The majority of Europeans believe that borders between EU countries should be closed, as the worst of the coronavirus crisis has yet to come, according to a new poll carried out by Euronews.

The online survey, which was done in collaboration with the consulting firm Redfield and Wilton Strategies on July 17-18 in Germany, Italy, France and Spain, noted that while travel restrictions in Europe have been relaxed for over a month, the research found that the overwhelming majority of respondents believe a second national lockdown is an appropriate measure in the event that the number of COVID-19 infections rises significantly in any of the European Union’s 27 members.

72% of the respondents in Spain believe a second nationwide lockdown is very likely, followed by 70% in France, 57% in Germany, and 55% in Italy.

The survey has also shown that Europeans strongly support having to wear a face mask in public spaces, with 81% of Italians saying masks were necessary, which was also backed by 81% of those surveyed in Spain, 80% in France, and 70% in Germany. A very small number of the respondents said they were opposed to the wearing of masks.

Contrary to French, Italian, and Spanish respondents, Germans believed that borders should be kept open even though the fear of cases being brought into Germany from the rest of the world remains high. The French were most in favour of closing national borders (63%), followed by Spain (57%), and Italy (54%).

Though they are not in favour of shutting their borders, the majority of Germans (61%) have said they do not intend to travel anywhere this summer, followed by 51% of Italians, 53% of French, and 60% of Spanish.

All four countries agreed it would not be safe to allow tourists from Germany, the United Kingdom, and other parts of Northern Europe into Spain, Italy, and the rest of Southern Europe, where coronavirus infections are rising.

Germany has issued a travel warning for three regions in Spain, while the UK has imposed a 14-day quarantine on travellers who vacationed in or are from Spain. The move came after Spanish authorities said the country could be facing the start of a second major outbreak.

Earlier this month, about 160,000 people in Catalonia, in northeastern Spain, were forced to return to a partial confinement after the number of coronavirus cases began to spike. Spain successfully slowed the number of new infections after the April peak, but just as the restrictions were lifted, the number of infections tripled, mostly around the Catalan cities of Barcelona and Lleida.

After several days of political tensions over the issue, a judge approved the regional government’s stay-at-home order for residents of Lleida and six nearby towns.

After putting Spain back on its unsafe list, the UK said it is monitoring the rise in coronavirus cases in France and Germany.

France and Belgium have joined Germany and the UK in recommending that travellers cancel their vacation plans in Barcelona and its nearby crowded beaches, much to the great displeasure of the airline industry. There are 9,835 flights scheduled to leave Britain for Spain between July 26 and August 31. Germany, France, and the UK are the biggest tourism spenders in Europe.

Vehicles cross the border between Spain and Portugal. The borders opened on July 1, three and half months after being forced to close due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic EPA-EFE//BRAIS LORENZO

Although many airports are still at much lower capacities than in the pre-corona period, major airports such as Frankfurt are still servicing around 46,000 passengers every day.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) this week said that it will take at least until 2024 for the industry to return to pre-pandemic levels, as global air travel is recovering more slowly than had originally been forecast in May and June. The IATA stressed that their predictions had to be adjusted now that there is little sign of that the COVID-19 outbreak has been fully contained in most European countries.

Michael O’Leary, the CEO of the Irish budget airline Ryanair, said the carrier is not planning to reduce its scheduled flight capacity to Spain as he believes the British quarantine was “a badly managed overreaction”. Ryanair offered a grim forecast, however, as it expects Europe’s air travel to be impacted for the next two to three years.

Regarding their leaders’ handling of the coronavirus crisis, two-thirds of Germans said they strongly approve of Chancellor Angela’s Merkel’s management of the pandemic, while just 37% of Spanish citizens said they approve of Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s job performance, and only 31% approved of French said their president, Emmanuel Macron, had properly dealt with the crisis. Italy was not involved in this part of the survey.

Germany has reported a little over 9,000 COVID-19 deaths, compared with over 35,000 in Italy, 30,000 in France, and 28,000 in Spain. The low death rate in Germany has been attributed to the wide-scale testing early on in the outbreak.

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