CNH Tours - Cultural and Natural Heritage Tours Galapagos
Saturday March 14, 2020
Update on COVID-19 and Galapagos / Our recommendations
Update 14 March: The following countries / states have been added to the "mandatory 14 day quarantine on arrival" list: USA states of Washington, New York, Massachusetts and California, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and the Netherlands. Applicable as of March 15.
FURTHER CHANGES IN EFFECT AS OF 14 MARCH: Any person arriving in Ecuador, having started their trip to Ecuador on the 14th of March and having spent some time in any of the countries listed above within the 14 days prior to their arrival will be detained at the airport and requested to leave the country by the same means, at his/her own expense, unless they can demonstrate that they have confirmed accommodations for a 14 day self quarantine.
ORIGINAL MARCH 13 NEWS ITEM FOLLOWS:
While the number of confirmed cases in Ecuador remains very low as this note is written (fewer than 20), and while none of these has occurred in Galapagos, the Government of Ecuador has implemented widespread pro-active measures in an effort to reduce the incidence of the virus and the speed of its transmission. CNH Tours approves of these measures as it’s better to slow down the spread of the virus at the outset than to start dealing with a grass fire only when it’s already out of control. We are confident that these measures will contribute to reducing the overall impact of the virus on the Ecuadorian people and the Ecuadorian economy.
However, these measures may have a negative effect on those whose trip to Ecuador is coming up soon. On Tuesday this week, the government imposed mandatory 14 day quarantine on all travellers (both visitors and nationals) arriving into the country and who will have travelled in France, Italy, Spain, Germany, Iran, South Korea and China in the 14 days prior to their arrival. These measures come into effect today (13 March) but we’re not sure how rigorous the process will be. To confirm how such policies were being implemented, we spoke with our close colleague who works with Avianca Airlines. She is in very close touch with airport personnel and procedures. We expect to get updates from the airport terminal presently.
Regardless, all arriving passengers will be asked to fill in a general “state of health” questionnaire in flight, prior to arrival (see sample below). You will be screened for a fever and other signs of COVID-19 before passing through immigration. If there is no reason to believe the passenger may have the virus, he/she will proceed as normal. If any COVID-related symptoms are detected, you will be taken for closer examination. A similar health check takes place prior to embarking on your flight to Galapagos.
If, over the 14 days prior to your arrival in Ecuador, you will have spent time in the countries noted above, we suggest that you prepare to reconsider your travel plans. In the meantime, you may want to contact your airline to see about refunds or re-bookings. You may want to consult your insurance policy to see if you might be eligible for compensation.
For others, no one knows at this point if and when Ecuador might add to that list of countries noted above. At one point, should the virus begin to spread more widely within the country, such measures might prove to be moot and might be dropped altogether. But for the time being, Ecuador is trying to limit the arrival of carriers into the country.
On the positive side, these measures will reduce the chances of the virus spreading among people, and they will contribute to making a trip to the Galapagos less risky. CNH Tours remains confident that the chances of contracting the virus in Ecuador remain very slim. In a previous news item, we made our case on why we think that travel by ship in Galapagos is less risky that embarking on a multi-thousand passenger mega-cruise ship elsewhere (see here).
Despite these stringent measures and despite our confidence in the continued safety of a Galapagos cruise, regulations are changing rapidly. It might be possible that you are prevented from travelling not because of the health risk, but because of Government of Ecuador decisions, or even due to flight cancellations on the part of your airline – or even re-entry conditions imposed by your own government.
We recommend that you keep a close eye on developments. Review your insurance policies to see if/how they might apply should you be asked to spend 14 days in quarantine, or should your airline cancel your flights, or if your own government imposes regulations that prevent you from travelling.
As for CNH Tours, we are doing all we can to help those caught in the middle of this. We re-iterate that, for the time being and notwithstanding all of the regulatory concerns noted above, we feel that a Galapagos cruise remains a very low health risk travel proposition. All of our expedition ship partners have indicated to us that they are operating normally.