[Updated 20 March 2020]
Corona virus- Covid-19- is, without a doubt, causing the biggest global travel disruption since the Icelandic volcano eruption and we see no end in sight, yet.
As the world comes to a halt with quarantines and travel bans being imposed, everyone is holding their breath as they see the events transpire.
The cancelled flights, closures of venues and quarantine situations are putting a spanner in millions of people’s travel plans. We are monitoring the situation and have started compiling a list of all hotels and airlines as they update their policies to apply to this outbreak.
We have lots of people asking questions about travel, especially now that there are so many restrictions in place, the future of family travel.
We cannot stress enough the importance of staying up to date with your own country’s and your host country’s recommendations (if you are away from home) and following WHO guidelines. The situation and the political decisions being made daily means it’s hard to keep track. Here are some of the questions we see in Facebook groups we are members of:
What are Airlines offering for travel plan changes?
Many airlines are offering a chance to change your travel plans, so ensure that you have the correct and updated contact information. If you have a booking made by a travel agency, ensure that your phone number and email is in the booking as opposed to the travel agency’s. You can do this by pulling up your reservation on the airline’s Web site and updating the information or contacting the airline via phone.
Detailed and regularly updated information by airlines, as monitor the information is available on CruisinAltitude
This is a great resource for an updated list of Airline suspensions and closures by our editor, Kerwin: https://www.passrider.com/airline-suspensions-closures-due-to-coronavirus-travel-restrictions/ It also has an incredibly helpful flow chart of what your options are when your travel plans are changed because of the current crisis.
What are hotels offering for travel plan changes?
An ever-growing number of hotels are putting out statements about bookings and waiving fees, allowing rebooking, issuing refunds via vouchers.
Again, we are monitoring the situation to keep our readers abreast and putting up live updates on CruisinAltitude.
Travel health during the Covid-19 outbreak
Experts now believe that the Covid-19 outbreak is more widely spread than originally estimated and your best, unbiased resource to keep up to date with the developments is the WHO site.
“WHO is working closely with global experts, governments and partners to rapidly expand scientific knowledge on this new virus, to track the spread and virulence of the virus, and to provide advice to countries and the global community on measures to protect health and prevent the spread of this outbreak.”
The most important thing each and every one of us can do to curb the spread and protect the vulnerable is follow government guidelines on the required level of seclusion and practice good personal hygiene:
Should we be travelling, even locally?
No, the current consensus is to avoid travel– international, and in most cases local travel too,- as the virus hits most of the world and countries start implementing social distancing measures and quarantines.
Please check and obey your local government’s advice, wherever in the world you are.
What does social distancing, isolation and quarantining mean?
There seems to be a lot of confusion over the difference between these terms.
Scientist seem to agree that the virus is not airborne, but spreads via droplets from coughs and sneezes that may settle on surfaces and be transferred to you with your hands. Therefore the first phase of management is social distancing: staying 2 meters from others (outside of your family group, who you live with) and staying isolated if you are feeling ill.
Quarantines are imposed on those returning from trips abroad- 14 days usually. This is because symptoms develop after 5 days and if you don’t show symptoms, but infect someone in the same quarantine, then they will be beyond the infectious stage after the 14 day lock-down.
Some countries have also started implementing lock-down measures to slow down the spread of the virus to allow their health service to cope with people presenting with resulting respiratory difficulties caused by the coronavirus induced pneumonia.
Here are some accounts from our editor of coping with quarantine situations
When can I, realistically, make travel plans travel?
A question on so many people’s minds! And the answer changes day-to-day.
From the past week (March 16-20) we have learned that government papers (from countries like the UK and the USA) have indicated that scientific evidence and modelling suggests that social distancing measures could be in place for upto a year, depending on medical advances with vaccines and cures.
With this in mind, and this is incredibly hard to write, as we want to find ways to support the travel industry, and help provide hope-, but hold back on booking travel, unless:
- You have read and understood the terms and conditions that apply- the cancellation policy and change policy and costs- and you are happy to take a hit if travel is not allowed
- You have the money (or insurance) to cover costs that may arise from a changing travel landscape- border closures, visa withdrawals, etc.
Keep an eye on travel restrictions on government websites and please respect and obey them.
We’ll keep these sections updated as we come across newer and new information.