The novel coronavirus has shut down much of the world as countries scramble to contain the fervent pandemic.
Most affected by the changes is the travel industry with bans on entering or exiting popular destinations.
But it’s not recreational travelers who are inconvenienced. Those who have to travel are forced to endure obstacles never seen before in the industry.
And if you thought U.S. quarantine protocols were intense, you are sorely mistaken.
In Hong Kong, all incoming travelers have to undergo 14 days of mandatory self-isolation, followed by an additional two full weeks of medical surveillance, according to CNN.
Canada will only allow Canadian citizens to enter and Germany has cut off all incoming and outgoing travel completely!
Countries are in a panic to stop the spread of the coronavirus and individuals are asked to comply by rescheduling travel dates, switching to conference calls, and staying home as much as possible.
But some don’t have such a luxury.
Pilots, crew members, and tour guides have job descriptions that make it impossible to work from home.
CNN spoke with some of these workers to find out how the pandemic has affected their day-to-day operations – and as you could expect, it’s affected their lives drastically.
Tarana Saxena is a pilot for IndiGo, an airline company based out of Kolkata, India, and has no choice but to fly. She says, “Due to the nature of my job as a commercial pilot, I have to travel all the time for work. My office is 35,000 feet above ground!”
During a time when once busy terminals are ghost towns, Saxena has flown to Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, and India.
But she isn’t taking the pandemic lightly. During flights, Saxena wears a mask, sanitizes her hands often, and tries to keep distance between herself, the crew, and the public.
Once inside the cockpit, she “bathes the place in sanitizer” before preparing for takeoff.
And while the cabin crew is forced to interact with passengers by delivering snacks, drinks, and amenities, the ingenious Saxena bypasses possible exposure by packing her own lunch from home and bringing it with her.
Pilots have to stay the night wherever they land, which would be frightening during this time for many, but Saxena says, “Whenever I arrive at a destination, the first thing I do is take a bath so I feel clean. No matter what time it is — 2 a.m., 3 a.m., 4 a.m. … now matter how late it is!”
What was once a perk of the job is now a dangerous game of risk and exposure.
India has seen a recent rise in deaths due to the coronavirus. “Even in Mumbai and Delhi — our most important cities for commerce — everything is shutting down. Malls, colleges, schools, tourist destinations … It is getting really bad,” the IndiGo pilot attests.
Viruses are invasive and resilient, but we can use common sense to stay as safe as possible.
Travel is an inevitable part of our human nature, but some of us won’t be able to wait out the eradication of the coronavirus.
If this is you, travel smart and travel safe, and still try to enjoy the journey.