The growing number of cases of infection with new omicron substrains of the coronavirus is once again plunging Europe into the abyss of possible restrictions on free movement. Such data was published by the analytical service World in Data. Tourists worry that a series of closures will begin if the pandemic and lockdown returns. Tourism experts advise not to take risks and take out additional travel insurance.
It was assumed that the summer of 2022 would be the season for travel without fear of infection, but again a sanitary threat hung over tourism. However, a significant spike in Covid-19 cases at several popular tourist destinations, combined with the existing travel chaos caused by thousands of canceled flights, is now threatening holiday plans once again.
After more than two years of fighting the spread of covid, the lifting of sanitary restrictions amid falling infection rates has caused a new wave across Europe. Last Thursday, a senior official from the European Union Medicines Agency (EMA) said that many countries in the bloc are experiencing a new wave of COVID-19 caused by highly advanced mutations of the omicron strain, i.e. its subspecies. These are mutations BA.4 and BA.5, which, according to Marco Cavaleri of the European Medicines Agency, will become dominant on the continent, “probably crowding out all other variants by the end of July.”
“So far, there is no evidence that these variants are more contagious than early strains of covid, but it is already known that there is a severe course of the disease among older age groups,” he said at an online briefing. A spokesman for the EMA said that the reasons for the increase in the incidence are low revaccination rates, the widespread lifting of restrictions and “complacency among people who are eager to communicate again.”
The trend of an increasing wave of cases is spreading throughout Europe, especially in tourist locations. According to World in Data, the number of cases this week compared to last has increased significantly in Italy – it recorded a five-month high in disease statistics (more than 1.4 million cases). This is despite the fact that wearing protective masks in public places is still a mandatory measure. This was probably not enough, and the country's Minister of Health, Roberto Speranza, urged infected people to “do their duty” and stay at home.
By the way, another European country warned about the return of the mask mode indoors from July 8 – read the details here .
In France, the situation is more tense – there are currently 1.8 million confirmed cases. More than 200,000 cases of Covid-19 were reported in France in 24 hours ahead of school summer break on Thursday, prompting newly appointed French Health Minister François Braun to recommend that people wear protective masks in crowded places and on public transport.
The mayor of Nice, a holiday destination for tourists on the French Riviera, is introducing the mandatory wearing of masks on all types of local transport from Monday, July 11. The ruling also applies to foreign tourists.
There are fears that the rapidly rising number of cases could disrupt travel plans as well as burden an already strained healthcare system with sick holidaymakers. Health officials are concerned that the increase in cases could lead to more deaths, so they are actively talking about the introduction of a mandatory mask regime and other measures to contain covid.
Greece, Spain and Germany, as well as more remote popular holiday destinations such as Morocco and Tunisia, are also seeing significant increases in cases:
- In Germany, where the number of deaths from Covid-19 is about 500 per week, everyone is required to wear medical masks on public transport, as well as in hospitals and medical facilities, but German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said that a widespread mask regime could come again in the fall or winter.
- In Greece, where Russian tourists traveled actively before aggressive Russophobic sentiments (details here), there is a surge in the incidence, since the country is open to tourists with almost no restrictions. essential to Greece's tourism sector, the Mediterranean nation has now waived its previous entry requirements, including vaccinations or negative PCR tests.
However, face masks are still required in public places, including hospitals, as well as on public transport and on cruise ships. Health Minister Thanos Plevris said in April that the rules would be suspended from 1 May until the end of August and would be reviewed again in September. if they fall ill abroad or cancel their holiday.
- In Spain it is still mandatory to wear a mask when traveling by plane, train or bus, as well as on any public passenger transport. In addition, the country in the Pyrenees, like neighboring France, was among the last four countries where Russians will require sanitary confirmation at the border (read the details here).
For those who care about healthy lifestyle, we recommend reading: “The doctor revealed why people get fat in the summer.”