Seven weeks ago, an autumn visit to Prague looked a plausible and appealing prospect. Today, with the number of new cases of coronavirus 34 times higher, the Czech Republic is firmly off limits to travellers.
Conversely, Greece has managed its response to Covid-19 outstandingly well. Numbers are up, but by “only” 82 per cent, a far better achievement that other European countries.
As infection numbers across Europe soar, and passenger numbers slump, The Independent can reveal the best- and worst-performing major nations in Europe.
Analysing data processed by The PC Agency, which itself was sourced from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), shows the UK, Italy and the Netherlands have performed far worse than any other major country apart from the Czech Republic.
The UK has seen a 15.6-fold rise in cases; Italy, 14.7; and the Netherlands 14.2.
The median of the 17 nations included in the comparison is France, with 7.4 times as many new cases on 18 October as in late August.
The four lowest spots, ie best performing in terms of limiting increases, are all held by Mediterranean nations.
Cyprus is at 2.9, Malta at 2.4, Spain at 1.87 and Greece at 1.82.
Paul Charles, chief executive of The PC Agency, said: “Island nations which implemented swift testing at their ports of entry, and internally, deserve to be recognised for moving quickly to keep infections low.
“The top five in this research, including the United Kingdom, failed to do the same and are now struggling to do anything other than lockdown further. The message has been clear from the outset of this pandemic: test, test and keep testing.”
One reason the figures for Malta and Spain are much lower than average is because both countries had very high numbers in late August.
But Cyprus and Greece have maintained low rates of new infections despite opening up for tourism in July and August.
Cyprus, though, has seen a sharp rise in cases – recording around 200 new infections on Saturday, more than three times the highest daily rate at any stage in the coronavirus crisis before this week.
The republic requires travellers arriving from the UK to present a negative PCR test for coronavirus, which must be privately obtained within the 72 hours before departure.
Greece has seen a slow but steady rise in cases. It demands passengers complete a locator form, and tests many inbound travellers on arrival.
There have been concerns that both Cyprus and Greece could be added to the UK government’s no-go list.
In August the status of some Greek islands was changed so that returning travellers would need need to self-isolate, but all but Mykonos have been removed.
On Sunday holidaymakers travelling between the UK and Greece were hampered by a strike by air-traffic controllers.
Some flights were re-timed by up to 24 hours, and others – including three out of five British Airways links between London Heathrow and Athens – were cancelled,
Also in the eastern Mediterranean, soaring infection rates in the UK have led to the country being downgraded from “green” to “red” by Israel. From Friday 23 October passengers from Britain will need to quarantine for two weeks on arrival.
They must travel by taxi or private car to “accommodation that is completely separated from other residents” and “stay in complete isolation”.