With US Government banning people from Schengen-area countries from entering the United States amidst the corona virus crisis, we discuss which countries in the world can still be visited and which ones imposed travel measures.
The corona virus (COVID-19) pandemic does not need any introduction here unless you have been living under a stone for the last months.
Since the outbreak started in Wuhan, China, several airlines have already suspended some routes while some countries have introduced new immigration procedures, even barring entry to people hailing from certain countries.
Yesterday’s decision by US President Donald Trump to bar citizens from Schengen Zone countries entry into the United States is only the latest of such measures – although it likely to have a proportionally big impact on the airline and travel industry.
Other countries have taken similar measures earlier. India has stopped issuing tourist visas, Italy is on a full lockdown and all foreign nationals arriving in Israel will be forced to go in a 14-day quarantine before they can freely travel in the country – all but halting tourism in the Holy Land.
Check government measures
Before you embark on a travel abroad you are highly advised to check the latest government regulation of the country you are planning to visit – as well as those of any countries you will transit through on your way to your destination.
This includes changing planes in airports. For example, changing between two Air France flights at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport will be counted as a visit to France for health purposes by most governments – even though you did not actually get through passport control and entered the country.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has a great up-to-date overview on their website about government measures around the world (although the recent US measures still need to be updated on their page as we speak).
Even though I can highly advise checking this website for any possible measures or bans, you are also highly advised to check for details with the embassy or consulate of your own country in the place you are about to visit (or vice versa the embassy of the foreign country you are about to visit in your own country). Checking the airline website or calling them for information is also a good idea.
Another great tool to check is TIMATIC as this is used by all airline check-in and gate agents to see if you are eligible for travel and have the right to visit the destination country.
Airlines are prone to big fines if they transport people who are denied entry at their destination – so they check rigorously. Fortunately the system is also free to use for you to check. It is even highly recommended to check in normal times to see what are the exact visa requirements and other entry rules of certain countries!
It is also important to check the latest corona measures in your own country. Some countries might for example require their citizens to go in a two-week home quarantine or even hospital quarantine if they visited certain countries.
For example, Hong Kong quarantines visitors from Italy and certain parts of Germany and France for two weeks upon arrival. Romania is doing the same with those arriving from Italy, Madrid, Northern France and three German federal states.
Of course, it is a purely personal decision whether you still want to travel in these days of the corona virus. There are sound arguments why it might be better to postpone travel, but equally good arguments why there aren’t necessarily any additional risks if you decide to hit the road.
Even though there are some countries in the world I’m not comfortable visiting at the moment (I cancelled a recent China trip a month ago) I would generally still travel in most of the world.
It is however important to take personal hygienic measures – although this should also be done if staying at home, obviously. When feeling the slightest bit sick, it is better not to take any risks and go out into the open – especially not in crowded areas or places in which vulnerable people (elderly, sick) might gather.
That said, I would be extremely careful with planning travels at this moment as the situation is obviously changing so fast that new measures could easily disrupt your travel plans. It is no fun to be stranded abroad if suddenly air traffic is halted, or to be placed in quarantine at home because the country you visited is suddenly placed on a list of high-risk countries.
Expect the situation in the upcoming weeks to grow worse in Europe before it gets any better. Planning a last-minute journey with departure in a day, or one in the summer, is probably less risky than planning one in three weeks time as so much can change in the upcoming weeks which we cannot yet foresee now.
Hopefully the situation will be more under control in a month or two from now. Even though the corona crisis seems just to begin in Europe, in China all measures taken do seemingly have their effect as the curve of infections is clearly ebbing out. Also let’s not forget that SARS – another corona-type virus – disappeared altogether in the hotter summer months, which may or may not happen with this new virus as well.
But for now, be prepared, be informed, have travel insurance and eventual back-up plans in order, take care of personal hygiene – and stay safe!
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