When we left Prague two weeks ago the Coronavirus was just mostly in China. The flights to Prague from China were cancelled. At arrival in Italy a person was measuring forehead temperatures as we walked off the boarding ramp.
Then the news started to change and Italy was starting to see death from the virus. A few days before we left Sicily, the Czech Ministry of Health was announcing new procedures at the Prague Airport to deal with the travelers returning from Italy. The procedures, they reported, would include having all planes from Italy arriving at a separate terminal and scanning of passengers symptoms. At least they weren’t talking about canceling flights inbound…yet.
This information definitely set my already anxious mind into overdrive. I am one of those easily swayed into panic and planning. Our guide mentioned his kid’s trip to Rome had been cancelled due to the spread of the virus. It also didn’t help that I saw a headline in the news that two Russian women had escaped a Russian hospital during their forced quarantines. I tried to find some masks and antibacterial gel from the Sicilian pharmacies but they were sold out. Our flight would go via Rome where we were bound to encounter travelers from all parts of Italy.
To avoid the nightmare of being quarantined for 12-21 days in the hospital I came up with a plan to take aspirin an hour before arrival in Prague and maybe put some ice on my forehead. I figured if I could just get home I would be so much better off. In fact, I feel a little guilty that I told Michal if he didn’t pass the scan and I did, I was still going home. Well, someone has to take care of the cat.
What actually happened on our day of travel was interesting. I’ve never seen people wash their hands in public restrooms like this before (including myself). My daughter reminded me that everyone should learn to wash their hands thoroughly for 20 seconds (which about the time to sing Happy Birthday twice). Those little signs in the bathrooms are not just for the food handlers. We were met by an airline worker getting off the plane that had gloves and a mask on and was handing out brochures. All the hype in the news (and in my head) didn’t happen. Although that was two days ago.
The advantages I saw traveling during a health scare are as follows. I had 6 rows of seats on the plane to myself. Everyone was giving lots of personal space in lines (acceptable for my Montana requirements). And if you need even more space or someone is annoying you…just cough and problem solved. There are no big groups (a friend noted that many school trips have been cancelled). There are no babies on the flight! Free antibacterial gel throughout the Vaclav Havel Airport!
The problem is that this is all dynamic as it continues to get bigger. Will this change our future travel plans? Will this change everything we already go through to get on a plane? Maybe. I do know this may be a reason to start getting refundable tickets.
To all my travel friends look for the most current up to date information. Check the airports at your destinations for their individual procedures. They seem to list that on their sites. Check with your Embassies for the most updated information. Be kind to your fellow travelers and wash your damn hands and don’t travel when you are sick!