As the number of coronavirus(COVID-19) cases continue to rise, so does the impact on daily life for people across the globe. The virus has hit most businesses around the world but one of the worst affected industries is the travel industry. With widespread uncertainty and misinformation, the biggest question on the minds travellers is, if it is safe to travel and if so, which places are safe to visit. Based on facts given by official sources and government bodies, here is an understanding of the current situation in one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world.
Coronavirus in Greece
As of 4th April, Greece’s number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 stands at more than 1,700. With a jump in the total number of cases from its first detection on 26th February, the Greek government has tightened security measures and banned entry for all non- European Union citizens.
“As Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has repeatedly pointed out, the difficult times are still ahead of us, next month will be very tough, seriousness, accountability and restraint will be needed,” Greek government spokesperson, Aristotelia Peloni announced on Monday, 16th March. (Source: Wikipedia)
Travelling to Greece right now
Heading for a total lockdown, the Greek government has decided to shut down all schools, cinemas, bars and restaurants along with commercial stores in response to the escalating outbreak.
Urging citizens on a daily basis to strictly comply with all measures, only essential services like supermarkets, pharmacies, banks and gas stations will remain open. Although, there will be a restriction on the number of people allowed inside respective establishments. Offenders who breach the rules may be fined up to €5,000. (Source: Wikipedia)
The Indian government had initially suspended all existing visas, except diplomatic, official, UN/international organisations, employment, project visas” until April 15 in an effort to self-quarantine itself.
India had further extended its ban on arriving international passengers including Indian passport holders residing in the United Kingdom, Turkey and whole of Europe till the end of March. (Source: WHO).
However, in a turn of events, as the Nation went on lock down from March 25, 2020, due to the coronavirus outbreak, the Union Ministry stated that all foreigners stranded in India will be allowed to extend their e-visa.
Precautions to take while travelling
As per recommendations given by World Health Organisation(WHO), it is necessary for travellers who are sick, to delay or avoid travel to affected areas. General personal hygiene precautions and keeping a distance of one metre from persons showing symptoms remain important for travellers. Other recommendations include:
- Performing hand hygiene frequently, particularly after contact with respiratory secretions. Hand hygiene includes either cleaning hands with soap and water or with an alcohol-based hand rub.
- Covering your nose and mouth with a flexed elbow or paper tissue when coughing or sneezing and disposing of the tissue immediately;
- Refraining from touching mouth and nose;
- A medical mask is not required if exhibiting no symptoms, as there is no evidence that wearing a mask of any type protects healthy people. If masks are to be worn, it is critical to follow best practices on how to wear the same.
Travellers returning from affected countries are advised to self-monitor for 14 days and follow local health protocols. (Source: WHO)
As local governments are issuing regular travel advisories based on the changing scenario, experts around the world have been asking travellers to monitor these closely to decide upon their future travel. With the after-effects of this pandemic expected to last for another few months at least, there is an obvious hesitation among travellers globally for planning future trips. However, many providers are trying to address these concerns by providing temporary relief on change or cancellation penalties. While the impending question of travel in the near future remains unanswered, it is important to consider the risk factors.
‘Curated by Neha Bhise’