The cascading effect of travel bans, both into and out of countries, has had significant repercussions on individuals, businesses and economies internationally. These bans, more commonly referred to as ‘lockdowns’, have brought cross-border partnerships and cohesion to an abrupt standstill with COVID-19 infection rates soaring beyond what is expected.
A key factor in the decision to lockdown airports was that infection totals worldwide had overtaken China. As of 21 March 2020, there are more than 280,000 infected with over 11,000 deaths. Reducing instances of contact between individuals on such a large-scale are endeavours to curb any unforeseen transmission of the virus.
In the US, big strides have been taken to minimise exposure in enclosed spaces. The mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio, has mandated that restaurants, bars and cafes are to sell food only on a takeaway or delivery basis. Nightclubs, cinemas and theatres have also been closed. This directive has been rolled out in the states of Illinois, Ohio, Massachusetts and Washington as well as the city of Los Angeles.
Border closures were announced in Estonia and Latvia. In Spain, there was an imposition of a quarantine countrywide. Similarly, Austria had plans to limit the movement of its residents nationwide.
Italy, the hardest-hit European country with more than 53,000 infected and over 4,000 deaths, has clamped down on their week-old lockdown even more severely.
Mass prayers in mosques have been suspended in Turkey. Quarantine beds have been prepared for over 10,000 people arriving back from pilgrimage to Islam’s holy sites in Saudi Arabia.
In the Middle East, Islam’s third-holiest site, Jerusalem’s al Aqsa mosque is closed infinitely, although prayers are still held outside on its esplanade outside.
The trial on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s corruption has been postponed for two months due to restrictions on public gatherings.
Many African governments have had flights cancelled and their borders closed. Stringent entry and quarantine requirements have been imposed to stem the spread of the coronavirus.
In China, arrivals on overseas flights were directed for initial checks at a refashioned exhibition centre before these individuals were sent back home or to other quarantine sites.
Closer to home, Malaysia has restricted travel abroad, closed schools, universities and public and private sectors that are deemed non-essential. Residents of Indonesia have been advised by President Joko Widodo to work, study and worship from home.
In Singapore, all arrivals from overseas from 20 March 2020, 11:50pm, will be issued a Stay-Home Notice (SHN). An SHN requires one to stay at home at all times, while arranging for food and essentials to be delivered to you.
A Quarantine Order (QO) is similar to the SHN, in that it confines an individual at home or at a quarantine facility for 14 days. The QO, however, is issued to a person who is infected or suspected to have come into contact with a confirmed case.
Under the Infectious Disease Act, not abiding to either a QO or SHN can result in a penalty of up to a $20,000 fine, a 12-month imprisonment or both.
The implementation of these measures is necessary as Changi Airport remains one of the most interconnected hubs in the world. These measures, along with the rigorous testing for the coronavirus island-wide, will serve us well to keep the coronavirus at bay.
Playing our parts to be socially responsible by visiting a doctor if we are feeling unwell and by maintaining good hygiene would aid to stifle any further spread of the virus.
Written by: Samuel Yeung
Sources: Skynews & ICA