Flying during Covid-19

Late in May me and my partner decided we would fly to Israel. At the time Israel was starting to open up, after the first wave of Coronoavirus seemed to have passed. Shops, restaurants, studios, were all up and running again. I watched as my friends got back to work, socialized and regained their freedom. There were very few people infected each day (single digits to low double digits), quite a few days passed without any new deaths recorded and things were looking pretty optimistic. In the UK, on the other hand, things were quite gloomy. After two months of complete Lockdown I would still wake up and realize that 400-500 people had dies the previous day and that ~2000 new people had been infected. It seemed as though the curve wasn’t flattening and that nothing will ever open up again.

We looked for flights, and while there weren’t many options, we saw that a few airlines were planning to resume their flights starting the first week of July, so we booked our trip. Since I knew a lot of my uni friends’ flights back home got cancelled I checked our flight quite obsessively. Though we got no notification from the airlines, our initial flight did, indeed, get cancelled. We changed it a few weeks prior to the due date and only got a message about it less then a week before we were supposed to leave. By then we had booked a new flight that departed on July the 11th.

I was extremely nervous that our new flight would get cancelled too, but it didn’t. At the same time, numbers of newly infected people in Israel started rising. It was quite clear that there’s a second wave, while no real action was being taken. At that point I was anxious about our flight getting cancelled as much as I was about it actually happening. Nevertheless, we packed our bags and we made our way to the airport on that Sunday afternoon.

Edinburgh’s airport seemed like ghost town. There were clear lanes marked on the floor, directing you where to go. It also meant the you got to visit some hidden corridors of the airport. There were hand-sanitizers everywhere and everyone was wearing a mask. Due to the short lines we made it to our gate in about half an hour or so, and that is though we had a problem with our tickets because of the cancelled flight. Very few places were open (no shops), so we had to get our dinner in the form of a sandwich from WHSmith, but we did get a cup of coffee from Nero, which was a good surprise on my part.

Our flight had a connection through Zurich. The first flight was so empty, each person got an entire row to themselves. Even me and my partner were sitting apart from each other. We were also surprised to learn that food was served, precautions in place and all, and we all got personal anti-bacterial wipes. When we landed in Zurich we literally only had to take the escalators up to our gate. In Zurich we found only vending machines, but as the connection was just an hour long we didn’t mind. The second flight was quite alarming, as we were all seated clumped together. We were told that after takeoff we can choose a different seat, but that we couldn’t change our seats right now, as they were calculated to balance the aircraft during takeoff. Most people felt uncomfortable about not being able to social distance, and we felt a relief when we could move to our own seats 25 minutes later.

Landing in Israel was less than pleasant. You are now only allowed in if you have a Israeli passport, so we were approached by at least 15 security and border control guards asking us to fill in forms, show them and our passports over and over again, and no social distance was practiced. From there we had to take a taxi to an apartment in which we were to self-isolate for 2 weeks. Since Scotland only had 10-15 confirmed cases each day, while Israel had 1500+, this made no sense to us, but we obviously complied. We were also lucky to be able to use my family’s apartment, as you are not allowed to self-isolate in someone’s home if they are living there (my family lives in the US, while they keep a place here and normally visit over the summer, but obviously not this year). If you are unable to find an isolated accommodation you have to self-isolate in a hotel that transformed into a coronavirus lodge.

Less than a week after arriving here, Israel shut down quite a few places, including studios. This is while Scotland moved forward and on July 15th lifted some more restrictions. We now have 6 days of quarantine left, however there’s not much we can do when we are finally free, and honestly, with the rising numbers of infected people here, all we want to do at this point is fly back home. Till then, we are enjoying the view and trying to rest.

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To be continued,

~Lir


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