Business Review of the year: fortunes follow the ebbs and flows of the pandemicComments
In July, the European Union introduced the Covid-19 passes to facilitate travel for people who are fully vaccinated against coronavirus, have recovered from the disease or have a negative PCR test.
This way the member countries tried to save the summer holiday season and boost travel and tourism following the restrictions of the coronavirus pandemic.
And we have all, probably, travelled more over the past half a year, compared to 2020. But will we be able to continue to do so over the next year?
Some of the most heartwarming scenes from last year were those of families and friends finally reunited - after the US opened its borders for the first time in nearly 20 months. Non-US citizens from 33 countries, including EU member states, had been barred since early 2020.
"We suffer, I missed a lot of things. I missed the birth of a granddaughter, and I couldn’t see my other grandkids grow, and I missed my sons, " said Laurence Tesson from Douai, France.
"It's been more than a year and a half since we've been able to visit them, and unfortunately, there have been deaths in the family as well. So for us, it is a joy to be able to come and visit our family.”
Hopes restored and dashed
In 2020 as vaccination programmes against Covid-19 began to be rolled out there were hopes we would finally return to normality.
Travel was restored, borders reopened and economies started to pick up growth. The economic rebound was impressive, people and businesses couldn't wait to forget about the Covid-19 nightmare.
Then came the Delta variant, forcing countries to tighten their borders again. And then the discovery of Omicron prompted yet more restrictions and travel bans, dampening the mood further.
Retail sector hit
Austria was the first country in western Europe to reimpose a full Covid-19 lockdown.
"We were able to open for a week and then there were three weeks of lockdown. This obviously means a big loss of turnover, but we hope to be able to get through," said Xmas market stallholder Johannes Fuchs.
It’s a climate of uncertainty that’s hurt the retail sector in particular. Businesses across the world will be hoping for a more stable operating environment in the year to come - but that once again will depend on the fight to contain the pandemic.