Travelling to other countries has always been stressful. For years we’ve had the on-going threat of terrorism and sometimes there are weather concerns and natural disasters. But 2020 will go down in history as probably the worst year for aviation and tourism. Lots of us don’t want to travel at the moment and governments across the world are adding to our fears and making it difficult by imposing restrictions at the drop of a hat. This is the reality of we’re now living with. It’s been one long catalogue of inconsistency, u-turns and spurious rules they make up as they go along.
Yesterday I flew back from Malaga into London Gatwick. Only half the seats were filled and from the air I could see that the car parks were empty too. There were very few people in the terminal apart from reporters waiting to interview travellers. It felt eery, as if it was 2am not 2pm. The cafes and duty-free were closed. A gleeful reporter, keen to hear my views on the 14-day quarantine Boris imposed on all travellers entering the UK from Spain thrust a mobile in my face ready to record me. “I feel very cross,” I told him. “I can’t go back to work and I have lodgers at home. Does that mean they must quarantine too? And why a blanket quarantine? Most of Spain is now virus-free. And I haven’t been to the affected area – the north-east of Spain. I stayed with my sister who lives in the mountains and we hardly went out because masks are compulsory everywhere, even on the beach! Try wearing a mask in the heat.”
I booked flights to Malaga when the restrictions on travel to Spain were lifted several weeks ago. At that point the number of coronavirus cases in Spain was very low. The Spanish government was looking forward to welcoming the British this summer. The only problem in travelling, and this applies to anywhere in the world, is that you cannot get insurance that covers any Coronavirus related issue.
I wanted to write this blog to tell anyone thinking of getting a flight that as long as you take the same precautions you would at home you should be fine. I flew out of Heathrow and the procedures in place were excellent. The airport are using new equipment that automatically takes your temperature as you enter the airport. You must wear a mask in the airport and throughout your flight. Social distancing was practised too. There were plenty of hand-sanitising stations and the plane had been deep-cleaned. We were handed a bag containing water and snacks as we boarded by a gloved hostess wearing a mask because drinks and snacks are not now available on flights during this time, but obviously you can bring your own food on board. I felt very safe throughout this experience. We all need to take personal responsibility. That involves regular hand-washing, wearing masks and distancing from others. It’s simple!
I think the reason why the number of virus cases is climbing in some regions of Spain is because of busy nightclubs and bars where people don’t distance and don’t wear masks and also large family gatherings. Governments will never be able to control what people do in their own homes. I predict Italy will have the next wave because like Spain they are a family-orientated country; lots of people live in extended family households.
I found Spain to be a very safe country to visit. The police make-up their income by fining people heavily for not wearing masks and breaking lockdown rules. The police trawl round looking for those not wearing masks. There are inspectors on the beach. They even carry card machines for on the spot fines! Spain are much tougher than Britain when it comes to rules. This latest move saddens me to think of all the Spanish businesses that will now suffer as a result. I’m glad I went, I’m glad I wasn’t frightened to travel and I’m glad I supported their travel industry. I would now support Britain’s economy if I was allowed to go out. But quarantine I must!