What business travelers need to know about COVID-19 coronavirus

As COVID-19 remains a public health emergency of international concern, we continue to monitor the situation closely. Here’s a roundup of recent developments as of March 11, 2020.

As COVID-19 remains a public health emergency of international concern, we continue to monitor the situation closely.

The World Health Organization (WHO) is encouraging travelers exhibiting symptoms suggestive of acute respiratory illness before, during or after travel, to seek medical attention and share travel history with their health care provider as soon as possible.

Know before you go

Check out these suggested resources for more information.

Business travelers should check with their travel consultant or booking channel for specific information on flight restrictions or cancellations.

Here’s a roundup of recent developments on March 18, 2020:

Recent developments

  • Australia: raised its travel alert to the highest level – do not travel overseas. Also implemented a complete ban on travelers from Italy. All Australian nationals traveling from Italy will also be subjected to a mandatory 14-day quarantine upon their return. In addition, a 14-day self-isolation will be imposed on international travelers arriving from midnight Mar.15 and ban cruise ships from foreign ports for 30 days.
  • Belgium: Belgium will enforce restrictions on movement of people beginning Wednesday, Mar. 18 at noon local time (7 a.m. ET). The measures, which will remain in place until April 5, will require citizens to stay at home except for outdoor physical activity and essential travel. Essential travel includes going to the doctor, supermarket, post office, bank, pharmacy, gas stations, or to help people in need. Non-essential travel outside Belgium will be prohibited and citizens are encouraged to work from home.
  • Cambodia: has banned entry of visitors from Italy, Germany, Spain, France and the US to curb the spread of coronavirus. The 30-day ban on foreigners will come into effect on Mar. 17.
  • Canada: the Canadian government announced that the country would restrict departures and arrivals of overseas flights to a fewer number of airports and would increase screenings of passengers showing symptoms of the illness. Recommending that Canadians avoid all non-essential travel outside the country. Non- Canadian citizens or non-permanent residents will be denied entry, with the exception of air crews, diplomats, immediate family members of Canadian citizens, and at this time, US citizens.
  • China: anyone arriving in Beijing from overseas will be required to self-quarantine at home or designated facilities for 14 days. Previously, only people arriving from “high-risk” regions were mandated to do so. International business travelers can only stay at designated hotels in Beijing and have to be tested for the coronavirus. They are not allowed to leave their hotels before receiving test results. The city has cordoned off a wing of Terminal 3 at its massive Capital International Airport to screen and register all international arrivals. For travelers from South Korea, Italy, Iran, Japan, France, Spain, Germany, the United States, United Kingdom, Switzerland, Sweden, Belgium and arrive in Shanghai, they will have to self-quarantine for 14 days.
  • Chile: announced a total closure of its borders.
  • Colombia: will restrict entry and exit for all citizens and foreign nationals till May 30. It would also close its border with Venezuela.
  • Denmark: all tourists and all foreigners who cannot prove a creditable purpose of entering Denmark, will be denied entrance at the Danish borders. Danish citizens will still be allowed to enter the country. The closure would not apply to the transport of goods, including foods, medicine and industry supplies.
  • El Salvador: prohibits entry of all foreigners. All diplomats, Guatemalans with valid passports and Salvadoran residents will be allowed into the country as long as they undergo the mandatory 30 days of isolation.
  • Egypt: suspends all flights for two weeks, effective Mar. 19.
  • European Union: the European Commission will introduce a ban on non-essential travel to the EU, as part of its efforts to tackle and contain the ongoing spread of coronavirus across Europe. These restrictions are in place for an initial period of 30 days, which can be prolonged as necessary and do not apply to family members of European nationals, essential staff, such as doctors and nurses, and people transporting goods to the European Union.
  • Finland: restricts traffic over its borders. Permanent residents would be allowed to return and foreign travelers permitted to leave Finland. Travelling abroad should be avoided and the restrictions are valid until Apr. 13. Passenger railway traffic between Finland and neighboring Russia will end on Mar. 18.
  • France: closed all borders to slow the spread of the disease.
  • Germany: will impose temporary controls on its borders with France, Switzerland, Austria, Denmark and Luxembourg to stop coronavirus spreading.
  • Haiti: flights from Europe, Canada, Dominican Republic and Latin America are banned for two weeks, starting Mar. 16. Flights from the United States will still be permitted.
  • Hong Kong: advised citizens to avoid all non-essential travel. Also introduced mandatory 14-day quarantine for all travelers entering Hong Kong, effective Mar. 19. These measures exclude mainland China, Macau and Taiwan.
  • Hungary: closed its borders to foreigners. People who do not have Hungarian citizenship will not be allowed to enter the territory of Hungary. Immediate family members of Hungarian citizens, if they hold a residency permit, will be allowed to enter the country.
  • India: banning all travelers from the European Union, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland, Turkey and the United Kingdom. This includes Indian citizens departing from these countries. The authorities have also issued a new travel advisory that requires any passengers who arrive in the country to self-quarantine for 14 days if they have visited China, Hong Kong, South Korea, Japan, Italy, Thailand, Singapore, Iran, Malaysia, France, Spain, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait or Germany. The measures will be in place until March 31 and will be reviewed subsequently. Employment, project visas is suspended from Mar. 13 – Apr. 15.
  • Indonesia: will prohibit the entry and transit of visitors who have traveled in the last 14 days to Italy and Vatican City, Spain, France, Germany, the UK, as well as Iran. The ban will take effect at midnight on Mar. 20. For the next month, all travelers who wish to visit Indonesia will also have to obtain a health certificate from their home countries and must apply for a visa from Indonesian missions, the ministry. Restrictions for travelers from China and South Korea’s Daegu City and Gyeongsangbuk-do province remain in place. Indonesians returning from these countries will be subjected to additional health checks.
  • Italy: shuts down most civilian flights. All regular flights operating at Rome Ciampino, Bergamo Orio al Serio, Florence, Reggio Calabria, Brindisi, Trieste and Treviso are to be suspended.
  • Japan: citizens are advised not to travel to all of Iceland, as well as some provinces of Italy, Spain, and Switzerland.
  • Kenya: national borders will be closed to travelers from any country with reported coronavirus cases.
  • Only Kenyan citizens and foreigners with valid residence permits are exempt, so long as they agree to be quarantined.
  • Lebanon: introduces a two-week lockdown and urged people to stay at home for two weeks, until Mar. 29. The Beirut international airport will close from Wednesday, Mar. 18. During this period, no one will be allowed in through maritime or land ports of entry.
  • Macau: the government of Macau will ban all travelers from overseas countries from entering starting from midnight Mar. 18. The measure does not cover Macau residents and non-resident workers, or residents of mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan.
  • Malaysia: bars citizens from going overseas, foreigners from entering country for two weeks, effective Mar. 18 – 31. Those who return from overseas will have to go through health checks and go on a 14-day self-quarantine.
  • Mexico: the Mexican government is urging citizens to avoid non-essential international travel and is reminding Mexicans abroad and those planning to travel in the near future to keep in mind each country’s restrictive coronavirus measures.
  • Mongolia: closed borders with Russia.
  • Morocco: suspended all international passenger flights to and from its airports.
  • New Zealand: people who arrive in the country – including returning Kiwis – to self-isolate for 14 days. This excludes people from the Pacific Islands, effective Mar. 15. The decision will be reviewed in 16 days.
  • Oman: it would allow in only GCC citizens as of Mar. 17.
  • Pakistan: all borders will remain closed for 15 days and international flights will operate only out of Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad airports.
  • Panama: only citizens and residents of Panama will be able to enter the country. Panamanian travelers and residents allowed entry will have to complete a 14-day period of home.
  • Peru: closed borders and imposed mandatory self-quarantine as part of a nationwide state of emergency lasting 15 days.
  • Philippines: suspended land, sea and air transport in the Metro Manila area, limited the number of people entering the capital.
  • Poland: will ban foreigners from entering the country Mar. 15 and impose a 14-day quarantine on its citizens returning home in a bid to curb the spread of coronavirus. Those with a residence permit in Poland will be also allowed to enter. No international inbound flights or trains would be allowed from 0000 CET on Mar. 15, except for some charter flights bringing Poles back from holidays.
  • Portugal: suspending all flights to Italy for a period of 14 days, effective Mar. 11. Borders between Spain and Portugal are also closed, leaving only nine active crossings open to allow for the transit of products and workers who are required to cross the border.
  • Qatar: ban non-Qatari passengers from entering the country for two weeks starting on Mar. 18.
  • Russia: closed border with neighboring Belarus. The country will also bar entry to foreigners with some exceptions starting Mar. 18 and will continue until May 1. These restrictions will not apply to employees of diplomatic missions and consular posts in the Russian Federation, to transportation workers and aircrews and to members of official delegations. Exceptions will also be given to those visiting Russia in connection with the death of a close relative, or to individuals permanently residing in the Russian Federation, and to transit passengers.
  • Saudi Arabia: would suspend international flights for two weeks, effective Mar. 15.
  • Singapore: will block entry or transit for visitors who travelled to Italy, France, Spain and Germany within the last 14 days. Singapore citizens, permanent residents and long-term pass holders who travelled to Italy, France, Spain and Germany within the last 14 days will be issued with a stay-home notice, effective Mar. 15. People who enter Singapore with recent travel history to ASEAN countries, Japan, Switzerland or the United Kingdom will also be issued with a 14-day stay-home notice. This will take effect from 11.59pm on Mar. 16 and applies to all travelers, including Singapore residents, long-term pass holders and short-term visitors. It excludes Singaporeans and Malaysians using sea and land crossings with Malaysia.
  • South Korea: all visitors, regardless of the port of origin, are to undergo a temperature check when entering the country. Those exhibiting symptoms will be required to take a diagnostic test and quarantine for two weeks.
  • Spain: closed its land borders because of the coronavirus pandemic and will last until the end of the 15-day state of emergency. It does not include nationals or residents returning home, cross-border workers, diplomats doing their work and other exceptional situations. The restrictions won’t affect transporting goods to keep the economy activity. Flights and trains are also suspended between Portugal and Spain through a mutual agreement. The measure will last at least until Apr. 15.
  • Sri Lanka: bans all incoming flights for two weeks, starting Mar. 18.
  • Sudan: Sudan has closed its borders, sealing of all sea ports, land crossings and airports. It has also declared a state of medical emergency.
  • Thailand: travelers arriving in Thailand will be categorized into three groups for different levels of surveillance, namely:
    • Travelers from the disease infected zones China – including Hong Kong and Macau – Italy, Iran and South Korea, are now required to apply for a visa before entering Thailand and to quarantine themselves upon arrival in the country. Travelers in this group must also present a health certificate to prove they have no risk of the potentially deadly COVID-19 before they can be issued a boarding pass. During transit, all passengers must keep social-distancing and only stay in the area near the gate. Upon arriving in Thailand, the travelers have to undergo the entry scanning and provide necessary information to officers at the quarantine office. This also applies to people who have transited at an airport in a Disease Infected Zone for at least 12 hours or those who have passed through immigration in any of the countries and territories mentioned above. There is also a mandatory 14-day quarantine for travelers in this category. They are required to self-quarantine at their accommodation for at least 14 days.
    • Travelers from countries with on-going local transmission including France, Spain, Switzerland, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, the United Kingdom, the United States and certain cities in Japan, namely Hokkaido, Tokyo, Aichi, Wakayama, Kanagawa, Chiba, Okinawa, Kyoto and Osaka are required to be under observation (supervision without quarantine) in order to ensure self-monitoring for no less than 14 days until the end of the infectious period. They must also record their own symptoms in the reporting system and monitor their symptoms strictly as required by the public health ministry.
    • Travelers from other destinations are now required to undergo the usual entry and exit screening, and advised to follow health recommendations
  • UAE: to suspend visa issuance to foreigners over COVID-19 pandemic concerns on Mar, 17; move does not affect ability of individuals to enter the UAE whose visas were issued prior to Mar. 17.
  • U.K: British nationals are being advised against any non-essential travel globally for 30 days because of the coronavirus pandemic
  • Ukraine: will close its borders to foreign citizens for two weeks, starting Mar. 16.
  • US: the US State Department raised the worldwide travel advisory to Level 3 — meaning citizens should reconsider travel abroad. It also extended travel ban to UK and Ireland for 30 days. The administration announced earlier the travel ban to parts of Europe for 30 days, effective Mar. 13. The ban covers nations in the Schengen zone. That includes Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland. Also introduced a new processing procedure for returning citizens from certain European countries, China and Iran – Americans coming from all restricted countries are required to travel through the following 13 airports:
    • Boston-Logan International Airport (BOS), Massachusetts
    • Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD), Illinois
    • Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW), Texas
    • Detroit Metropolitan Airport (DTW), Michigan
    • Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL), Hawaii
    • Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL), Georgia
    • John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), New York
    • Los Angeles International Airport, (LAX), California
    • Miami International Airport (MIA), Florida
    • Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR), New Jersey
    • San Francisco International Airport (SFO), California
    • Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA), Washington
    • Washington-Dulles International Airport (IAD), Virginia
  • Vietnam: will suspend the issue of new visas for all foreign nationals to curb the spread of coronavirus in the Southeast Asian nation. The restriction will be in place for 15 to 30 days. In addition, as requirement of Vietnam government, all passengers, including Vietnamese and foreign citizens, are requested to fill in medical status declaration forms before coming to Vietnam. All passengers coming from or through China, South Korea, the UK and Schengen countries will be compulsorily quarantined and tested for COVID-19. The compulsory quarantine applies to arrivals from Mar. 14. Everyone, including foreigners, were required to wear face masks in public places.

For the latest travel restrictions set in place by country/region, please click here.

Airline updates

Below is a non-exhaustive summary of announcements by the respective airlines.

  • Air France-KLM: reducing its flights by 70% to 80% over the next two weeks. This will mean Air France will ground all of its Airbus 380 and Boeing 747 fleet.
  • Air New Zealand: will cut long-haul capacity by 85 per cent over the coming months, suspending flights to destinations including San Francisco, London, Buenos Aires, Honolulu and Tokyo.
  • American Airlines: will suspend 75% of its long-haul international flights from the U.S., beginning Mar. 16 in response to decreased demand and government travel restrictions put in place to lessen the spread of COVID-19.
  • Austrian Airlines: will suspend all flight operations temporarily starting Mar. 19.
  • British Airways: reduce flight capacity by at least 75% during April and May.
  • Cebu Pacific: canceling all flights — domestic and international — from Mar. 19 till Apr. 14.
  • China Southern Airlines: to resume the following international services to North America from Mar. 2020:
    • Guangzhou-Los Angeles: Three times weekly from Mar. 17, increasing to four times weekly from Mar. 29, to daily from Jun.1 and temporarily to 10 times weekly between Jun. 19 and Aug. 30.
    • Guangzhou-San Francisco: Four times weekly from Mar. 20 and increasing to daily from Jun. 20;
    • Guangzhou-New York: Twice weekly from Mar. 18 and operate up to 13 times weekly from Jun. to late Oct. 2020;
    • Guangzhou-Toronto: Four times weekly from Apr. 17 and increase to daily from Jun. 1;
    • Guangzhou-Vancouver: Three times weekly from Mar. 16, increase from four times weekly from Apr. 1 and to daily from Jun.1.
  • Delta Air Lines: will cut flying by 40%, halt Europe service and grounds 300 planes. Delta has also capped fares and waived change fees on flights from or through Europe and the UK through May.
  • El Al: announced suspension of majority of its operations. The airline will maintain connections to New York, Newark, London and Johannesburg, but flights to other locations, such as Moscow, Mumbai, and most destinations in the European Union will be suspended.
  • Jetstar Asia: grounds entire fleet, suspends all services from Mar. 23 to at least Apr. 15.
  • Lufthansa: will reduce flights by up to 90%.
  • Norwegian Air: will suspend around 4,000 flights and temporarily lay off up to 50% of its workers as businesses contend with sharp declines in revenue. 40% of Norwegian’s long-haul fleet and 25% of its short haul fleet will be grounded until May.
  • Qantas: cuts its international capacity by 90% and domestic flights by 60% until at least the end of May. They affect both Qantas flights and those of its budget carrier Jetstar and will impact the company’s entire 30,000 staff.
  • SAS: to halt most flights, temporarily lay off 90% of staff.
  • Singapore Airlines: cutting flights across its network by 50% till end April as more countries impose border restrictions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Turkish Airlines: suspended routes to nine destinations across the continent. Altogether, flights to Germany, France, Spain, Norway, Denmark, Belgium, Austria, Sweden, Netherlands will be halted until Apr. 17.
  • Ukraine International Airlines: has suspended all international scheduled flights through March 31. Passengers who plan to fly starting from April 1 are advised to keep themselves updated on flight schedule and status changes. In addition, Ukraine International will operate flights from 11 cities to Kyiv. Only the citizens of Ukraine and foreigners with permanent or temporary residency permits will be accepted aboard. The cities are:
    • Dubai
    • Cairo
    • Tel Aviv
    • Yerevan
    • Tbilisi
    • Istanbul
    • Baku
    • Toronto
    • New York
    • Chisinau
    • Bangkok
    • United Airlines: will cut flight capacity by 50% in April and May.
  • Virgin Atlantic: will reduce 80% of its flights per day by Mar. 26, grounding approximately 75% of its fleet. At points in April, that will go up to 85%. The airline said it will terminate its London Heathrow-Newark route permanently with immediate effect.
  • Virgin Australia: international services will be suspended from Mar. 30 – Jun. 14. The airline is also slashing domestic capacity by half.

The information in this post is accurate as of March 18 and is provided for general information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. BCD Travel does not provide advice or recommendations on the prudence of travel to an affected destination. However, we seek to provide pertinent information, allowing companies and travelers to make informed decisions regarding business travel. As the situation remains fluid, we recommend you follow the latest development via trusted news sources.

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