Coronavirus Travel Advisories and Bans to Know When Traveling

December 9, 2020

Categories: COVID-19, Travel Tips,

There’s a real process to planning travel during coronavirus. Travel advisory levels and coronavirus warning levels can change at any time. Once you get one piece of the journey locked in — choosing the destination, for example — another piece may not fit (quarantine time increases from 10 to 14 days).

To help travelers reach their destination and return home as safely as possible, Global Rescue intelligence experts explain how the coronavirus travel advisories and bans work so you know what’s going on when traveling.

Check with Country, State or County

Many countries have entry restrictions and may not be open to visitors.

“These are restrictions imposed by authorities for people wishing to enter or travel through a country,” said Kent Webber, senior manager of Intelligence Products and Services at Global Rescue. “During normal times, most countries have entry restrictions such as visa requirements. In the time of COVID-19, many nations have imposed new entry restrictions prohibiting people whose travel originates in certain places, or imposing requirements such as a health certificate, or negative COVID-19 test.”

Coronavirus entry restrictions for the United States include a ban on travel from Schengen-area countries and on travelers from the UK and Ireland. This applies to foreign nationals who have visited these countries within 14 days and those who have transited through these countries, but does not apply to U.S. citizens, permanent residents, their close family members and other limited categories of visa holders.

Canada extended prohibitions on non-essential travelers from the U.S. through December 21.

Mexico extended prohibitions on non-essential travelers crossing land borders through December 21, but the prohibitions do not apply to air travel.

The European Union (EU) has different restrictions. In the beginning, there was a common EU-wide policy. But a resurgence in COVID-19 cases has caused individual EU countries to create their own “Safe Countries” lists, resulting in a patchwork of entry restrictions.

Check the Country’s Travel Advisory

The U.S. Department of State issues travel advisory levels based on its assessment of crime rates, terrorist activity, civil unrest, health conditions, weather and current events. The levels detail the most urgent threats to safety and security and are meant to “help travelers gauge the risk of traveling to another country,” according to The New York Times.

Webber suggests checking not only the Department of State advisories — four levels from “exercise normal precaution” to “do not travel” — as well as travel advisories in the destination country.

“Many countries have their own travel advisory levels using their own definitions,” Webber said.

Check Coronavirus Risk Levels

There are also coronavirus risk levels issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that focus on levels of risk to travelers.

Levels include:

  • Level 3 – High Risk (Red)
  • Level 2 – Moderate Risk (Yellow)
  • Level 1 – Low Risk (Green)
  • Less than Level 1 – Very Low Risk. “This is a new category developed by CDC for COVID-19,” Webber said.

Check with the Airline

Flight restrictions change frequently so be sure you know if there are flights to and from your destination and if so, make sure any connecting airports are open. There are two types of flight restrictions, those that are government-imposed and those that are airline specific.

“There are restrictions imposed by authorities to limit air travel into or within a country,” Webber said. “During the time of COVID-19, many nations closed their borders to international air travel although most allowed cargo. Some also restricted internal air travel.”

Airline restrictions are made by individual carriers. Delta, for example, has its own flight restrictions and can impose them at any time. This could include cancelling routes or requiring rapid testing before a flight.

The Transportation Security Administration notes, “these decisions are made locally, on a case-by-case basis, by individual airlines, airports and public health officials. Before traveling, passengers should check with their airline and airports of origin and destination for the latest information on closures and cancellations.”

Check Quarantine Requirements

You’ll want to know the quarantine requirements well before you arrive at your destination. With quarantines in some states and countries ranging from five to 14 days, shorter trips may no longer be possible, domestically or internationally.

State governments or foreign governments may also implement new restrictions — quarantines, lockdowns, curfews and stay-at-home orders — with little notice, even in destinations previously considered to be low risk. Even if you do arrive at your destination and quarantine successfully, you may have difficulty arranging travel back home. You may also need to quarantine again or take a COVID-19 test.

Webber notes quarantine requirements can differ depending on origin.

“Most countries have their own requirements and can differ depending on where the traveler originated. For example, Germany has (had) different quarantine requirements for someone arriving from UAE than from France,” he said.

Check in with Global Rescue

Global Rescue travel protection services members have an advantage: all they need to do is call for medical and security advisory assistance.

Global Rescue intelligence experts are tracking worldwide travel risk and health safety information, including the latest coronavirus restrictions and updates worldwide. The information is updated every weekday online. Members with a specific travel question can call or email for advice.

Long-time Global Rescue member Dennis from Iowa was on a trip in British Columbia in March when the U.S. started to shut down all domestic flights. His flight home was seven days away, so he contacted Global Rescue for guidance.

Global Rescue’s response: “The situation will likely be very different by next Wednesday. If he wants to ensure he can get home by air, he should do it soon or run the risk of not being able to. If he waits, he may have to rent a car to get home,” Webber said.

Dennis finished his trip and found what Global Rescue said was true.

“Many flights were re-scheduled and/or cancelled,” he said. “I finally rented a car in Minneapolis and drove home.”

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