When to holiday in the EU

By | Category: Travel tips & opinions

All readers will be aware that there has been an upturn in holiday bookings. They are also aware that traditional haunts like Spain, Portugal and Greece remain the destinations of choice in the EU. They know that –subject to life following the British government’s timetable – we can fly again as from May 17th.

The island of Symi -about 40 miles north of Rhodes – an increasingly popular place for British tourists. Image – GNTO

But should we travel that early?

Holiday enquiries from the Co-op Holidays website show that September this year and then August are the top two searched months. May doesn’t appear in the top ten and June is only in fifth place after October and July.

This suggests that visitors to that website are being cautious about their proposed travel dates and they are probably right to be so given a couple of reasons.

The first is that some senior medical boffins in the EU are concerned by the spread of what is now called the Kent variant and what effect that might have on transmission rates and hospital admissions. They also want more evidence that vaccinated people can’t transmit the virus or at least only transmit it at a very much reduced rate. Some see another spike coming in EU countries and some also don’t want to start the movement of people into EU nations until more evidence is available.

The second reason comes from the EU boss, Ursula von der Leyen who said at the end of an EU summit on Thursday that it would take about three months to set up a vaccine passport programme. That would mean it probably wouldn’t be available until the end of May at the earliest. Given the speed with which EU bureaucracy moves that might be optimistic! She also said that she hoped all adults would be vaccinated by the end of the summer which might means some countries wouldn’t re-open until that was done.

Austria, Bulgaria, Greece, Portugal and Spain seem to want to move faster whilst France and Germany are hesitant. But what worries the EU is that private companies – in particular Google – might go ahead and create a private health passport with all the privacy problems that would bring. In addition IATA has its health passport being trialled so the impetus exists whether the EU likes it or not.

Given these developments, going abroad in May could be a gamble as it might be in June. August and September look more realistic at the moment but, as readers will appreciate, things change quickly.

Greece has already announced that it will welcome Britons whether vaccinated or not. Those that have been vaccinated need not quarantine. Those who haven’t can take a test PCR test prior to or on arrival but may have to quarantine. The Greek government hasn’t said what happens if you test positive on arrival.

What has prompted the move by Greece, apart from the fact that over three million Brits holiday in Greece each year, is the fast vaccination programme in the UK.

For those who book, make sure you have travel insurance and here’s the rub. Travel insurance policies give some protection but I have yet to see one that covers local lockdowns. And France is considering regional regulations so that some parts of the country can have more freedom that others depending on the coronavirus spread.

Some destinations will provide health travel insurance. Andalucia in Spain, for example, will cover the person who is infected with COVID-19 and will also cover family members including grandparents who are members of the family or staying with the infected person. The insurance will cover medical expenses above €100 up to maximum €4.000.This cover is in place only until the end of this year.

When am I going away?

I still haven’t booked anything overseas just a break in North Wales. My inclination is for October but then I’m being cautious and I am not restricted to holidaying in school holiday time. Many readers will not be so fortunate. 

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