Just as we saw a dying down of travel restrictions in the United States, Europe has headed the other direction as reports of newly reported cases of the virus have caused a rash of shutdowns in countries which were close to opening up. One thing is certain: Change will continue to be a constant for the time being.
So, what is a travel manager to do?
We have always stressed safety over commerce. We also spent a lot of time looking at precautions taken by the airlines, hotels, rental car companies and ride share companies to keep travelers safe. We went to our customers and asked them what they were thinking about travel.
The situation, on the ground, around the world right now:
A recent report by the Department of Defense and United Airlines determined passengers wearing masks are at a very low risk of contracting Covid-19 on planes, even during packed flights. The report showed that aggressive air filtration and circulation systems on planes lead to the near-immediate dispersal of particles carrying the infection. Per these results, it would take a minimum of 54 hours of sitting next to someone with Covid-19 to be exposed to an infectious dose. “99.99% of particles left the interior of the aircraft within six minutes,” said United Airlines Chief Communication Officer Josh Earnest at an event announcing the results which concluded that risk when masked is “virtually nonexistent” and signaled “being on board an aircraft is the safest indoor public space.”
These results are confirmed by the incidence of airline passengers catching the virus while flying. Since the start of 2020 there have been 44 cases of COVID-19 reported in which transmission is thought to have been associated with a flight journey. Over the same period some 1.2 billion passengers have traveled. That’s one case for every 27 million travelers.
Putting together an agenda visiting clients and prospects in the US is considerably easier than doing the same thing for international destinations. With only 14 states still imposing travel restrictions most corporate travelers can go about business as normal in the United States. (Click here to see the list.) Note: Chicago and Washington, DC have individual citywide restrictions.
The situation is complicated once you get outside the country. The news is mostly bad in Europe, (with a few exceptions like the UK) where US travelers are still not allowed. The same is true in Japan, Canada, Hong Kong and China. But if you have clients and prospects in India, Mexico, Dubai, Turkey, Cambodia, South Korea, Brazil and a host of others in Eastern Europe, Central America and Africa, you’re in luck because you can get in. (Click here to see a list of destinations welcoming US travelers.) Just be sure to check quarantine requirements as part of your process to make sure you’ll actually be able to have business meetings on arrival. Brightest of all is the situation in the Caribbean countries. Due to a lack of Covid cases and a climate hostile to transmission almost all tropical destinations are open to US travelers with a negative Covid test. If you skipped your summer vacation this might be of special interest.
American Airlines has partnered with Sherpa to create an interactive database of travel restrictions worldwide. You can access this resource by clicking here.
OTHER SAFETY MEASURES
The Hotel industry has bent over backward to institute effective safety measures that enable contactless check-in, limited exposure to employees and enhanced sanitization. Similar measures are being taken at Car Rental companies and Rideshare companies to ensure business travelers are protected when they use their services.
Each travel manager is faced with a different situation at their company. Each travel footprint is unique, with different destinations and varying priorities regarding travel. After eight months of virtual meetings, some companies need to get back in touch with business partners face to face. Others may wait for a vaccine, or until rapid testing is readily available before resuming travel. Whatever your unique travel situation is, we are here to answer your questions, assist, and guide you through the ever-changing information and regulations.
Teplis is here for you.
Visit our Covid-19 Information Page for more information.