Soaring no more: It’s the law of the market, though travellers may be forgiven perhaps for calling it the law of perversity. Airfare between Britain and India has plummeted to about half of what it was before the mandatory seven-day quarantine was announced. The rates are now more like what they would be in normal times, and actually considerably less than what they usually are at this time of the year, which is the season for the peaking of fares. If all anyone wishes to do is to go home to India and sit there for a week, a good thing to do, then the fares are of course good news.
Service nosedives: A message shared by a recent traveller on a Virgin Atlantic flight to India said a lot more about the tourism season than official figures might, whenever they do surface. Not a white face was to be seen onboard the packed flight other than some crew, he wrote. Our traveller found the food quality abysmal, a natural consequence, dictated by the market no doubt, of a realisation that people are travelling out of compulsion, there are no freewheeling travellers to seduce away from competition. Good food onboard is not for bad times.
Too late: Leading scientists have warned that present British government measures to restrict travel from overseas may have come too late to prevent the Omicron strain from spreading in Britain. The measures that require testing for Covid before travelling to the UK will kick in from Tuesday. But that should suggest similarly that restrictions on travel may be too late to stop the strain spreading in India. And not all occurrences of Omicron are related to travel from South Africa or elsewhere.
How the virus travelled: It was well-documented that the spread of the virus in India at the start of 2020 was brought by travellers primarily from Britain and the Gulf. The second wave, the deadly one, also was traced to travel from Britain after the government made a critical delay in putting a stop to flights from Britain. And incredibly, for the third time too, the spread is coming from travellers from, where else. Britain is one of the first countries from which travellers face quarantine and a tight watch. This is not an Indo-British connection anyone could have asked for.
Pope’s refugee rebuke for Europe: The Pope has spoken critically of “narrow self-interest and nationalism” in European nations’ treatment of migrants and refugees. Referring to the many deaths on the seas between countries competing to fight off the refugees, the Pope called this the “shipwreck of civilisation”. A moral position taken by the Church has long been in conflict with the political positions taken by nation-states, whose decisions are guided above all by national interests. True, Europe would be flooded with refugees were restrictions to be eased if not restricted. But many are hoping the Pope’s words will nudge European nations to consider policies that are at least a little less inhumane.