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by Tone Daley

I’ve been traveling and living internationally for the last 30 years. Today will mark the longest period of time I’ve spent in my home country since 1990. Being under a stay at home order for the last six weeks is a new way of “being”, for sure. Initially not knowing when I could book a flight, dust off my passport and depart was very frustrating. As I eventually gave into the reality of staying at home, I realized I had not been in my home state during the months of April and May since 2002. I looked around and saw something that I had been missing, Spring in the upper Midwest. Being in this greening of America during the pandemic, while wildlife’s invisible fence of human activity is short circuited, has added to the intensity of the experience. Birds flying and singing everywhere along with the curious fox and hungry raccoon enjoying the peace and quiet. When this season passes into Summer, it will remind us that some form of normal will return. Then what?

The past events that have restricted or limited international air travel were caused by people or natural disasters. Acts of terrorism, tsunamis, hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions have all caused disruptions. Not all of them were knowable in advance, but all of them were visible to the world once they occurred. This virus is different, it’s more like there are snakes on every plane and Samuel L. Jackson is not on board. I’m likely to be among the first group of folks who fly internationally once the restrictions are lifted and I’m concerned. I believe that the airlines will be clean and ready. I’m confident that once onboard I can clean my immediate area and wear a mask to protect myself and others. But, knowing that asymptomatic individuals can transmit this disease causes me concern about how I will be welcomed once I reach my destination.

Being accepted in a new country and culture was hard enough before the pandemic, but now, with the threat of infection, it will become doubly hard. With no vaccine available for 12 to 18 months, some host countries will necessarily look to protect their citizens by demanding a quarantine period or a test upon arrival.  This takes us back to the days when everyone had a vaccination card in their passport. Yellow Card is an international certificate of vaccination (ICV). It is issued by the World Health Organization (WHO). It is recognized internationally and may be required for entry to certain countries where there are increased health risks for travelers. In this case, the risk will be to the host country’s population where you can potentially infect others while asymptomatic. This is just one of many, many hurdles we must clear in order to return to some form of normalcy. It’s not going to happen overnight, so for now I intend to enjoy the springtime song of the birds and rustling of the wildlife. I’m liking what I hear!