British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced this morning that his conservative government planned to ask every arriving traveler to be placed in an immediate two week quarantine.
UK airports, after having heard of the measure, suggested that such a quarantine “would not only have a devastating impact on the UK aviation industry, but also on the wider economy”.
That is not going to help his already falling tourism numbers of course, but it is a growing trend as a matter of fact. South Korea recently introduced a similar measure. With summer around the corner and a Corona cure not in sight, we have to wonder, is this the future of travel?
Bigger impact on travel than 9/11
Is this new quarantine arrival procedure become the standard worldwide, now that countries want measures to protect themselves against new corona infections? This would mean that the virus has an even greater impact on travel than the attacks of September 11, 2001.
Ever since then, security requirements have been tightened considerably, including the introduction of fingerprint registration. Detecting travelers with the coronavirus requires much more extensive checks.
We can already see how this works in South Korea. It is one of the few countries where air passengers from almost all countries are welcome. Since new coronation cases still mainly come from abroad – often Koreans returning from Europe or the United States – the defense is mainly aimed at travelers.
One thing is indispensable to allow it: supervision. When control in South Korea was not so strict, many people ignored quarantine. Therefore, every incoming traveler – Koreans and foreigners – is now assigned a checker and has to install a quarantine app on his smartphone, allowing the Korean government to track their movement.
Of the countries that have a quarantine obligation, South Korea is not even the strictest. For example, travelers are fitted with an electronic bracelet when they arrive in Hong Kong so that the authorities can keep an eye on them. In Vietnam, passengers must stay in government barracks for two weeks after arrival.
It is clear that the quarantine control constitutes a far-reaching infringement of freedom of movement and privacy.
There is more hope for ex-corona patients. They can demonstrate with a test that they have built up antibodies against the virus. Several countries are considering introducing a type of corona passport that removes travel barriers, although there are no guarantees that ex-patients are completely immune.