‘Travel corridors’ are routes connecting countries, offering the chance to travel in a world affected by COVID-19. And they may also allow travellers to cross borders without undergoing periods in quarantine that could otherwise stretch for weeks. 

The corridors (also called ‘air bridges’) open up travel between countries with a similar level of COVID-19 risk. The term has already been used to describe the reopened air links between China and South Korea, and routes between the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. There’s hope it could help other regions safely reconnect, with several European and Pacific nations considering the concept.

Malta has seen relatively few cases and is looking into the prospect of opening sky corridors with nations with a low infection rate, specifically  Austria, Norway, Luxembourg, Serbia, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Latvia, Lithuania and Israel. Air bridges have been discussed by the British government too. Heathrow Airport CEO John Holland-Kaye said he welcomed the move, adding that “As one of the world’s great trading nations, the UK should take a lead in setting a global plan to reopen borders when it is safe to do so.  This will help protect millions of British jobs that rely on aviation, but are currently at risk.”

Latvia is opening up travel with neighbouring countries ©Sergei25/Shutterstock

The UK has already confirmed that travellers from Ireland will be exempt from its two-week quarantine. But there is still caution surrounding the reopening of borders. “We look forward to welcoming our friends from Britain to the island of Ireland when the time is right,” a spokesperson for Tourism Ireland told Lonely Planet, adding that “it’s too early right now” to confirm whether ‘corridors’ might open up international tourism.

Shared approaches and regulations will certainly help business and leisure travellers cross borders and avoid quarantines. The European Union Aviation Safety Agency published guidelines on Thursday that include mandatory facemasks for the over-6s and 1.5m social distancing in airports. The International Civil Aviation Organization, which last week said it supported ‘public health corridors’ for cargo flights, is planning global guidelines.

European Union Aviation Safety Agency publishes safety guidelines for travellers
Passengers wearing PPE (personal protective equipment) arrive at Terminal 2 of Heathrow airport, west London on May 22, 2020 © TOLGA AKMEN/AFP/Getty Image TOLGA AKMEN/AFP/Getty Images

Air bridges and travel corridors join bubbles as concepts for post-COVID travel. It’s clear that the new kind of normal will take time to build, but the gradual spread of bridges and corridors across the world looks like a good start.

Lockdowns are easing globally as the planet adjusts to a new normal. Find out how COVID-19 is changing travel.

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