The travel sector, the biggest casualty of the Coronavirus Pandemic is opening up `albeit’ slowly. International borders continue to be largely sealed but domestic travel is now being encouraged. Everybody is now talking of responsible tourism.
How many countries have travel restrictions? How many countries are partially opened up? What are the quarantine rules… there are no easy answers for this. One has to check the travel restrictions posed by each country to figure out things. Of course, only `essential’ travel is allowed as of now.
Sanitized airports, aircrafts and hotels wearing with compulsory wearing of protective gear, social distancing are all parts of the new normal. Post travel when you reach your destination self-quarantine rules are also being applied. This depends on whether you are entering a containment zone or arriving from one. In most parts, thermal screening and tests are mandatory. In short, this new normal has made travel a rather difficult proposition.
But the economic crisis caused in the aviation, hotel and tourism industry is unbearable for many countries that depend on tourism. As of now, almost 90 per cent of international flights are grounded.
Experts have suggested `travel bubbles’ as the only way in which the aviation/tourism industry can hope to recover from the economic crisis. This allows for travel between two countries for business and it is important that travelers test negative for the virus both at departure and arrival.
Let’s look at a few travel bubbles which allow fast track entry between two countries. Vrushali Jain, a travel agent says, “South Korea is already in talks with other countries like Vietnam, Hungary, Poland and Kuwait for the re-opening of air-routes. Everyone’s waiting for a possible revival of the industry.
South Korea and China have already opened a travel bubble. Europe has been preparing for travel and nations opening up their borders and businesses in phases by July 1.The EU’s safe travel list includes 14 nations.US did not make it to the European Union’s safe travel list, which means Americans will not be allowed to travel to the European Union. The EU’s safe travel list includes 14 nations.
Countries which have been given the green light for travelling to the European Union are New Zealand, Tunisia, South Korea, Japan, Serbia, Morocco, Canada, Uruguay, Australia, Algeria, Georgia, Montenegro, and Thailand. The EU is trying to open up so as to help the travel sector recover from the great loss of the lockdown.
But Europe has opted out from this non-essential travel and has said that their quarantine restrictions will remain in place as of now for all nations that aren’t in the free-travel Schengen area.
India has started domestic travel a month ago. Goa, one of the prime beach holiday destinations was initially virus free; but cases have risen lately. It was planned earlier to open up by July, but now India, won’t allow tourists in the month of July. The local authorities have gone on record saying that restarting tourism won’t be possible in July, given the terrible Coronavirus situation.
Char Dham Yatra is all set to commence from July 1. The Uttarakhand Devasthanam Management Board has decided to open the yatra only for pilgrims from within the state in a move to contain the spread of COVID-19.
Char Dham comprises four famous Himalayan shrines, i.e., Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri and Yamunotri, which falls in Uttarakhand’s Garhwal region.
Accordingly, the Temple Board’s CEP Ravinath Raman issued an order permitting Uttarakhand residents to visit the said from July 1, which will be subject to various restrictions and precautionary measures. However, those from the quarantine centers and containment zones within the state will not be allowed to take part in the pilgrimage.
Maldives will be welcoming international tourists from July 15. The country closed its borders for the first time on March 27, 2020 due to Covid-19. President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih made the announcements on June 23, 2020.
According to the new guidelines issued by the Ministry of Tourism, on the uninhabited islands the resorts, marinas, tourist vessels and tourist hotels will open from July 15, 2020. As for the tourist guest houses and tourist hotels on the inhabited islands, they will open from August 1, 2020.
EasyJet has restarted a limited number of seats for the European Union.
Ryanair plans to reintroduce 40 percent of its flights from July. subject to travel restrictions being lifted and safety measures being brought in at airports.
British Airways is reviewing its plans to run 50% of its schedule from July.
Air India has announced a new series of commercial evacuation flights departing from India to international destinations, including the United States, starting July 3. The Air India evacuation flight schedule can be found here. Air France, KLM, and Lufthansa continue to offer unscheduled flights to European cities where there are connecting flights to the United States. U.S. persons are eligible to travel on these flights. Interested travellers should contact airlines directly regarding these flights.