General Travel Travel and Pandemic Update from Rita

July 6, 2020by Brenda

We can all recognize that the coronavirus pandemic has changed our world dramatically, and turned many things upside down, particularly travel. Until just 5 months ago, a person with a US passport could go almost anywhere in the world, and especially the UK, Europe, Canada and Mexico. No visas required, just hop on a plane and arrive to begin your European vacation, sit in the sun on a Mexican beach or hop over the border to Canada to visit friends and family or take in some spectacular scenery. Now, Americans are not welcome in any of those regions because of our uncontrolled surge in coronavirus cases here in the US. And even some states within the US are imposing 14-day quarantines on visitors from certain states that have not done enough to control the spread of this virulent and dangerous disease. It is making going anywhere here in the US or abroad extremely difficult if not impossible. And rules are changing rapidly – states and countries are updating their coronavirus rules for visitors frequently so if you are considering any travel at all, please be sure to keep a constant watch on the rules for your destination.

I have a personal example of the measures being taken by another country – Jordan – in response to people coming in from overseas right now. My godchild, Jumana, came from Jordan to visit me in February to help because I broke my hand. She was only intending to stay a month or so, then go back home. She had been stuck here in Seattle since the pandemic erupted across the globe for 5 months. She was finally able to get on a special charter flight, for Jordanian citizens only, back to Jordan on June 28. Because the flight schedules of all airlines of been severely cut back, she had to take a flight from Seattle to New York on the 27th of June, then spend over 10 hours at JFK airport waiting to board the charter flight to Amman. Apparently, all the shops in the airport were closed and the chairs removed so she had to sit on the floor and wait with nothing to see or do until it was time to board the flight to Jordan.

When it came time to check in and board the flight, the gate attendants took everyone’s temperature, and made sure that everyone was wearing a mask, gloves and shoe covers in order to board. On arrival in Amman they were tested for the virus and then loaded into busses to be taken to the hotels they were going to be quarantined in for 14 days. One person on the plane tested positive and was immediately taken to the hospital. The hotel was part of the ticket price, which was $1900 for a one-way ticket, and was mandatory. Jumana has to stay in the hotel room for 14 days, her meals will be delivered to her door, but no cleaning staff, just regular phone checks and a temperature check every few days. At the end of the 14 days, she will be taken by car to her home and will be required to wear a location monitor (like an ankle bracelet) and cannot move more than 50 meters away from the house. This will be required for another week.

This is an example of what flying is like today and what people have to go through to be able to just go home. Travel for leisure is virtually impossible unless you are staying within in the US. Even then you must check with your destination to find out what the rules are for visitors, and be ready to change your plans if the rules change.

Please listen to the recommendations of the doctors and public health officials. This is the only way that we’re going to get this pandemic under control. If you do need assistance or you have questions about areas that you want to travel to please do not hesitate to give us a call, that is what we’re here for. We specialize in the Middle East and North Africa but we also can help you with other destinations.
Remember, everyone at Caravan-Serai has family and friends overseas and we talk to them on a regular basis and we know what the situation is in most countries. We urge you not to book any flights until are fully informed about the rules and restrictions about coronavirus at your destination. We don’t want you to end up somewhere and be put in a mandatory 14 day quarantine on arrival unless you know ahead of time and are planning on that being the case where you want to go. Jumana needed to get home and was fully aware that Jordan’s policy is the mandatory quarantine, no exceptions, and this was the only way to get home. Don’t let this be a surprise for you.

We hope you had a Happy Fourth of July holiday and stayed safe and healthy. If we all work together to deprive the virus of ways to infect us, we can get it under control sooner and get back to traveling.

Wear a mask, stay safe!

~Rita