Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, was among those looking on the bright side on Friday, saying he was optimistic about the prospect of live events with audiences returning in the summer. The rescheduled Euro 2020, Wimbledon, open-air theatre and street carnivals could be “catalysts to give people hope”, Mr Khan said.
European holiday destinations have seen their Covid cases cut by as much as half in a week. If the decline continues, some will reach last summer’s rates within a month.
Spain saw its case rates reduce from a seven-day average of 354 per 100,000 last week to 205 per 100,000 this week. Meanwhile, Portugal is down from 380 to 185, Croatia fell from 72 to 55 and France went down from 208 to 190. Back in July, the benchmark for travel corridors was around 20 per 100,000.
On current trajectories, Spain and Portugal could achieve this in four weeks, Croatia in three weeks and France by May.
Greece, which has reduced its case rates to 76 per 100,000, is already in talks with the UK over the mutual recognition of vaccine certificates in order to unlock travel. A scheme could be modelled on the agreement signed last week between Greece and Israel, allowing vaccinated people to move freely between the two countries once travel resumes.
At the moment, the UK’s infection rates remain higher, but they have close to halved in the last week and stand at 128 per 100,000, according to PHE data.
Paul Charles, the co-founder of the Save our Summer campaign, backed by more than 720 travel companies, said many European countries would be able to accept visitors from April onwards. “They should be in a position to safely welcome visitors as long as they maintain a strong regime of vaccination and testing,” he added.
“It enables Boris Johnson to position the UK on Monday against a backdrop of a much-improving picture in other parts of Europe. That’s why it is logical and sensible to see May as a rebound date for the travel and tourism sector.”