Worldwide News Update
The continuing coronavirus pandemic’s effect on the world certainly teaches us to be “on our toes”, as France has temporarily increased their measures to tackle Covid-19 since our last update. This is at odds with what is happening in America and England, who are cautiously looking towards the end of their confinement…
Here is a synopsis of what is happening right now.
With vaccination programs being rolled out across most of America at an unprecedented rate, people in the USA are beginning to see an end to their isolation. America is now one of the top ten countries in the world to have vaccinated its population. Schools have a target date to re-open (with around 80% of school staff and childcare workers having received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine) and some states have set targets as early as mid-June to completely re-open.
Americans are therefore looking at being able to travel this summer. Indeed, some countries in Europe have already opened their borders to travellers from the USA who have had their vaccination. When this invitation will expand to include the majority of European destinations remains to be seen, as each country has announced different dates for looking at this. We will of course update you once travel for tourism is permitted in Switzerland, Italy and France.
Australia and New Zealand
This is very different to New Zealand and Australia, who are looking to travel freely between the two countries, but whose international flight carriers have announced they will not be scheduling flights again until at least October 2021. Having been affected much less than most of the world, Australia and New Zealand are taking an understandably cautious approach to international travel, with Australia’s health secretary indicating that federal restrictions on overseas travel are “unlikely” to be lifted before the end of the year.
The UK is now in the top 5 countries to have vaccinated their population and restrictions are easing across the UK, albeit with different dates and rules according to location. Continued vaccination along with a program of free Covid tests being available to every citizen twice a week is the roadmap being followed to continue the easing of lockdown.
Foreign travel from England is timetabled for the 17th May, however we will keep you updated on this, as the country is awaiting the imminent introduction of a new “traffic light system” for foreign travel that will add green and amber categories of countries, to the current red list.
The European Commission is co-ordinating a common European response to the coronavirus outbreak, mobilising all means at their disposal to help Member States coordinate their national responses. However, with regards to international travel, each country has different rules. The European Commission has a list of countries that are allowed to travel into any member state of the union, which changes regularly. (Currently Australia, New Zealand, Rwanda, Singapore, South Korea, and Thailand.) Although it’s not a legally binding list, most EU leaders have now agreed that member countries should not independently lift travel restrictions for unlisted countries before it’s been decided upon in a coordinated manner.
France imposed a nationwide lockdown for four weeks on the 4th April, to provide a “break” in cases of Covid-19 whilst vaccinations are rolled out. We will update you on the 2nd May with what is happening once this period finishes.
On the 30th April, Italy is on course to lift its national lockdown and return to restrictive measures being applied at a regional level, depending on the local epidemiological situation. The national classification of risk areas is made of 4 levels: "White", "Yellow", "Orange" and "Red". Details on restrictions in place at the local level are available at the regional interactive map.
The Swiss, much like the Brits are slowly coming out of lockdown. There are various measures in place on the basis of the epidemic and the national rules can be found here, however in some cantons stricter rules apply. Their next decision is expected on the 14th April.
Among the many things this pandemic has taught us travellers is that patience is a virtue. Over the course of the next couple of weeks every country has timetabled more information on travel – so as we wait to see how governments continue to respond to both the coronavirus pandemic and vaccination programs, we will need to hang onto to that patience.
We know that many of you cannot wait to get back to the mountains - and you most certainly will. It has always just been a matter of when, and we will continue to keep you updated on this.