Travel expert advises Irish holidaymakers on Christmas trips as European countries impose lockdowns

Irish people have been jetting abroad in their thousands since international travel resumed this summer.

This penchant for trips overseas is set to continue in the coming months as holidaymakers seek out winter sun or city breaks.

However, Europe has become “the epicentre” of the pandemic recently as Covid cases continue to soar across several countries.

Around ten of the 27 EU nations are facing a Covid situation of “very high concern”, according to the European Centre for Disease Control.

The Czech Republic is among the countries considering further Covid restrictions.
The Czech Republic is among the countries considering further Covid restrictions.

The surge of the disease has prompted some countries to either plan to implement or actually impose further restrictions in an effort to curb transmission.

The most recent of these is Austria which has placed the two million people within their population who have not been vaccinated against Covid-19 under lockdown.

People who are not vaccinated will only be permitted to leave their homes for limited reasons such as working or buying food.

Meanwhile, the Netherlands, Germany and the Czech Republic have taken or are planning measures to decrease transmission of the virus.

The Netherlands introduced a three-week partial coronavirus lockdown on Saturday night that sees bars, restaurants and supermarkets ordered to close at 8pm.

Despite the worrying trend across the bloc, Irish travel expert Eoghan Corry has reassured people that it is still safe to travel in the coming months.

The Editor of Travel Extra magazine also outlined two important factors for Irish holidaymakers to consider before jetting off this winter.

“The figures are worrying but that’s what happened last year, last January it was all over the place but the reality is that there is a plan in place and the certificates are in place the vaccination plan is in place,” he told the Irish Mirror.

“In terms of planning travel, it’s not as chaotic as last year and it only applies to the EU 27.

“It’s fine for [Irish people] to travel, the reality is that when these case numbers go up, since we know a little bit more than we did last year, it doesn’t tend to be the places Irish people travel to that get the high numbers.

“It tends to be the unfashionable suburbs of the large cities. When you go to the places Irish people go, Alicante, Lanzarote, Palma de Mallorca, the case numbers aren’t high, there are exceptions to that but they’re rare.”

Mr Corry added that people “have been to hell and back” during the pandemic and will no doubt be nervous about travelling.

But he said no countries are being reckless when it comes to the virus, and many impose local regulations rather than widespread measures, while some nations have stricter mask-wearing policies than Ireland.

A woman shops at the Christmas market in Vienna, Austria, on Monday.
A woman shops at the Christmas market in Vienna, Austria, on Monday.

“We also have another issue which I didn’t see coming and that is that some countries are putting a sell-by date, an expiry date, on the vaccinations,” he said.

“Austria has put a nine-month expiration date so the first batch of people who were vaccinated would largely be health workers back in February, they’re going to hit the nine-month mark very quickly.

“Some countries are looking at six months which would be even more so while we have this agreement that the EU is one country in terms of travel, the decision-making process doesn’t mean it’s all going to be devoid of difficulties in the coming weeks and months.”

For people contemplating making bookings in Europe before Christmas, Mr Corry says “absolutely go for it”.

“It’s unlikely that we will see major clampdowns,” he explained.

“The two things to watch are the local restrictions, which will be imposed by a local council, which will affect things like restaurants, and the second thing is don’t get timed out by your vaccine.

“The big decision on whether it is safe to go is an individual decision for everybody.

“The measures to protect society and the people travelling introduced by the aviation industry and the medical authorities are not playing recklessly with people’s health, they’re usually on the side of caution.”

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