As travellers return to their home countries amid the coronavirus pandemic, they are facing a quick reality check – their governments’ desire to have them tested for COVID-19 on arrival.
In Japan, arriving passengers have to undergo a coronavirus test as soon as they land before they can even think about heading home.
As results can take anything from six hours up to two days, passengers at Tokyo’s Narita International Airport have two options to wait out the backlog. They can book into a local hotel, or if full, they can take advantage of the airport’s pop-up cardboard hotel as their temporary residence.
The airport’s baggage claims area has been given over to hosting the heavy-duty cardboard beds which come complete with a mattress and a quilt. And it appears it comes at a cost, with the Japanese government charging travellers around $140.
The area, staffed by workers clad in protective gear who also provide snacks and water, has been met with a mixed response. One traveller pointed out that some beds were positioned a bit too close to each other for comfort.
For those that test negative, they are advised to follow the Japanese government’s 14-days self-quarantine guidance. Although they are not allowed to use public transportation to go home, other options include renting a car to travel back, getting someone to pick them up or to stay at a local hotel.
Cardboard bedding has been used as an essential item in Japan when the nation suffers disasters and national emergencies.
In fact, central and district governments have or are in the process of stockpiling cardboard beds.
And they may well turn to such temporary measures if the coronavirus continues to spiral further. Last week, Japan, seeing positive cases reach more than 7,000, and a death toll creeping towards 150, declared a state of emergency in major population centres to fight the spread of COVID-19.