Last week I received the following email:
‘The five of us are really looking forward to our safari at Bush Camp later in September, this year. Can we have James as our guide again please? We have our virus test booked, we have travel insurance and work from home so see no reason not to travel because of this silly unenforced quarantine. We are so excited.’
Our thoughts exactly. None of us would encourage or condone behaviour detrimental to public health, but it’s clear that all-or-nothing government quarantine policy is not only ineffective but also astonishingly destructive to communities worldwide dependent on tourism for their livelihoods.
That so many individuals and families are now conducting their own intelligent, nuanced risk assessments and taking the appropriate and prudent measures to ensure the safety of themselves and others is both encouraging and testament, perhaps, to common sense and shrinking faith in government policy.
Let’s be clear: the FCO’s non-essential travel advice is exactly that: advice. It is not a legal instrument but a convenient line in the sand behind which some insurers can retreat to cancel cover. By doing so, they force tour operators to follow suit, but if you’re willing to travel, there are always insurance companies willing to offer the cover abdicated by their more risk-adverse rivals.
This company: Battleface, for example, offers reasonably priced policies* allowing you to travel to countries such as Kenya, where, according to European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control data, the 14-day cumulative incidence of reported cases per 100,000 inhabitants is currently 5.94. For the sake of comparison, Portugal’s 14-day score is 41.32. The UK? 28.57. Battleface also covers against puzzling FCO advisories.
While there are fewer tourists here now than at any time in living memory, the Mara continues to move to nature’s hypnotic rhythm. The herds – 1.2m wildebeest and zebras – cross borders unhindered by quarantine, absurd travel advice and social distancing, while the predators, as far as we can see, are eating out to help out.
KICHECHE IS WAITING. IT’S TIME.