World saw the appearance of a virus that has gripped the world around its potency for infection and transmission. Governments and world organizations have tried to tackle this pandemic, but muted reactions have cost many lives. China was the first country to get hit by the Coronavirus 2019. A lockdown of epic proportions in the epicentre of the outbreak, i.e. Wuhan and subsequent efforts from the medical fraternity has saved a lot of lives.
The spread of the virus, however, could not be curtailed and the globalized world quickly fall prey to one of the disadvantages of globalization. This increased interconnectedness was possible due to our favorite hobby; travel. Travelling is usually the main source of fun for most us; however, it is also essential for millions of people. Every corner of the world has been affected by the novel Coronavirus; the travel industry has suffered a similar fate due to intimidating travel news. Similarly, employees all around the world have also suffered the job crisis and are now tailoring their resume for work from home opportunities.
A virus that transmits through human interactions has subsequently seen governments impose travel restrictions and adopt measures of social distancing. Airports were the first to be affected as they constituted the main entry-points of the novel Coronavirus into any country, hence faced strict censure even when the virus was in its infancy. Airports began to shut down, flight schedules drastically slashed, and almost all non-essential flights were grounded.
Amidst this scenario received from latest travel news, countries took precautionary measures, which included mandatory screening and shifting to quarantine facilities if necessary. The World Health Organization has been at the forefront of the pandemic response, issuing guidelines and advising caution against the virus. Although, the WHO itself downplayed the spread of the virus; it quickly reassessed the situation and termed the Coronavirus as a global pandemic.
The label itself caused considerable hysteria as a record number of people in the living history of this planet asked to stay indoors. One response of this hysteria was the closing of borders as well as restricting flights from the affected countries. It is evident from many countries adopting policies to curb travelling within and outside of the country. Argentina is an example with flights getting banned till September. The pandemic has forced around 70 companies have suspended operations completely.
According to travel news, impact of the novel Coronavirus is evident across the travel industry. Airlines and airport have already requested bailout packages from their respective government to stay afloat. Hotels and BnB place gives an eerie sight of emptiness, so do theme parks such as the Disney World and landmarks and major tourist attractions. These range from the often-visited Eiffel Tower in Paris to the historical relic of Rome Cathedral and other coveted sites for any traveler.
Predicting the future is hard, as it is too early to tell what the landscape will look like with regards to travel restrictions and how easily we can travel. Much of it will depend on getting the cure or a vaccine for the Coronavirus; until then we have to sit tight and isolate and stop the spread. Aside from the restrictions and accepting the new normal, we will see a radical change in how we travel. More importantly, we will look to travel for only essential assignments and ditch our travel plans for a while.
Airline companies with the help of their respective governments are looking to this new normal with regulations of their own. Many destinations have found themselves dropped from the roster of these airlines. Some measures are preached to make this transition period safe for essential travellers. These measures include blocking the middle seats, asking travellers to wear face masks, getting tested before departures, and other sanitation requirements. Emirates have initiated the quick COVID-19 tests pre-boarding to ascertain whether the passengers are infected or not. This pandemic may well be the new normal that we may be looking at for the foreseeable future as epidemiologists predict the virus is here to stay for at least a year.
Staying home has already challenged all human norms and systems. Communities built around interconnectedness and unity, bonding through meeting each other is told to self-isolate. These circumstances are weird and unparalleled as confusion grips the world community. We have to change our lifestyle, our meeting and cohabitation habits to survive in these unprecedented times. Just like other exceptional moments in human history, humans are rising to the occasion and fighting back.
Travelling may be restricted, but people are still finding new ways of keeping themselves interconnected. Office meetings have shifted to online environments as work-from-home regimes kick in. Now, commuting to your office is replaced by shifting your office to the living room. Working in your PJs is the new norm. Travelling is less advisable under such circumstances, but for the time being, people need to stay indoors for the greater good.
If you have any plans, it’s better to wait and watch rather make some panic decisions. Most insurance providers, hotels and service providers have risen to this long-term planning by slashing their rates and giving their members cashback and refunding them for their bookings. Banks have begun offering people deals on their credit-card renewals; meanwhile, hotels and airlines are extending or offering vouchers for pre-booked reservations.
The human need to travel is insatiable; however, its instincts for survival remain ever so primal. Under these conditions, travelling takes a step back while the world reels from the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic. Hotels and resorts are welcoming essential medical staff to stay free of cost across the globe. Every company, holiday destination and tourist attraction is thinking ahead; for now; it is just about survival.
Although, most of the theme parks around the world face closure at the time of writing this article, the Disney theme park in Shanghai has opened to limited crowds. Perhaps, this is the new normal that we were talking about and the pandemic may have come full circle. China was the first to shut down everything and embrace lockdown procedures, restricting entry and exit for all. Now, there is hope that the epicentre of the pandemic is moving ahead and with it are our chances to travel again, albeit with certain restrictions.