Having introduced a second round of lockdowns, European destinations are now starting to report reducing numbers of new Covid cases. France, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Greece and Spain are among the destinations that implemented either partial or full lockdowns in response to a rising number of coronavirus infections, which were expected as the Northern hemisphere entered its winter period.
In most cases, lockdowns were imposed to help nations avoid imposing unnecessary strain on their healthcare systems; although many are already struggling.
In the UK, Covid-19 testing capacities have been ramped up, but England has now entered a nationwide lockdown due to soaring Covid-19 case numbers. The British Government has also removed the entirety of Greece from the UK travel corridor list due to a spike in Covid-19 case numbers in the Southern European country; and since 14 November, all travellers entering the UK from Greece are required to quarantine for 14 days. In addition, on 7 November, the UK issued a ban on all travellers from Denmark due to reports of an outbreak of a new strain of Covid-19 originating from mink farms. British nationals or residents that need to return from the country will be required to self-isolate along with all other members of their household for 14 days upon their return. Still, with the lockdown in place, only essential travel is currently permitted anyway.
National lockdown a ‘last resort’ for the US
In the US, officials have asserted that a national lockdown is a ‘measure of last resort’ as the country reported the second-highest daily number of cases so far on 14 November. However, a number of states are once again beginning to implement restrictive measures and mandatory face mask requirements. “We are not in support of a nationwide lockdown,” Dr Atul Gawande, a professor of surgery and health policy at Harvard and a Biden advisor, said. “You can have targeted measures building on mask wearing to include widespread testing, can include dialling up and down capacity restrictions, and those measures need to happen on a more localised basis.”
Asia relaxes travel restrictions
In Asia, Hong Kong and Singapore are planning a reciprocal ‘air travel bubble’ that will allow travellers from both cities visiting rights without quarantining. As part of the plan, travellers will be required to take nucleic acid tests before their flight, after arrival and before their return to prove they do not have the Covid-19 virus. They will also need to travel on special designated flights. Should either city report a seven-day moving average of more than five untraceable coronavirus infections then the travel arrangement will be suspended.
In Australia, the country recently recorded zero Covid-19 cases for the first time in five months, and Melbourne exited its 112-day lockdown on 28 October. "Thank you to all of our amazing health and public health workers and, above all else, the Australian people," Health Minister Greg Hunt said on his Twitter account.
Revival of tourism a priority
South Africa is reopening to international tourism for citizens from all countries. A negative Covid test taken no longer than 72 hours prior to arrival will be required, and the country will be conducting health screenings on arrival, with quarantining of those exhibiting any symptoms of Covid.
Bali, which has taken a considerable economic hit from this year’s travel restrictions (tourism contributes to around 60 per cent of the Indonesian island’s economy), is in discussions over re-opening borders, with a rumoured date of December 2020 for the re-opening of travel. Visitors would be able to enter the country only through Bali Ngurah Rai International Airport (DPS), and would be tested upon arrival then transported to a quarantine hotel until results were available (which could be as soon as a few hours’ time).
However, there has been no formal announcement as of yet. “This is not about whether we are willing or not. If we are willing and permitted to open, we would have done it way before because this is crucial for our economy,” said Dewa Made Indra, the regional secretary of Bali. “But the central government is still evaluating our readiness, so that we don’t open up and it results in cases escalating. If that’s the case we wouldn’t be benefiting, but incurring losses.”