We all miss travelling, there’s no point denying it. However much we might have grown accustomed to working from home and binge-watching shows, we are all pining for things we used to love to hate, such as airport queues or sitting in a crowded plane without looking at the other passengers like potential biohazards. When will we be able to travel again? Can we make plans yet? It’s hard to answer these questions in light of the ongoing pandemic and the rapidly changing international regulations, but since the news of the two upcoming vaccines started circulating in November, a timid attempt at hope has stirred within the travel industry. Most borders are technically open and they have been since June, but local and temporary closures have been implemented in Italy and all over Europe, in an attempt to quench the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, such as the recent ban on flights from the UK to Italy as a result of a new variant of the virus being isolated. As vaccines start to be administered, however, we can’t help but wonder how long it will be before we step on a plane to go on a proper holiday again.
Uncertainty is the new normal
If you have tried asking your travel agent or visiting local authorities’ websites to try and fathom if and when you are going to be able to travel, and under what conditions, you may have experienced considerable amounts of frustration. The professionals and institutions we naturally turn to for answers on these matters simply have none right now. Regulations change and are implemented so rapidly that it makes no sense to plan based on what’s currently allowed, considering that things might have changed by the time the actual trip is supposed to take place. As a way of dealing with this uncertainty while heeding our innate wanderlust, most travellers have resorted to picking destinations that are close enough to home that a last-minute change in plans or a sudden lockdown won’t leave them stranded. This is currently the only sensible thing to do. And while it is worth noting that free movement within the Schengen area has been re-established back in June, internal borders have become a lot more complicated in the last two months.
Can you travel to Italy?
In Italy, the second wave has been managed by assigning each region a colour code (Yellow, Orange, or Red) based on how fast the virus seems to be spreading and how the local hospitals have been coping with the intake of Covid patients. Movement within and between the “Yellow” regions is allowed and there are relatively few restrictions, whereas “Red” regions only allow travelling due to urgent work- or health-related needs. The status of each region is subject to sudden changes, however, which makes planning trips particularly hard. A region can go from “Yellow” to “Red” overnight, but once it has been assigned a more severe code, at least two weeks need to pass before it can be reassessed and moved back to a less dire one. Within each region, the governors are allowed to order local lockdowns for individual provinces. There is every reason to assume this situation will not change until the end of the year. During the Christmas holidays, travel will be mostly suspended and, even on the few days when it is allowed, travellers coming from different Countries might have to self-quarantine or take a Covid test.
When will it be possible to travel again?
We are all looking at the two recently-developed vaccines with hope and trepidation. The current European programmes for distributing them to the population will reach certain groups (i.e. healthcare professionals and public officials) before others, but it is reasonable to hope that, as an increasing percentage of the European population gains immunity, either through recovering from the virus or receiving the vaccine, we will be able to start making plans to travel again. When we do, we will all be called upon to do so responsibly, abiding by whatever security measures will be in place.