The Dutch government has extended a ban on the arrival and departure of flights to high-risk countries in light of the coronavirus. In a letter to Parliament, ministers say that on the basis of current information from the National Institue for Public Health, flights to specific countries will remain in place until the middle of April. As such, Amsterdam Schiphol is now working at a much-reduced capacity.
Travel bans in place until 10th April
As COVID-19 continues to pose a threat in multiple countries around the globe, some travel bans that were initially imposed are now being extended.
On 17th March, Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam posted an update in which it said that passenger flights from a number of high-risk areas should not land in the Netherlands under government orders. The ban was imposed on flights from Mainland China, Hong Kong, Iran, Italy, and South Korea. However, the ban was due to be lifted on 27th March at 17:00 UTC.
After evaluating and monitoring the development of the coronavirus in these countries. The Dutch government has now extended the ban. The travel ban will continue until the middle of April. In addition, the government has added other countries to that high-risk group. They include Spain and Austria.
Repatriation flights continue
In a letter to the Dutch Parliament, two government ministers explained why the travel extension was coming into effect. Translated from Dutch, the ministers said:
“The restrictions aim to reduce the influx of people who may have it to minimize COVID-19 virus in the Netherlands…On the basis of up-to-date information from the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), we have, on the recommendation of the Minister of Health, Welfare and Sport and in coordination with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, decided to implement the applicable restrictions on air traffic with passengers until April 10, 2020 at 6:00 PM (local time). In all countries for which a flight ban has been instituted, according to the RIVM, widespread transmission still takes place.”
Despite the extension of the travel restrictions in these areas, Schiphol says that this ban does not apply to repatriation flights. It says that Schengen travelers, EU citizens and UK nationals will still be allowed to travel home if they can prove that they are in transit. This comes as many nations are now urging their citizens to get home as soon as possible.
What is happening at Schiphol Airport?
For Schiphol, the reduction in international flights and stringent travel restrictions has meant that the airport has now altered its strategy. Schiphol Airport is operating on what it calls ‘Core Schiphol’. It has drastically reduced and contained its activities.
As of 27th March, passengers can only check-in at Departures 2 and 3. Lounges 1, 2 and 3 will remain open for now. However, the airport is closely monitoring COVID-19 developments and will adjust its operations to match demand.
The airport has said that in the last few days it experienced a 75% reduction in flight movements. What’s more, just 20% of its normal volume of travelers have been using the airport in recent days.
Could Schiphol shut down even more of its operation? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.