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Air Travel Quarantines Are Getting Longer and Lonelier

  • Enforced isolations in Hong Kong hotels stretch to 21 days
  • Tighter restrictions dash hopes of a global travel recovery
Travelers arrive for quarantine at the Radisson Blu Edwardian hotel at Heathrow Airport in London on Feb. 15.
Travelers arrive for quarantine at the Radisson Blu Edwardian hotel at Heathrow Airport in London on Feb. 15.Photographer: Chris J. Ratcliffe/Bloomberg
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Quarantines continue to frustrate travelers and strangle airlines a year into the pandemic, with the threat from highly infectious coronavirus variants meaning enforced isolations are mostly getting longer and stricter rather than easing up.

Even as vaccines embolden countries like Israel and the U.K. to plot paths to reopening, authorities around the world are tightening the screws to stop Covid-19 mutations slipping through quarantine models designed to contain a less aggressive virus. With questions hanging over the efficacy of vaccines on mutated strains, this new front in the public-health battle is damping hopes of a swift rebound in international air travel.