a crowd of people with their hands up in the air

If you’ve been to a disco, or a night club, you know Ibiza. The Balearic Island is famous worldwide for all night parties, where gorgeous sunsets blend into sunrise, all too easily. From North to South, Italy’s love of a night club isn’t too far off, nor is that of Croatia, Greece, France, or Germany either. And yes, there are more, just queue “We no speak Americano” by Yolanda Be Cool & DCUP and start dancing.

But in a covid-19 world, a night club is an epidemiologists worst nightmare, and against all odds, party scenes in many European countries were allowed to reopen practically unchecked, rolling back crucial gains against the spread of covid-19.

You can’t blame it all on the alcohol, or the party, but Europe’s summer travel hangover is turning into an autumn nightmare, and raucous pool parties and late night club scenes are at the center of new blame.

As the sun sets on summer, Spain, GreeceItaly and others are putting the brakes on the party scene, but it may already be too late.

Poble Espanyol - traditional architectures in Barcelona, Spain

Rising Cases

It wasn’t just the sound decibels that were spiking. Covid-19 spikes aren’t unexpected during a “new” viral global phenomenon with travel borders reopening, but nightclubs in Spain, Croatia, Greece and Italy contributed to intense increases in infection rates, particularly among young people.

The spikes quickly sent the countries outside of “acceptable” infection rates for many European partners, crushing essential summer travel demand as restrictive measures built like a throbbing headache after twelve too many mixed drinks.

Sweaty people shouting indoors, dancing in close proximity and sharing drinks are not exactly what the doctor ordered right now, nor is a pool party with thousands of drunk people without inhibition.

After months of lockdown, and public mask wearing rules, many are wondering how the nightlife and pool party scene was allowed to reach the care-free levels of yesteryear, yet little can be done now.

Travel is an easy target for covid-19 blame, and is no doubt a large part of the continued equation, but authorities in each country found that alarming clusters were forming among locals, with little sign of import, as nightclubs and all day alcohol fuelled pool parties provided welcome release for months of pent up energy.

Spikes in Catalonia cost all of Spain, including the Balearic and Canary Islands millions, if not billions in summer tourism, when the UK and other European nations added mandatory quarantine, or do not travel notices in response to the spiking case counts. Ibiza hardly ever got a chance to throw a party in August, as visitor demand plummeted. The story is much the same in the Canary Islands.

Even though the Canaries are some 1,300 miles away from mainland Spain, the news brought irreparable damage to the remaining summer season, which led to the islands offering their own complimentary covid-19 travel insurance to all visitors, to stoke bookings.

Greece, in the middle of spiking cases, has shut down all night parties, demanding restaurants and bars close from midnight to 7AM, in hopes of staying off quarantine lists.

a crowd of people in front of a stage

The moves pit club owners eager to relish the last few weeks of summer, and the tourists that come along with it, against government advice. For France, a nation deeply embedded in nightlife, moves to curb social spread came too late, with advise against travel issued just last week. Th UK Government quarantine move alone caused the cancellation of thousands of holiday bookings.

Where’s The Party?

In Spain, and Italy, all nightclubs have been ordered shut, as traditional bars and restaurants also see new curfews in place. Italy has thus far avoided the scorn of European travel bans, or 14 day quarantine lists, but new case clusters have put an otherwise successful summer travel reopening in future doubt. In measures to curb the spread, night life was the first to go.

Basically, if your reason for travel is a good night out, your options in Europe are now increasingly limited, and now probably isn’t the time anyway. The reopening of travel is contingent upon the safe management of covid-19, and a big party is a risk most tourism driven countries just cannot afford.

Who’s making the fried eggs and coffee? This hangover just won’t end.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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