UPDATED May 7, 2020
We’ve had a lot of clients and prospective clients reach out asking about coronavirus travel information. What are the effects of the coronavirus travel ban? What happens when there are coronavirus travel cancelations? What is the situation now that some countries are loosening their stay-at-home restrictions?
We’ve done a series of blog posts as the situation has developed – like you, we are learning as we go in a sea that seems to change every day.
Here we have compiled, as best we can, a full guide to travel and coronavirus as it affects our travelers, updated May 6, 2020.
I heard some countries are starting to reopen? Is that so? When will travel to them resume?
Many countries in Europe and Asia are starting to loosen their stay-at-home restrictions. We will add information as we have it, but here is what our partners are telling us in the following countries. (Please note we have done our best to verify the accuracy of this information but do not guarantee it. It is always best to consult the country in question’s official website.)
May 4: factories and some businesses (mostly in industry) reopened.
May 18: offices, shops, and museums will reopen (following social distancing guidelines), and stay-at-home restrictions will be lightened.
June 1: restaurants, bars, cafes, and hotels will reopen (following social distancing guidelines). Flight and train connections are planned to resume to some degree.
May 4: small retail shops reopened, lightening of stay-at-home orders within one’s own prefecture. Swimming allowed at non-organized beaches Churches were opened for individual prayer but not services.
May 11: all retail stores except malls to reopen. High school seniors expected to return to classes.
May 17: churches to resume services, but following social distancing guidelines.
May 18: archaeological sites reopen, as will parks, botanical gardens, and zoos (all following social distancing guidelines). Schools (lower grade and high school) will reopen.
June 1: outside seating at cafes and restaurants will reopen (following social distancing guidelines).
June 5: year-round hotels reopen, domestic flights restored. Seasonal hotels will announce opening dates.
Spain: Please note that Spain plans to implement 4 phases of reopening, but they may be applied at different times to different regions depending on the specific situation in each region. For details see http://www.ceutaldia.com/media/ceutaldia/files/2020/04/28/Plan-Transicion-Nueva-Normalidad-abril2020.pdf
May 2: lightening of the stay-at-home order with adults and children allowed to go out for exercise within 1 km of their home.
May 11: activities allowed include moving around within your province, social gathering of up to 10 people, small shops to reopen, as well as open-air markets (following social distancing rules), and outdoors seating at bars and restaurants (max 50% capacity). Hotels to reopen (excluding common areas). Some non-professional sports to resume, as well as professional leagues. Cultural shows, museums, places of worship, and funerals will be allowed to take place with limitations on the number of people (usually maximum 30% of capacity and following social distancing guidelines).
Phase 2 will follow 2 or more weeks later. The earliest it could start is May 25 and would include: further opening of seating in bars and restaurants (still limited capacity). Reopening of malls (excluding common areas). Reopening of cinemas and theaters, monuments, etc., but with max one third capacity. Some cultural activities, education centers, and weddings will resume. Places of worship can increase capacity to 50%. Hunting and fishing resume.
Phase 3 will follow 2 or more weeks later, so at the earliest June 8. It will include: more flexible mobility, increasing capacity limitations (but not to full capacity) of previously reopened sectors, opening of beaches and bullrings (following social distancing guidelines).
Phase 4, the final phase, will follow 2 or more weeks later, at the earliest June 22. Referred to as the “new normal,” or “nueva normalidad,” freedom of movement is predicted to be mostly restored, but with continuation of some protective measures.
Per the US Embassy in Vietnam, domestic rail and air travel resumed in Vietnam April 23. May 4 some students began returning to school.
May 7 non-essential businesses (excluding discotheques and karaoke lounges) can reopen. Sporting activities can resume, including those with large gatherings. Seating capacity limits on trains, ships, flights, buses can be lifted. Wearing a face mask in public places and on all means of transport is obligatory. International flights are still very limited. Entry into Vietnam of foreigners is still suspended.
Vietnam has had 271 confirmed cases of COVID-19.
May 4 – Initial lockdown starts to lift.
May 11 – restaurants, bars, shopping malls to reopen, gatherings of 10 or more people to be allowed. Parks to reopen.
What is COVID-19?
COVID-19 is the name given to the current disease that has made our lives so challenging as it has spread around the world. COVID-19 stands for “COronaVIrus Disease 2019). The disease is caused by a novel coronavirus. What’s that? A novel coronavirus means a new, previously unidentified coronavirus (“novel” means new). (1)
What is a coronavirus?
A coronavirus is a type of virus. It is called a “corona” virus (“corona” means crown) because of the shape of it if observed under a microscope. Some coronaviruses cause disease, some don’t. Some coronaviruses affect humans. Some affect animals. It is possible, but rare, for a coronavirus to “jump” species: that is, from infecting animals, it could begin infecting humans. (2)
Is this what happened with the COVID-19? Although you may have heard it was caused by a live animal market in Wuhan, China, where it originated, or by eating an infected bat, so far experts do not know specifically what caused it. They surmise it might be an example of jumping from animals to humans because it is a new virus that no one has seen before in humans. (2)
There are several coronaviruses that affect humans, and most cause symptoms like the common cold such as: runny nose, sore throat, headache, fever, and cough. COVID-19, like most respiratory viruses, causes these symptoms as well, and most who are infected will experience only mild symptoms. However, some people develop severe symptoms such as shortness of breath and difficulty breathing, and in those cases require stays in intensive care, intubation, and can result in death. What percentage of cases become severe, and what percentage is fatal? Experts are still working out those numbers, but although healthy people can become seriously ill, to date experts have stated that the majority of serious and fatal cases occur in older people and those with underlying illnesses. (3)
Coronavirus Travel Information and Coronavirus Travel Advisory (General)
COVID-19 started in the Wuhan province of China, with the first report to the World Health Organization by Chinese officials on December 31, 2019 (4). The first travel advisories affected travel to and from China. As the disease spread to other countries, additional travel advisories were added. On January 30 the World Health Organization declared the outbreak a Public Health Emergency (4) and the next day the US instituted a travel ban of foreign nationals who had traveled to China in the last 14 days. (5)
February saw travel advisories go into effect for South Korea and Italy, and then Iran and Japan, as the outbreak spread and intensified. In March, as the illness spread, so too did the travel advisories, including a ban on foreign nationals flying to the US from Europe. (5) Currently there is no law that prohibits Americans from traveling abroad, but the State Department and the CDC recommend avoiding all non-essential international travel. (1)
For additional information about travel and coronavirus, you can consult the CDC’s website: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/faqs.html
Coronavirus Travel Cancellations and Coronavirus Travel Ban
We do not currently have anyone traveling either internationally or domestically on our trips, although we do have clients planning to travel over the summer and fall. Some clients have asked about the Travel Ban and whether it might affect their ability to reenter the United States. Currently foreign nationals are not permitted entry to the U.S. but U.S. citizens and residents (and their families) are allowed reentry but are directed to one of a dozen screening airports. If the travel ban on foreign nationals and the travel advisories remain in effect, however, many flights will be canceled and travelers may be forced to postpone their trips. (6)
It is still uncertain when the travel advisories will be lifted.
Coronavirus and Travel FAQ
The following are some frequently asked questions from our travelers.
I’m worried about our the friends we made on our culinary travels. Is everyone ok?
We are happy to report that both we at The International Kitchen and all our international and domestic partners are currently well. We do not currently have anyone traveling in the US or abroad. The safety and wellbeing of our travelers and our partners is paramount to us.
My trip is scheduled for this summer. What do I do?
If your trip is scheduled to start in fewer than 90 days, you have already heard from us and one of the following has happened: either you have postponed your trip to later in 2020 or 2021; you have canceled your trip and are waiting to choose new dates; or we have delayed your final payment to 30 days prior and we are waiting to see how events unfold before determining whether you will travel.
My trip is scheduled for this fall. Will I be able travel?
It’s simply too soon to tell but we do hope so. If your trip is more than 90 days off, we strongly recommend waiting to see how the situation unfolds, as it is changing daily.
What if I’m interested in a trip for next year?
We would love to help you plan your trip for next year, and it is not to early to book for 2021. The COVID-19 pandemic will not last forever. If you book a trip for 2021 and find yourself in a similar situation next year, we will again be as flexible as possible in allowing you to reapply deposits and payments should unforeseen events occur.
Have more question? Contact us!
1. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, “Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) FAQs,” https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/faq.html
2. Johns Hopkins Medicine, “Coronavirus (COVID-19),” https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/coronavirus
3. World Health Organization, “Coronavirus,” https://www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus#tab=tab_1.
4. World Health Organization, “Rolling update on coronavirus disease (COVID-19),” https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/events-as-they-happen
5.CNN, “Coronavirus Outbreak Timeline Fast Facts,” https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/06/health/wuhan-coronavirus-timeline-fast-facts/index.html
6. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, “Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Travelers Prohibited from Entry to the United States,” https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/from-other-countries.html.
7. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, “Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Coronavirus and Travel with the US,” https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/travel-in-the-us.html
This article is intended for informational purposes for our clients. We are not medical doctors or epidemiologists. Please refer to the CDC, the WHO, or your local health authorities with questions about COVID-19.
Read some of our suggestions of things to pass the time if you are in lockdown.
Previous versions of this blog appeared April 3, 2020 and May 6, 2020.