International air travel is starting up again but restrictions are in place to safeguard against COVID-19. They vary according to the country and the airline. These measures are subject to rapid change as some countries experience a return of the coronavirus. International travellers should check the rules at both ends of a journey.
Restrictions at Borders
Before booking a flight it is important to check for restrictions at the border at your destination. Some countries including the UK require arrivals from “red list” countries including the United States to Quarantine. Others, for example Austria and Iceland are offering private COVID-19 tests on arrival and a negative test will avoid the need to quarantine. Restrictions are constantly changing – Italy has recently banned travellers from thirteen high-risk areas. Internal lockdowns such as those we are seeing in Australia and the United States of America may also affect international travel.
Two new databases provide up to date information for destinations. The European Union (EU) has established a website, Re-open EU, to help travellers plan their trip. This website contains information about restrictions at the borders of countries belonging to the EU. IATA (International Air Transport Association) has created the Timatic Database an online interactive map of the world. It records up to date Covid-19 entry regulations for each country. It relates specifically to the current pandemic situation and contains comprehensive information on documentation required for international travel to every country in the world.
Safeguards on Flights
Regulations for travel by air vary from one airline to the next. The only way travellers can ensure they are up to date with current regulations is to check the advice on the airline’s website. Some airlines require pre-flight health checks. In America some of the major airlines require a declaration to be filled in before check-in. Qantas requires it 48 hours before flying. Failure to provide this document may result in a refusal to allow a passenger to fly. Luggage restrictions apply on flights to certain countries. Italy has banned the use of overhead lockers. Airlines flying to Italy only allow small bags in the aircraft cabin. The bag must fit under the seat in front of its owner.
The Face Covering Debate
Whether or not it should be compulsory for passengers to wear face coverings while travelling has been debated since the coronavirus pandemic began. Some airlines insist and some do not. The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) is now calling on all travellers to wear protective face coverings to show they ‘wear to care’. This is based on evidence that countries that mandate the use of face mask are recovering faster and avoiding a second COVID-19 spike.
Travellers around the world are encouraged to see face masks as the new normal of travelling – #weartocare.