Marlene Hauser

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Track, Trace and Travel

Hi Everyone,

So finally here in the UK, Post-Pandemic (sort of), we are able to travel. If I hadn’t been invited to Ibiza by a friend, I probably would not have gone. Who can interpret all the various, ever-changing commentaries on the designated Red, Amber or Green countries, never mind the pre-, during and post-travel Covid-19 testing? Very comfy at home in my Socially Distanced bubble, I was reluctant to join the fray, except for the fact that I understood the healthy need for a change of scene, along with doing my bit to get the economy back on track.

As one of the largest industries in the world, with $5.7 trillion in revenue and 319 million employees (that’s one in every ten on the planet) according to CNN, the travel industry is one of the linchpins of the global economy. So, yes, I felt it was time to get on the move, travelling, spending, zooming around, or at least across the Channel, if nothing else. Maybe “zooming” is not quite the right word. As we all know Zooming has taken on a new meaning in the last 18 months, even if the company Zoom has been around for a decade. Could Zooming ever take the place of travel? I think not.

So, back to the point, bucking up and getting to grips with the new travel rules, which I heard on this morning’s news will soon be suspended: no more quarantining. Way back in July (ha!), first things first, I had to sort Ibiza’s colour code: green. Okay, a relief, but no sooner had I booked, the code changed from green to amber. The difference being, if I understood correctly, the length of quarantine after my return.

So wheels in motion, toothbrush, flipflops and bikini (well, not exactly) in hand, I filled out my UK Passenger Locator Form, including my Oxford AstraZeneca vaccination QR code. Then onto the Spain Travel Health Passenger Locator Form, and another QR code to flash on arrival.

Before departing, I had to pack (under strict orders from the travel agent) a pre-ordered Covid test kit, and then book and have proof of a Qured video phone appointment booking to take a Covid-19 test in front of a live person two days prior to my return. With all QR codes in hand, British Airways waved me on with a smile, and off we went to Ibiza.

Miraculously, almost otherworldly, things felt old-worldly, if that makes sense—taking off with a friend to enjoy the exotic, the unfamiliar and the new. Of course, I did just for a moment think “what if” I owned a private jet or had settled for the South Coast of England. No QR codes required?

The holiday was everything I expected: sound sleep, melt in your mouth food and undulating sea views under gnarly pines, with evenings straight out of Cinema Paradiso. However, ever-present in my mind was the travel agent’s stern admonition to make sure I kept my online recorded Covid test appointment. So I did, with a pleasant young woman in the Philippines, and everything went according to plan with her watching me swab my nostrils, my tonsils, recording time, the vial’s barcode and emailing the result (negative), plus photo of passport and vial.

Leaving Spain, QR codes at the ready, my flight proved simple and straightforward. Everyone, for the most part, was masked, except when eating or drinking. Back at home, I took my Day Two Covid test, and just as I was thinking “home free” with another negative result, I was “pinged” by the NHS. Someone (Who? What? When? Where? Why?) had contracted Covid-19 and I was “tracked and traced,” and now had to self-isolate for 10 days. Immediately I took a lateral flow Covid test with a negative result, and called it in to the NHS, thinking I would not have to quarantine.

Sadly, I was misinformed. I still had to self-isolate. 600,000 people were tracked and traced, “pinged,” that week. Did 600,000 people stay at home for 10 days? Who knows?

Well, happy Tracking, Tracing, Testing, Self-Isolating, and maybe even Traveling. At the end of the day, it is all well worth it. Mediterranean sun on your skin, a creamy helado while strolling on a black tiled esplanade on a moonlit Balearic night? Yes, without a doubt, totally divine.