It’s been very clear for a long time that our family summer holiday in June was not going to happen. Our eagerly awaited sojourn to Mlini, Dubrovnik was to all intents and purposes dead in the water back in March when our government finally woke up to the breakneck progress of the coronavirus. So when health secretary Matt Hancock said this morning it is “likely to be the case” there won’t be a normal summer holiday season, it didn’t exactly come as much of a shock.
“The conclusion,” continued Hancock, “is it is unlikely that big, lavish international holidays are going to possible for this summer.” Oh, wait, I wondered. Perhaps, there’s hope for us after all since I have never been on anything like a “big lavish international holiday”. Whilst our summer holidays are usually modest in terms of luxury, they’re not like being in Colditz, either. I suspect that Matt Hancock, who was born into money and enjoyed the inevitable private school and Oxbridge education so necessary to get on in politics, thinks that everyone enjoys a “big lavish international holiday” and not merely, say, an apartment in Benalmádena.
Having a holiday cancelled is hardly a disaster when compared to the horrors being inflicted upon us by Covid-19. Many of us spend far too much of our lives looking forward to something away in the distance, like a foreign holiday, and not enough time living in and enjoying the present. Whilst there is a tendency to go a little stir crazy and, in my case, even more mentally unhinged than usual, that sun bed can wait. There’s no point in looking too far ahead, but hell, I’m going to.
What if the boffins don’t manage to come up with a vaccine for Covid 19? What if it takes years to develop any kind of anti-viral treatment at all? Then, what we are going through now in terms of not just the temporary postponement of trips abroad but something more permanent, what can we do?
Even if flights were to return to anything like normal, how on earth could you get everyone into, say, Bristol Airport and still ensure there was sufficient social distancing? If you have ever flown with easyJet from Bristol, you have seen what the queueing system looks like, where you are sometimes close to exchanging bodily fluids with some other travellers, and with an airborne virus the queue is probably not where you want to be. Or security, which gets very busy during the day. Or the departure lounge. Or the gate. Or the plane itself, where the air constantly refreshed but the people sitting next to you certainly aren’t. I’d love to know how you square that circle.
We could be facing a future not just of no holidays abroad but difficulties in booking them at home, too. It could well be that our annual leave periods will closely resemble what those of us who are currently being furloughed are going through. No holidays anywhere, everywhere closed and – oh my good God – a Christmas via Zoom.
Thus the new normal has the potential to be, as we scientists call it, absolutely shit. We aren’t going to Croatia this year, I doubt if we will be going anywhere this year and the way things are going, not next year, either. In the end, it will probably be enough just to get through the next year or so. Over 40,000 people have not made it through this year and to be honest, I’ll just settle for life for now, mine and yours. Holidays can wait. Even the “big lavish international holiday”.