Travel Reopenings Amid the Coronavirus Pandemic


Covid-19 has upended every day life in a lot of the world for thus lengthy that the concept of touring to a different nation or state looks as if the stuff of desires. But in the final week or so, as the concept of opening as much as vacationers has gained traction, some nations are taking concrete steps. Yesterday, Australia introduced a three-stage plan to reopen the financial system, which features a concentrate on tourism. And some nations are forming regional alliances designed to attenuate the threat of the virus, together with an Australia-New Zealand journey “bubble,” and, in Europe, a journey “corridor” shared by Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

Here is a look at 10 top tourist destinations and the beginnings of their plans for reopening in the weeks and months ahead.

Australia’s stage one allows a gradual reopening of retail stores, parks and outdoor sporting facilities. Dine-in restaurants and cafes can reopen, but are limited to 10 patrons at a time, and social distancing of four square meters per person. Hotels and hostels may reopen and travel within states will be allowed, though state borders will likely remain closed. All reopening timelines will be determined by individual states and territories — currently, Queensland plans to begin its stage one May 15 and Tasmania on May 18.

How will they open safely? When trans-Tasman travel is allowed, it’s likely that a 14-day quarantine will be required following any travel between the two nations.

What are the major obstacles? Much of Australia and New Zealand’s success in containing Covid-19 can be attributed to the strictness of their lockdowns. Any easing of these measures comes with the possibility that the virus could begin circulating again. Proceeding with extreme caution, while attempting to effectively reopen their economies, will guide the coming weeks and months.

What are the major obstacles? Balancing the need for tourism with safety. While Greece has fared better than many European nations, its economy, having only just recovered from years of debt and collapse, is at great risk. Tourism has been a major part of the recent economic improvements, welcoming more than 34 million visitors in 2019 while employing 20 percent of Greek workers.

Is there an opening date? If the first round of openings, which started May 4, goes well, restaurants may be allowed to open between May 18 and 25. The curfew is still in place, until at least May 25.

What are the current restrictions? Puerto Rico’s initial lockdown restrictions, which went into effect March 16, included a closure of most businesses, the curfew and threats of fines or imprisonment for anyone who violated its terms. As of May 4, restrictions are loosening somewhat — some smaller businesses are allowed to open, as long as they enforce social distancing and provide protective gear to employees. Parks and beaches remain closed (though exercise is allowed), and a curfew is still in effect between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. All visitors to the island are being screened for symptoms and are also requested to self-quarantine for 14 days.

Is there an opening date? Travel restrictions banning most foreigners are in place until May 15; there is currently not a final decision on extending those restrictions or beginning the process of reopening on or after that date.

How will they open safely? Details are scarce, but the government has deployed a task force to determine how to safely reopen the country this spring or summer.

What are the major obstacles? Obstacles “are all health-related,” Elias Bj. Gislason, the director of the Icelandic Tourism Board, said. “Can we open up the borders only for citizens from countries that have had success in handling the spread of the virus? And so on.”

What are the current restrictions? All citizens and visitors are encouraged to stay home, maintain social distance and wash hands frequently. Gatherings over 100 people have been banned, and schools are closed until May 30. As of March 21, Mexico and the United States entered a joint agreement limiting all movement between the U.S.-Mexico land border to essential travel. Air travel, however, is still operational — all travelers entering the country are subject to health screenings. Hotels were ordered to cancel new and existing reservations on April 3, save those made by people carrying out essential business (with a letter from their employer stating their purpose); those hotels must limit occupancy to 15 percent. Restrictions also vary by state and municipality.

What are the major obstacles? Mr. Vázquez is unsure how these protocols will be enacted. “In reality, they are only plans,” he said, because business owners “do not really know how they will apply these measures.”

One of the harder hit European nations, France’s early Covid-19 surge has slowed, as the number of patients requiring hospitalization has steadily decreased. But while movement within the country may become less restricted in the coming weeks, international travel will take much longer to resume.

What are the current restrictions? A “containment and confinement” program was announced on March 17, and further extended on April 28 until May 11. Residents are not allowed to leave their homes without a written certificate stating that they are engaging in one of a few approved activities, including purchasing food, assisting a family member or limited exercise. Borders outside of the “European/Schengen” area were also closed.

What are the major obstacles? Keeping gatherings small and avoiding crowded public transportation. “French destinations are working at implementing sanitary measures to adapt their cultural offerings to allow smaller groups,” Ms. Schwab said. A 20 million euro (about $21.6 million dollars) government initiative to encourage cycling over using public transportation was recently announced, with particular focus on opening up Paris. “Mayor Anne Hidalgo has announced that 30 miles of streets normally used for cars will be reserved for cyclists, including Rue de Rivoli and Boulevard Saint-Michel,” said Ms. Schwab. “Furthermore, another 30 streets will be pedestrian only, particularly around schools to avoid groups of people.”

What are the current restrictions? All foreign, short-term visitors have been denied entry into Singapore since March 23. On April 7, strict “circuit breaker” measures were enacted throughout the country — all meetings and large gatherings are canceled; residents are to stay home as much as possible (face coverings are mandatory when leaving the house for essentials or emergency medical services); schools and nonessential businesses are closed; and dining establishments are restricted to delivery and takeout.

What are the major obstacles? Opening up safely, Ms. Loh said, will be dependent on “ramping up testing and harnessing technology for faster contact tracing.” But tourism comes with its own brand of risk. “We recognize that tourism businesses attract high human traffic and social interactions.”

Few countries have been hit harder by Covid-19 than Italy (the United States being a notable exception), which, as of May 6, has seen well over 200,000 cases and some 30,000 deaths. As the country cautiously begins to reopen, tourism officials insist that tourism in Italy will start again this year.

What are the current restrictions? This week, Italy’s lockdown, which began March 10, slowly began to lift, as parks reopened along with bars and restaurants for takeout. Some Italians are allowed to return to work, and while group gatherings are still banned, family visits are allowed. Residents may travel across different provinces to return home, but cannot go back and forth. In a televised statement on April 26, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte urged Italians to maintain one-meter social distancing, or about three feet. Anyone who enters Italy from outside the country must self-quarantine for two weeks. Travelers from the United States have not been explicitly banned, but travelers must prove that they are “returning to their residence or entering the country for justifiable work reasons, special needs or health emergencies.”



Source link Nytimes.com

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