Around the world, travel restrictions are gradually being eased. In recent weeks, a number of countries have allowed domestic travel to resume. Some have even restarted – or announced plans to restart – international travel through the formation of “travel bubbles” and “travel corridors”, where borders are only being opened only to visitors from certain countries.
Concurrently, a May poll from the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) found that more than half of its member companies have plans to resume travel in the near future.
While these signs of recovery are encouraging, the reality is that the travel landscape remains starkly different from what it was a few months ago. As countries continue to grapple with controlling spread of the virus, in many ways the travel experience will probably be less seamless than it was before the pandemic. Business trips will require greater planning and preparation, both on the part of companies and their traveling employees. Here are some things to consider:
1. Quarantine requirements – While countries are allowing travel to gradually resume, it’s likely that some quarantine requirements will remain in place, at least in the near term.
For example, under the Singapore-China “fast-lane” arrangement announced last month, travelers will still need to remain isolated for one or two days at their destination while awaiting their covid-19 test results.
2. Safety measures at your destination – Cities around the world have implemented a raft of measures to curb community spread of the virus. These include requiring people to wear masks, limiting the operations of restaurants and suspending some public transport services. Some restrictions may only apply to visitors.
Even a seasoned traveler who has visited a destination multiple times in the past may need to do a little extra planning to figure out things like transport and meals, and ensure they have packed essential items like masks so they can comply with local regulations.
3. Safety requirements at airports and on flights – Several countries and airlines have also made it mandatory for passengers to wear masks at the airport and on-board flights, so it’s a good idea to keep one handy.
On the flip-side, while you may decide you want to wear a mask, you could find yourself on board a flight where the airline can’t enforce that other passengers do so.
4. Access to quality medical assistance – Standards of healthcare and medical facilities can vary widely from one country to the next, and even between cities in the same country. Healthcare resources in some cities could be overwhelmed due to the coronavirus, making it difficult to get access to medical assistance should you need it. Again, it’s advisable to do your research prior to traveling.
Companies can also look into solutions offered by organizations like International SOS that specialize in medical and travel security services, and can provide on-site medical assistance to travelers.
5. Insurance – A number of travel insurance providers are no longer covering events arising from the COVID-19 outbreak, such as flight cancellations and medical assistance, for policies issued after a certain date. Contact your insurance provider to find out what your policy does and does not cover.
6. Flight options – Many airlines are still operating significantly reduced schedules due to lower demand and government restrictions, so it’s a good idea to understand what your options are if you need to get out in a hurry. For example, the United States Department of Transportation recently announced that Chinese passenger air carriers will be permitted to operate just two flights per week to the U.S.
7. Accommodation options – Most of the major hotel chains have announced initiatives to increase the level of cleanliness and hygiene at their properties, including thoroughly cleaning guest rooms and public spaces with recommended cleaning agents, setting up hand-sanitizing stations, and providing contactless check-in and check-out.
However, many properties across the globe remain closed, and depending on where you’re traveling to, the only available options may be properties where cleanliness protocols might not be as stringent.
8. Political / civil situation – In some places, the lockdowns and other safety measures imposed by governments have resulted in civil unrest and protests. Travelers should keep on top of the news so they can stay out of harm’s way.
CWT partners with organizations like International SOS to send our clients and their employees regular alerts about the situation on the ground – these are sent via email and push notifications through our mobile app.
9. Booking channel – Last, but certainly not least, you should only book through your employer’s approved booking channels. This will help ensure you’ve secured the necessary internal approvals and your organization can easily locate you if there’s an issue – and should you need to change your plans, you can quickly get assistance in making alternative travel arrangements.
Blog author: Koby Brice, VP, Global Customer Management, Asia Pacific, CWT
Disclaimer: None of the information presented by CWT should be construed as health or legal advice Be sure to consult with your health advisor about the health implications of travel to you, and a legal advisor about the legal requirements for your travel.