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Discussion of possible changes to travel policies in Europe (EU, UK)

Discussion of possible changes to travel policies in Europe (EU, UK)

Old Sep 5, 20, 6:51 am
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Discussion of possible changes to travel policies in Europe (EU, UK)

[IMPORTANT NOTE: this is proposed as a thread for discussions of proposals for changes to travel policy to/from Europe (EU, Switzerland, UK, other European countries), which may thus be speculative in nature - too much so for other threads, but NOT an invitation to go OMNI on whether measures are good or bad, let alone questioning the nature of the illness)]

Throughout the forum, there have been a number of discussions about possible changes to travel policy to various parts of Europe (EU, UK, etc) which have often been deemed too speculative for more factual threads, but are still highly relevant to this forum as FTers are understandably seeking information in order to book future travel which may be affected by such policy changes. I propose to create this thread to discuss all those proposals, questions, and speculations.

To start with, there are discussions about the European Commission proposing to replace national systems by a unified traffic light system of green, orange, and red regions.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-h...-idUSKBN25V255

The idea is that:

- the level of "risk" would be ascribed based on ECDC data and on regional level,
- there could be no restrictions on travel within the EU when it comes to green and orange regions
- there should be restriction when it comes to travel to/from red zones but all red zones should be treated equally, including within country
- the choice of restriction (tests, quarantine, etc) would be left to the appreciation of individual states
- thresholds for green, orange, and red zones would still need to be agreed by the Member States.

If this goes through, it would simplify travel within the EU by avoiding discrepancies in ratings from one country to the next and clarifying the regional level as the right "unit" to assess risk. Of course, a big problem is that different countries have currently very different levels of risk tolerance which may make it difficult for them to agree on thresholds, though this could be resolved by allowing some countries to decide to impose measures on orange regions (at this stage it is only proposed that tests could be "recommended" for orange regions).

Conversely, in the UK, there is currently some pressure from various quarters to move from quarantine to compulsory testing, and questions raised elsewhere as to whether the increase in infection rates in recent weeks could precipitate changes in policies either by making travel policy tougher or softer. I understand that a number of other non-EU European countries are currently considering some updates to their travel policy as rules initially planned as short term measures are now understood to need to last for months and possibly years to come.
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Old Sep 5, 20, 7:23 am
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At what point does Italy, Poland, and Cyprus ban a country / move it to its C list of banned countries? Wondering how much at risk we are with the growing UK numbers. As soon as we hit 30 we'll be on the red list for Denmark so that will be soon
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Old Sep 5, 20, 8:48 am
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Originally Posted by Dan1113 View Post
At what point does Italy, Poland, and Cyprus ban a country / move it to its C list of banned countries? Wondering how much at risk we are with the growing UK numbers. As soon as we hit 30 we'll be on the red list for Denmark so that will be soon
I don't know but I'm following the numbers closely as we're booked for 16th Sept to Cyprus. They review the categories weekly usually on a Monday and effective a few days later. I think their criteria for Category B is less than 20 cases per 100,000 over 7 days, think we're at about 15 now, but if we have many more days close to 2000 that might tip us over.
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Old Sep 5, 20, 9:43 am
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This sort of proposal would need a consensus to be ratified, correct ? Currently the degree of risk adverse is very country variable (Finland has a very low threshold, Germany a high one and France is free style), plus Hungary wants to close its border fully again.
Testing methods and policy are varying wildly (look at Germany, France and UK) and on the basis health subject they do not manage to get a consensus.
I think this will never be ratified.
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Old Sep 5, 20, 10:11 am
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Originally Posted by fransknorge View Post
This sort of proposal would need a consensus to be ratified, correct ?
Well, that's an interesting question and not a simple one to answer as it is not clear what the specifics of the Commission's proposal are. What is clear is that the proposal is in fact in response to requests by Member States for proposing a common approach, so it's not as though it was coming out of the blue, but there are several things the EU could be trying to do here.

1) One option would indeed be to make this an enforceable common approach, which would require unanimity, but I doubt it.

2) More likely is that this could be proposed as an opt in common template which willing countries would follow. In that sense, outliers such as Sweden on the one hand or Finland or Hungary on the other hand could decide to stay out of. By contrast, you may well have a number of core countries (say France, Spain, Italy, Belgium, Germany, etc) which could decide to adopt it as a common baseline.

3) Third option compatible with both 1) or 2) is that the initial proposal could be amended to allow a common basis but variations in implementation. For instance, different countries could be given the freedom to impose tests or quarantine to both orange and red origins whilst others could only impose them on red regions. I could also imagine a four colour system (a la Israel: green, amber, orange, red) to allow even more fine tuning.

So it's definitely no a walk in the park sort of proposal, but I actually think that there is a reasonable chance that it could lead to something (not least because it was in response to requests for proposals) though the exact format would remain to be seen.

Originally Posted by Dan1113 View Post
At what point does Italy, Poland, and Cyprus ban a country / move it to its C list of banned countries? Wondering how much at risk we are with the growing UK numbers. As soon as we hit 30 we'll be on the red list for Denmark so that will be soon
Most of the countries you mention do not use simple criteria so when exactly is hard to make out. With regards to Italy, I think that the risk is more compulsory testing than ban, and note that the country has a history of deciding whether to impose restrictions on countries as a whole or to specific regions.
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Old Sep 5, 20, 10:47 am
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Originally Posted by Dan1113 View Post
At what point does Italy, Poland, and Cyprus ban a country / move it to its C list of banned countries? Wondering how much at risk we are with the growing UK numbers. As soon as we hit 30 we'll be on the red list for Denmark so that will be soon
Not all countries use a fixed number. As discussed before, there are several reasons why infection rate numbers can be deceiving. For example some countries are reporting very low numbers because they don't perform many tests, while others may report high numbers simply because they do contact tracing well (which is definitely not a bad thing!). We've seen some rather dubious assessments arise from this. Many countries therefore look at a bigger picture (often in consultations with their embassy in the assessed country) rather than simply using one number to determine their lists.

Another issue that often comes into play is how much disruption would closing the border with that specific country cause. For example, Slovakia keeps Czechia on its green list, even though it reports worse numbers than many red-listed countries. This is because of strong relationship between two countries, with lots of cross-border commuters, students or families. Closing borders would come at a huge cost (economic, social and political). On the other hand, closing border for arrivals from Sweden is easier to do, as it generally only affects holidaymakers (and small number of expats).
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Old Sep 5, 20, 10:55 am
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Originally Posted by Dan1113 View Post
At what point does Italy, Poland, and Cyprus ban a country / move it to its C list of banned countries? Wondering how much at risk we are with the growing UK numbers. As soon as we hit 30 we'll be on the red list for Denmark so that will be soon
poland does not have hard numbers. it reviews the overall situation.

that said, it has this week stopped direct flights from Spain. It did not stop direct flights from France or Croatia, so suggests 80 per 100000 is okish but over 100 per 100000 is a problem. initially france an croatia were going to go on the list but had a last minute reprieve.

there is nothing stopping someone taking a connecting flight from these countries.
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Old Sep 5, 20, 11:11 am
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Here is the link:
https://ec.europa.eu/info/live-work-...ravel-measures

It is a proposal for a Council Recommendation, so a non legally binding recommendation. It has political weight but no enforcement will be done. It will be submitted to the council in the next weeks for approval.
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Old Sep 5, 20, 12:13 pm
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Iím also hoping that the UK government sees some sanity and introduced testing on arrival here too. Just drove past Heathrowís testing facility and there were NO patients queueing up...
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Old Sep 5, 20, 1:06 pm
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Originally Posted by 13901 View Post
I’m also hoping that the UK government sees some sanity and introduced testing on arrival here too. Just drove past Heathrow’s testing facility and there were NO patients queueing up...
I have beat this drum for ages now. I drive past there a lot and I have seen 4 cars being tested in total. Is there something special about this testing centre? Is it only for people that sweat a lot on their wat home from Pizza Express? Or is it for something special? It just seems odd given the reports about people having to drive 100s of miles for tests.
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Old Sep 5, 20, 1:09 pm
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Originally Posted by fransknorge View Post
Here is the link:
https://ec.europa.eu/info/live-work-...ravel-measures

It is a proposal for a Council Recommendation, so a non legally binding recommendation. It has political weight but no enforcement will be done. It will be submitted to the council in the next weeks for approval.
Thanks. That's the model of my 2) (or 2) + 3) if the Council agrees on some changes)

Also note that the recommendation includes thresholds (below 50/100,000 cases per week OR below 3% positivity rate) which could also be changed.
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Old Sep 5, 20, 1:39 pm
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Originally Posted by Silver Fox View Post
I have beat this drum for ages now. I drive past there a lot and I have seen 4 cars being tested in total. Is there something special about this testing centre? Is it only for people that sweat a lot on their wat home from Pizza Express? Or is it for something special? It just seems odd given the reports about people having to drive 100s of miles for tests.
That's annoying as I'm about 30 miles from there and it's never offered to me when I do a dummy booking for a test, but others further away are.
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Old Sep 5, 20, 2:14 pm
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Originally Posted by Silver Fox View Post
I have beat this drum for ages now. I drive past there a lot and I have seen 4 cars being tested in total. Is there something special about this testing centre? Is it only for people that sweat a lot on their wat home from Pizza Express? Or is it for something special? It just seems odd given the reports about people having to drive 100s of miles for tests.
Beats me. The plane spotters were saying that there are at least half a dozen bays and they're never full. But I'm sure it's got nothing to do with disorganisation and it's due to "science".
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Old Sep 5, 20, 3:31 pm
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Originally Posted by 13901 View Post
Beats me. The plane spotters were saying that there are at least half a dozen bays and they're never full. But I'm sure it's got nothing to do with disorganisation and it's due to "science".
Isnít the lab capacity the constraint here rather than the testing capacity at each test site? So Hatton Cross might have a tonne of bays to take swabs, but the lab which actually analyses the swabs has its capacity used up from tests elsewhere?
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Old Sep 5, 20, 11:09 pm
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Originally Posted by cameramaker View Post
Isnít the lab capacity the constraint here rather than the testing capacity at each test site? So Hatton Cross might have a tonne of bays to take swabs, but the lab which actually analyses the swabs has its capacity used up from tests elsewhere?
Who knows. All I know is that the UK Gov's dashboard (which is now not working) and the PM have always said there's 300k-a-day testing capacity, which I always assumed to be equal to the number of tests the NHS can analyse and yield results on and not the number of oversized cotton buds to shove into people's noses.
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