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Coronavirus FAQ: The (Travel) Questions You Always Ask, Answered

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So we’ve finally come to this point. The COVID-19 virus is spreading faster than expected, and it greatly affect every aspect of life–holiday included. Therefore, here we listed some frequently asked questions regarding the coronavirus situation related to travel. Stay healthy and keep updated!

 

1. My holiday has been cancelled to Bali. Help me from going to totally stir crazy?

First of all: don’t panic. As mentioned above, this COVID-19 pandemic has greater effect to every aspect of life than expected. But all is not lost! Stay at home for the moment and re-plan your holiday accordingly for this period too, shall pass; hopefully sooner than later. Don’t rush anything!

 

2. Is it OK to stay in a hostel in Bali mixing with people from all over the world?

Unfortunately, as the pandemic spread is escalating in alarming rate, we would strongly suggest you against being in the same room with strangers–let alone for a full night! Stay ONLY with your closest relative during your Bali holiday. If you need an inspiration of where-to-stay, check up our budget list of quality accommodation here  

 

3. I’m looking at Bali destinations “Must-Go-To-Visit” for September or October; where would you suggests?

What a pleasant coincidence, as we have just prepared an extensive list of nature destinations around Bali that you have to visit post COVID-19. Check them out and put some of them in your bucket list!

 

4. What measures are Bali / Indonesia airports taking to prevent the spread?

Regarding the safety measure of Ngurah Rai International Airport, The Governor of Bali province, I Wayan Koster has just released a statement on his speech, broadcasted in TVRI Bali (28/3/20), as follows: “Since number of countries had indeed taken the policy of closing the airport so that automatically there would be no flights to Indonesia or Bali from these countries.  To close an airport or port, of course we must follow the directions and policies of the central government.  If it is closed to all accesses, I think it is a lockdown policy whose authority is in the central government.  We do not do that, because it is not an authority (us, red).  What we do is restricting residents out of their homes or participating in activities that are attended by many people”

Indonesian President Joko Widodo has also announced his consideration to ban all foreign ­arrivals and transit passengers through the country, including Bali for a drastic safety measure and declare the country in emergency state.  The decision follows similar moves by countries across Southeast Asia, although Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said foreigners with residency or diplomatic visas would be exempted from the ban*

*This policy has not been officially issued yet when this article been published. 

 

5. What to do if I choose not to fly, but my flight isn’t officially cancelled?

You may issue a cancellation of your flight to the airlines, but mind you that the airlines aren’t currently in a position to give a straight refund, only promise credit or change dates. If you have booked a package with a tour operator and the FCO advises against all but essential travel to your destination, most tour operators will allow you to cancel without penalty. They might also offer you an alternative holiday, or suggest you postpone travelling dates.

6. How likely is it for smaller Airlines to go out of business because of this?

Not only smaller one, but Airline industry executives around the globe have called for state support now that passenger operations are collapsing at an unprecedented rate and governments curb travel drastically. Global airlines group IATA has forecast the industry will need up to $200 billion of state support. Even household Airlines such as Germany’s Lufthansa has just recently idled 700 of its 763 aircraft, and already held talks with their government on providing liquidity, including through special loans from state development bank KfW.

 

7. What is Airbnb’s cancellation policy?

As the pandemic starts to affect more countries, AirBnB has responded by updating its coverage under its Extenuating Circumstances policy. According to the updated policy, travelers can cancel reservations penalty-free. Guests can cancel a reservation for stays and Experiences booked on or before March 14, 2020, with a check-in date between March 14, 2020, and April 14, 2020. Those reservations will be fully refunded, including Airbnb services fees. The policy doesn’t cover reservations that have already begun. According to the Strict cancellation policy, guests may receive a full refund if they cancel within 48 hours of booking and at least 14 full days before the listing’s local check-in time. After 48 hours guests are only entitled to a 50% refund regardless of how far the check-in date is.

 

8. How does this compare to the last pandemic (H1N1/Swine Flu)?

The 2009 flu pandemic was the second H1N1/Swine flu pandemic the world had seen — the first being the 1918 Spanish flu, still the most deadly pandemic in history. CDC reported that it primarily affected children and young adults, and 80% of the deaths were in people younger than 65. Meanwhile, so far the recent COVID-19 is most deadly for people over 60 who have underlying health conditions. Another difference is that flu viruses are spread in respiratory droplets and airborne particles, while 2019 COVID is primarily spread through respiratory droplets, and in some instances may be shed in feces. Another difference is that COVID-19 spread as the first pandemic in social media era, so there are wealth of misinformation about the disease that could potentially spread panic among the society.

 

9. Should I book a Bali Holiday or wait?

Due to Indonesian government dynamic and immediate reaction to COVID-19 pandemic, it is possible that there will be a new travel regulation issued every now and then. Beside, around 80% of hospitality-related business in Bali has closed temporarily for the rest of April, so we suggest that you wait for a moment until the pandemic could be successfully controlled. Preferably, you can re-plan your Bali holiday for around August or September.

 

10. What are the current visa restrictions situation in Bali?

As per March 20th 2020*, the Indonesian government has suspended all Visas On Arrival for one month. This means that only those with official visas granted from overseas embassies will be allowed entry (e.g Social visas, Business visas, KITAS & KITAP etc) and visas will only be granted to those applicants who submit health certificates from relevant authorities. Any foreign travelers who have visited the following countries in the last 14 days will be denied entry entirely: Iran, Italy, Vatican, Spain, France, Germany, Switzerland and United Kingdom. Should your passport or travel history indicate that you’ve traveled to the countries above in the last 14 days, you may be refused entry to Indonesia. Indonesian government has also urging its citizens who are still abroad to return home immediately. Additional screening shall be carried out, and for suspected cases of COVID-19, a 14-day observation in a government facility will be applied. If no symptoms are found, a 14-day self-quarantine will be strongly recommended

*It is possible that this policy will be updated regularly, so stay tune for more info!

 

11. What is the current Corona Virus situation in Bali & Indonesia?

As of today (2nd April 2020), Indonesia is still sitting fairly low on the risk-level assessment, with 25 confirmed cases in Bali, and a total of 1677 confirmed cases throughout Indonesia (Follow the live tracking of COVID-19 spread in Indonesia and Bali here). But keep in mind though that Indonesia has only tested a handful of people. so the reported number is likely inaccurate. Since most of the tests are conducted in Jakarta, other islands (including Bali) are not-guaranteed to be ‘Corona free’. If you happen to be in the island right now, minimize the risk of catching the virus by taking the self-isolation initiative as much as possible, and wear face mask if you really need to go out and about.

 

12. Which websites should I check for the best information and advice?

For now, a good website that gives the latest, accurate update-by-numbers on worldwide COVID-19 cases is www.worldometers.info. Google has just recently set their own dedicated website regarding to the pandemic, google.com/covid19. In their official announcement, the site says that you will be able to find “state-based information, safety and prevention tips, search trends related to COVID-19, and further resources for individuals, educators and businesses.” Google also emphasizes that it’s pulling information from “authoritative” sources like the WHO and the CDC. The site was also designed with accessibility in mind, including with the larger fonts that Google usually uses.

 

13. Which travel insurance policy should I buy?

The answer to this will be varied for every country, place or even city, so we would only be suggesting in general for your research base. If you have a trip booked and don’t yet have insurance, it’s important to buy a policy as soon as possible (some travel insurance companies have stopped selling cover altogether, so monitor the situation!). That way, if anything changes you will already have cover in place. The problem with choosing the best policy is that everyone will have different requirements – it may depend on your destination, the type of trip and quite detailed, nerdy stuff such as ‘travel disruption cover’, which is particularly useful at the moment if you are travelling independently.

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