Please sign in to post.

Did the tide just turn or am I just being optimistic?

In the last weeks Norway, England and Denmark have all announced significant loosening of covid related restrictions both for US and other international travellers coming into the country (in all three cases) and loosening of covid restrictions domestically in the case of Denmark and England. Not including Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in this discussion because I'm not sure how much they are loosening and they set their own rules.

What seems different this time compared to last spring and early summer when the first travel restrictions were lifted is the tone of what British, Danish and Norwegian government officials are saying this time around. The vibe that I'm getting is that they feel its time to launch the post pandemic era even as there are still plenty of cases, that its time to trust the effectiveness of the vaccine/booster regimen, that travel restrictions, quaranting etc., as well as domestic restrictions are not nearly as important as the vaccine/booster.

I get the feeling ( and of course in the covid era haven't all of our predictions and assumptions been pretty shaky) that at least in the British government case they really are planning on sticking with the looser travel restrictions and the abolition of quarantine requirements for the unvaccinated, that this is the start of a new era. (lets see how this post holds up in the coming months).

Posted by
6788 posts

Writing carefully to avoid this thread becoming derailed...

Yes, more than a few countries have recently made decisions to dial back, reduce, or eliminate COVID restrictions -- not just for foreign tourists, but for everyone. In some cases, these policy changes are coming at a time when COVID numbers are actually rising in these places, not falling, which might seem curious to some. In some cases, the lessening of restrictions also are coming when there is visible pushback from residents in some places (street demonstrations, organized protests, and other forms of pressure); even those who would prefer a more cautious, data-driven approach acknowledge that restrictions are bad for the economy, impact some businesses and individuals more than others, and are of course unpopular. So some have questioned whether these decisions are driven by "other factors" besides strict public health data - but that has always been the case to some extent (it's just where you draw the line).

Regardless of one's feelings about COVID restrictions, making policy decisions about a pandemic requires making choices and striking a balance between the harm done by maintaining restrictions (at it's most extreme: "lock down everything"), and the potential harm that may be done by reducing those restrictions (at its most extreme: "let it rip"). Every jurisdiction, from New Zealand to Florida to Denmark makes their choices, and they may (usually do) adjust those choices over time as conditions change. Conditions include pandemic measurements ("science"), and public sentiment ("politics"). There's the tension. That's not new.

Personally, I am feeling cautiously optimistic about the months ahead (not because of whatever policy has changed in any specific destination) but because of the world's (admittedly uneven and continuously evolving) progress towards overcoming the pandemic. Lets hope our optimism proves justified. I'm keeping my fingers crossed (and booking entirely refundable trips).

Posted by
1013 posts

I have been tracking airfare into London for a friend who will meet me there in June. (I already have my flight booked after using an e-credit in September). The prices are high from the midwest and since the announcement that England will be scrapping testing (even the 2-day testing), prices seem to have gone up either further just over the past week or so. I know all things have gone up, but I do sense that England is going to be open for business this year. With the Queen's Jubilee in June I don't think they want to stop tourists from coming.

Posted by
981 posts

And my hopes are that other countries won’t want to lose the tourist dollars to the UK and other places, so will loosen their restrictions, too!

Posted by
2560 posts

Yes, the tide has turned. You won't see any further restrictions or lockdowns in the UK.

Posted by
3903 posts

Rob... I'm with you. I think things are looking hopeful for some of the restrictions to start to fall.

Posted by
11368 posts

But where I live hospitals have run of available beds due to COVID. Few are wearing masks. Hard to think of traveling abroad when it is so bad where we live and citizens are non compliant. I sure hope we are able to travel in the next year though. Perhaps we will rebook our reservations that we had cancel for Iceland in 2020.

Posted by
18763 posts

Well, great question. I think the intent might have been, should we anticipate things opening up a bit more. Thats "travel".

Yes, things are loosening and that seems to be a trend that I would expect to continue. Yea! 🥳

Posted by
3997 posts

Always the optimistic, we are starting our planning for this year.

Posted by
14249 posts

Suki, not sure where you live but it’s awful in Idaho…and has been. Just last week part of the state went back into critical mode due to high hospitalization rate. I did travel in the Fall to France and TBH felt MUCH safer there.

I just rolled my eyes at Christmas when someone who is against international travel told me in a very superior and snotty tone that the government had made France a level 4. I said…well if they assigned States a number Idaho would be a 10-do not travel.

Posted by
6373 posts

Suki, same here in Oklahoma. In fact we've been leading the nation in hospitalizations and infection rates. (I'm having to hold my hands back like Dr Strangelove to control what I'm typing. I'm just furious at the way our state has handled this whole terrible situation. And I'm usually a very mellow, laid back person.)

I do hope the the loosening up that we're seeing in Europe will be done thoughtfully and responsibly. And yes, we're still planning (hoping?) to join two RS tours in a few months.

Posted by
1454 posts

I am feeling more hopeful. Sufficiently so that my DH and I are headed to Hawaii shortly, This will be our first plane trip that is not mostly about family, although we will be seeing some extended family while there. Actually, if I were to be totally honest this is about our need to take the trip in order to maintain our status on Alaska Airlines. :-)

Posted by
3355 posts

As far as state infection rates go, I think Alaska is number 1, more than Idaho and Oklahoma. I too, would feel safer in France or almost anywhere in Europe for that matter. Glad to hear restrictions are loosening up!!

Posted by
14249 posts

Trotter, I’m currently in Kauai. Arrived Thursday on AK from Seattle. Since there is not much food service on AK flights most people had their masks on more of the time than when I flew to Paris last Fall (pre-Omicron). Restaurants are really restricting capacities and I’ve felt pretty safe the 3 dinners we’ve had out.

We’ve all brought test kits in case anyone starts to feel ill - family group of 5 seniors - my brother and SIL, her sis and husband and me.

TBH I feel pretty safe. We did Allerton Gardens today and everyone was compliant with masking on the little bus. That was the closest we’ve been to people. Some took off their masks outside. I left my N95 on.

I’d recommend it if you can get thru the Hawai’i Safe Travels stuff. To me it was harder than getting the QR code for France.

We were all sick of the gray, fog/ snow zone of the Northwest in winter and the sunshine and blue skies are a great antidote.

Posted by
7626 posts

We went to Italy for 5 weeks last fall, booked months earlier, once vaccinations were available. The tide certainly seemed to have turned for the better at that point. Because of the testing/quarantining policies in place involving flights from the UK to Italy, we changed plans for a connecting flight in London, and rebooked with an other airline, and a very different flight plan that didn’t include London.

Plans now are to go on a postponed southern African safari this spring, stopping for several days in London beforehand. The easing of restrictive policies will make many things easier. Still waiting to see if the safari tour company actually confirms that the trip will happen, hopefully in the next month. The tide may or may not have changed enough for that. And even if restrictions are less, safe travel still has to happen. Safety without restrictions? I’m optimistic that can happen, but cautiously optimistic. Rather cautiously. Here’s hoping there’s not a hidden Riptide that comes with a turning tide!

Posted by
595 posts

Now it looks like Finland Sweden and Switzerland (maybe) are joining the club, lifting domestic restrictions, less use of covid passports etc. I would think that foreign travel into those countries will get easier as well in the coming months.

Posted by
204 posts

Rob, surprisingly, like you, I'm feeling optimistic and that is saying something -- as my nature typically leans toward pessimism.

Posted by
33314 posts

In regards to travel, I hope that the new sub-variant of Omicron doesn't travel over the Atlantic to affect travel over there, or that the UK puts up new barriers.

The BA.2 is now the dominant sub-variant near me in Cambridgeshire - which has the highest covid rate in the UK - and I saw a BBC story tonight which expects it be the dominant strain throughout the UK in between 2 weeks and a month. It is similar in most ways to Omicron but is much much easier to transmit.

I hope we can continue what optimism we have.

Posted by
6788 posts

Agree on all counts, Nigel. Son-of-Omicron is spreading quickly in the US, too. So far, it seems no worse (no more deadly) than it's parent variant, yet even more transmissible (at some point, I figure the next variants can't get much more transmissible than the last one, but that limit remains to be seen).

I'm still feeling cautiously optimistic, and behaving responsibly, hoping that continues. As always, the greatest risk is by far for those unvaccinated (but we are all in this together). I'm sincerely looking forward to my 4th jab this spring, maybe that one will be tweaked for Pi, Rho, Sigma, or whatever...

Posted by
595 posts

Just read that in Czechia hotels and restaurants will be opened up to the unvaccinated and that the government is planning other restriction abatements. Once again a country is doing this even while there are still lots of cases, showing an attitude of wanting to live with covid as a factor but not having as many restrictions because of it. This is what seems so different from previous lowering of restrictions which iirc were based on lower and lower case number.

Posted by
496 posts

Rob in Cal -its not about case numbers with Omicron - its about hospitalizaitons which is really about vaccination rates.

I'm so optimistic I finally booked a flight out of the country. NZ is opening boarders to kiwis from the end of Feb and to many overseas passports from July and the rest from October - the last 2 dates may come forward - based on our case numbers. If our case numbers go high but hospitalizations stay low then the dates will come forward - because if there is rampant spread in the community there is little justification stopping cases at the border. What I think will stay forever or until they become ineffective si the requirement for non-kiwis to be fully vaccinated.

Although yesterday was our all-time high number of cases - I'm incredibly happy and optimistic and can feel my depression starting to lift. There is definitely light at the end of the tunnel and its not the on-coming train.

Posted by
595 posts

Wow, all kinds of movement today, with Germany Austria and Switzerland all taking significant steps to lift many covid regulations. Switzerland's moves seem most dramatic, calling for no health related restrictions for incoming travel, no more covid passport required to do things, possible ending of mask mandate in public transportation after March 31.

Posted by
492 posts

It certainly seems to be the case that the tide has indeed turned. I'll let folks debate on their own whether they think it's premature for restrictions to be lifting, but the fact of the matter is they are indeed lifting. Further, I don't suspect there's much in the way of an appetite to bring them back to anything remotely approaching the idea we've seen to this point (unless and until, goodness forbids, some super nasty variant appears).

So I'm inclined to thing this is much more than just governments saying, "Hey, live it up for the next few months while we can then it's back to hunkering down and taking it easy".

Posted by
10349 posts

Two weeks ago the WHO said Europe was reaching a ceasefire with C-19, their word not mine. With the high vaccination rate and quick spread of Omicron, Europe is reaching endemic stage. For people looking from the States, it can be difficult to imagine, but just as we said last summer, go and see for yourself. It's a lot safer in Europe.

Posted by
531 posts

Rob….apparently Switzerland’s lifting need for testing and Covid pass do not currently apply to Third Country Nationals such as United States:

The Federal Council's decision to lift the health-related measures at the border (testing requirement) on entry as of February 17, 2022, does not change the continuing pandemic-related entry requirements for third-country nationals (see below).

Entry requirements due to the pandemic continue to apply for third-country nationals traveling to Switzerland for tourism or visits. To see what rules apply to your own particular situation when entering Switzerland, consult the online Travelcheck:
travelcheck.admin.ch

https://www.sem.admin.ch/sem/en/home.html

Posted by
2631 posts

After a particularly stressful January at work--most support staff out with omicron, including the 2 people who are most integral to my duties requiring yet more OT, I read the news about England ending the testing requirement to enter and saw it as a sign--on 1/31 I booked an 8 day trip to London for late April. Decided keeping it fairly short and simple with a non-stop flight to a place I am familiar with was the best option for me to get back into international travel. My Oct trip to NYC gave me a feel for travel during a pandemic and I am triple vaccinated and have no problem wearing a mask, and plan to even in places in England where it may not be required. Here's hoping for Budapest in the fall!

Posted by
497 posts

I would be happy if the US lifted its testing requirements for entry (or reentry) for vaccinated and boosted travelers. The US travel industry is apparently begging for this. I’m leaving in about 6 weeks for England. Last year was in Switzerland and Austria— we had a 3 day test window at the end which was a bit more manageable, but if you are vaccinated and boosted sure would like to not have to have that darn last day test and the cost and time hanging over us the whole trip.