The Coronavius, or COVID-19, outbreak has reached global proportions which has left most of the world at a standstill. People are understandably worried about what what’s going to happen next. We have compiled updates and information on the developing Coronavirus situation, as well as prudent travel advice for what you should do with those trips planned later in 2020.
- Global confirmed cases: 422,959; total deaths 18,907 total recovered 109,144
- U.S. confirmed cases: 54,881; total deaths 782
- White House urges everyone to self-isolate and social distance for at least next 14 days
- More than 40% of the U.S. population is now being asked to stay home for nonessential activities
- India has imposed nationwide lockdown and banned travel in to the country
What is the status of global travel? What should I do with my travel plans? How can I protect myself?
What is the status of global travel?
When it comes to Coronavirus travel advice, the #1 question we are getting right now is what should I do with my travel plans in 2020?
As it stands today you should avoid nonessential travel for the next 30 days. For trips planned after that time period I would wait and see how things progress. Large scale containment and new emerging treatments may prove effective against the viral spread.
Once things do open up for travel a primary risk travelers face is getting stuck or quarantined. We have seen this play out on several cruise ships around the world, within specific hotels in affected areas, and now entire countries are on lockdown.
Tip: Have at least a loose plan in place if you do get stuck abroad: for work, kids, pets, etc. Better to be prepared!
The most important thing to consider with the risk of travel interruption is avoiding high risk areas. Keep an eye on the areas of the world that contain a high amount of ‘community spread’ which means that people have been infected with the virus, but how or where they became infected is not known, and virus transmission is ongoing.
Air Travel Safety
Airlines typically clean plane cabins to varying degrees when turning around the aircraft between each flight – everything from switching out linens and wiping down surfaces with an EPA-approved disinfectant to a deeper scrub at the end of the last flight so it’s refreshed for the next day.
Every airline handles cleaning differently with Southwest saying they spend six hours on a final clean of each aircraft every night and American Airlines maintaining a “detailed 30-point cleaning package each day.”
Now airlines are stepping up to do their part to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus by taking extra precautions to deeply sanitize areas that passengers repeatedly touch or where they sit, stand, or even breath. Major airlines, including American, Delta, Southwest, and United, are in close contact with the world’s health organizations at the WHO and CDC, which this month published updated guidelines for cleaning aircraft during the outbreak.
Stay informed with our Coronavirus Travel Update Newsletter
And get the latest Coronavirus travel advice.
Where can I travel?
The situation is fluid and constantly evolving, but at present you should avoid nonessential travel until further notice. What started as the epicenter in China and then moved to neighboring countries, has shifted into the Middle East, Europe, and the USA.
The U.S. has just imposed a ban on travel coming from Europe for the next 30 days starting Friday March 13th, 2020. This does not apply to U.S. citizens returning from Europe.
Current Travel Warnings
We’ve outlined the current travel warnings below put in place by the CDC and State Department as an update on the current outbreak of coronavirus. The CDC website is also embedded, so you can get real-time information on a specific destination.
Italy remains the epicenter of the outbreak in Europe and measures have been taken to contain the spread. The government first started with a limited quarantine of certain northern towns, but now that travel ban has moved to include the entire country – an unprecedented move.
The CDC recommends avoiding all non-essential travel to Italy due to the high level of community transmission of the virus and the presence of local quarantine procedures.
Travel bans in Italy are in place until April so if you have travel plans in the next 4-6 weeks you will want to change the booking or choose a new destination. If you have travel plans in Italy scheduled for later in summer or fall, you may still keep those plans and make decisions as things evolve.
Rest of Europe:
Europe is now seeing more cases than in China where the outbreak began, and as a result many countries are imposing restrictions on mass gatherings and travel bans, similar to the ones imposed in Italy.
France, Spain, Denmark, Norway and others are the latest to impose nationwide lockdown restrictions for the next couple weeks.
Due to the recent U.S. announcement and growing travel bans, if you are planning travel to Europe in the next month it’s recommended to change your trip for a later date. Airlines are being very flexible with allowing changes of travel dates and refunding tickets for destinations affected by the virus.
The areas outside Europe that are still considered high risk areas are China, South Korea, and Iran. The State Department and CDC recommend avoiding these destinations temporarily as the countries work to contain the community spread.
What can I do to protect myself?
Get travel insurance
We recommend travel insurance on every international trip, but now it’s particularly important. Travel insurance covers a wide range of things from cancellation and trip interruption to medical emergency coverage during travel.
IMPORTANT TIP: You will want to make sure you get travel insurance that covers ‘cancel for any reason’ with regard to the coronavirus, as standard policies does NOT cover pandemics or cancellation due to fear of travel. It’s important to do your homework to choose a reputable company and the insurance that fits your needs.
We recommend TravelGuard for international trips as it’s a solid company with reasonable rates and flexible plans.
Listen to the health professionals
There are several common sense things you can do to protect yourself, the community around you, and your desire to travel.
Practice these tips while traveling and at home:
- Avoid contact with sick people.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
- Clean your hands often by washing them with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60%–95% alcohol. Soap and water should be used if hands are visibly dirty.
- It is especially important to clean hands after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose.
- Supplies of hand sanitizer, tissues, and other hygiene products may be limited, so consider bringing them with you.
Avoid traveling if you are sick – There is simply no better way to help the global community fight any outbreak than by staying more isolated if you are sick. This may mean postponing a trip if you are really under the weather.
More than anything put in place common sense practices to protect yourself and those around you and we will get over this challenge together!