Posted on: September 1, 2020 Posted by: Grace Browne Comments: 0

It is quite hard to believe that we have been in some sort of lockdown for six months and, as if on purpose, this has spanned over what would have been the lovely months of June, July and August. This has meant that many people have missed their summer holidays; just another thing to add to the list of ‘things I couldn’t do because of Covid-19’. Yes, I’m very much aware this is a first world problem, but who doesn’t love a holibobs? Summer holidays are always something to look forward to; kids splashing around in the pool, oblivious to the world around them; teenagers learning their drinking limits; adults somehow getting some peace and quiet; and, of course, we can’t forget the older generation with their cruises!

What would’ve been another great summer if it weren’t for the pandemic set to include Glastonbury’s 50th anniversary, the Tokyo Olympics, and, high on everyone’s list, the Eurovision Song Contest 2020. If you are one of those who really did miss Eurovision this year, to fill that Graham Norton void, head over to Netflix and watch Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga… you’re welcome in advance for the song ‘Jaja Ding Dong’. Now that’s been plugged, lets continue. There is a zeitgeist across the nation of feeling hard done by because you’re missing out on your holidays, but then you feel bad about feeling hard done by because, compared with many people, you have it easy: the worst thing to happen is that you can’t go on your summer holiday. And so, the guilt cycle begins again.

Alongside the potentially selfish reasoning above for summer holidays, they are actually an essential part of many European countries’ income and therefore the lack of them will have  a huge impact on economies. In Spain, tourism accounts for 12 per cent of gross domestic product and as much as 10 per cent of European economic activity depends on tourism. Tom Jenkins, the chief executive of the European Tourism Association, has said that “for the tourism industry itself, it’s worth risking a second wave just to get some revenues.” Something that many people might not agree with, but hey, it’s a dog-eat-dog world after all! If it was your business on the line, what would you do?

After losing both Easter and May holidays, the hope of having at least some sort of revenue from the summer was crucial, and with the announcement of ‘travel corridors’ on July 10th this lifeline was possible. The announcement from the government stated that from the 10th Brits could travel abroad to any of the countries on their approved 59 destinations list without having to quarantine for two weeks on return. With this easing of rules and regulations and actually being allowed to travel, many people jumped at the opportunity to be able to go abroad and be anywhere that wasn’t their own home.

Guilty as charged, I was one of those people. In my defence, the flights had been booked at Christmas and had not yet been cancelled. So, if the flight was still going, there was no stopping me getting on that plane! I flew to Murcia, Spain on July 24th and throughout the whole process of leaving the country I did not once feel uncomfortable. Everyone wore masks in the airport, we had been called to board the plane in groups to avoid congestion, there was no food and drink offered on the journey, and we were only allowed to stand up from our seats and disembark the plane once the row in front of us had left – that was something which has immensely improved the experience of flying! I can confirm that no one misses the scramble to get up and peg it down to the other end of the plane because that was the only place where could fit your hand luggage.

On arriving, I was so impressed with how the rules had been implemented and stuck to by Spanish citizens. The clarity around masks and what to do and what not to do was refreshing. Boris, tome nota. For example:

  • Masks to be worn entering restaurants but can be removed when sat down.
  • You must wear your mask at all times when walking around outside, or inside public places.
  • Masks must be worn walking onto and from the beach but may be removed when you’re settled in an area, likewise with swimming pools.
  • Shared pools were to be occupied only by those who were in the same household, if someone else was in there you would just have to wait your turn.

Who knew that unambiguity in Covid-19 rules could be possible?

Yes, there is the obvious question: is it worth risking the possibility of getting the virus for a week’s holiday? Well, it’s really up to the individual. Countries need the tourists and their money in order to try and overcome the impending recession, but if you don’t feel comfortable about going then don’t do it – there are plenty of those who are willing to take the risk. We arrived in Spain the day they decided to impose a fourteen-day quarantine with no warning, which having just completed it I wouldn’t say it’s something to put you off going. However many days it is, as the cool kids would say: quarantine, we’ve got that on lock (down).

By Grace Browne

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