WATCH: How a trip to the airport feels during level 3
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I had mixed emotions about my last trip to the airport almost three months ago. The rising Covid-19 cases meant that fewer people wanted to travel, and most were anxious if they did walk through an airport or board a plane.
President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the resumption of domestic business travel during level 3 lockdown in May, a welcome relief for the aviation sector who halted operations due to the national lockdown in March. Most airlines, including Mango and FlySafair, resumed flights from mid-June.
With the recent rise of Covid-19 cases in the country and globally, there has been much debate on whether going to the airport or taking a flight is safe during the pandemic.
As we drive through the parking lot of King Shaka International Airport, I feel a slight panic. While this is only a work assignment and I won't be physically going through the airport process, I am still apprehensive. The airport feels like a ghost town when we walk through its doors after ongoing a strict health screening by port health officials.
Besides a few passengers lugging their suitcases to a check-in counter, everything is completely deserted.There's only one fast-food establishment operating in the food court with one table assigned to a single traveller.
Two restaurants near the boarding gates are opened with a handful of customers enjoying a cup of coffee before their flight. Airport lounges and shops seize to operate during the pandemic.
Despite the new Covid-19 regulations, Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) intends to do everything in its power to ensure passengers' confidence and put everyone at ease, from the start of the journey until they leave their destination airport.
Health and security checks play a big part in the airport operation. There are health declarations, temperature screenings, and hand sanitiser dispensers available for passengers.
Decal stickers bearing social distance instructions are found throughout the airport. The airport also has Covid-19 monitors who will assist travellers throughout the journey. Despite my scepticism about travelling, ACSA's Covid-19 readiness has eased my doubts about flying during the pandemic.
Travelling may not be the same again in a Covid-19 world, but it's something I hope to resume soon.