Eclipse 2020

How COVID-19 will change eclipse-chasing

Clouds gather for eclipse-chasers as coronavirus puts 2020’s solar eclipses in doubt

The coronavirus pandemic has changed everything. With aircraft mothballed and runways empty, for now, international travel is mostly a memory. 

Will international travel re-start in time for the annular solar eclipse on June 21, 2020? That looks unlikely, and in a world of canceled flights and two-week quarantines for anyone arriving from virus-hit countries, already we’re hearing stories of organized trips being canceled, and eclipse-chasers being refunded ahead of the big day. 

That’s a massive shame when you consider how impressive this ‘ring of fire’ eclipse could be. Not only will it be visible on the day of the northern hemisphere’s summer solstice, but the Sun will be 99.5% obscured. That magnitude is rare for an annular solar eclipse. 

Unlike most solar eclipses, this one is mostly over land, with a narrow “path of annularity” across Africa and Asia. However, the chance of any international eclipse-chasers getting to any of the countries along the central track of the ‘ring of fire’ look unlikely: 

  • Congo
  • Democratic Republic of Congo
  • South Sudan
  • Ethiopia
  • Eritrea
  • Yemen
  • Oman
  • Pakistan
  • India
  • Tibet
  • China
  • Taiwan
  • Guam

Of course, it will still happen, and there are plenty of eclipse-chasers in these countries excited about the event. 

Sadly, the effects of COVID-19 are set to be long-lasting, with several articles suggesting that travel will change forever – and certainly for the next total solar eclipse on December 14, 2020 in Chile and Argentina. 

I estimate the recovery period could take two to three years.”

Delta Air Lines Inc. Chief Executive Officer Ed Bastian

Bloomberg is predicting big changes ahead for the travel industry as the coronavirus pandemic ushers in a new era of air travel: 

  • Higher fares
  • Fewer routes
  • Pre-flight health checks
  • Less free food
  • Middle seats kept empty
  • Cabin crew will wear goggles, masks, gloves and protective gowns

“We should be prepared for a choppy, sluggish recovery even after the virus is contained,” Delta Air Lines Inc. Chief Executive Officer Ed Bastian said in a letter to employees this week. “I estimate the recovery period could take two to three years.”

According to NBC News here’s what you can expect in future when you travel to see an eclipse: 

  • A temperature check upon arrival
  • No breakfast buffets
  • No minibar
  • No room service
  • No hotel restaurant or bar
  • Pre-made boxed meals for guests 
  • Rooms left vacant for 24 hours after a guest checks out (for deep-cleaning) 
  • Even when you go out for food, restaurants will have changed beyond recognition, according to Travel+Leisure
  • Tables may move further apart
  • Individually packaged meals
  • Emptier dining rooms
  • More no-tipping policies
  • Increase in take-out and online ordering

None of that is ideal, but we suspect that very few eclipse-chasers will be put-off from their mission to witness totality.

IMAGE CREDIT: Image by Pixabay