COVID-19 limitations can be baffling for airline crews

I’m a flight attendant for a legacy U.S. airline and am writing from a lodge place in Panama City, Panama. These days is Jan. 11. The circumstance right here is not superior. As of yesterday, the Panamanian Ministry of Health has recorded 279,196 full situations of COVID-19.

The Facilities for Disease Manage and Prevention categorizes places in accordance to possibility:

• Stage 1: Small level of COVID-19

• Degree 2: Reasonable degree of COVID-19

• Level 3: Substantial amount of COVID-19

• Level 4: Quite significant stage of COVID-19

Panama is at present at level 4. On its internet site, the CDC’s warning is very clear: “Travelers should stay clear of all travel to Panama.”

Nonetheless right here I am, together with two pilots and 3 flight attendants who labored a flight from Miami the earlier night time. The Airbus 321S we flew in on is configured with 179 seats 108 were being unoccupied.

Following I arrived at Tocumen Global Airport, a weary immigration official stamped my passport. With a languid hand gesture, he directed me to the exit. But when I seemed in excess of my shoulder, I realized my crew was not behind me in the queue. They were getting detained in a much corner of the immigration place by medical personnel wearing white lab coats.

When I understood my colleagues were getting processed at a COVID-19 checkpoint, which I had somehow been authorized to bypass, I did anything I have under no circumstances done in 35 decades as an international flight attendant. I turned around and walked back by the immigration checkpoint, exiting the nation I experienced lawfully entered.

My temperature was taken by healthcare staff. I signed a document stating I experienced no COVID-19 signs or symptoms. I supplied my resort and cellphone figures for call tracing. Then, for the second time in 20 minutes, I approached the immigration checkpoint.

The formal nodded and waved me as a result of.

At the Sheraton Grand Panama, the entrance, lobby and adjoining parts were deserted. A lone front-desk clerk pushed our place keys through a slot in a tall plexiglass barrier. Due to a authorities-imposed lockdown, she reported, “All dining places in the metropolis closed at 9 p.m.” This features resort restaurants. For the reason that we arrived after 9 p.m. there was no foodstuff accessible. Wherever. And no space assistance until 7 a.m. the next day. It is my fault for not remembering to provide food from house.

So this early morning, immediately after a extensive-awaited breakfast, I named the entrance desk to talk to no matter whether visitors have been authorized to enterprise exterior the lodge. Because of COVID-19 limitations, I was informed, “Only females are allowed to go outdoors today. Adult men can go out tomorrow and the females should keep household.”

Baffled, I ended the simply call and logged on to the U.S. Embassy in Panama site. Confident plenty of, in an work to combat the distribute of the coronavirus the Panamanian authorities has issued gender “movement” limitations.

Girls are allowed to enter searching locations on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Males can do the exact on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The nation is on total lockdown from 9 p.m. Friday to 4 a.m. Monday.

Simply because now is Monday, the one particular female on my crew is authorized to store. The five males — our captain, initially officer, myself and the other flight attendants — are free to leave the resort but are banned from retail institutions. (As it turns out, the data gleaned from the lodge front desk experienced not been completely correct.)

The limits in Panama are as fluid as in other nations around the world. In Brazil, for illustration, crew associates were explained to to continue to be on lodge house. We have been authorized to leave our rooms but not the lodge grounds.

On Dec. 30 the restrictions intensified since of an uptick in COVID situations. The following information was sent by our labor union to some 20,000 flight attendants:

“Effective instantly, all crews flying to [Rio de Janeiro] and [Saõ Paulo] will be demanded by the Brazilian Federal government to fill out a Vacationers Well being Declaration Survey which ought to be done 72 hrs prior to entry … In addition, crew users will not be permitted to depart the hotel other than to and from the airport in firm offered transportation.”

But that information was quickly amended. Throughout independent phone calls to the union and my flight attendant supervisor, I learned that crews laying about in Brazil are unable to, less than any instances, go away the confines of the hotel area. However, my colleagues there tell me the restriction is not remaining enforced.

COVID limits are continuously evolving at property and abroad. And there are a great deal of holes in the process. Mainly because flight attendants like me are probable COVID-19 tremendous spreaders — able of infecting travellers and crew on many flights to hundreds of locations in a short interval of time — it’s up to us to strictly abide by safety protocols. Clean arms usually. Don masks at all situations. And keep on being by itself in your lodge home for as lengthy as community polices demand.

Which is precisely what I have carried out for the past 30 hours in Panama City.

Tomorrow, I fly one particular leg to Miami. A few hrs afterwards, I’ll operate a flight to Lima, Peru. In accordance to the U.S. Embassy web page, “All travelers arriving to Peru should quarantine for 14 days on arrival.”

I’m practically certain this ruling does not utilize to U.S.-primarily based airline crews. But like all COVID-19 constraints, it could change. I may well commit the subsequent two months holed up in a Lima resort, producing about the results of long-time period quarantine.

About FeliciaF.Rose

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