Every country is hit differently by Covid-19. Every state has been dealing with the pandemic in ways that reflect their country’s history, financial power and health facilities. Some imposed harsh measures from the very beginning, while others are pretty loose.

It all depends on the people’s resilience, their country’s laws, their readiness towards emergency situations. Singapore has been strict and effective. Finland has been loose and effective. Both have closed their borders.
Some countries though didn’t have the luxury to keep people out.
Greece had very few cases up until August, when hordes of tourists from both Greece and abroad travelled throughout the country, with no masks, no distancing and no basic hygiene measures on beaches or restaurants. Now, we’re dealing with a second wave, a health emergency and a second lockdown.
10 countries of the Pacific managed to keep their cases at 0, by choosing to close their borders. Their tourism and hence economy were hardly hit. But they chose that over a financial AND a hospital crisis. Palau’s economy is suffering and have been considering opening up their borders to Kiwis.
Maldives and French Polynesia have had a rurge of cases when they opened their borders. Maldives are now in the red zone, even though in the meantime they imposed testing upon/before entry. French Polynesia have testing and a curfew imposed, and are keeping it relatively under control.

 

But numbers and testing is one side of the covid coin. The other one is how our lives have changed. How our travels were affected. And that depends a lot on where we live. 10 family travel bloggers from around the world discuss about their lives during the pandemic: from Finland to the UK and from China to Australia, here’s what they have to say.

 

 

 

 

Not In Lockdown

Measures: China was where the COVID outbreak began. It was first on the radar in January 2020, when everything was rapidly locked down throughout the country. This happened during the Chinese New Year holiday. We were away on holiday in Malaysia and we didn’t take our flight home to Hangzhou, China at the end of the month. Instead, we watched the pandemic unfold from afar (Thailand and Vietnam).
Between January-March people were taped inside their apartments whilst in quarantine, which was managed by the community staff. They were given a slip of paper to allow one person to the shops to buy essential goods every three days. People were forced to drink unsafe tap water because they couldn’t get water delivered and the shelves on the shops were empty due to stockpiling. No pharmacies were allowed to sell any cough or cold medicines.
In March, restrictions began to ease and my husband was called back to work. At this time we made the difficult decision to separate the family. I took my children back to the UK and my husband flew back to China. Little did we know that just a few days later the borders would be closed and my husband would be away from his children for several months.
While we experienced lockdown in the UK, life returned largely to normal in China. We managed to return after almost six months. We had to endure a horrendous quarantine in a centralised hotel for two weeks. But once we were released we could resume life as normal.
Now we are living an almost normal life. Everything is open here and our days are the same as they were this time last year. However, there is the constant fear of a second wave here. There have been a handful of cases where cargo workers have contracted the virus from overseas shipments. Just this weekend 40,000 people were quarantined after two positive cases were found.
irus prevention here has been successful, but the sacrifices are severe. If my children contract the virus they will be taken away from me until they recover, which would likely be for one month or more. No contact would be allowed at all. This threat is a big worry for me. They have already vaccinated thousands of people in China and as soon as trials are complete I expect mandatory mass vaccination to take place. Lets hope in another year this is all a distant memory….
Travel Restrictions: At the moment we are free to travel within China. If we visit a high risk area (I.e. there are more than a couple of cases) then we may have to quarantine on return. China has banned people travelling from countries with severe outbreaks from entering the country, such as the U.K. so we are unable to go home and for Christmas this year.
Dr Hayley Stainton, tourismteacher.com

Measures: In January, Thailand was the second country to detect COVID-19. In February, at-home quarantines were mandated for travellers from select countries, and by March 25, Thailand began an intensive, national 3-month lock-down.
Travel & Tourism: With the border sealed, Thailand quickly felt the gut-punch of 20% of GDP relying on tourism. With less work, people began to migrate home which prompted limitations on interprovincial travel – which matters in a nation of 77 provinces. Now, the lockdown
has eased, but the emergency decree endures (currently into January 2021 and prone to extensions). Tourist hotspots stand empty. Small operators closed, many for good, and big chains are struggling. The ripple effect is a wave. With provincial borders reopened, domestic tourism is championed with slick deals and government stimulus. Impromptu long-weekends were created to incentivize travel. Years of overcharging tourists have priced-out locals and expats and there is a mix of reckoning and revelry among consumers in Thailand – scorn fades when you book 70% off.
Under the Special Tourist Visa (STV) scheme, tourists can again visit Thailand. The
requirements are a bureaucratic labyrinth and few have succeeded. Expect a mandatory 14-day stay in Alternative State Quarantine (ASQ) at your (significant) expense.
Bangkok, once the world’s most touristed city, has signaled the era of mass tourism may be over. There is talk of reworking Thailand to target high-end spenders. Many locals wonder what will happen if backpackers don’t come back. Thailand’s success with COVID created an unsustainable threshold as a single new case makes headlines. The only certainty now is that the future of Thai tourism is uncertain.
Amber, www.wykandco.com

 

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Measures & Numbers: The situation here has been very strict since early on in the outbreak and we have seen good control over cases in general, except for the well-publicised outbreak in the worker dormitories early on which took some time to resolve. We have to wear masks at all times outside of our homes unless eating, drinking, or exercising. We can gather in public in groups of five or have up to five people in our houses. In public, we are required to check-in using the government TraceTogether app and from January our kids (over 7) will have to carry Trace Together to school. It’s hard, but for most people, we think it is worth it: we have had single-digit community cases (excluding imported cases) for several weeks and even enjoyed 15 consecutive days of zero cases recently.
Travel Restrictions: Entry in and out of Singapore is extremely restricted, especially to tourists. Only short-term visitors from Australia, Brunei, Mainland China, New Zealand, and Vietnam can come without having to serve a 7- or 14-day Stay At Home Notice (SHN), and everyone coming in must take a test on arrival. People coming in from other countries must apply for entry approval and provide a negative test before they can enter. They must also serve a 14-day SHN in a government selected hotel at their own expense (SGD2,000 per person).
We are all hoping for the rules to relax with such good numbers and many of us are struggling without having seen family for over a year. The government has worked to get the virus under control with significant community cooperation that I haven’t seen in other parts of the world. I don’t see that they will risk undermining all their work by opening the borders too quickly. That being said, this is a country that used to enjoy significant revenue from tourism, so I can understand that they are keen to get back to normal as safely as possible.
Emma Morrell, Wanderlust and Wet Wipes

Measures: Back in March, Egypt took some firm actions such as closing schools and universities, imposing an evening curfew, and stopping commercial flights.
Travel & Tourism: In July, flights resumed and medical teams were deployed at Egyptian airports to conduct PCR tests for incoming passengers. There was a mandatory 14-day quarantine but this was lifted in September and instead passengers now need to present a negative PCR test before boarding their flights.
The Egyptian government is working hard to make sure hotels, restaurants, museums, malls and other attractions are following recommended hygiene and social distancing precautions. For example, you are obliged to wear a face mask indoors and some venues take your temperature and offer free hand sanitizer.
In order to reopen in June, hotels had to get a hygiene safety certificate from the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities and the Ministry of Health. When we took a family holiday to Dahab in June, here are some of the precautions our hotel took. When we arrived, our car and luggage were sprayed with disinfectant. Beach towels were delivered to our rooms by the housekeeping staff. Our rooms had masks and gloves. Hand sanitizer was available in all common areas such as the lobby,
restaurant and bar. There were no buffets and we ordered our meals a la carte.
Starting September, with the reopening of schools and universities, and the partial return of the workforce to the office, Egyptians seem more relaxed with precautions. So, my humble advice for those planning to visit Egypt would be to aim for destinations where social distancing can be observed such as South Sinai, Red Sea or Western Desert.
Miriam Amir Menkarius, www.mirofromcairo.com

Numbers & Measures: The coronavirus situation in Finland is generally under control for the whole year (just over 22.ooo cases, 384 deaths, in 5,5 million people). It is one of Europe’s best countries where you can be right now, considering the low infection rates and the minimal amount of restrictions. Although masks’ wear became recommended during the fall (still not compulsory), there was no national lockdown or other too severe measures that we can see in other countries around the world. Life goes on relatively normally. Although regional restrictions are necessary from time to time, it includes shorter opening hours of pubs, restaurants, and limits in using sports and entertainment facilities. Still, we are encouraged to do sports and be outdoors every day, just like we usually do. Remote work and remote studying for higher grades and universities are also recommended since the spring to limit close contacts. Luckily our family and everyday life are not highly affected by these measures, and generally, people in Finland feel fairly optimistic about the situation.
Travel Restrictions: During the summer, when the travel restrictions were more relaxed, especially between the Nordics, we traveled to Norway as many other locals did. We had an amazing two-month holiday in the Norwegian Arctic. It is currently advised not to travel abroad for holidays, and it is almost impossible to enter Finland as a tourist. The entrance criteria and allowed countries are changing every fortnight, and it requires a minimum of one negative test before departure. The lack of flights is the other limiting factor.
Katalin Waga, amazinglapland.comourlifeourtravel.com

Canada is a huge country and has had different restrictions in different provinces. But overall, the entire country has been closed to visitors (including those driving from the United States) since March. Canadians and their immediate family members are allowed to come into Canada, as well as those bringing essential goods and supplies, but there is essentially no international tourism in Canada at this point.
The Atlantic provinces on the East coast have also closed off visits from those in the rest of Canada (unless you are able to quarantine on arrival). Overall, Canada has fared quite well over the summer, especially British Columbia and Atlantic Canada. But as fall has progressed, most of the economy that has been reopened (restaurants and leisure sports etc) are being closed back down as cases numbers are increasing rapidly with cold weather. Schools are still open across the county into the fall, but this may change in January. Some areas have closed non-essential businesses, but other areas have kept them open. Being such a huge country, each region has taken a different approach.
During the warm summer months, Canadians spent a huge amount of time outdoors with hiking, biking, camping, horseback riding and paddleboarding being extremely popular!
Mandatory masks in public spaces exists over the whole country and most people listen to the rules and follow the health guidelines. As much as the negative headlines grab the news headlines, overall Canadians are listening.
Lindsay Nieminen, Uncovering British Columbia

 

Western Australia

Covid Situation: Of all the places to be locked down throughout the COVID storm, Western Australia is probably the best! We locked down hard and fast here in WA and luckily for us it helped contain the virus really early on. Initially we were restricted to our local region but way back on May 16th the local borders opened and we were free to travel wider with WA being divided into 4 larger restricted regions.
We went camping close to home that night before and the sense of excitement was all around. By 8am the next day everyone was packed up and heading south – but we had a different idea! To avoid the crowds we went inland to the Wheatbelt and discovered incredible free camps and places we had never heard of before! Not long after we were able to travel freely around WA and it seems like everyone has been enjoying this privilege. It sure has been busy!
Each school holidays the camping areas have been fully booked and even free camps bustling. The people usually going overseas are now finding a love for exploring this beautiful state. The camping scene has changed a lot with more people exploring but thanks to WA being such a big and sparsely populated state we always have plenty of solitude.
Amazingly, as a family we have spent a total of about 5 months travelling our state since COVID.
Travel Restrictions: However much we have enjoyed seeing our state, the hard state border meant no one could leave or enter WA cutting is off from the rest of Australia until just last week! But that hard border has enabled our freedom within. Here’s hoping that we can soon see our family overseas soon.
Suzanne jones, http://www.keepingupwithlittlejoneses.com

 
 

Second Wave

Measures: The lockdown came very suddenly to the UK on the 23rd of March, with a televised appearance from the Prime Minister announcing that everyone must stay at home except to buy food or to exercise for one hour per day. Just a few days earlier, life had been close to normal, with offices, bars and gyms all open.
The government began to pay 80% of the wages of most people who were unable to work. This summer weather came early in spring and many parents sat out in their back gardens playing with their kids instead of going to work.
The peak of the first wave in the UK came on April 21st, when there were 1,166 deaths in a single day. But the lockdown was working, masks and hand sanitiser became available to buy and people became accustomed to the rules.
By summer, the government was able to ease the lockdown and allow groups of up to six people to socialise and most businesses to open.
Kids went back to school in September after six months off, but with a shortage of tests, the infection rate began to rise again. The different countries of the UK began making their own policies and, in England, a second lockdown began on 31st October.
Travel Restrictions: Travel abroad was allowed to a limited list of countries and, instead of our planned cruise, we spent a week in a log cabin on the south coast of England. Τhe second lockdown though includes a ban on all non-essential travel.
Jenni Fielding, www.cruisemummy.co.uk

Covid Situation: The United States leads the world in Coronavirus cases and deaths, so it is fair to say that America’s handling of the pandemic has been insufficient. To understand the staggering numbers better, it is important to know that there has been very little federal coordination, leaving states to develop precautions and responses on their own, and in many cases, to compete against each other for resources.
For the first several months of the pandemic, there were some states that locked down, closed businesses, and prevented visitors from other states from coming in. Meanwhile, other states took more relaxed approaches. There are still states that do not prevent large gatherings or have mask requirements, and even have laws preventing their cities from trying to enforce mask mandates. Mask-wearing is an extremely politicized action in America, during a time in which political tensions are at a breaking point already. This has led to an explosion of cases in the fall.
Travel Restrictions: Travel is open within the US, with millions of people traveling around the country right now for the holidays. Most international countries are closed to Americans at the moment, so travel has mostly been state-to-state. Some states require quarantine upon arrival, while others do not. There is growing social pressure against traveling as the numbers climb, though no regulation is in place to keep people home.
Many Americans are foregoing annual travel plans and exploring the areas around home more than they have before. Recreational vehicle sales have skyrocketed, as people are looking for a safe way to escape the city and explore someplace new.
Dani Ward, Diapers in Paradise

Measures: The Netherlands first went into full lockdown mid-March until mid-May (60 days). The lockdown proved to be very effective and thereafter regulations were loosened, most public places opened again, and children could return to school & daycare (first in a hybrid model and eventually back to full-time in person as of June). This summer most things were back to ‘normal’ and everything was open indoor and outdoor, but with lower capacities. We were even able to travel within Europe without any issues. There have been ongoing regulations about how many people can meet in groups (indoor & outdoor) which change every so often depending on the local situation. We have been very lucky that schools and daycares have remained open following the summer break. We had a second peak in October which required a new semi-lockdown which is still in effect – meaning all restaurants are closed for any indoor or outdoor dining and things like museums, theatres, and libraries temporarily closed for a few weeks. Masks have finally been required in some shops since October and will be mandatory nationally in public places on December 1st. The current advice is still to stay home as much as possible or at least avoid unnecessary outings in public (indoor) spaces.
Travel restrictions: Travel outside of NL to countries which are marked ‘orange’ is not recommended, but is possible if you quanantine 10 days at home upon your return. Some nationalities are still not allowed to enter NL if the country is marked red, for example US citizens. We spend a lot of time outdoors in the forest nearby our home!
Anna Miller, Then I Had Twins

 

When the whole pandemic issue was bursting in China in February 2020, in Germany everyone stayed calm. I remember us all making plans for the year, thinking that this weird ‘Corona’ is so far away, that it will probably never reach us. We went on traveling as usual, even made a short trip to NYC in the middle of February. And while waiting at the customs the only worry was not to stand close to travelers from Asia. Noone cared for wearing masks. It feels like there is danger, but it’s far away to care about it.
And then it was the beginning of March, and all the mass gatherings and exhibitions started getting cancelled. The largest European travel trade fair ITB in Berlin got canceled which was the first sign for us that the things are getting serious. On March 18 Germany went to a lockdown, with no idea when it will finish. Schools, kindergartens, sport and cultural activities, as well as gastro and retail spheres were closed from one day to another. Everyone was supposed to stay at home, homeschool and work from home. The only amenities which were kept open for the public were pharmacies and grocery shops. Wearing protective masks and hand sanitisers fast became a part of a daily obligatory  routine. We were staying home for almost 3 months – it was only the middle of June when kids were allowed to go back to the kindergarten.
Opposite to our European neighbours, Germans were allowed to go out, which was a great help – going out for a walk, a bike ride or for sport activities were a common thing. The only rule was not to meet with others. Stuck at home with 2 small kids and no travel options in sight, I started to look for local options to explore, giving every day a purpose and a goal. Thus I have created a local blog www.ichwohnehier.com (literally means ‘I live here’ in German), sharing our local discoveries with others – motivating to stay active and do the best of the situation we all found ourselves in.
During the summer and into the September, the conditions in Germany were quite fine – everything got open again – the only rule was to keep the 1,5 m social distance, wearing a mask when entering a place and wash your hands. We went well though the summer – even managed to squeeze a small vacation to Crete, Greece.
Starting October, when the school vacation was over and the weather conditions dropped towards cooler days, the pandemic situation was growing back in numbers. The statistics of illness showed very high numbers, even compared to the ones in Spring. So the German Government made a decision to go on a light lockdown with the beginning of November. Light means that schools, kindergartens and shops remain open with stronger measures applied and all the entertainment and sport activities as well as public gathering remain closed until the end of November.
Now it is the end of November and the number dropped a bit, giving us hope that maybe we will be able to visit our relatives during the Christmas time.
As for our family – apart from a 2 week trip to Greece, we have stayed in our city of Dortmund with short bike trips in the area.

Alexandra Kryaneva, www.shurupchik.com

Where do you live? How is the situation in your area?

 

 

 

 

 

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