Travel experts discuss latest Covid data during exclusive event

Travel experts discuss latest Covid data during exclusive event
Top data analyst Tim White and travel expert Simon Calder took part in an exclusive online event hosted by The Independent’s travel editor Cathy Adams

“A couple of weeks ago the UK was doing pretty well,” said Tim White at the start of the latest online travel event hosted by The Independent. “Numbers were down. But at the moment cases are flying up.”

That was the introduction to the Race to the Sun online event, held on 30 June – timed to coincide with the latest addition of more locations to the UK’s very short list of quarantine-free destination. But as infection rates are soaring in the UK, other countries are cracking down on British visitors to try to protect public health.

Trends in travel are inextricably linked with the global picture of coronavirus infection rates and the spread of Covid variants. So The Independent invited top data analyst Tim White to join head of travel Cathy Adams and travel correspondent Simon Calder for an exclusive online event on the summer of 2021 and beyond.

Tim’s predictions wasn’t always what the audience – and the travel desk – wanted to hear. But his deep understanding of the subject is based on months of analysis of data ranging from reliable to dubious in the extreme. He has built a loyal following on Twitter for his daily bulletins.

“Italy, along with Germany, is the lowest of the big western European nations. Spain, worryingly, has started to go up significantly. Cases there have more than doubled today, and their cases per 100,000 over the past seven days is 77”. That compares with the UK’s current rate, on around 200.

What the full video of the event below

Race to the sun: Where is the finish line?

Greece is around 30, but Tim cautioned that opening up borders to Belarus and Russia has triggered a new wave in both Greece and Cyprus. He revealed the easy availability of fake certificate in some countries of the former Soviet Union.

“Certificates are so easily faked. Having been in Ukraine recently, there are so many people saying, ‘Oh, you a certificate? I can get you one’.

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“Greece is now insisting on testing Russians coming in.”

The audience learnt of the frequent and sweeping changes brought in by Malta, Portugal and Spain in the few days since the green list expanded – as well as the problems in proving a traveller’s vaccination status.

Simon Calder challenged: “Is summer simply for the bold and the desperate?”

Tim White responded: “I think that’s harsh. Travel can be done safely. If this government is choosing to open society on 19 July, then it defies logic that we’re not letting people in who have been fully jabbed from any nation.

“It defies logic to lock people up in the UK and not allow them to travel.

“You either have confidence in the vaccination or you don’t. This government is in danger of lowering public confidence in the vaccine if they’re not allowing people to travel.”

The UK government says British residents should not travel to amber or red list destinations, but there is no legal restriction.


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