June 22, 2024


It's time to think about Travel.

COVID-19 limits can be baffling for airline crews

I’m a flight attendant for a legacy U.S. airline and am producing from a lodge place in Panama City, Panama. Now is Jan. 11. The predicament in this article is not fantastic. As of yesterday, the Panamanian Ministry of Wellbeing has recorded 279,196 total instances of COVID-19.

The Facilities for Sickness Handle and Avoidance categorizes destinations in accordance to hazard:

• Degree 1: Lower level of COVID-19

• Degree 2: Reasonable level of COVID-19

• Amount 3: Superior level of COVID-19

• Level 4: Pretty substantial level of COVID-19

Panama is presently at amount 4. On its web page, the CDC’s warning is apparent: “Travelers should keep away from all travel to Panama.”

Yet in this article I am, together with two pilots and a few flight attendants who labored a flight from Miami the previous night. The Airbus 321S we flew in on is configured with 179 seats 108 ended up unoccupied.

After I arrived at Tocumen International Airport, a weary immigration formal stamped my passport. With a languid hand gesture, he directed me to the exit. But when I looked about my shoulder, I realized my crew was not driving me in the queue. They were being currently being detained in a much corner of the immigration space by health care staff carrying white lab coats.

When I realized my colleagues have been remaining processed at a COVID-19 checkpoint, which I had in some way been permitted to bypass, I did a little something I have never carried out in 35 decades as an global flight attendant. I turned all around and walked back again by way of the immigration checkpoint, exiting the place I had lawfully entered.

My temperature was taken by healthcare staff. I signed a doc stating I had no COVID-19 indicators. I furnished my resort and cellphone figures for make contact with tracing. Then, for the 2nd time in 20 minutes, I approached the immigration checkpoint.

The official nodded and waved me by way of.

At the Sheraton Grand Panama, the entrance, lobby and adjoining spots have been deserted. A lone entrance-desk clerk pushed our room keys via a slot in a tall plexiglass barrier. Thanks to a government-imposed lockdown, she mentioned, “All dining places in the town shut at 9 p.m.” This involves hotel dining places. Mainly because we arrived following 9 p.m. there was no foodstuff accessible. Anywhere. And no room service until finally 7 a.m. the subsequent day. It is my fault for not remembering to deliver meals from household.

So this early morning, just after a prolonged-awaited breakfast, I identified as the front desk to talk to whether guests were being permitted to undertaking outdoors the hotel. For the reason that of COVID-19 limitations, I was informed, “Only ladies are allowed to go outside these days. Gentlemen can go out tomorrow and the ladies should stay household.”

Baffled, I finished the contact and logged on to the U.S. Embassy in Panama web site. Guaranteed more than enough, in an exertion to combat the spread of the coronavirus the Panamanian federal government has issued gender “movement” constraints.

Gals are permitted to enter shopping destinations on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Men can do the identical on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The state is on whole lockdown from 9 p.m. Friday to 4 a.m. Monday.

Because currently is Monday, the one particular female on my crew is authorized to store. The five guys — our captain, first officer, myself and the other flight attendants — are free to go away the hotel but are banned from retail establishments. (As it turns out, the information and facts gleaned from the resort front desk had not been fully accurate.)

The restrictions in Panama are as fluid as in other nations around the world. In Brazil, for example, crew users had been informed to keep on being on resort property. We had been authorized to go away our rooms but not the resort grounds.

On Dec. 30 the limits intensified due to the fact of an uptick in COVID instances. The pursuing message was sent by our labor union to some 20,000 flight attendants:

“Effective promptly, all crews traveling to [Rio de Janeiro] and [Saõ Paulo] will be needed by the Brazilian Governing administration to fill out a Tourists Wellbeing Declaration Survey which should be accomplished 72 hours prior to entry … On top of that, crew customers will not be permitted to go away the hotel other than to and from the airport in corporation furnished transportation.”

But that information was instantly amended. During independent calls to the union and my flight attendant supervisor, I acquired that crews laying about in Brazil cannot, underneath any conditions, depart the confines of the lodge area. However, my colleagues there inform me the restriction is not remaining enforced.

COVID limitations are constantly evolving at dwelling and overseas. And there are a great deal of holes in the program. For the reason that flight attendants like me are opportunity COVID-19 tremendous spreaders — able of infecting travellers and crew on multiple flights to hundreds of destinations in a brief period of time of time — it is up to us to strictly stick to protection protocols. Wash hands usually. Use masks at all periods. And remain alone in your hotel room for as lengthy as community regulations have to have.

Which is specifically what I have done for the last 30 several hours in Panama City.

Tomorrow, I fly a single leg to Miami. A few hours afterwards, I’ll function a flight to Lima, Peru. In accordance to the U.S. Embassy web site, “All tourists arriving to Peru ought to quarantine for 14 days on arrival.”

I’m virtually specified this ruling does not utilize to U.S.-based mostly airline crews. But like all COVID-19 constraints, it could transform. I might shell out the upcoming two months holed up in a Lima resort, producing about the consequences of very long-phrase quarantine.