A couple of days ago, I published a post referencing a website that lists applicable travel restrictions for each country. That post also refers to a continuously updated International Air Transport Association website that is even more detailed. (Unfortunately, IATA prohibits mass distribution of that information, but you can see it on the IATA website.) Those sites are very handy tools to assess the ability to travel internationally.
To find the restrictions for travel to a given country, just click on the map on the website. You will see that currently discretionary travel options are extremely limited no matter what country you are from.
Many countries are completely closed to foreigners while others admit some foreigners subject to a variable mix of restrictions including quarantines, self-isolation, COVID-19 tests, temperature checks, health declarations, and medical certifications.
The U.S. Department of State advises people in the U.S. to avoid all international travel. It recommends further that United States residents who are abroad should return to the United States as soon as possible unless they are prepared to remain out of the country indefinitely. In other words, depending on COVID-19 infection rates in places they visit or travel through, U.S. residents who leave the country have no guarantee they will be allowed to come home. Not being allowed to return to their home country is a risk faced by every international traveler, not just U.S. residents.
COVID-19 is also limiting U.S. domestic travel. When the pandemic was rampant in New York State and surrounding areas, many southern states instituted quarantines on people arriving from the northeast. Now the virus is ravaging Florida, Texas and other southern states, and states in the northeast are instituting restrictions on travel from the new hot spots.
There is no coordinated approach to ending this crisis. Our federal government is sitting on the sidelines with its thumb up its butt. The CDC issues weak guidelines that the President then encourages people to ignore. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration refuses to issue rules for workplace safety. Instead, we have whack-a-mole responses from governors, mayors, school boards, and businesses each with their own ideas, solutions, and timing.
WTF! The inability to get a handle on COVID-19 and put this pandemic in the rear-view mirror is really starting to piss me off! Pardon my French. That statement is not about politics. It is about facts and frustrations. We know how to beat it. We just don’t have the kind of leadership that is required to do it. I’m willing to endure some pain and frustration if there was a rational plan to get through the crisis in a reasonable amount of time. That there is no such plan nationally or internationally is simply incomprehensible and confounding.
Yesterday, I saw a very interesting post on Terry Madeley’s blog Miscellaneous details that contained a Covid-19 time-lapse video showing the course of the pandemic’s growth worldwide. The video was eyeopening. I found a similar time-lapse video from Global Stats that presents even more relevant information. It covers the progress of the virus through June 29, 2020. Please take a look.
I think the video even undercounts the number of cases because there is evidence that the virus was circulating outside of China before December 2019.
Countries like South Korea and Taiwan have done an excellent job of containment within their borders. To protect their citizens and avoid squandering the hard work they have already done, countries with low rates of infection cannot open their borders until the rest of the world does equally as well. Hong Kong was an early success story, but it has twice had to reimpose restrictions on the economy and travel when returning residents or visitors brought the virus back.
It is apparent to this layman that in the absence of effective, coordinated efforts, the virus will continue to spread from state to state and country to country until transmission is halted through a vaccine or herd immunity. It will take months of continued suffering and death to achieve herd immunity or before there is a safe and effective vaccine, if any, that is available in sufficient quantities worldwide. We could have done much better. That makes the situation even more vexing.