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Don’t reopen tourism too quickly, German foreign minister warns

German Foreign Minister Maas called for the development of common criteria for a return to freedom of travel. His warning followed Austria’s announcement that it would open its borders to German and Czech travelers.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has warned against reopening European tourism destinations too quickly, saying that Europe should agree on a shared path back to freedom of travel.

“A European race to see who will allow tourism travel first will lead to unacceptable risks,” Maas told the weekly Bild am Sonntag newspaper. 

“We have already experienced what an infection cluster in a popular holiday destination can do to the home countries of the tourists,” said Maas, citing the high infection rate at the Austrian ski resort of Ischgl, where hundreds of tourists are believed to have been infected with coronavirus in the early months of the outbreak.

Instead, Europe needs a set of common criteria for a way back to freedom of travel, “as quickly as possible, but as responsibly as necessary,” Maas said.

The foreign minister’s warning followed an announcement made by Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz that the country would begin a gradual opening of the border for travelers from the Czech Republic and Germany. 

Austria also ended coronavirus quarantines this week at three of the country’s major ski resorts, lifting the restrictions days before they were due to expire. 

“We must not let the hard-won successes of the last few weeks be ruined,” said Maas. Otherwise, the travel restrictions would have to be extended even longer, he added.

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