only be reimbursed if the voucher is not redeemed by December 31, 2021.
"We are convinced that such a regulation can help not only Germany, but the many Member States, and especially the tour operators and consumers concerned in this extraordinary and unique crisis," wrote the ministers.