International travel. The very two words ring like the name of a mythic beast in a world where borders are closed to deter the spread of the novel coronavirus.
What was once a given has become an unfathomable fantasy, as experts predict that travel for leisure will not resume to normalcy for the next year at least.
Still, in the face of adversity, many nations are optimistically looking to jumpstart their travel industries by reopening to international visitors, albeit with restrictions. Spain, Bali and Iceland are some looking to relax measures, though others, like the United Kingdom, have become stricter in order to guard against imported COVID-19 transmissions.
In a recent cabinet meeting, home secretary Priti Patel announced that international travellers visiting the UK will be put under a 14-day mandatory self-isolation period after arrival. Travellers incur full costs for their own quarantine, and spot checks will be made during the isolation window to ensure that the visitor is in compliance. These rules will take effect on 8 June, and reviewed every three weeks.
This does not apply to visitors coming from the Republic of Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands, which are part of a common travel area sanctioned by the UK.
“We are introducing these new measures now to keep the transmission rate down and prevent a devastating second wave,” said Patel.
Though 14-day quarantine measures for international visitors are not unique to the UK, this particular mandate has received tons of backlash from its native travel industry, citing that the measures are a death knell for the already-tanking sector.
Industry captains are suggesting that international travel be reopened with compulsory COVID-19 tests for visitors instead of forced quarantine, given that the UK has moved past its peak of daily new cases and transmissions.
There is hope that measures will be adjusted in three weeks as COVID-19 cases continue to decline in the UK, so as to prevent further pitfalls for its travel economy.