Wednesday, March 11, 2020

COVID-19: What to Know If You’re Planning to Travel.

Posted By on Wed, Mar 11, 2020 at 3:11 PM

With the ever-changing news regarding COVID-19, you may be wondering if and when you or your loved ones should travel.

As of mid-week, there are no government-mandated travel restrictions or bans within the United States. There are some actions that could indicate what may yet come, such as the "containment zone" in New Rochelle, New York, and some governmental restrictions on gatherings above a certain number. And there are businesses and organizations that are limiting travel for their personnel. The domestic situation is fluid and could change, and there are international destinations where you will be unable to go for the foreseeable future.

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Memphis magazine and the Memphis Flyer asked Deenie Phelan, vice president of HR and Operations for the Travelennium travel agency, to speak to what's going on in the travel industry and to address what people should consider if they have travel plans.

“Traveling now is a personal decision and can be made based on private information that only you possess. What is your overall health condition? If you are generally healthy and practice common sense, you stand an excellent chance of overcoming any potential colds, viruses, flu, or infection you may come in contact with, whether here at home or on a trip. Only you can determine how comfortable you are with the possibility of getting sick. Travel suppliers are taking extraordinary measures to sanitize everything you might come in contact with, so it might be safer now than ever to be in a hotel or on an airplane or cruise ship.

“If you would be considered unhealthy by medical standards or have an underlying health condition, you should probably not travel during what seems to be the height of the transmission.

“Another valid and pressing concern is regarding your time. If your trip becomes disrupted due to COVID-19, there is a real possibility that you could be detained or quarantined for a period of time — expect two weeks at the minimum. Will you be able to miss additional weeks from your job, child care, pet care, as well as any other responsibilities in your life? 

“Should you conclude that you are healthy and have the time to travel, definitely go and enjoy the lighter crowds. We highly recommend purchasing Cancel for Any Reason (CFAR) travel insurance. Also it would be wise to pack an extra few weeks of any medication with you, just in case.

“If you opt to postpone your travel plans, our best optimistic guess for the future is that this disruption in our normal lives will last through the end of May. The best and brightest medical and scientific minds are studying the virus and 90 days seems to cover the incubation and spread time being experienced in Asia before the upswing occurred.

“When the current situation subsides, know that the travel deals will be yours for the taking. Every travel supplier will be hoping to lure the public back with specials to get you in their hotels, and on their airplanes and cruises. You stand to score an unbelievable value on your travel later this year, and that is great news.

“Our approach is a positive one and should make you feel in control of the travel process.”

— Deenie Phelan

Amtrak

Amtrak is responding to COVID-19 and has announced the following:

  • The rail passenger carrier is implementing enhanced cleaning protocols and is increasing the frequency of cleaning service on its trains and stations.
  • There will be additional antibacterial products such as sanitizers and disinfectant wipes on trains and at stations.
  • There will be no change fees on bookings made through April 30, 2020, allowing for riders to have flexibility in changing plans.


Delta Airlines

Delta Airlines has responded to the outbreak by using a high-grade EPA-registered disinfectant on all flights, a new fogging process used by the food industry, state-of-the-art air circulation systems, more hand sanitizer, more gloves for flight attendants, and additional sanitation procedures for inbound catering equipment at international gateways.

The air carrier is also disinfecting airport kiosks multiple times daily, increased the cleaning schedule of gate areas, and washing and bagging blankets after each flight.


Links for more information:

The University of Tennessee Health Science Center Coronavirus Information Center

The Shelby County Health Department Coronavirus Information Website

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