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Europe’s vaccine roll-out – when will it be safe to travel?

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It’s been a full year since England was put into its first lockdown due to Coronavirus and at the time there was very little known about the virus that was sweeping the nation. One year down the line we are incredibly lucky to have a successful vaccination process in place, but how does this programme impact our ability to travel and enjoy a summer holiday this year?

 

How does the UK compare to other countries in the vaccination process?

The UK administered its first dose of the vaccine on December 8th with a plan to vaccinate the most vulnerable people in care homes and care home staff first. This milestone was met along with most hospital trusts now vaccinating people aged 50 and over.

 

We are ahead of all other European countries with nearly 30 million people having had their first dose of the vaccine. Familiar holiday destinations such as Spain and France fall behind this at nearly 6 million and 8 million respectively. Implications for travel are yet to be fully understood until the government’s Global Travel Taskforce report their findings on April 12th, however, we have been given some indications on the type of arrangements that could be expected.

 

 

 

 

What is the COVID traffic light system and how is it different from travel corridors?

The travel corridors that were introduced last year were suspended on January 18th during the latest wave of Coronavirus. It is thought that, if travel is permitted internationally, we may move to a traffic light system whereby countries are categorised as red, amber, or green depending on criteria such as infection rates, vaccine rollout, and border control measures.

 

Varying degrees of restriction will apply to countries depending on their classification; for example, travel to amber countries could involve a period of quarantine and travel to red countries would be forbidden. The advantage of this type of system in comparison to travel corridors is the lead time on letting holidaymakers know about changes. People would be given up to a fortnight’s notice, whereas travel corridors could be opened and closed with as little as 24 or 36 hours giving travellers very little time to make preparations for a safe return that might include quarantine and securing a flight to their home destination.

 

What does this mean for travel this summer?

The government’s roadmap indicates the potential for international travel after May 17th, however, scientific advisors and politicians have recently commented that this may still jeopardise the progress we have made in the vaccination programme. Defence secretary Ben Wallace commented on Sky News “We’ve got good direction of travel, we’re getting there, and I think we need to make sure we preserve that.”

 

“I suggest what people have to do is give themselves options, give themselves flexibility, look at booking terms, look at insurance.”

 

There is hope, however, that with the right precautions in place and reciprocal agreements between countries, a summer holiday could still be very possible. Aviation Minister Robert Courts addressed the Transport Select Committee of MPs who had asked whether people could be confident to book summer holidays, he said, “We’ve seen this is an unpredictable virus. It is not possible to predict. It isn’t possible to tell individuals or families what to do. “I suggest what people have to do is give themselves options, give themselves flexibility, look at booking terms, look at insurance.” It seems the key to summer 2021 is to be cautiously optimistic and flexible.

 

April 12th will be an important date to understand more on the measures that will be put in place; given the changeability of the situation it will be important to do your research on destination and booking terms and your insurance policy.

 

 

References:

https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2021/mar/22/foreign-holidays-qa-how-would-a-covid-traffic-light-system-work

https://travelweekly.co.uk/news/air/travel-to-resume-only-as-soon-as-possible-after-may-17

https://www.euronews.com/2021/03/17/covid-19-vaccinations-in-europe-which-countries-are-leading-the-way

https://www.england.nhs.uk/statistics/statistical-work-areas/covid-19-vaccinations/

 

Auther

Andy Cresco

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