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With Europe beginning to open back up, will I be able to enjoy a summer holiday this year?

Countries are opening back up, but with caveats in each. The safest bet is to wait for absolute clarity as to how and when you can travel. July looks to be promising, but no guarantees for any plans. Be very cautious about booking a trip

What does the Irish Government say?

The advice remains the same, despite tantalising reports from abroad that the likes of Greece, Italy, and Spain want you back. The Irish authorities advise against all non-essential travel overseas until further notice. This includes Britain but does not apply to Northern Ireland. It also includes all travel by cruise ship.

What restrictions remain in place?

Flight restrictions and route cancellations are happening on a daily basis worldwide and there is no guarantee that air routes will continue to operate, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs.

If I go on holiday to a country deemed safe enough, surely that should be considered by the Irish authorities?

Yes, you can go on a holiday by all means. However, you had better have planned out what happens for the two weeks after you return. The Irish authorities require anyone coming into Ireland, apart from Northern Ireland, to self-isolate for 14 days. Passengers arriving to Ireland from overseas are obliged to complete a mandatory Public Health Passenger Locator Form and to submit it to the relevant authority at their port of entry. This includes Irish residents.

What is the Public Health Passenger Locator Form?

Health Minister Simon Harris explained on May 28 that filling out this form is mandatory: “These are extraordinary measures but they are necessary in a time of a public health crisis. We continue to advise everyone against non-essential travel. However, if a person does arrive into Ireland, they will legally obliged to fill out this form, regardless of their nationality.”

Passengers will be emailed in advance of coming back to Ireland and they will have to provide an address where they intend to stay for 14 days. It will apply to all those arriving into the country at ports and airports. It will be an offence not to fill in a passenger location form, with fines of up to €2,500 for non-compliance.

I haven’t had to self-isolate throughout the Covid-19 crisis, what does it involve?

According to the HSE guidelines, self-isolation means staying indoors and completely avoiding contact with other people.

What if I come home and I have no symptoms of Covid-19?

That doesn’t matter. People with no symptoms, and even people who have tested negative for the virus in another country, are required to self-isolate for 14 days.

That sounds like there is too high of a burden on travelling abroad for a holiday. Is it?

It could all change on June 18, when the measures will be reviewed by the Government.

Great, that means we could be going on holidays in July or August, doesn’t it? Should I take my chances and book now?

There’s a good chance of holidays happening in those months, yes. But would you chance going on holidays without travel insurance?

What is the position with travel insurance?

According to insurers Aviva, if you book a holiday when the Department of Foreign Affairs is advising against non-essential travel, then you will not be covered. If the Department of Foreign Affairs advises against ‘non-essential travel’ or issues a ‘do not travel’ advisory notice for your intended destination and this comes into force AFTER the start date or renewal date of this insurance, or the date when you booked your trip, whichever is later you will be able to claim for cancellation. If your travel insurance was purchased or trip was booked after the Department of Foreign Affairs advice changed to ‘avoid non-essential travel’ or ‘do not travel’, you will NOT be able to claim.

Should I just wait until June 18 to see what the up-do-date position is?

That would be the prudent course to take. If you want to have the best holiday possible for you and your family, waiting a few extra days to book could be well worth it.

A COUNTRY-BY-COUNTRY GUIDE TO THE MOST POPULAR DESTINATIONS:

France

From Brittany to La Rochelle to Nice, there are thousands of Irish families whose children have grown up with precious memories of camping holidays in France throughout sun-baked summers — meeting children from other countries and forming bonds that last long after their break is over.

There is encouraging news coming from the country’s tourism chiefs. Caroline Leboucher, CEO of French tourism development agency Atout France, said: “We await with anticipation Monday, June 15 and the confirmation that EU borders will reopen. Professionals working within the French tourism industry have worked alongside the French Government to put together health protocols which will guarantee the safety of their employees and visitors, and encourage best practices.”

She added: “Beaches, countryside and mountain areas where people go walking or practise outdoor sports, culture and heritage sites, restaurants and tourist accommodation are all ready to welcome tourists again, who should, we hope, be able to enjoy the French way of life, enjoy a morning café crème and croissant on a terrace, share a French meal with friends, or meet up and enjoy some tasty food and wine together.”

From beach bars along the French Riviera to campsites in the Dordogne, businesses in the battered tourism industry are ready to welcome tourists with open arms.

This week, France reopened its beaches and allowed restaurants, bars and cafes to resume business. It is also ending travel curbs within the country and wants Europe to lift internal border restrictions by mid-June.

In Paris, where the virus is more prevalent and restrictions more stringent, restaurants and cafes will only be able to open outdoor areas.

In Cannes, host in normal times to one of the world’s biggest film festivals, public workers disinfected the beach ahead of the anticipated crowds.

Nearly 90 million foreign tourists visited France in 2018, making it the most visited country in the world. Tourism accounts for about 7% of France’s €2.3 trillion economy.

Italy

One of the most visceral and heartbreaking tragedies of the Covid-19 crisis unfolded early in Italy – the country that has it all when it comes to inviting tourists to enjoy stunning mountains, history, cuisine and sunshine.

For a land that has been a favourite for Irish tourists and millions of visitors from all over the world, Italian politicians, business leaders, and tourism chiefs feel it is vital to get the industry moving again.

Travelling within the Italian regions is allowed. Travelling outside the region you are in has been allowed only for proven work needs, emergency situations, or health reasons. From this week, it will be possible to travel from one region to the other.

Hotels and other accommodation are now allowed, provided that the interpersonal safety distance of one metre is guaranteed in the common areas.

The opening to the public of museums and other places of culture (libraries, archives, archaeological areas and parks, monumental complexes) is allowed. In all places of culture, avoiding gatherings of people will be enforced and one-metre social distancing applied.

The opening to the public of bars, pubs, restaurants, ice cream shops, pastry shops and the like is allowed. All premises open to the public must comply with guidelines and protocols identified by the autonomous regions and provinces to prevent or reduce the risk of contagion.

The activities of beach resorts are allowed, in compliance with the guidelines and protocols identified by the autonomous regions and provinces to prevent or reduce the risk of contagion. Regional protocols and guidelines also cover access to free beaches.

The opening to the public of all commercial activities is allowed, provided that the interpersonal distance of at least one metre is ensured. Customers will be able to enter the stores a fixed number at a time, and will be able to stay inside only for the time necessary to purchase the goods.

From June 15, shows in theatres, concert halls, cinemas and other outdoor spaces are allowed. The performances must be held with pre-assigned and spaced seats, and at the condition that the interpersonal distance of at least one metre is ensured for both the staff and the spectators, with the maximum number of 1,000 spectators for outdoor shows and 200 people for performances or each individual hall in closed places.

Access to parks, villas, playgrounds and public gardens is allowed. Outdoor recreational activities are allowed.

Greece

It has been one of the most beloved countries for Irish holidaymakers to visit since the late 1980s, when foreign sun holidays began to become a way of life for hard-working families and couples who finally had some disposable income to spend abroad.

This week, Greek authorities moved to reopen its tourism industry.

“Greece has timely taken all necessary measures that intercepted effectively its spread in the country. Thus, until today, Greece reports less than 3,000 cases and 175 deaths in total,” Visit Greece said.

After the successful management of the health crisis, the Greek government is proceeding gradually to the lift of measures taken against the spread of Covid-19 throughout Greece, it said.

The government there has announced a two-month plan in order to open again Greece’s market in several stages.

As of May 25, transition to/from all the other Greek islands will be permitted. In addition, as of May 25, the re-opening of restaurants, cafes and bars started.

On June 1, summer cinemas opened, on June 15 museums, while on July 15, cultural events start in open areas.

The government’s plan for a gradual lifting of the measures, relies on monitoring developments of the gradual return to normalcy on a 24-hour basis.

At all events, the Greek government requests an adherence to social distancing between shop owners and customers; to limit the number of customers per footage when indoors; and to use a mask in public transports, taxis and hospitals; and when visiting public services and shops.

Flights from abroad will start in two stages — on June 15, flights to “Eleftherios Venizelos” Athens International Airport (ATH) will start, and Macedonia Thessaloniki International Airport (SKG) from countries with “good epidemiological features” while as of July 1, flights to all Greek airports and from all countries will start, with the exception of those presenting negative epidemiological features.

Ireland is not on the June 15 list of countries, but is expected to be included from July 1.

For visitors to Greece, there will be no testing or any quarantine imposed.

The ban for private or professional sailboats departing or docking at Greece’s ports ceased on May 25, but has been extended until further notice for cruise-ships.

Canary Islands

The perennial favourite with Irish holidaymakers is completely off-limits to visitors until at least June 21, with the current state of emergency lasting until then.

The islands’ authorities, however, say they are raring to go and want to welcome back tourists as soon as possible.

The Canary Islands Tourism website says: “Canary Islands is one of the least affected regions in Europe and in the world. We would like to send you a message of optimism and encouragement. We are working intensely on reopening the destination so that you can travel in maximum conditions of safety, hygiene and quality.”

The islands of Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote and La Palma are at Phase 2 and La Gomera, El Hierro and La Graciosa are moving into Phase 3 of the de-escalation of restrictions under the Spanish Government’s state of emergency, ahead of other areas of Spain, as with the previous phases.

Under Phase 2, measures include reopening of beaches.

“You can swim and sunbathe, keeping a minimum safety distance of 2 metres, and in groups of 15 people maximum,” Hello Canary Islands says.

It also includes reopening of swimming pools, while indoor areas of bars and restaurants can be reopened at 50% of normal capacity, as long as physical distancing measures can be guaranteed, and only for table service and/or takeaway.

Reopening of cinemas, theatres, auditoriums and other similar spaces with “preassigned seating” will take place, but limited to 50% of normal capacity.

Holidaymakers can visit monuments, museums and exhibition rooms, at up to 50% of normal capacity, and can do active and nature tourism activities with friends and family in groups of up to 20 people.

Currently, until July 1, any international travellers arriving in Canary Islands must self-isolate at their accommodation for 14 days and may only go out to purchase basic necessities, go to a health centre or due to force majeure.

Costa Del Sol, Southern Spain

Marbella, Sevilla and surrounding towns such as Estepona have been like second homes to many Irish holidaymakers in recent years — but also to many Spanish people themselves.

According to information website Andalucia.com, which ranks among the most visited in the world, there were around 17,500 positive tests for Covid-19 in Andalucia at the end of May.

Like the rest of Spanish areas with a high dependency on foreign and domestic tourism, the Costa Del Sol is awaiting clarity from the Spanish Government, with mixed messages emanating in recent days.

Tourism Minister, María Reyes Maroto, said: “In the case of France and Portugal, I would like also to confirm that from June 22 the restrictions on land transport will also be removed. This is very important because it will allow us also to recover some tourists, both French and, in the case of Portugal, on land routes.”

Asked whether this means that people crossing the land borders with France and Portugal as of June 22 would have to observe a 14-day quarantine now in effect, Ms Maroto said the lifting of the quarantine requirement still needs to be approved.

Ms Maroto’s ministry later released what it described as a clarification, saying that border controls could be extended beyond June 21 and international tourism will reopen on July 1, without spelling out specifically what will happen at the border with France and Portugal.

The Canary Islands and the Balearic Islands, including Ibiza, will open first, and Irish would-be holidaymakers in 2020 will then have to monitor the day-to-day situation before deciding if staking a bet on the Costa Del Sol is feasible or not. The caveat is that even if it is opened, getting to and from destinations could be problematic due to high demand, and time could run out before summer season ends and school — and work for some — begin in earnest.

Algarve, Portugal

With exceptionally nice people, gorgeous cuisine, family fun, glorious sunshine, and welcome breezes at just the right times, it is no wonder that the Algarve region in the south of Portugal is so popular with tourists the world over, including thousands who flock there from Ireland every year.

Covid-19 has wrecked best-laid plans for the summer, according to the area’s tourist board: “The most recent extraordinary and urgent measures approved by the Council of Ministers in the last few days, in response to the spread of the new coronavirus, Covid-19, are leading to the cancellation of the vast majority of events scheduled for the next few months in the Algarve and in the whole of Portugal.”

“The Algarve Tourism Board (RTA) has no say with regard to any changes in the programming — cancellations and/or date changes — of events organised by other entities and advertised on this site. Any information should therefore be requested from the respective event organisers.”

However, that pessimism may be unfounded, according to recent comments from senior Portuguese politicians who insist that the country is open to tourists, including ones from Ireland.

Irish golfers who love the many courses around the Algarve will be allowed to play, while families will be encouraged by the fact that water sports are permitted. Restaurants and cafes, shopping centres are all permitted to open.

Beaches are set to reopen tomorrow, June 6.

With tourism accounting for 10% of Portugal’s GDP, its politicians want visitors back as soon as possible.

Foreign Minister Augusto Santos Silva said “tourists are welcome in Portugal,” and that there will be no compulsory quarantine, simply health checks at the country’s airports.

Germany

The economic powerhouse has been popular with European visitors for generations, with its stunning forests, parks, mountains, festivals and more. It has also popular with Irish tourists who are perhaps looking for an alternative to beach and sun holidays.

Foreign Minister, Heiko Maas, this week announced it was easing restrictions on visitors from 31 countries, bringing the date forward from June 15.

“We have decided today that the travel warning for the named circle of countries will not be continued but replaced by travel advice,” he said.

The Federal Government decided on June 3 that the travel warning for the member states of the European Union, for Schengen-associated states and for Britain should be lifted from June 15 and replaced by individual travel advice.

Quarantining is not necessary for those entering Germany from the EU, the country’s tourist board said.

“Persons travelling from Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland are exempt from this requirement, as are persons travelling from EU countries.”

Despite the outwardly calm and collected response projected to the rest of Europe, Germany has been beset by dissent and infighting in the 16 states when it comes to implementation of Covid-19 measures, a fact of which Irish holidaymakers should be wary.

Everyone in Germany must continue to be mindful in meeting outdoors at least until the middle of the year, with contact restrictions extended until June 29 — a measure that actually had a consensus agreed by the federal and state governments this week. However, the 16 states may allow further relaxation such as a maximum of 10 people or members of two households meeting in public.

Croatia

Croatia has become one of the most popular destinations for Irish tourists in the last decade, with thousands heading for the southeastern country with glorious sun-drenched beaches and stunning architecture and history.

According to the country’s tourist board, Croatia is open to tourists: “The requirements may slightly differ depending on your country of origin, but EU/EEA Member States have the freedom to enter with a valid reservation, or if you are from one of 10 countries where restrictions have currently been lifted, border crossing is no longer subject to additional requirements.”

A new online web form EnterCroatia has been launched and may be accessed at: https://entercroatia.mup.hr/

The EnterCroatia online form allows visitors to enter all the necessary information to ease border crossing prior to traveling to Croatia.

Visitors entering the country from Ireland and other countries in addition to filling out the form, still require one of the valid reasons listed below and must provide proof of reason for the visit (business, economic, touristic, or personal reason).

For a touristic visit, it is necessary to present the confirmation of accommodation booking in an accommodation establishment in Croatia (confirmation, voucher, camp lease contract, permanent berth contract etc.).

The online form includes all data normally requested in the process of crossing the border and with the simple presentation of a passport or identity document to a police officer at the border, the number or code from the identity card or passport is automatically linked to all pre-entered data. In this way, the time to complete the entire procedure of data entry at the border for each individual person in any given vehicle is reduced to a minimum and traffic flow is increased.

All visitors who fill out the online form will receive email instructions that will include epidemiological guidelines and information that are currently in place for visitors to Croatia.

The country said it has a relatively low number of total Covid-19 cases and almost no new cases over the last few days and continues to ease restrictions within the country.

Further relaxation of existing restrictions is expected during the upcoming weeks, as the Civil Protection Directorate has begun with reinstating services and reopening previously closed businesses on a rolling, weekly schedule.

Turkey

From quick getaway breaks to family holidays at an affordable price, Turkey has always ranked among the top for Irish tourists.

The tourism industry is scrambling to reopen to make the most of what will be left of the summer season.

Cafes, parks, gyms, beaches, libraries, and museums have reopened with international flights scheduled to start next week.

Turkey’s transport and infrastructure minister said this week it is resuming domestic flights in line with the normalisation plan amid a decline in coronavirus numbers.

Adil Karaismailoglu said important steps were taken in relation to road, rail, and air travel, all the while following guidelines from the Health Ministry: “For the past month, we have been working hard to make the necessary preparations for the airports.”

Turkey’s Aegean region is welcoming back tourists, with its hotels, beaches and historical sites in the likes of Irish favourite, Kusadasi,getting ready for the influx of tourists from around Europe.

The country has introduced a so-called “healthy tourism certificate”, which resorts must adhere to. This will include measures for health and hygiene in airlines, airports as well as hotels, restaurants, bars, and cafes.

Tour operators and tourists will be able to make a judgement after seeing the measures put in place.

UNESCO World Heritage sites such as Ephesus and Acropolis in the Aegean will allow visitors, with temperature checks at the entrances and mandatory face masks.

Hotels will perform temperature checks, while face masks will be obligatory.

Swimming pools and beaches will be monitored to prevent overcrowding.

USA

The shambolic haphazard and uncoordinated response from the world’s leading superpower to the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as rising anger and social unrest, make the USA a doubt for would-be Irish tourists this summer.

Nevertheless, many who have already booked for holidays to the likes of Disneyworld in Florida are caught between a rock and a hard place — if airlines are eventually flying on the dates booked, families face losing their money if they choose not to go as planned.

Added to this is the fact that resorts like Disneyworld have had long waiting times since time immemorial — tourists will now face even longer queues for rides and attractions, making it more of an ordeal than a holiday for many.

Guidelines and lockdown measures vary state by state, with many actions taking along political lines rather than in the best interests of safety.

According to the US Embassy in Dublin, Aer Lingus is the only carrier flying to the US from Ireland, with limited service from Dublin to Boston, Chicago, and New York.

With more than 107,000 people dead from the Covid-19 pandemic, mostly in major cities such as New York and Chicago, many Irish tourists will choose to stay away this year. Added to that is the serious situation with mass protests all over the country — not just in major cities — about the treatment of African-Americans at the hands of law enforcement.

The powderkeg of social unrest, combined with conflicting messaging coming out of the likes of Florida, Georgia and Texas, not to mention the White House, when it comes to Covid-19 means for once, the lure of America as a land rich with tourist opportunities is not what it has been in recent years.

For further information about holidays destinations, contact the Travel Broker 

Source: The Irish Examiner 

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