Covid-19 has rapidly caused fundamental changes of many aspects of the society we live in today. The new concerns andrestrictions introduced because of the virus must now be taken into consideration when acting, moving or travelling in the world. Naturally, this should also impact travel policies. This document provides a range of suggestionsand a justification for amending travel policy in order to acknowledge the disruption of Covid-19.
The following assumes that a vaccine will not be available in the near future. An effective vaccine and its distribution
worldwide will further change the risk landscape and is likely to spark other structural restrictions and
obstacles for the global traveller than those present today
Parts of the world are returning to a new normal after the initial upheaval that followed Covid-19 while others remain in the eye of the storm. The exact level of precautions is difficult to determine as the situation continues to change by the day. With this in mind, a Covid-19 adjusted travel policy should impose additional precautions and restrictions designed to accommodate a worst or near-worst case scenario – but one that still allows business travel. It is easier to operate with a worst-case status quo and to ease policies when restrictions allow, than to be caught unprepared. It may prove that regional travel is less restricted than inter-regional, but restrictions are likely to apply to some degree. The following should be considered for all travel until proven otherwise.
Preparation and Travel Approval
- Health Care Preparation: Keep a stock of face masks ready for travelling employees and consider providing a medical grab bag with face masks, sanitizer and thermometer.
- Approval Process: Clear pre-approval process addressing who, where and with what timeline must a traveller apply for approval.
- Clear Approval Criteria: Is the trip business critical? What quarantine measures are in place? Any showstoppers?
- Safe Hotels: Have a list of hotels with a high sanitary standard that the traveller can use at the destination.
- Book Flexible Tickets: Flexible tickets will ensure that trips can be cancelled with a short notice if restrictions change or the employee gets ill.
- Travel Bans: Consider areas that are unsafe to travel, both due to Covid-19 but also because of its consequences, restrictions and laws. Are any travel bans necessary and if so, what triggers should activate a travel ban? Take all concerns regarding Covid-19 seriously – all travel should be voluntary.
- Duty of Care: Are employees supported by a duty of care travel risk management program? If yes, ensure that the provider is updated on your destinations and travel approval process.
- 24/7 Support: Travellers should have access to a 24/7 emergency hotline for emergency transportation, medical and security needs.
- Insurance Coverage: Do your company’s travel insurance cover and are you aware of limitations?
Entry and exit requirements will differ between countries for some time and are subject to change as Covid-19 infection levels fluctuate. It is important to keep track of entry, exit and movement restrictions in all relevant destinations. Especially for inter-regional travel, longer waiting times and clarifying health checks can be expected at all ports of entry.
All countries have their own travel restrictions and social distancing measures. If these are not adhered to, fines or imprisonment can be the consequence. It is imperative that local laws and extraordinary Covid-19 restrictions are understood before travel is initiated.
- Travel Documents: Special travel documentation may be needed before take-off or upon arrival in some countries e.g. proof of health, immunity, travel insurance coverage, nationality, address, residency/work permit, travel history and proof for plans during the stay. This must be evaluated before every departure.
- Knowledge of Quarantine Restrictions: Restrictions at the destination as well as in the home country can change and it is important to keep track of these changes. Quarantine restrictions may change during travel and a strategy for how to assist stranded travellers must be in place.
- Knowledge of Social Distancing Measures: Read and understand social distancing measures in the country of arrival. Be aware that restrictions can differ between regions in the individual country. The traveller must know current movement and social distancing restrictions at destination and consequences for disobedience.
- Transportation Upon Arrival: Be aware of any limitations to your transportation. Travellers must adhere to social distancing during all transport, this is also the case when traveling by private car. Face masks should be used especially if social distancing cannot be kept. Generally, public transport should be avoided during peak hours. After transport, hands must be disinfected immediately.
Returning to Office After Travel
After returning from travel, the employee’s immediate manager, or whoever is responsible, should approve whether they can return to office.
- Criteria for Returning: Clear assessment criteria for returning travellers and whether they can return to work, what tasks can potentially be handed from home?
- Need for Isolation: If the traveller shows any symptoms, he/she should stay at home for 14 days or as long as required by the employer.
General Security Concerns after Covid-19
As a consequence of the economic downturn that Covid-19 and the restrictions to contain it has brought, the risk of social instability has increased considerably across the world. The security and stability of the traveller’s end destination must be considered with great precision and attention. The influence of Covid-19 will exacerbate pre-existing trends. Unstable and fragile states will be impacted hardest and security risks in these areas will rise as instability and fragility increase. This is especially relevant for destinations in the global south but may potentially be felt worldwide.
Increasing unemployment and fragility of livelihoods around the world may drive some individuals to extreme measures:
• Increase in crime ranging from violent assaults and carjacking’s to fraud and cybercrime.
• Increase in strikes, protests, blockades, political and religious unrest.
• Expansion of terrorist or militant extremist groups
• Potential active shooter incidents
• Health systems overburdened or collapsed
• Violence towards health care workers when seen as a source of infection rather than a cure
- Need for Security Measures: Evaluate the impact of Covid-19 on the risk level of the destination. An increasingly uncertain risk landscape demands that travellers re-evaluate travel destinations and take greater precautionary measures. This may include the need for a risk assessment of the destination.
Falck Global Assistance