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Around the campfire: Unlocking the gates – very slowly

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As governments around the world start to unlock their gates the penalties of mass incarceration are being felt – from schoolchildren to their parents, the disruption has been devastating.

In England, it was only Monday that the government announced its plans for the unlocking of the country, in four drawn-out stages, the last “no earlier than 21 June”, when all legal limits will be removed on mixing and the last sectors to remain closed, such as nightclubs, will be allowed to re-open.

My nightclubbing days are past but I could do with some sun – which, given this is rainy and overcast England, probably means travelling overseas. My skill at table-tennis has vastly improved during my home incarceration but I still don’t qualify as an “elite sportsperson”, one of the categories permitted to travel according to government rules.

Going overseas will not be allowed before 17 May, although the rules are a little confusing. We are promised that a government report on international travel rules will be published on 12 April. I can’t wait.

But despite the opacity about when we will be permitted to get some foreign sun, EasyJet’s international holiday bookings surged by 600% (over the previous week) the day after the government signalled it was easing its restrictions.

The patchwork of rules permitting what can and cannot be done is much more complicated in the US, but at least the majority of US states are open for business.

And even though we might be freed to travel internationally by June, hurdles will still need to be jumped – booking a flight and hotel, grabbing your passport and stepping on a plane is clearly going to be a distant memory. The International Air Transport Association (IATA), the trade association of the world’s airlines, is readying a digital travel passport. The promise of liberation through immunisation is receding by the day.

So I am not hurrying to book myself an EasyJet flight, even though I crave the sun. And when we are finally allowed to take a flight, I will remember to take my Glint card – as important for my financial protection as my travel passport will be for the ability to get around.

Until next week.


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