Tapis's Head of Intelligence, Philip Stewart, on the key issues to watch this month
Over the past year Tapis Intelligence has been doing a lot of work on COVID-19 for a range of clients - advising them how to put crisis management structures in place, assessing their exposure and identifying emerging risks as the pandemic has developed. This involves a lot of analysis of general trends in the pandemic, which it has been suggested are of wider interest.
So, I'm going to try to write some regular updates on the emerging risks and trends - something I should have started months ago! Do let me know what you think, and if you have any specific questions, I'd be very happy to answer them - just get in contact.
What do I think will be the key issues over the next month?
1. Increasing Infections in Europe
At the moment infection rates are generally heading in the right direction in Europe (Portugal and Spain being obvious exceptions). This masks a growing threat. While general infection rates are heading down, the rates associated with the "new strains" (those colloquially called the UK, South Africa and Brazil strains) are heading up - and they are much more infectious. This is why European Governments are not relaxing COVID restrictions at the moment, and in many cases are tightening them up, even as overall infection rates are falling. They fear a significant spike some time in February, as we have experienced in the UK in January.
2. Tighter (and Messier) Border Controls
We're already starting to see it. Attempts by the EU to coordinate border controls are failing and individual countries are increasingly putting their own restrictions in place. This is going to leave a confusing picture for travellers, and present issues for anyone planning to travel across multiple borders, or in some cases transit through airports. A number of countries are using rapid tests on arrival, and consideration has to be given to "false positive" results - what happens to travellers if they test positive on arrival? In some countries this can involve an extended stay in a Government facility.
3. More Changes at Short Notice
We're already seeing rules being changed at short notice, and this is only likely to increase. UAE was put on the UK's "red list" overnight, Germany is likely to put additional restrictions on arrivals over the weekend. Short notice closures and changes have become the norm and people are more accepting of it - the front page headlines of holidaymakers impacted by self-isolation rules in the Summer aren't so prevalent now. Travellers increasingly run the risk of being stranded overseas with limited options for flights home as airlines close down routes.
We are seeing a more dynamic picture than at any time since the early days of the pandemic, and it requires a renewed approach to crisis management. Travellers need to keep aware of the risks and understand that their journeys may be impacted or curtailed at short notice, or their return home delayed significantly.
Follow our blog if you'd like more updates. Do let me know what you think, and if you have any specific questions, I'd be very happy to answer them - just get in contact via firstname.lastname@example.org