In scientific communities, the consensus seems fairly clear: with robust testing, mask wearing and attempts to maintain social distancing, the world doesn’t need to grind to a screeching halt. By robust testing, most experts don’t mean taking “a” test, but rather a series of rapid tests over numerous days to keep things “one in a million” safe.
Rather than relying on broader governments to take action and investigate safe travel, Delta has partnered with airports and city governments in select destinations to offer the first quarantine free options into not one, but two countries in Europe.
Eligible travelers can soon choose to submit to covid-19 protocols leading up to these special regularly scheduled flights, and arrive in Rome or Amsterdam with no need to isolate, hitting the ground running.
Delta Quarantine Free Flights
For obvious reasons, Delta is eager to prove a point. Done right, travel can be as safe as anything these days. Delta Airlines partnered with the Mayo Clinic, epidemiologists, airports and city governments in Amsterdam, Rome and Atlanta to create world firsts, with quarantine free travel to Europe during these extraordinary times.
Starting December 15th, and 19th respectively, you can fly from Atlanta to Amsterdam or Rome without the need to quarantine, if you’re an eligible visitor. Standard country entry restrictions still apply.
Before you get too-too excited that’s the key. This doesn’t mean any American can now hop a flight to Europe. It means all eligible travelers holding a European passport, or Americans and other nationals coming to Europe on an essential activity, like health, business or infrastructure, can enter the countries and get to work right away.
With any hope, the test program will pave the way for opening borders, and reducing quarantines in favor of testing. For Atlanta to Amsterdam flights, Delta will operate two of the weekly ‘no quarantine’ flights, and KLM will operate the other two.
To make this happen, Delta, with its partners Aeroporti Di Roma, Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam, Rome and Atlanta created a set of robust testing protocols. Passengers who don’t want to take part can opt for other flights which don’t offer quarantine free travel. Amsterdam and Italy both require 10 days of quarantine for everyone else.
To take part in this new quarantine free travel offering into Rome or Amsterdam, preparations start a few days before travel, and go something like this. You take…
- A COVID Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test taken up to 72 hours before departure (or up to 5 days prior for Amsterdam)
- A rapid test administered at the airport in Atlanta before boarding
- A rapid test on arrival in Rome-Fiumicino
- A rapid test at Rome-Fiumicino before departure back to the United States
Studies show that the vast majority of cases are detected in the first 3-4 days of infection, and therefore spreading tests out over a couple days eliminates much, but not all, of the risk of an asymptomatic traveler slipping through the cracks.
Anyone who tests positive at any point during the two pre-travel tests would be invited to change their flights, but would not be allowed to board.
Delta’s experts from the Mayo Clinic suggest that with rapid testing, mask compliance, hygiene awareness and only 60% passenger loads on board, models show 1:1 million probability of covid-19 spread. And yes, Delta is sticking to maximum 60% passenger loads, for now.
“Based on the modeling we have conducted, when testing protocols are combined with multiple layers of protection, including mask requirements, proper social distancing and environmental cleaning, we can predict that the risk of COVID-19 infection – on a flight that is 60 percent full – should be nearly one in a million,”Henry Ting, M.D., M.B.A., Chief Value Officer, Mayo Clinic
Rome’s Fiumicino Airport is the only airport in the world to receive a five star covid-19 safety rating, with robust protocols and rapid testing capabilities. GSTP was extremely impressed with Amsterdam Schiphol Airport protocols earlier in the year.
This robust testing initiative will serve not only to provide travelers with a first ever quarantine free route to Italy or The Netherlands during the pandemic, but also vital data to governments, which can be used to make informed decisions on any travel measures until vaccines are in wide distribution.