Covid Mistakes: Why Travel Restrictions Must Never Be Allowed Again.

3 Years ago today the British Foreign Office urged travellers to get home as air routes and borders started to shut down, worldwide travel restrictions were imposed and people were forced into lockdowns. All without any rational justification and against all established clinical and pandemic response best practice at the time. This must never be allowed to happen again.

At the beginning of March 2020 none of us knew our worlds were about to change. As news about the scariest super plague to ever hit mankind spread, country after country began to close its borders, air routes were slowly shut down one by one and domestic restrictions and lockdowns began to take effect. When the British Foreign Secretary announced that all British nationals were to return home immediately, it was the start of three years of some of the worst authoritarian abuses in living memory.

At first people joked about it. I had just returned from a trip to Abu Dhabi, by chance arriving home the day before the first lockdowns were announced. I was due to fly out to Italy a few days later, a trip that was suddenly cancelled and the midst of a mass panic dominating the news, but I remember hoping at the time that the zombie apocalypse had finally arrived and all my years of training watching the Walking Dead would finally come in handy. That jovial response didn’t last long.

I saw the chaos that was starting to emerge around me, but at the time I wasn’t overly concerned at what I saw as a completely overblown reaction. I’m a qualified nurse, I’ve seen many infectious diseases before, treated a lot of them, even had some training in pandemic response. After handling A&E on a Saturday night it takes a fair bit to panic me, it certainly takes a lot to stop me from travelling. As I have learned the only thing that can is a full on global shutdown. I knew what should be done to combat any emerging disease and was certain that we would be fine. But that didn’t happen. What we were supposed to do went out of the window and instead the opposite happened. The world shut down, and what I saw starting to happen disgusted and angered me on a scale I didn’t think was possible.

Society quickly descended into an unspeakably cruel dictatorship, and as it always does at the slightest stress test showed us how thin the pretence of civilisation is. We as a society were asked to simply accept medical apartheid, and people didn’t just accept it, they cheered it on. They cheered the removal of basic human rights and justified segregation, championed the denial of medical care, removal of access to social settings, to schools, to even having an income. People died alone. People were banned from saying goodbye to family members before they died, forced to grieve via Zoom and banned from their own children’s births. Peoples lives and livelihoods were ruined, thriving businesses shut down and destroyed, people delayed seeking medical help which has worsened outcomes and will lead in the next ten years to one of the worst medical crisis we have faced for a long time. This was a dictatorship ruled by clueless and vindictive authoritarian dictats, fuelled by purposeful propaganda of psychological terror and enforced by morally superior brownshirts. How dare you kill granny by not complying! Stay at home, save lives! It’s for your own safety! And if people don’t like the comparisons to specific historically evil regimes, well maybe the truth is a bit too close to home. All roads don’t start at the end point.

Apart from the fact the medical community, and in particular the WHO and CDC have lost any respect and authority they once held over the last few years, it is society itself that should look back and be ashamed of itself. Neighbour gleefully turned on neighbour, the police willingly punished people simply going for a walk or sitting on a park bench, finger pointing and blame became a national pastime and ‘mask denier’ and ‘antivax’ became genuine slurs designed to humiliate, hurt, punish and cancel people.

As everyone in the media tries to backtrack on what they said or quietly hopes it all blows over and ‘forgiveness’ is suddenly a thing, we are expected to just forget what everyone did. No. There is no forgiveness for that, and if you participated in it, you should be ashamed.

This was never just about the stupidity of following pointless rules like eating a scotch egg with a pint or taking off a mask if you were seated at a table wearing a red shirt on a Thursday but having to put it back on if you were going to the loo, it was about much more fundamental freedoms than that. It was about fundamental medical ethics of informed consent, bodily autonomy and choice, the freedom from discrimination and persecution, the freedom to travel. The basic freedom to leave your own home! This is what was taken from us.

I refused to wear a mask outside of a specific clinical setting because that is how I was trained, and I was looked at like I was the antichrist when boarding a plane. I stated repeatedly on social media how ridiculous it was, how people were spreading more germs and bacteria with them than without, only to have the unqualified mob pick up their pitchforks. Never mind qualified opinion about aseptic technique, infection prevention control best practice or the difference between a clinical or community setting, those unqualified to know what they were talking about were so morally superior whilst reminding everyone that surgeons wear them! Yes, but not when they are doing their weekly shop Karen! Get back in your box!

I challenged airlines – private companies – when they thought they had the right to demand passengers personal medical information in complete contradiction to privacy and confidentiality law and human rights, only to be screamed at that private companies can do what they like and its for passenger safety. That old chestnut? Really? I guess actual law doesn’t matter if they are following the message, right? I guess private businesses don’t have to follow the law now.

I stated very clearly how the mask mandates, when they came into place, were fundamentally discriminatory and wrong. The mob once again turned the moral outrage up to full, calling me granny killer, saying it was just a minor inconvenience, it was just a mask. Not for all those who were clinically exempt from wearing one but were discriminated against, banned from flying or berated by air crew if it slipped below their nose while they were sleeping it wasn’t! Did no one think that there was a very good reason the UK government issued explicit guidance stating that no one can be questioned, challenged or denied services for not wearing one? It was because they knew they had no leg to stand on, legally or morally, and as it turns out from the WhatsApp files anyway, they knew they only did it because Hancock was a tinpot zealot who wanted to terrify people into compliance and both Johnston and Whitty were spineless fools.

I explained how the now quietly dropped vaccine passports were unethical, immoral, impractical, unworkable and illegal, and it should be opposed with every fibre of our being in a free and democratic society. The mob once again came for me, happy to support a papers please society, completely oblivious to the implications of that and unwilling to accept the fact that this vaccine passport and the rules it imposed was in no way similar to the ICVP currently in place. Don’t listen to the people who have been advising travellers on vaccines for years of course, that headline you found from your 5 minute Google search is better than any degree. Of course you are correct! Funny how these vaccine passports have quietly been dropped too, isn’t it? Funny how now all those keyboard warriors on Twitter have suddenly fallen silent.

I railed against the shutting down of the entire travel industry that saw a large chunk of it go under never to return. I screamed from the rooftops that closing borders and not allowing people to travel was wrong on so many levels.

None of these rules or mandates was ever clinically or scientifically justifiable. Shutting down travel and closing borders should never have been an option in the first place.

And now of course with the benefit of hindsight we have learned that it was all absolutely pointless. Everything many of us were saying was stupid and wrong was in fact, stupid and wrong. Travel shutdowns don’t work, they never did. Mass testing was nothing more than a placebo for the public, designed to make it look as if the government was doing something and to ramp up the fear porn. People were banned from leaving their homes for no good reason. Hancock imposed mask mandates not because of ‘the science’, but because it was a placebo to reassure people, he didn’t want to be seen as politically weak and he had his fingers in a lot of PPE company shares and contracts. Airlines made passengers lives hell by enforcing mandates, throwing people off flights because their 2 year old couldn’t tolerate a mask and bullying and berating anyone who did not comply. People were threatened with no fly lists and banned from entering countries if they didn’t get a vaccination, and still are in some cases. Never mind little things like bodily autonomy or informed consent eh? Well those mandates were quietly dropped like a hot stone by most borders when everyone started to figure out we were sold a pack of lies based on fearmongering and nudge units made up of behavioural psychologists.

And there were a lot of people, not just myself, who saw this for what it was from the start.

All previously held pandemic response and infection prevention control best practice was not just ignored completely, we were mandated to do the exact opposite. Never mind that border closures and travel restrictions have always been specifically advised against. Forget the fact that masks have never been advised for mass public settings because surprisingly, aseptic technique is a thing, who knew? Travellers were subject to testing and contact tracing that anyone qualified could tell you was pointless after a disease was already endemic, which it was. And then travellers were locked up in cruel, expensive and in many cases inhumane quarantine facilities or in the case of countries like Australia just banned from entering or leaving period, for a disease that everyone knew was nothing more than a mild respiratory virus. For nothing more than fearmongering optics. What we in the medical community used to call healthy was suddenly relabelled as ‘asymptomatic’. I mean if Covid19 was removed from the UKs list of High Consequence Infectious Diseases in March 2020, just a few months after all this started, and the government had to fiddle the death statistics to make it seem worse than it was, doesn’t that tell you everything?

Everyone says it is easy to criticise in hindsight and yes, it is. But I and many, many others were saying all of this was wrong from day one. Many qualified professionals were saying it was wrong from the start, and we were bullied, harassed, silenced and cancelled for it. The problem is we knew we were right. This isn’t hindsight speaking, it isn’t ‘lessons learned’ as much of the government and the mainstream media are now saying. We knew this at the start because of decades of clinical best practice and training, we knew this because of every single IPC policy and guideline we had all practiced and trained under. We knew this because of the established pandemic response protocol that was already in place and had been used for many other outbreaks in the past!

Criticism was levied from day one, and it was backed up by the real science. Established clinical best practice and protocol. Not an MSM headline from Karen’s Facebook group or an on the hoof decision by a Government Minister more interested in their political image.

The mainstream media are now of course pretending that the world is only just learning these lessons, touting ‘new’ evidence that travel restrictions actually aren’t effective in a pandemic after all. Well no shit Sherlock! Who knew? Well we all did! That is why not shutting down travel and not closing borders was very explicit and specific advice in that very same pandemic response best practice that has been in place for decades!

Before 2020, all global health experts including the World Health Organisation have always overwhelmingly advised against mass travel restrictions. Since International Health Regulations for dealing with outbreaks were updated in 2005 after the SARS outbreak (you know, the prequel disease to SARS CoV 2?) two years earlier, the WHO has declared six other Public Health Emergencies of International Concern, including H1N1 in 2009 and Ebola in 2014 and 2019 for example. In at least three of those cases international governments have ignored WHO recommendations that large scale travel and trade restrictions were unwarranted and have imposed very minor and very limited restrictions designed to be as surgical and as short lived as possible. It was acceptable to ignore clinical recommendations in those unique cases because they were specifically surgical and short lived. So the evidence and best practice was always there, the recommendations previously all advised the exact opposite approach to what current governments imposed for Covid19, and we are expected to believe that they were ‘following the science’? My ability to not swear is being sorely tested at the moment.

So anyone who says ‘we didn’t know what to do’ or ‘it was unprecedented’ to try and justify these authoritarian mistakes can frankly shut the hell up, and if they are medically qualified, they should be struck off. You were wrong. All of you. Admit it and apologise for what you did.

And now that the WHO is pushing for even more power, calling for new guidelines to be brought forward that essentially justify every mistake they made for the last three years. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel. We need to stick to the guidelines and best practice that is already there.

There are already guidelines to protect the vulnerable and allow society to continue functioning. People already travel around the world daily with countless infectious diseases that are as bad as Covid19 ever was and there are already personal precautions people can take to minimise their risk. There certainly aren’t any restrictions based on those diseases are there? The hypocritical double standard is astounding.

The world has opened up again now and people are travelling again, but the world of travel will forever bear the scars of the last three years. Not from a disease, but from the restrictions imposed in the name of it.

We will always face new diseases, we will always run the risk of future pandemics, but the mistakes of the last three years must never be repeated and travel must never again be shut down.

Did you enjoy this article? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below or on my Facebook or Twitter pages and please feel free to share it with any or all of the social media buttons. If you want to get more great backpacking tips, advice and inspiration, please subscribe to updates via email in the box to your right.

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Why Air Travel Needs To Return To Normal Soon, And Also Why It Shouldn’t.

Why Covid19 Vaccine Passports For Travel Are Wrong.

Michael Huxley is a published author, professional adventurer and founder of the travel website, Bemused Backpacker. He has spent the last twenty years travelling to over 100 countries on almost every continent, slowly building Bemused Backpacker into a successful business after leaving a former career in emergency nursing and travel medicine, and continues to travel the world on numerous adventures every year.

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67 comments on “Covid Mistakes: Why Travel Restrictions Must Never Be Allowed Again.
  1. Liam says:

    Sensible people knew this at the time, butcweren’t allowed to say anything.

  2. Elaine says:

    Well said! keep shining the light on this nonsense. It’s all BS!

  3. Lisa says:

    Restrictions were necessary to help the NHS getting overwhelmed with covid so in the end it saves lives. Its a bit scary to think you don’t think otherwise.

  4. Yvonne says:

    I was banned from entering my own home country Australia for over a year because I refused to get a vaccination I didn’t believe was in my best interests. I assumed I would always have the right to choice and freedom. How wrong I was.

  5. Kevin says:

    You are so right, and those who cry about Nazi comparisons are those who were pointing fingers and supporting the destruction of our rights and civil liberties. It’s easy to see how that party rose to power, used fear and propaganda to erode rights and pit one group against the other, drip, drip, drip. History repeats.

  6. Henry says:

    Last year you would have been called a conspiracy theorist for saying this.

  7. Ellen says:

    Agreed, they can never happen again! Shutting travel down, ruining a whole industry and then using it as a coercive method to take away our rights was unjustifiable. I never wanted the vaccination but did get the first one to be able to go home and see my family in the US, and it still makes me ill to think they made me do that. Now to find out it was unneccassary and almost every other country quietly dropped the requirement? There needs to be prosecutions over this. Never forgive, never forget.

  8. Farrukh says:

    because you would have handled things so much better?

  9. Jim says:

    Todays headlines in the Washington Post. Vaccines don’t work, masks don’t work: Everything government told us about COVID-19 was wrong.

    Took them long enough to figure it out.

  10. John says:

    Like Qantas banning unvaccinated passengers, as if they had any right to demand personal medical histories.

  11. Steven says:

    And yet despite all the evidence now that travel bans and lockdowns did nothing, there are still people refusing to admit they were wrong.

  12. Rob says:

    Exactly right! What really gets me is how we are just supposed to forgive and forget now and everyone thinks they can just go back to normal. There IS no going back. I will never forget how we were treated or how easily everyone slipped into fascism.

  13. Donna says:

    I had to stay in one of the quarantine hotels for 10 days. It cost me almost £2,500 and was like being in prison! The hotel was bog standard but I had nothing cleaned or emptied in that time and I wouldn’t have fed the food to an animal! We were treated like prisoners, ‘allowed’ out for fresh air in the fenced off car park once a day and spoken to like **** if we didn’t follow insane covid rules. This is how we get treated in a supposedly free country?? And then to hear the governments leaked messages laughing at us, saying we were being punished for our choice to travel and hearing there was no good reason for it? Why are people not more angry about this? I want my money back! Jail time is too good for these people.

  14. James says:

    These restrictions were a disaster for the industry as well, we’ll all be feeling the effects for years

  15. Claudia says:

    During the worst of the pandemic when Canada put a ban on flights to the US, that meant I didn’t see my son who lived in Texas, or meet my new Grandson, for a year and a half. People need to remember travel isnt just for a holiday. The restrictions were horribly cruel to so many. 😔

  16. Glen says:

    I wonder how many people will admit they got it wrong and behaved truly appallingly to anyone who didn’t follow their rules? Most people are still sticking to their guns and doublling down.

  17. Katy says:

    Typical gammon take. The restrictions were needed to save lives and you need to get over it.

  18. Mark says:

    The vaccines were safe and effective, untill a lot of people started dying. They were forced on everyone, until requirements were quietly downgraded or dropped. And this is what they blackmailed us with. Take it or don’t travel. Sickening.

  19. Alan says:

    Whether you’re right or wrong it doesn’t matter. No one really cares anymore! Nothing you or anyone can do to change it. There is absolutely no point getting annoyed or angry about something you can’t affect.

    • It does matter and plenty of people do care. Those that lost businesses over this care. Those that were discriminated against or had their human rights and civil liberties trampled on care. Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it Alan, and we very nearly did.

  20. Craig says:

    America still has these restrictions in place!

  21. Ross says:

    Well written. It was the way things like privacy, confidentiality and the right to choose, things we always really took for granted as given rights, we’re so easily taken away.

  22. Stacey says:

    A lot of people said the same thing …. they were all silenced.

  23. Dave says:

    The punishments and coercion travellers faced, like 10 years in prison for breaking travel rules were despotic and evil! I knew one person who was slapped with a £2k fine because they simply couldn’t afford the private tests to re-enter England in 2021. How can they afford a fine if they can’t afford basic tests? Especially when the tests were pointless. Nothing short of a criminal scam.

  24. Lorraine says:

    People that pushed these restrictions behaved appallingly and most haven’t even said sorry. And some wanted us locked up, fined, excluded from society or forcibly jabbed just for travelling without a mask or choosing not to get a vaccination that wasn’t in our best interests. Vile, disgusting Nazis.

  25. Jan says:

    I have a question, I’ve seen you push other vaccines like rabies before and say people should get it, yet you say people are wrong for pushing the covid vax? Doesn’t that make you a hypocrite?

    • No, it makes me qualified to give that information out because I have an understanding of how recommendations are given. Recommendations for any travel vaccine or medicine is based on both international guidelines and a personal risk assessment for each traveller that takes into account personal medical history, etc. Now the strength of those recommendations differ from person to person, but even when a vaccination may be very strongly recommended by myself or any other qualified practitioner, the patient always, and I do mean always, has the choice and the right to informed consent without coercion, force or anything else. I can state I strongly reccomend this, it is a really good idea and here are the reasons why and the cost/benefit analysis. It is then up to the individual to CHOOSE what they do. That right was taken away with the covid19 vaccination, not to mention the fact that for the most part the people screaming that everyone should get it weren’t qualified to spell vaccination, much less give advice on it. Still think that is hypocritical?

  26. Gemma says:

    Thus just reads like you are fine with letting a virus kill hundreds of thousands just because you want to go on holiday.

  27. The Bohemian Traveller says:

    The biggest lie of the last 3 years was asymptomatic transmission. People that were not ill in any way were forced to test, test and test and then lock themselves down an submit to losing so many basic freedoms. Fucking mind blowing. Brainwashing complete.

  28. Anna says:

    Powerful words. I think you are owed a little sense of schadenfreude now, after so many in the mainstream media pushed the antivax narrative and people were calling for antivaxxers to be driven out of society and executed. I only wish your narrative was more widespread at the time.

  29. Daley says:

    Wow, I can’t believe it took me 3 years to find another sane travel blogger when I thought everyone in this industry had absolutely lost their minds. Thanks for speaking up about this topic (I never did for fear of backlash, but I did totally ignore it and refused to mention ANYTHING Covid-related or add disclaimers about it to my blog posts which some people still attacked me for lol) – anyway, keep up the great work!

    • Ah the whole ‘travel when it’s safe’ or ‘I’m really at home crowd?’ Yeah, I got my fair share of backlash and attacks, mostly by terrified, unqualified sheep. They’ve all gone strangely quiet now though. Funny that. Thanks for the support though, my only question is why did it take 3 years to find me? 😉

  30. Jenny says:

    There are still people even now that are desperately wearing masks and are terrified of travelling in case they get ill. The propaganda really did a number on a lot of people.

  31. Peter says:

    I plan to keep wearing a well fitting respirator in any plane whilst a deadly pathogen is in circulation or until they make indoor air safe for everyone to breathe. People like you are the reason travel had to shut down.

    • You are of course free to do as you wish, wear a full hazmat suit if it makes you feel better, but I strongly suggest you seek professional help.

      • Dusan Janek says:

        You should know this but just to remind everyone else, just because someone isn’t in the room with you right this second doesn’t mean they haven’t left a nice present in the form of a viral load floating in the air for you to walk into. Stay safe.

      • Another one that learned some terminology in the last year. Okay. First off you are using viral load incorrectly, that refers to the amount of virus in person’s blood. Secondly yes, that is how a wide range of airborne virus’ spread. It is how they have always spread, and part of how human beings develop an immune system. Society has functioned quite well for thousands of years with this being the case and without going into a bind panic over not having a face mask. Unless you have been wearing a hazmat suit because of basic influenza, rhinoviruses parainfluenza or other seasonal cronavirus’ for your whole life, there is zero reason to start now.

  32. John says:

    Imagine thinking you are special just because you have travelled for a couple of decades. People died. Get over yourself.

    • And people have been dying for all of that time and even before Joh. Imagine being so pretentiously condescending that you think hand wringing makes you somehow morally superior. Get over yourself.

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Hi, I'm Michael! I'm a former nurse turned published author and world travelling professional adventurer! I have spent over twenty years travelling over 100 countries and I want to inspire you to do the same! Want to know more about me? Just click here!

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