Europeans lived a summer with some normality thanks to the speed of the vaccination process, which this week reached 70% of adults in the block. Social life saw the first holidays with some normality after more than a year and a half, restrictions for public health reasons were reduced and trips were simplified thanks to the European vaccination certificate.
Governments already clearly had as economic recovery priority and for that, a certain degree of mobility had to be allowed to enliven the tourist season. They bet everything on vaccines and the data seems to have proved them right.
The end of the school year was a general relief in Europe to power arrive at the end of June without having to close schools (as was done in 2020) despite the threat of the new Delta variant.
Most Europeans took vacations in July or August, and with the vacations came travel. The vaccinated, to move within the European Union, only had to show their European vaccination certificate and the governments put the batteries to make it work.
Tourism revived this summer in Italy and other European countries. Photo: AP
14 days after receiving the second dose, you could travel simply by showing the certificate on paper or in the mobile app when boarding the plane and arriving at the destination, without further bureaucratic hassle and, above all, without having to go through tests or quarantines.
The summer also saw the launch of what are known as ‘health passes’. It consists of a document – national, different from the European one – that allows entry to certain places.
France was the country that took him to the extreme, requiring him even to take long-distance trains and for any leisure activity, from eating in a restaurant to going to the movies.
Italy also used it, like Greece, mainly to access the gastronomy and tourism sector. Other countries, such as Spain or Germany, refused to implement something like this, claiming that it discriminated against the unvaccinated.
In Belgium it starts now but its use will be limited. The French experience showed that it served mainly for speed up the vaccination process, which was the main objective of President Emmanuel Macron.
The summer also saw the return of the great events. The European Football Championship, held between June and July, was the first mass sporting event to be held with a certain presence of the public.
Already in the final, in London, 60,000 people saw the England-Italy live that ended with an Italian triumph. Since August, as the different European leagues started, the governments allowed the fans to return to the stadiums, although they controlled the attendance so that they did not fill up.
Britain’s Wembley Stadium in the Euro Cup final on July 11 – one of the biggest events in Europe this summer. Photo: DPA
Intra-European tourism grew – the increase in the number of flights since the beginning of summer shows if not a pre-covid scenario, then one much more normalized than in 2020– thanks to these travel facilities.
National tourism boom
AND national tourism soared. Data from the end of August show that Italians and Spaniards had never traveled so much within their countries, had never spent so much and had never spent so many nights away from home when they were doing national tourism. Finding a hotel room on a weekend in Belgium was practically impossible.
That in part helped get the tourism sector, responsible for approximately 10% of European employment and GDP.
The beaches of Mallorca, among the most visited this European summer. Photo: REUTERS
England was in some way, from that final of the Eurocopa, the vanguard of the elimination of sanitary restrictions. Faced with criticism from experts, the Boris Johnson government decided to open its hand and eliminate most of the measures.
The incidence grew and the cases were increasing but the hospitals were never full and within a few weeks the hospital occupancy fell and the number of deaths from covid was reduced until it was no longer news. London’s bet, which was being followed closely from Europe, seemed to work. Denmark already announced in late August that it will remove all restrictions this month.
The news reported that the dead and most of those hospitalized, which in some countries, such as Spain, continue to exceed one hundred every day, were mostly those who had not wanted to be vaccinated.
Experts spent the summer explaining that the Delta variant was more contagious and dangerous and that the vaccines were effective also against her. The vaccination campaigns were maintained with intensity during the summer and reached the young people, who with the two doses already had more social freedom.
Back to school
This September 1, the school year began in practically all of Europe (the United Kingdom did so in mid-August) without more health protocols or security measures than those already applied at the end of last June.
Classes are tried not to mix. Adolescents up to 12 years of age are already being vaccinated and in some countries vaccination of children under 12 years of age is already being prepared. There is also a debate on when to start giving a third dose of the vaccines and if it will be done only with the most vulnerable groups or with the entire population.
A classroom at a school in Ashton-Under-Lyne, Britain, this week at Back to School. Photo: AP
Not all is good news. The World Health Organization warned last week that at the rate at which Europeans continue to die from the virus, the bloc could add more than 200,000 fatalities in the next four months.
There are more than 1,500 deaths a day, a brutal figure but lower than those suffered before most European adults were vaccinated. And a figure that is gradually losing its place in the media, focused on the good news of vaccination and economic recovery.
The GDP of the block could close the last two quarters of the year with its biggest growth in decades.
And although inflation is beginning to worry (3% annual rate in the Eurozone at the end of August, 1.7% if energy prices are not taken into account), the unemployment rate fell from 7% and definitely turned off the fears of a crisis of the caliber of that of 2008-2012 after the burst of the financial bubble.