Europe travel windows are closing
(CNN) – Holiday lights are going out across Europe.
Just weeks after many countries opened their borders to travelers on the mainland, some have closed again, often at such a short notice that people are scrambling to get home before quarantine orders are put in place. .
Such confusion, often coupled with acrimony and threats of retaliation from countries that feel unfairly added to so-called ‘red lists’ of dangerous Covid-19 destinations, looks set to undermine efforts to save the vital summer tourism economy in Europe long before the hot sunny months. cooled in winter.
From Saturday 29 August at 04:00 GMT, anyone arriving in the UK from the highlands will be subject to a mandatory 14-day quarantine.
The decision was announced after 300 new cases of Covid-19 were reported in Switzerland, which hosted 1.6 million Britons in 2019, over a 24-hour period.
The Czech Republic, which saw a 25% increase over three weeks, was also added to the UK’s “red” list, along with the Caribbean island of Jamaica, where weekly cases per 100,000 rose from 4.3 to 20.8, the equivalent of 382%, in just seven days.
A Briton whose wedding was to take place in Prague on Saturday was among those affected by the British government’s decision.
Oliver, 38, who wanted to be referred to only by his first name, told the PA Media news agency that many of his family and friends had to return home and miss the ceremony to avoid two weeks of quarantine.
âI lost about 30 guests and my little sister, who is a bridesmaid, is upset that she has to go home tonight before the wedding (she is a teacher),â he said.
France was added to the UK’s dangerous list earlier this month, prompting howls of protest from both legions of British holidaymakers who see staying with their neighbor as an annual rite of summer, but also from the French authorities who threatened to take reciprocal quarantine measures on arrivals from the UNITED KINGDOM.
As a result, many vacationers traveling between Europe’s once wide open internal borders must now decide to postpone, cancel or continue their trips and resign themselves to two weeks of self-isolation upon their return.
Meanwhile, the destinations driven by a resurgence of tourists are now back to square one.
Travelers from Croatia will now be subject to a 14-day quarantine upon arrival in the UK.
JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP via Getty Images
Of course, the guidelines were always “subject to change,” but no one could have predicted when and how often they would be changed in the weeks that followed.
“And that’s not the answer, because it prevents people from traveling. It prevents the return of growth.”
Authorities have also warned of more uncertainties to come. Grant Shapps, Britain’s Transport Minister, who was surprised by the change in quarantine rules while on vacation in Spain, said on Thursday all travel windows were subject to sudden closure.
Croatia has been removed from the UK’s list of âsafeâ destinations.
DENIS LOVROVIC / AFP via Getty Images
For example, the UK’s decision to reinstate its mandatory two-week quarantine for arrivals from Spain came after an increase in infections on the continent.
This has proven to be a source of frustration for both potential travelers and those in the travel and tourism industry.
While Charles understands this discontent, he says applying different restrictions to different parts of a country, which Norway has chosen to do for parts of Denmark, Sweden and Spain, can be confusing. for travelers.
“If governments take the route of regional corridors or island approaches only, I think that could add more confusion,” he adds. “,
He thinks the solution is very simple – more effective Covid-19 testing.
Charles argues that travelers should take at least two tests. The first being on their arrival at the airport and the second a few days later.
âGovernments need to invest more in testing,â he says. “It is cheaper for them to invest more in testing than to suffer the massive financial inconvenience of the impact of quarantine measures on an economy.
âWhen you quarantine the vast majority of healthy people, it drastically affects productivity.
“It affects the recovery and further damages the economy as a whole.”
Allowing travelers to take Covid-19 tests on arrival helps avoid long periods of quarantine.
Milos Bicanski / Getty Images
He cites Iceland as an example of a European destination that is right when it comes to testing.
The first test is carried out on arrival at the airport. If it is negative, the visitor must still self-isolate for five to six days, before taking a second test. If this result is also negative, they are given the green light to move freely in the country.
However, if the test comes back positive, they should continue to self-isolate.
The proposed device, intended for travelers from countries deemed “at high risk”, would require newcomers to take a second test at home.
Those who pass both will benefit from an early exemption from the 14-day quarantine.
“The tests will not only avoid the ‘quarantine roulette’ that so many passengers have faced in Spain and France, but it will also open flights to key trading partners such as the United States, Canada and Singapore, âsaid Heathrow Managing Director John Holland-Kaye. A declaration.
âThe government’s own research shows that a double test has a high level of accuracy in screening for Covid-19.
“This facility is a ready-to-go opportunity to see how Britain can safely reopen, as other countries are doing.”
A potential ray of sunshine for UK travelers and the European tourism industry has been the UK’s recent move to lift restrictions on arrivals from Portugal, essentially opening a new travel window.
The decision was welcomed by the Portuguese National Tourist Board, which issued a statement saying that the decision “reflects the reality of the situation in Portugal much better”.
It remains to be seen whether this will create a resurgence in travel between the two countries. As travelers struggle to keep up with changing rules – the UK has since added Cuba to its ‘safe’ list – many are growing increasingly frustrated and confused. Few are likely to be willing to bet on the possibility of spending 14 days in quarantine.
“The problem is that the quarantine measures kill travel and effectively tell consumers that the borders are closed,” adds Charles.
âNo business or leisure traveler will choose to go somewhere where they have to quarantine themselves for 14 days before they can do anything.
“The only alternative is the test, to allow people to move freely in a country.”