Canada’s Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair and Health Minister Patty Hajdu rolled out new border measures in October: 190 public health officials will be deployed at 36 ports of entry across the country. This is in addition to mandatory quarantine measures.
In the United States, Vermont Governor Phil Scott extended the COVID-19 State of Emergency, which requires residents and non-residents coming from outside the state to quarantine for 14 days. In November, he added temporary restrictions on social gatherings and business operations, including prohibition of private multi-household social gatherings and limits on restaurant hours and seating.
Illinois Governor JB Pritzker also reissued coronavirus executive orders, declaring all counties in the State of Illinois as a disaster area and extending COVID-19 provisions through December 2020. In November, he launched an awareness campaign, “Healthy Holidays to You” which recommends limiting family gatherings this holiday season.
These are just three examples of how state and federal governments have enacted emergency rules and legislation to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s a common occurrence during a public health emergency — but it makes planning travel a complex task.
Non-travelers typically know what is happening in their home state. Travelers, crossing state lines and country borders, have to plan around the what-if’s of the coronavirus pandemic: what if the state goes on lock down, what if the border is closed, what if my flight is cancelled and what if I get sick while away from home?
How Do States Make Decisions?
Each state manages its own response to the coronavirus pandemic to control the spread of disease within state borders. Individual governors have broad powers under their respective state constitutions to protect citizens during a disaster or crisis, according to the Library of Congress.
Since March, states have taken a variety of steps to protect public health, including closing schools, cancelling events, requiring telework where possible, ordering restaurants to close or shift to delivery service only, closing non-essential businesses, setting strict limits on public gatherings and establishing mandatory quarantines after travel outside of the state.
“There’s no uniform formula. The decision depends on a lot of things: the number of cases, the severity of cases, the economy of the state, the population density of the state,” said Kent Webber, senior manager of intelligence products and services at Global Rescue. “Each state does what is best for their residents. Restrictions change as the situation dictates.”
Some states may have a coronavirus task force set up, while others work closely with the state department of health. In Vermont, Governor Scott works in consultation with the Vermont Department of Health and makes decisions based on new information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
Vermont, a more rural state with a population of 623,989, may not be as aggressive as a larger, populated state. For example, California, with 39.5 million residents, has a documented system for tracking the coronavirus pandemic: “Every county in California is assigned to a tier based on its test positivity and adjusted case rate. Data is reviewed weekly by the Department of Public Health. To move forward, a county must meet the next tier’s criteria for two consecutive weeks. If a county’s metrics worsen for two consecutive weeks, it will be assigned a more restrictive tier.”
The bottom line: the process is reactive. And it’s impossible to predict what each state will decide.
Country Regulations Across the Globe
States mitigate risk for what happens within their borders, but the federal government monitors and manages the spread of disease across national or state borders.
This makes tracking coronavirus regulations a bit more complex when you are traveling internationally.
“At one point, the European Schengen member states had a coordinated approach to travel restrictions,” Webber said. “But when individual countries had an increase in cases, they made their own decisions.
“It’s a full-time job to keep up with the constant ebb and flow of travel information, which is why individual travelers, enterprises and nonprofit organizations are turning to Global Rescue to find the information needed for safe travel.
Global Rescue’s intelligence team is “monitoring travel risk and health safety information around the clock,” said Melanie Goldberg, senior intelligence analyst at Global Rescue. “Our team follows hundreds of news outlets, social media feeds, government alerts, nature newsletters, global organizations, podcasts, broadcasts and blogs.”
The information is analyzed and published in the Global Rescue Intelligence Delivery system (GRIDSM). It’s a unique online resource that puts critical medical, security and other essential travel information for 219 countries at the fingertips of Global Rescue members.
This includes the latest coronavirus restrictions and updates worldwide. “Reports are based on a comprehensive data set,” Webber said. “We don’t just look at restrictions, we look at numbers and trends. This is the information that is important to our clients, the travelers.”
Planning Travel with Global Rescue
Travelers can rely on Global Rescue to help plan winter travel during coronavirus. Here’s how:
- We are continually monitoring coronavirus developments — such as restrictions, quarantines and outbreaks — and posting updates online for free.
- Members have access to experts who can answer coronavirus related questions and provide immediate information regarding appropriate nearby health care facilities.
- In addition to daily COVID-19 reporting, Global Rescue produces destination reports for more than 215 countries and principalities to provide travelers with security assessments, health information and other vital details. “We are always doing the research for our members,” Webber said.
- To keep up to date on health and security events worldwide, members can customize the My Global Rescue App to send real-time event alerts based on their travel destinations to their phone or computer.
- Enterprises, nonprofit organization, NGOs and educational institutions can use GRID, a proprietary system designed to monitor and manage all travelers throughout their journey. This includes pre-trip assessments, traveler contact information, travel history and COVID-19 screening, testing and treatment results.
- Consulting services are also available and the intelligence team will provide travel risk reports by request for members or for a fee for non-members.
“Every member has different needs, but the information is universal: proactive travel risk information and area assessments to keep people safe while traveling,” Goldberg said.
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