Should I still travel to the US for my holiday or work trip?

Mar 14, 2020

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At TPG, whilst we are not medical experts, we follow the very latest developments in the coronavirus situation and use our expert travel knowledge, combined with the advice of the real medical experts to assist you in making travel decisions. While we can’t tell you whether or not to travel, we can help you with some things to consider.

The current pandemic has led to a quagmire of rules, restrictions and advisories, many of which are changing by the hour. If you have a trip planned to the U.S.A. in the coming days and weeks, we are here to cut through the noise.

The latest Europe to US travel restrictions

Following the announcement this week by President Trump banning travel by foreign nationals to the U.S. from some European countries, most foreigners who have visited a Schengen Area country, Iran or mainland China in the past 14 days will not be allowed to enter the United States from midnight on Friday 13 March. As of today, the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland are excluded from the ban.

The situation could quickly change, but right now, you must start your journey in the U.K. or Ireland and must not have visited any of the Schengen Area counties in the past 14 days, or else the ban will apply to you. These counties include Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

(Image courtesy of the EU)
(Image courtesy of the EU)

The restrictions do not apply to “legal permanent residents, (generally) immediate family members of U.S. citizens, and other individuals who are identified in the proclamation”, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

Related: Everything you need to know about the US European travel ban

I’m not caught by the restrictions, now what?

What is the purpose of your visit?

You may be eligible to enter the U.S., but will your trip still be worth it? This may depend heavily on your ultimate destination. Various containment zones are rolling out across the U.S.A. Washington State appears to be particularly heavily locked down with a ban on gatherings and events of more than 250 people in some counties in an effort to try to contain the coronavirus outbreak according to local news sites.

This may be particularly key if the reason for your visit is a sport or music event, or an industry conference. These types of events may well have been cancelled. For example, the curtain is down on Broadway shows in New York City, and all Disney parks are now closed.

A sign is displayed on the door of the Brooks Atkinson Theatre, where the musical Six, along with other musicals, were canceled in the Times Square neighborhood of New York, U.S., on Thursday, March 12, 2020. New York, the financial and cultural capital of the U.S., folded in on itself Thursday amid the coronavirus pandemic. Photographer: Mark Kauzlarich/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A sign is displayed on the door of the Brooks Atkinson Theatre, where the musical Six, along with other musicals, were cancelled in the Times Square (Mark Kauzlarich/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

It is very important to visit local government and news websites for the latest information on the restrictions of specific states, cities and counties, as they differ greatly and change regularly. From there, you can make an informed decision on whether there is any point in still travelling.

Can you still get there?

As the new restrictions come into play, there are likely to be a swathe of flight cancellations. Many European airlines such as Air France, Finnair, Norwegian, SAS and Lufthansa have slashed U.S. routes. U.S. airlines are also following suit with American Airlines announcing major European flight suspensions, along with Delta and United.

American Airlines, for example, has reduced its services from London Heathrow to Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth and New York JFK.

13 March 2020, Hessen, Frankfurt/Main: Canceled flights can be seen on the terminal display board. As of Saturday, a ban on entry into the USA will apply to Europeans. The aviation industry has also been affected by the travel restrictions resulting from the Corona pandemic. Lufthansa alone has already cancelled more than 20,000 flights until April. Photo: Boris Roessler/dpa (Photo by Boris Roessler/picture alliance via Getty Images)
(Photo by Boris Roessler/picture alliance via Getty Images)

You should check in with your travel agent or airline to ensure that your flight will operate. If you decide to still travel and your flight is cancelled, your airline should help with rebooking on available routes.

Related: European airlines slash US flight schedules amid new travel restrictions

Are you showing symptoms?

Anyone showing symptoms of coronavirus should follow the advice of their local health organisations, and this will almost always preclude travelling.

Arm yourself with knowledge

Before making a decision, arm yourself with lots of information to ensure your choices are well-considered. These articles will help:

I’m going, how do I travel safely?

Once you have weight up all the facts, you may still decide to travel. You should still exercise caution if you choose to do so. You should carefully follow the advice of public bodies like the World Health Organisation, the NHS and Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Take extra caution with washing hands, touching surfaces, being in contact with other people and cleaning aeroplane seats and surrounding areas.

It is also important to ensure you have the right travel insurance policy that will protect you if you need to cancel your trip, whether by choice or not. It will also be vital in the event that your fall sick and require medical or other assistance. Medical care in the U.S. can be eye-wateringly expensive, and so this sort of protection is of utmost importance.

Bottom line

Many people will no longer be eligible to travel to the US from Europe, but for those who are there are many more considerations at play. Can you actually still get there, and is there still a purpose to your visit?

If you decide to defy the increasing lockdown on global travel, please stay safe and do share your experiences with us.

Featured image by Nicky Kelvin / The Points Guy

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