Summer Holidays in the Mountains Edge Closer

People in England can start thinking about booking foreign holidays again this summer. The government has unveiled further details of its traffic light system, though there is criticism of the testing costs and most European countries still have high levels of Covid-19.

The traffic light system will grade foreign destinations.

Green: Passengers will not need to quarantine on return, but must take a pre-departure test, as well as a PCR test on return to the UK.

Amber: Travellers will need to quarantine for 10 days, as well as taking a pre-departure test and two PCR tests.

Red: Passengers will have to pay for a 10-day stay in a managed quarantine hotel, as well as a pre-departure test and two PCR tests.

The details of the grading of countries will be released in early May and all will depend on their levels of coronavirus.

Level of infections and vaccinations, variants of concern and the quality of their genetic sequencing will be taken into account.

In terms of the alpine and mountain areas of Europe it is a mixed and overall poor picture.

The figures below show the current cases per 100,000 of population over a 7-day period, with the figure from two weeks ago in brackets.

With the UK on 32 (57) it is currently difficult to see how any countries except Iceland and perhaps Norway & Finland would go on the green list now, but of course the numbers will change.

Things are looking good in Norway 92 (123) and Finland 53 (86) in Scandinavia, but much less so in Sweden 357 (307).

In the Pyrenees cases are increasing – in Spain it is 90 (60), while in Andorra it is 455 (323).

And in the Alps:

Austria – 222 (231)

France – 293 (216)

Italy – 191 (254)

Germany – 117 (109)

Switzerland – 133 (115)

Eastern Europe is doing particularly badly with Poland on 390 (395), the Czech Republic 266 (659) and Slovenia 300 (269).

Vaccine roll outs should improve things, but in Europe they have been slow and worries about vaccinations  side-effects are growing even though there is little scientific evidence to support  those worries.

Iceland currently has 12 cases (69).

Switzerland in the summer

Switzerland in the summer. Image © PlanetSKI

“For the first time I think there is light at the end of the tunnel,” said the Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps.

“We’ll be able to restart international travel, including cruises by the way, in a safe and secure way, knowing about the vaccinations, everything we know about the disease this year, and of course that abundance of caution – having the tests in place.”

People will be required to take tests before leaving and returning.

The requirement is required even from low-risk “green” countries.

The cost of the tests is seen as a major factor.

A single PCR test currently costs around £100.

The government said it would work with airlines, travel firms and the test providers to see whether prices can be reduced.

Some are calling on the government to provide the pre-departure tests.

Nothing is guaranteed yet, but the government says it will confirm whether or not international travel will restart on 17th May early next month.

Here at PlanetSKI we are not quite yet getting our skis out for a spot of summer glacier skiing or dusting off our walking boots – but we are beginning to think about it.

Summer in the mountains is a magical time and will be an utter relief after the past year if we are able to go.

Chamonix in the summer

Chamonix in the summer. Image © PlanetSKI

Chamonix in the summer

Verbier in the Summer

Go Cycling in the Austrian Tirol

Glacier skiing – go while you still can

Summer skiing – not all bad news

Chamonix in the summer

Chamonix in the summer. Image © PlanetSKI

The travel industry has reacted with some dismay to the details according to the BBC:

Heathrow Airport chief executive officer John Holland-Kaye expressed concern about the requirement for PCR testing, adding “we need to make sure that travel is something anyone can do and is not just something for the wealthy”.

Industry body Airlines UK said that the proposed framework “does not represent a reopening of travel as promised by ministers”.

Mark Tanzer, boss of travel trade organisation Abta, said permitting the use of lateral flow tests would “make international travel more accessible and affordable”.

Jet2.com has extended the suspension of its flights and holidays up to 23 June following the government’s announcement.

Tui said it was “disappointed” at the “expensive” testing and quarantine measures proposed.

Here at PlanetSKI we are following developments closely and will keep you updated…

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Summer in the mountains

Summer in the mountains. Image © PlanetSKI