14 Day Quarantine or Pay for COVID-19 Test: Travel’s New Normal?

14 Day Quarantine or Pay for COVID-19 Test


The New Normal for Travel May Be a 14 Day Quarantine or Paying for a COVID-19 Test. This is what Vienna Airport is now offering arriving passengers, who until Monday were required to go into 14 day quarantine unless they could produce a health certificate showing a negative COVID-19 result, taken within the preceding 4 days.

Austria, as with most of the rest of Europe, currently is blocking entry to non European Union / European Economic Area / SWISS citizens coming to Austria from outside the Schengen area, with a few exceptions for the diplomatic corps, humanitarian and healthcare workers, and seasonal and freight transport workers.

But even eligible travelers arriving by air from within the Schengen area must either present a negative molecular-biological SARS-CoV-2 test in English or German dated within 4 days prior to entry, or face a mandatory 14 day quarantine.

Now, arrivals will be able to pay EUR 190 (~$210) for a rapid PCR (polymerise chain reaction) test and obtain the result in 2-3 hours. If negative, they'll be exempt from the 14 day quarantine. Note that to comply with social distancing, passengers should make an appointment in advance, by emailing office@confidence.at or calling +43 1 368-4554. The test can also be used by departing passengers, as evidence of their negative COVID-19 status for their destination.


The New Normal for Travel?

Given that most travelers won't travel at all if they are required to quarantine in their destination for 14 days, could a test either prior to boarding their flight, such as Emirates' rapid COVID-19 blood test, with results available in 10 minutes, or a test on arrival at the destination, become the new way passengers are cleared to travel or arrive in countries without having to undergo quarantine?

While the tests are intrusive, many passengers also had to adapt to full body scanners and longer lines when going through security, post 9/11. That encouraged some travelers to do more driving and road trips, while others shrugged off the more onerous security process as a small price to pay.

In the same way, the new testing regimen may be a dividing line for travelers, with some choosing to wait a much longer time to travel by air, unless there's unavoidable business travel or a family emergency, and others taking it in stride as the new normal.


Potential Issues

Of course, tests aren't foolproof. The rapid PCR test is known to have a risk for false negatives of up to 30%, for reasons ranging from errors with collecting the swabs to the lower levels of the virus at the very beginning of the infection. That could mean letting in passengers who are infected but don't know it, and who go on to unwittingly spread the virus to others.

Similarly, for passengers who have a health certificate from within the prior 4 days showing they're negative for COVID-19, the results could be a false negative, or even if accurate, the passenger could have subsequently become infected after the test and before or during travel.

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