Travel

TRAVELLING during the CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC – Emergency Trip

Disclaimer: This travel happened in end of May, two weeks after the lockdown reopening announcement in France (where I currently live). The borders between EU countries were still closed, and to fly you had to make a strong case. In my case, the reason was a family health emergency. I had to fill in a lot of paperwork, and gather all the requested documents to allow for my displacement (1). This travel was between two EU countries, France and Portugal.

Nota: Esta viagem foi realizada no final de Maio, mais de duas semanas após o início do desconfinamento em França (onde vivo actualmente). A UE mantinha as suas fronteiras encerradas e esta viagem só foi possível por motivo imperativo (emergência familiar). Antes de voar necessitei preencher uma data de papéis e apresentar evidências do motivo do deslocamento (1). Esta viagem foi feita entre dois países da UE, França e Portugal.

At the time of booking the flight, the available flights were scarce, and the ticket prices were roughly two-to-three times the price for the season. The available flights focused on flights between capital cities. In Paris, only the Charles de Gaulle Airport was running. I flew with Air France from Paris to Lisbon.

No momento da reserva do voo, os voos disponíveis eram reduzidos. Os preços eram mais altos que os preços normalmente praticados. Alguns aeroportos estavam praticamente encerrados sem nenhum voo disponível. Eu voei com a Air France, de Paris para Lisboa.

Living in Grenoble, I first took the regional train to Lyon and from there the TGV to Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport.
The journey was smooth and in my view, well organized. From the moment I had set foot on the train station I had to use a face mask, and all over it there were circles on the floor to inform people of where they could wait for their turn, or just to rest.

Comecei a minha viagem viajando de TGV para o aeroporto Charles de Gaulle em Paris.
A viagem foi tranquila e tudo muito bem organizado. Mal entrei na estação de comboio, tive que colocar a máscara. Na estação, nos corredores, estavam pintados alguns círculos no chão, informando onde as pessoas poderiam parar.

In the TGV, as in the station, everyone had to use a protective mask, and for each row of 4 seats only two people could sit. The TGV I travelled on was almost empty.

No TGV, como na estação, todos tinham que usar uma máscara de protecção. Em cada fila de 4 lugares havia apenas 2 pessoas sentadas. Tive sorte e a minha carruagem estava praticamente vazia.

Once I arrived in Paris at Charles de Gaulle Airport, and having to keep the mask on, I went straight to the terminal 2F. Mask was mandatory inside the airport as well as during the flights. The Charles de Gaulle Airport had closed some of the terminals and allocated the essential flights to this terminal.
My first impression was that of a dystopian airport, with the announcements of the flights and of the COVID-19 security measures made to no one that could hear them. It felt terrifying. People kept their distance from each other, and there was little chatting.

Quando cheguei ao aeroporto Charles de Gaulle, em Paris, fui direto para o meu terminal 2F, com a máscara posta. A máscara era obrigatória no aeroporto e nos voos. Neste aeroporto, alguns terminais estavam encerrados e alocaram quase todos os voos no mesmo terminal.
A minha primeira impressão foi a de um aeroporto distópico. Foi aterrorizante.

I took with me a carry-on bag, and went straight to the security. There weren’t many other travelers . On the floor there were indications to ensure a 1 meter minimum safe distance, which from what I saw, everyone tried to comply. Accessing the luggage conveyor belt was also on a single-person mode, and the person in front of you would have to pass the metal detector before you could place your own luggage on the belt.
Before and after going through the detector we had to clean our hands and surfaces with hydrogen, and the airport employees were protect by mask , and in some cases face shield as well.
After crossing the metal detector, there was a somewhat “unsafe” gathering of people as they tried to get hold of their property, but since everyone had a mask it felt OK.

Só tinha uma mala de mão, então fui direta para o segurança. Não havia muita gente. O piso tinha sido pintado a cada 1 metro com uma linha de forma a garantir a distância mínima de segurança.
Fui até ao tapete rolante de bagagens, só depois da outra pessoa que ía à minha frente passar no detector de metais. Eles estavam a limitar o número de pessoas no tapete rolante a uma.
Havia dispositivos de álcool gel antes e depois do raio-X, e os funcionários do aeroporto estavam protegidos por uma máscara e alguns deles também com uma viseira.
Após o raio-X foi um pouco confuso como é normal, mas como todos tinhamos uma máscara senti-me segura.

Having gone through the security, I went to my boarding gate where I sat on the allowed chairs. In a given row, every one available chair there was another where sitting was prohibited.
Overall, there was a good deal of signalization along the terminal remembering passengers about the measures with which one should comply. And to not leave it just to our own discern, there were frequent patrols by securities to confirm that the passengers were complying with the rules.
As expected, all shops where closed. 😦 I had thought about it before the travel, and prepared my own meals just in case there would be no food courts available. There were some vending machines and just one retail shop open. During the flight there was also no food to be made available, only water.

Dirigi-me para a minha porta de embarque e sentei-me numa cadeira onde era permitido. Em cada fila, havia uma cadeira de intervalo entre cada cadeira disponível.
Havia sinalética ao longo de todo o terminal, para relembrar as pessoas das medidas de segurança. E via-se muitos seguranças a verificarem se as pessoas estavam a cumprir com as regras.
No terminal todas as lojas estavam encerradas. 😦 Ainda bem que tinha levado comida de casa. Havia algumas máquinas de venda automática e apenas uma loja de conveniência aberta. No voo, não foi distribuida comida (apesar de estar incluída) por razões de segurança, apenas água.

When boarding they confirmed my body temperature, and once inside the airplane, I noticed that although there was some space between passengers, it didn’t feel like it was that much. In each row of 6 people (3+3), 4 people were seated (leaving only the seat in between empty), which seemed quite a lot.
The flight attendant gave me a pamphlet from the Portuguese national health system with information about the covid-19 and recommending voluntary quarantine on arrival.

Ao embarcar, verificaram a minha temperatura.
No voo, em cada fila de 6 pessoas, 4 pessoas estavam sentadas.
A comissária de bordo deu-me um panfleto do sistema nacional de saúde com informações sobre o covid-19 e onde recomendavam a quarentena voluntária à chegada.

After all the troubles with so much paperwork, when I arrived in Lisbon, no one checked the papers (1) to enter in Portugal. And, to my dismay, I entered in Portugal without passing through any covid control. *
I chose to make a covid-19 test before meeting my family, and was on voluntary quarantine until the results came. Gladly, it was negative! 🙂
After going through all the troubles to meet my family, I could finally be with my family, and in particular my father (who had been hospitalized due to an accident, and was the reason of this sudden trip to Portugal).

Quando cheguei a Lisboa, ninguém me pediu os papéis (1) para entrar em Portugal (e também quando embarquei). Entrei em Portugal sem passar por nenhum controlo de covid. *
Fiz um teste ao covid-19 antes de estar com a minha família, e fiquei em quarentena voluntária até receber o resultado. Deu negativo! 🙂
Depois de passar por todas as dificuldades, pude finalmente estar com a minha família, e em particular com o meu pai (que tinha sido hospitalizado devido a um acidente e foi o motivo desta repentina viagem a Portugal).


*On the way back to France, (in June), I was finally asked for the mandatory paperwork to be allowed in. This time around, because two weeks had passed , the flight and train were a tad more crowded, and chance made it be that I had to go all the journey with people sitting next to me 😦 . The following 14 days were spent in voluntary isolation.

And that’s it. Hope that we can soon fly without barriers. Stay safe and be careful!

* No regresso, 2 semanas depois, em Junho, antes do embarque e ao chegar, pediram-me os papeis obrigatórios para entrar em França. Desta vez, o voo e o comboio estavam menos vazios e tive pessoas sentadas ao meu lado. 😦 . Fiquei 14 dias em isolamento voluntário depois de chegar.

Espero que possamos voar em breve sem barreiras! Mantenha-se saudável e tenha cuidado!

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