As reports of COVID-19 cases are rising around the globe, fear of being infected while traveling is also growing more and more prevalent.
The U.S. Department of State has issued a global health advisory urging people to reconsider travel to anywhere in the world, in addition the U.S. Government’s restriction on travel from China, Iran and 26 countries in Europe.
Your best defence is to cancel your travel plans, but in cases of emergency, or if you need to get employees back to home base, there are precautions that can help lower the risk of spreading the virus.
Tips for Keeping Travelers Healthy
The best way to stay safe while traveling is to practice good hygiene, be aware of the current risks, and avoid crowds and close contact with others as much as possible.
Most of these tips are important to practice whether you’re traveling or not, but they’re especially useful anytime you’re in public places like airports or train stations.
- Wash hands frequently with soap for at least 20 seconds and use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol
- Practice cough hygiene by coughing into a tissue or the crease of your elbow. Wash hands with soap for at least 20 seconds.
- Whether you’re traveling or not, monitor for acute respiratory symptoms including cough, fever or shortness of breath.
- If you have any signs of sickness, stay home, avoid any kind of travel and contact a healthcare provider
- Avoid touching your face. The coronavirus is known to spread through droplets of saliva or mucus, which can transfer from surfaces to hands and can cause infection if transferred to your eyes, nose or mouth.
- If you have to fly, book a window seat on planes to reduce your risk of transmission
- Bring disinfecting wipes to sanitize your seat and the area around you before sitting down on a plane
- Although the International Air Transport Association considers the risk of transmitting viruses on an airplane to be low, airplanes are inherently crowded places. If possible, employees may want to consider alternate forms of travel, like a rental car to get home from their destination.
In light of the latest travel restrictions, business travelers may be worried about being left stranded at their destination when traveling for work. We recommend taking a proactive approach and sharing information regularly with employees, including updates on your company travel policies and information about the risks involved with choosing to travel.
The CDC is providing up-to-date information on areas of risk for Coronavirus, as well as advice to help people make decisions for their own health and the safety of others.
Employees who are traveling can register for the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive immediate alerts from the State Department in emergency situations.
Returning from Travel
If you don’t already have policies that encourage remote working, now may be the time to implement them. Whether you choose to require all employees to work from home or not, employees who have returned from travel and may have an increased risk of exposure should be asked to work from home or take time off.
The CDC advises that travellers who are returning from Level 3 Health Risk Countries should practice social distancing (staying out of contact with others) for 14 days from the time they may have been infected.
Because traveling anywhere, including within the U.S. poses increased risks of exposure, it’s prudent to extend this 14 day social distancing policy to all travelers. When in doubt, practice caution, and always encourage your employees to do what it takes to keep themselves and the people around them safe.
During these uncertain times, we could all benefit from some added support from one another. For all your travel concerns, we’re here for you. You can get in touch with our support team 24/7 for help cancelling your travel plans, updating your policies, and ensuring employees find a way home wherever they are in the world.