Thursday, July 1, 2021

Covid's delta variant strain puts countries in caution mode -- again

Stockholm from the water, on our last visit, just before Covid shut down international travel.
In our eagerness to resume travel -- and given new variants -- we must continue to exercise caution.
 

Seasoned travelers are traveling, but restrictions are reinstated as variant renews Covid concerns  worldwide

STORY By CHRISTENE MEYERS

PHOTOS By BRUCE KELLER

Since 27 March, 2020, no foreign-flagged cruise ships could
enter Sydney Harbour, above, or Australian waters. The new
Delta variant resulted in the ban's extension to Sept. 17.
(Here's our group in safer times on a bridge climb.)

AFTER A FEW blissful weeks of "freedom," the new Covid variant -- delta -- has pushed dozens of countries and millions of people back into a mode of worry, concern and caution.

"It's a definite slide back," a friend in Stockholm wrote us. "There are dark clouds on the horizon, with the delta variant. But we seasoned travelers are traveling again -- with caution." 

IN EUROPE, fellow travel writers note that countries are slamming their doors shut once again, with quarantines and travel bans. In impoverished countries, another coronavirus surge is underway.

Cruise ships worldwide are again awaiting travel.

Visitors may enjoy the grounds of Sofiero Palace in the
lovely Swedish town of Helsingborg. The palace is closed.
Countries that thought they'd quelled the pandemic are reassessing their progress. Experts say the delta variant spreads more easily because of mutations that make it better at latching onto cells in our bodies. In the United Kingdom, the variant is responsible for 90% of all new infections. In the U.S.,  health officials say it could become our country’s dominant type as well.
Countries like South Korea and Israel that seemed to have largely vanquished the virus are experiencing new clusters of the disease.
REACTING TO the concern, countries such as Australia are amping up cruise ship bans, permitting no foreign-flagged ships to enter their waters until September or even October, with a possible extension. Sweden initially took a less strict approach to the pandemic than its Nordic neighbors, Norway and Denmark, as well as other European nations. The government did not impose lockdowns or mandate face masks. "Big mistake," a Helsingborg friend wrote. "By allowing restaurants and businesses to remain open, we relied on voluntary social distancing and hygiene recommendations. People were too casual and we failed to slow the spread."
Our Tel Aviv friends Yosh and Shula
are safely back in Israel from a lovely
holiday in Greek Isles, here with us
in Las Vegas before the pandemic.

THE RAPID
 spread of the delta coronavirus variant has forced a growing number of our favorite countries to reimpose lockdowns and other public health restrictions.
In Israel -- where we've had several lovely trips, with this year's planned visit cancelled -- our Tel Aviv friends are demoralized and concerned anew.
"We're back to the drawing board," said our friend Shula. She and her husband Yosh recently returned from a long anticipated trip to the Greek Isles, a favorite vacation spot before they joined the rest of us in sheltering and canceling trips.  
So far, they say, no dramatic changes have been imposed in Tel Aviv, but they are concerned now that the variant is causing more infection.  Mandatory masking is again back in indoor public places; Israel's schools closed Thursday to diminish infection spread. 
ISRAEL BOASTS the world’s highest vaccination rates but has also seen delta cases jump in recent weeks, causing authorities to reinstate the indoor mask mandate that was dropped just two weeks ago.
Adds Shula, "We had three tests on our trip. Now they want to add one or two tests even if negative. Schools are also closing to lower chances for infection. Kids 12 to 16 are getting the vaccine now."
Keller and Cookie hosted friends Janell and Al
recently, toasting their trip to Turkey and Greece.
 
 Israel's new government is relying on the country’s high vaccination rate to protect residents from virus-related hospitalizations and deaths. "We are hoping for the best outcome," says our optimistic, travel-loving friend Shula.
Other friends, Janell and Al, are enjoying a holiday in Turkey and the Greek Isles now, but other friends in Melbourne and Sydney report Australia began another lockdown this week preventing their planned trip. 
IN AN ATTEMPT to curb an outbreak of the highly infectious delta variant, Aussies are experiencing new  restrictions. Our Sydney friends had planned a trip to Germany and southern Europe later this month, but cancelled because they are concerned about new rules. So caution seems in order.
Keller and Cookie with British friends John and Sue, who
recently took a holiday in their native England.

Capetown friends report South Africa has set new restrictions, including extending a nightly curfew.  Last Monday, the government also introduced a second ban on gatherings, alcohol sales, indoor dining and domestic travel.
FRIENDS IN Yorkshire, England, Sue and John, say that while restrictions seem to be easing, they, and their countrymen are cautious. British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace and six U.K. military commanders are self-isolating after the head of Britain’s Armed forces tested positive for coronavirus. 
EAGER TO travel, our English friends recently took a holiday to Shropshire, noting "People are being respectful of everyone’s space and in general you have a fairly wide berth around you.
A Hilton worker wipes a door
last week on our road trip.

Masks are still mandatory in shops and people wear them in busy places."
 A new wrinkle is the bogus vaccination certificates. They're booming in Russia, a Reuters friend reported. This while Moscow logged a record 144 Covid deaths in a single day.
THE CENTER for Disease Control's updated its list of “high-risk countries” this week to include Bangladesh, Britain, Brazil, India, Indonesia, Israel and Peru. Hotels are still sanitizing in extra measures. New restrictions are being imposed on travelers abroad and even U.S. citizens with vaccinations must produce negative Covid test results no more than three days before travel. We await good news of their safe return from our fellow travel loving friends, Janell and Al.
It's been a long haul for travel lovers, including the two of us. Let's not let down our guard. Caution, slow and steady on!
Monterey Bay Aquarium's life-size mobiles are one of its
many enticements. Numbers are controlled and distancing
and masking are required in this impressive attraction. 
 
UP NEXT: One of our first public outings as "vaccinated" people was to the world renowned Monterey Bay Aquarium. From its living kelp forest to magnificent life-size mobiles of sea creatures, the aquarium delights. Masking and distancing are in place as we take you with us on our recent visit. Remember to explore, learn and live and catch us weekly for a fresh spin on travel, the arts, food, family and nature at whereiscookie.com 




 


 






 




 







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3 comments:

  1. Fun, informative piece. Well researched. A good, old-fashioned news update -- so welcome.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Pittsburgh SailorsJuly 2, 2021 at 6:50 AM

    We've been so frustrated as all four of our trips abroad for 2020 and 2021 have been cancelled. You give us hope that our return to the high seas will come with patience.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Teachers TogetherJuly 2, 2021 at 12:35 PM

    Great report! Vaccinated here in Virginia. Ready to go!

    ReplyDelete