At the start of this year, my wife and I booked a holiday to Asia, but it was cancelled and we got a refund. In February, blissfully unaware of what was to come, we booked a holiday in Italy, and it got cancelled too. After months of waiting, I finally got a refund this week.
My passport is staying in my sock drawer for the rest of the year because I just can’t be bothered with the uncertainty surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic.
Even though the Government has issued a “Green list” of 15 countries to which it’s now safe to travel without having to quarantine when you return, I’m staying put.
I spoke yesterday with Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney, who warned that just because a country is on the so-called safe list now doesn’t mean it will remain when it’s reviewed every two weeks.
That reminded me of last March, when thousands of Irish people were stranded in Spain after the country went very swiftly into a lockdown.
There’s nothing to say that couldn’t happen again in any of the green list countries.
In Italy, which surprisingly is on the list, residents of Rome and the surrounding region of Lazio have been warned that local lockdowns may be reimposed if there are new clusters of the coronavirus.
The same has happened in Barcelona, Leicester, Melbourne and many other places as countries scramble to contain the killer bug.
So, while on the one hand the Irish Government has issued a list of countries where we can travel without having to live like a hermit for a fortnight when we return, it would still prefer we holidayed at home.
This is mixed messaging, but I get it. Nobody who was in the Canaries in March, when Spain went into a state of emergency lockdown, imagined they’d be trapped so suddenly.
My worry is that the same thing could happen again if cases begin to rise in any of the green list countries.
The Government has been criticised for being too cautious in its approach by not including Spain, Portugal or even Great Britain.
However, people need to understand they haven’t been included because they haven’t been as successful as Ireland in controlling Covid-19.
To their credit, despite the confusion surrounding foreign travel, the Government is still giving very strong advice that we shouldn’t go on holiday abroad this year.
From what I can see, the vast majority of people are following that advice.
As I’ve said previously in this column, 2020 is the ideal opportunity for us to explore the beautiful island we live on.
This year will be the first for as long as I can remember that I haven’t left Ireland, but in four weeks’ time my wife and I are heading off for nine days in a hired campervan.
It’s something we’ve never even thought about before, and we can’t wait to hit the road.