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Making travel plans to the EU for the remainder of 2020 is currently a nightmare. Once the coronavirus cases in Europe started surging, countries went into lockdown and closed off borders. For the first time in its years of existence, strict border closures have been reintroduced among the Schengen countries. Even the European Union Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has warned travelers to hold off their holiday plans as Europe continues to be profoundly affected by the Coronavirus pandemic.

Even though the lockdowns had successfully helped some countries in Europe flatten the curve and control the spread of the novel virus, unfortunately, they’re bad news for anyone who had Eurotrip plans for this year. While some EU countries are considering lifting the restrictions, other countries think that this could lead to a deadly resurgence of the infection. So, under this situation, the European Commission President advised everyone to hold off their holiday plans because the virus could be present probably until next year -- and so will the travel restrictions. “At the moment, no one can make reliable forecasts for July and August. We will need to learn to live with this virus for many months, probably until next year. Travelers hoping for some summer sun in the next few months are already facing uncertainty,” she pointed out.

While France has been in a total lockdown since March 17th, cases have not started to slow down, leading the French president to announce that border controls will stay in place for seven months until the end of October 2020. A few other member states followed; Sweden and Denmark have both extended border controls until November 12th. The Foreign Office has also advised Britons who want to travel to Spain this summer to wait until September at the earliest.

Extending border controls doesn’t necessarily imply a lockdown. Life is slowly returning to normal in Europe, but countries are still taking necessary precautions and protecting themselves from another resurgence of COVID-19 cases. For now, with the end of the pandemic Coronavirus nowhere in sight, the European Commission invited all Schengen member countries and Schengen-associated states to prolong the external border closure for nonessential travel to the EU for a month, until May 15th. In all years of its existence, the Schengen area has never had more borders in place, defying the essence of its existence -- which is free movement across borders.

While the EU figures out its plans to fight the coronavirus, it's extinguishing hopes for anyone planning to apply for a Schengen visa in the near future. If the prolongation of the border closure takes place beyond May, this means that non-Europeans and anyone without a residence permit will not be able to travel to these countries until September. Besides that, when this is all over, the Schengen visa process will look a bit different. Countries may start asking for additional documents regarding the applicant’s health conditions According to an EU official, “When the Schengen Borders open up in September, if they do, Schengen visa applicants will need to submit a Coronavirus test that has resulted negative, taken within the last two weeks prior to the visa application. The traveler may be required to take a new test before traveling to the Schengen area, to make sure that he/she has not been infected in the meantime.” If a vaccine is found, applicants will have to be vaccinated prior to getting the visa.

Source: Schengen Visa Info