taipei, taiwan – The flight crews at one in all Taiwan’s principal airline carriers have voiced frustration about continued COVID-19 insurance policies that require them to stick to a number of the strictest quarantine and testing necessities on this planet.
The insurance policies stay in place whilst different elements of the world loosen pandemic restrictions and adapt to a “new normal.”
Upon arrival at locations abroad, pilots and cabin crews from China Airlines have to be taken on to their resort rooms and supplied with room key playing cards that work solely as soon as – once they depart and embark on their subsequent flights.
One pilot for China Airlines, who wished to stay nameless, instructed VOA he was “frustrated” with the present circumstances.
“It’s really affected [me]. Whenever I went to work, I felt so frustrated … it means I can’t go home for a period of time, and [I’m] also very tired, because I need to continuously [go] back and forth to Taipei and the U.S. or Europe. So, I have to adjust myself, try to sleep more and be more positive. [Being] stuck in a tiny room for long is really uncomfortable, but I still have to get used to it,’ he said.
The first officer has worked for the airline for nearly eight years, and he flies both long- and short-haul trips each month. He said the restrictions were worse in the beginning of the pandemic, as pilots were forced to wear goggles, gloves and face masks while on duty, as well as facing quarantine for seven days. And because of the quick turnaround of a pilot flying both domestically and internationally, the pilot described how he was in a constant loop of being quarantined.
“There [was] a time period we could not quarantine at residence, solely within the resort, so I’ve been 22 days and [still can’t] go residence,” he said.
People wear face masks to protect against the spread of the coronavirus in Taipei, Taiwan, Aug. 31, 2022.
Today, the rules for vaccinated flight crews have since been relaxed slightly, removing the necessity of home quarantine in Taiwan. But when pilots and crews go abroad, they are still restricted from leaving their hotel rooms.
“At out stations, we nonetheless cannot exit. We solely [can] keep within the room, till our pickup time for the subsequent flight. It’s actually unhealthy, [I] watch TV, learn and sleep all day. I’ll do some exercises, too, and order Uber Eats, however that is it,” the pilot added, referring to the food delivery service provided by Uber.
A local pilots union in Taiwan is now seeking the loosening of some restrictions.
The Pilots Union Taoyuan, which represents nearly half of all pilots working for Taiwan’s airlines, has called the measures ‘outdated’ and is requesting that the Taiwan government ease the strict controls.
The head of the union, Lee Hsin-yen, referred to an in-house survey that found most of the member pilots who have had the coronavirus caught it in Taiwan, the news website Focus Taiwan reported.
VOA has requested a comment from the Civil Aeronautics Administration in Taiwan but has not yet received a reply.
Cabin crews also have vented their discontent about the rules and said following the restrictions is like being in prison.
A woman calling herself Shirley, who didn’t want to be identified, is a cabin crew member at China Airlines and said she has worked there for nearly seven years.
“The guidelines are: We will not be allowed to depart our room; crews received one-time-use key card, or [the] resort displays us by way of [closed-circuit television] to verify there isn’t any crew [leaving] their room. And we’re additionally not permit to have any contact with locals,” she told VOA.
She said that in pre-pandemic times, cabin crew members would often go shopping, have coffee or enjoy the summertime when overseas.
“That’s how crew members [would] launch their stress,” she said.
Today, with the prolonged restrictions, she said, the flight crews in Taiwan are being treated unfairly in comparison to those in the rest of the world.
“In the start of the COVID, all these guidelines appeared to make sense. Nowadays, an increasing number of international locations open their borders. It seems like we [are] behind bars once we are in a foreign country, as a result of we won’t go wherever. When we have now [a] layover flight, the one place we are able to go is on the aircraft and resort room. And it looks like the lockdown is countless,” she said.
As the rest of the world is returning to pre-pandemic travel norms, Taiwan is currently closed to overseas tourists. Only residents and business travelers can enter Taiwan, but they must quarantine for three nights, followed by four days in self-health control. This means they are prohibited from visiting public venues or meeting groups of people.
A worker wears a face mask to protect against the spread of the coronavirus at a night market in Taipei, Taiwan, Aug. 29, 2022.
It is an example of how concerns about the infection still linger in East Asia, with parts of the region slow to reopen travel to the world. The trend seems to be gradually changing, as Hong Kong, South Korea and Japan have all opened their respective borders recently for visitors, each with specific measures in place.
Gary Bowerman, an Asia travel analyst, told VOA that Taiwan’s cautious approach is soon going to affect its goals to boost tourism.
“Taiwan is speaking a couple of phased reopening starting with tour teams from Southeast Asia, Japan and South Korea. This is a cautious technique, which some Southeast Asian international locations tried initially. As Southeast Asian international locations found over the previous 12 months, it’s only when full border reopenings are activated, and pre-flight and on-arrival testing and restrictions are eliminated, that vacationers acquire the boldness to go to in bigger numbers,” he stated.
With a inhabitants of greater than 23 million, regardless of holding infections low at the start of the pandemic, Taiwan is now reporting upward of 25,000 home circumstances every day. Vaccination numbers are excessive, with 85% of the inhabitants inoculated, based on the web site Our World in Data.