Taylor said everyone in Antarctica continued their old life, as if they did not know Covid-19. People still go to the gym, music room, library, cinema …, things that people on other continents might be missing out on because of the order to block the society and blockade.
Taylor, Nelson and others after finishing their working time in Antarctica will also return home. But they know that they will be welcomed by another world. Everything will not be the same, as they began to leave brought by Covid-19. They will have to get used to a way of life that has only been witnessed from afar. The seemingly simple things they often do in Antarctica, may become a distant memory when they go home.
Tourism has been growing strongly in Antarctica in recent years, and cruise ships often take visitors. According to the Association of Antarctic tour operators, about 56,100 tourists visited the continent during the 2018-2019 season, an increase of 40% compared to previous years. They are expected to welcome 78,500 visitors in the 2019-2020 season (the tourist season in Antarctica usually starts from November to the end of March). However, the research stations here have begun restricting many tourist visits since the beginning of the year, because of Covid-19. After a cruise ship carrying Australian and New Zealand passengers arrived at the port, there were cases of Covid-19 infections.
Nelson, who is in charge of coordinating the tour, visiting Palmer station, said her place welcomed thousands of people last year. But this year the number dropped sharply due to the global epidemic crisis. However, she did not see this affecting the Antarctic tourism industry, because it always restricted visitors to protect the pristine environment of the “white continent”.
IAATO tour operators never authorize an amphibious cruise ship if the number exceeds 500 passengers at a time. In addition, they also divide the port schedule so that at any time, every stop has only one cruise ship.
Although it is unclear how things will turn out in the coming months, people at Palmer or Amundsen-Scottm stations, which have the largest number of visitors, still work hard to ensure that when a new tourist season Starting, everything is ready.
Things in Antarctica have not changed too much because of the pandemic, but the way home of the workers in the stations has changed dramatically. Normally, when returning to England, Taylor will take a flight to Punta Arenas (the southernmost city of Chile). After that, he will catch a commercial flight to go home. But now, he will have to go to the Falkland Islands, then board a passenger train designated by the government to return to England. That means a longer time to return home.