Zero coordination, each country has its own strategy: how to get out of this mess?

“Travel restrictions! Check for government guidance related to COVID-19 before travelling” – the message that appears on many online travel agencies and booking search engines that suggest checking the country restrictions before buying tickets.

  • What are the measures put by different stakeholders?
  • Is there a consensus on those measures?
  • How to encourage travelling for people?

To start my research I’ve decided to create the itinerary for a fictitious family of Ivanovs – Swiss family departing from Geneva, Switzerland – an international hub for diplomacy and banking. The itinerary was chosen to show the international travelling with destination to Japan (Tokyo). Any traveller who chooses to take a flight to a particular destination must go through a certain travel process but with the current pandemic restrictions, it might be uncertain.

Out of many travel agencies and booking search engines, I will use Google Flight Tool to locate flight options and to use the features that this tool proposes such as comparison of prices and days, the price history, and other tips.

Switzerland – Japan

The following option proposed by Google Flight Tool will include two different airlines: KLM, Royal Dutch Airlines and JAL, Japan Airlines.
Geneva – Schiphol  – Kansai (Transfer from ITM to KIX)  Osaka – Haneda 

What measures have been adopted by airlines, airports and countries?

In the Geneva airport, travellers are requested to respect the social distance and hygiene rules set down by the Federal Office of Public Health (D). Previously executed strick measures (limiting the access to the terminal and implementing thermal screening) in accordance with the hygiene measures required by the health authorities is no longer appears necessary, due to a drastic reduction in the number of passengers.

In Schiphol airport, they take control of cleaning very seriously that you can see on this video. There is no check for coronavirus upon arrivals, as indicated unnecessary by the RIVM (National Institute for Public Health and Environment) and the Municipal Health Service (GGD), arguing that the tests are currently only being done to a limited extent. It is required to submit the health declaration if the traveller arrived from high-risk areas, where Switzerland is mentioned. In the Letter of the Dutch government, it instructs passengers coming from these countries to quarantine, but the airport mentions that is not compulsory. It is not necessary to wear a mask as the Dutch national guidelines state the use of face masks is only necessary for medical staff but with the latest news release, the Royal Schiphol Group ordered face masks for use at airports.

In Kansai International Airport and in Osaka International Airport, the primarily notice target foreigners coming within 14 days prior their arrival from the high-risk areas and they ARE DENIED TO LAND (!) so the option proposed by the Google Flight Tool, checked on KLM website, does exist but upon the arrival, the traveller will be denied and asked to go back? Only after this, they mention of the measures put by the airport: the disinfection and cleaning of the parts with which travellers’ hands come into contact; disinfectant placed in various locations around the passenger terminals; visiting the airport for purposes other than air travel should be avoided. They encourage wearing masks.
If for some imaginary important circumstances the fictitious Ivanov’s family is allowed to enter Japan and pursue their travelling route they would go through the thermal imaging cameras at the entrances to security checkpoints to screen passengers for fever. It is also asked to DO NOT use public transportation for any purpose, including transport from airports so our family will use a private Transfer from KIX to ITM.

JAL, Japan Airlines has put the restriction on seat assignments to allow more personal space inside the aircraft cabin. The key initiatives include; mandating cabin crew to wear face masks and gloves during service and disinfecting the aircraft to maintain the cabin`s air purity levels.

KLM, Royal Dutch Airline provides passengers departing for Amsterdam Airport Schiphol from destinations that are considered high risk by EASA, with a health screening form. This takes place on the instructions of the Dutch government.
Aircraft are equipped with filters that purify the air and eliminate pathogens. The filters installed in KLM aircraft work well against the new coronavirus.
The government has decided not to perform checks. Right now, when passengers at Dutch airports are checked for fever, they mostly find people with flu or a cold.

In Haneda Airport, those who have visited any of areas subject to strengthened quarantine or the epidemic areas, are required to stay at a place designated by the Chief of the Quarantine Station, such as arranged accommodation, for 14 days counting from the day after arrival, and DO NOT use public transportation for any purpose, including transport from the airport. Upon entry, a quarantine officer will register whereabouts for the 14-day period mentioned above and means of private transportation, at the quarantine station. In addition, all persons who have visited any of the epidemic areas designated by immigration restrictions, are subjected to the PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test and periodic health check by Public Health Centers. In Haneda airport, they are taking measures to check the body temperature of boarding passengers with thermographs.

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