EUROPEAN countries are considering plans to issue "Covid-19 passports" to travellers in a bid to get tourism up and running again in time for summer.

Ministers from the 27 member states discussed the idea at a meeting in Brussels to thrash out an exit plan for the struggling holiday industry.

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They also mulled creating "tourism corridors" which would allow travel to resume between specific countries.

Afterwards Croatian tourism minister Gari Cappelli, who chaired the meeting, said: "We must allow the borders to be opened as much as we can".

He said the common approach foresees the creation of a new travel document valid in all member states for tourist arrivals and departures.

EU diplomats said the new passports would be linked to health measures put in place by countries to contain the crisis and not antibody tests.

It would essentially mean that countries which are controlling the virus well would be able to see their citizens travel.

Bilateral deals between countries with low rates of infection may also be encouraged.

It is thought the UK could opt into the schemes whilst we are still in the transition period, but this is by no means certain.

And as Britain is one of the worst affected countries in Europe, it could mean that UK citizens will be unable to travel to Europe this summer.

Brits also face being handed vouchers for cancelled flights as Brussels comes under pressure to scrap the automatic entitlement to cash refunds.

A coalition of up to 17 member states will hand a demand to the Commission today urging it to temporarily waive the rules to help struggling airlines.

They will propose tweaking the law to allow airlines to issue vouchers for cancelled and delayed flights that are valid for a year.

Passengers would be able to use the coupons for an alternative flight or redeem them for a cash refund at the end of the 12-month period.

One EU diplomat said the scheme "would buy airlines time and help them stay afloat".

The Commission will tomorrow discuss plans for how to get air travel back under way.

They will include social distancing on planes and in airports, more rigorous disinfection routines, and potentially even health checks on passengers.

A spokesman said: "We need to have a consistent approach in Europe on the question of tourism.

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"We also need to make sure that we'll all be able to go on holidays this year as Europeans and that businesses will be able to carry out their activities."

But a group representing European carriers including Ryanair and easyJet insisted social distancing on planes is "neither necessary nor viable".

Airlines For Europe instead called on governments to bankroll the issuing of personal protective equipment like face masks to all passengers.


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