A lot of updates and announcements are rolling out regarding the various destinations that have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
With the constant flow of information, travel advisories, and flight suspensions, it can be challenging to stay on top of the most recent rules.
We are here to provide clarity on the situation and break down which destinations travellers should avoid due to the coronavirus pandemic.
With international cases of coronavirus continuing to rise, a few countries have temporarily suspended tourism, taking it a step further to limit movement in and out of their countries.
With the largest number of confirmed coronavirus cases outside of China, authorities in Italy decided to extend their quarantine restrictions to the entire country.
All public gatherings and sporting events in Italy have also been cancelled.
The Government of Nepal’s Ministry of Affairs and Department of Immigration announced that they would be suspending visas-on-arrival for newcomers from March 14 until April 30, 2020.
As well, in a presidential address on March 16, French President Emmanuel Macron announced that all of France would enter a 15-day lockdown to combat the increasing number of cases due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The government has also closed schools and universities and has banned all social gatherings, including walking outside.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on March 23 that the country would be entering a three-week lockdown.
However, Dr. Jenny Harries, the UK’s deputy chief medical officer, stated that it could extend to last between three to six months.
Still, the UK government has extended visas for travellers who are currently unable to travel home due to restrictions, suspensions, and lockdowns resulting from the pandemic.
To that end, the entire European Union has closed its external borders to most people from foreign countries for a minimum of 30 days, European Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula Von der Leye announced in a press conference on March 17, leaving many international travellers still stranded.
Australia and New Zealand have both closed their borders as well, a historic first for New Zealand.
Citizens in India have been banned from leaving their homes as the country enters a three-week country-wide lockdown.
As well, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis of Greece announced on Sunday, March 22, that the country would enter a nation-wide lockdown, with the government banning all unnecessary transit or movement of people throughout the country.
China has also barred foreign nationals, including those holding visas and resident permits, from entering the country as of March 28.
Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau announced on March 16 that Canada would be taking more aggressive measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
As such, the country has closed its borders to all non-Canadian or non-permanent residents. For those already in Canada, the government has issued an Official Global Travel Advisory urging all Canadians to avoid non-essential travel outside the country until further notice.
Beginning Wednesday, March 18, all foreign nationals will not be permitted to board flights to Canada. However, there are exceptions for immediate family members of Canadian citizens, airline employees, travellers who have layovers in Canada, and diplomats.
Beginning Wednesday, a majority of international flights will only be permitted to land at four major airports:
- Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ)
- Montreal-Trudeau International Airport (YUL)
- Vancouver International Airport (YVR)
- Calgary International Airport (YYC)
In a press conference conducted on March 13, US President Donald Trump declared a national state of emergency due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Additionally, the United States Department of State has issued a Global Level 4 Health Advisory advising all American citizens not to travel abroad as a result of the global impact of coronavirus.
In an update posted on its website on March 14, American Airlines has implemented a suspension of additional long-haul international flights from the US as of March 16 through to May 6.
The airline will also be reducing its international capacity by 75% year over year from March 16 to May 6.
It will continue its one daily flight from Dallas-Fort Worth to London as well as the one daily flight from Miami to London. However, it will be suspending flights from New York (JFK), Boston (BOS), Chicago (ORD), and Los Angeles to London gradually in the next seven days to re-accommodate passengers and crew who are affected.
It will also continue short-haul international flying to destinations, including Canada, the Caribbean, Mexico, Central America and “certain markets in the northern part of South America” as scheduled.
Additionally, on top of the alterations to international flights, American also anticipates decreasing its domestic capacity in April by reducing it 20% compared to last year and will reduce it by 30% on a year over year basis.
The airline is also suspending all remaining flights to Asia with the exception of three flights per week from Dallas-Fort-Worth to Tokyo. It is also suspending service from Los Angeles to Sydney as of March 16.
Additional flights to Europe, including those already suspended to Amsterdam, Barcelona, Madrid, Frankfurt, Munich, and Paris are discussed in full in the update.
The update also discusses the suspension of South American flights, including those to Rio de Janeiro, Guyana, São Paulo, and other destinations.
In a statement posted to its website on March 18, Air Canada declared that it would be suspending a majority of its international and US transborder flights by March 31, 2020, as a result of government policies — both US and Canadian — to restrict border access.
The airline will continue serving a select few international and US transborder operations from Canadian cities after April 1, 2020, and expects to continue serving all provinces and territories within the country after that date, but with a significantly reduced network.
Air Canada will also continue repatriation efforts to bring Canadian citizens currently abroad back home.
As well, in response to announcements made by US and Canadian governments, the airline will reduce its transborder network from 53 airports to 13 as of April 1.
In an update posted to its website on March 30, Air Canada announced that it would be laying off an additional 15,200 employees, furloughing about 1,300 managers, and cutting its capacity for the Second Quarter of 2020 by 85-90% compared to last year.
The Lufthansa Group has had to cut 95% of its flights, while Austrian Airlines, Air Dolomiti, and Brussels Airlines have all discontinued operations altogether.
Delta Airlines also issued updates and is extending any tickets for travel in March or April set to expire before June 30, 2020, to allow travel until December 31, 2020, permitting customers to rebook and fly with those tickets until the end of this year.
The airline is also waiving all change fees for trips, both US domestic and international, departing in March or April 2020, international flights departing in May 2020, as well as all tickets purchased in March 2020.
Those trips eligible for a waiver can have dates moved and even select an entirely new destination. Customers can cancel or change their travel by December 31, 2020, or their ticket expiration date.
In an update published on their website, United Airlines is permitting customers with travel dates between March 10 and May 31, 2020, to alter their travel plans without fees regardless of when the tickets were purchased or where they are travelling. There are also no fees for new travel books between March 3 and April 30, 2020.
For customers with international travel plans that are disrupted by more than six hours as a result of schedule changes resulting from government restrictions, they will receive a travel credit equal to the value of their ticket. This credit can be used toward any flight to any destination for 12 months from when it was purchased.
For those who booked flights between March 3 and March 31, 2020, they are now able to change it free of charge over the next 12 months.
Due to a decrease in demand and government restrictions put in place due to coronavirus, United will be significantly reducing its schedule by 60% in April, including a 42% reduction across the US and Canada as well as an 85% decrease in international flights.
For the latest information regarding these airlines’ updates, see below:
In an announcement posted on their website on March 12, Princess Cruises stated that they would be voluntarily suspending their services temporarily for 60 days due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The pause in service will impact the operations of 18 ships and will last from now until May 10.
Royal Caribbean announced on March 24 that they would be extending their voluntary suspension of services until May 11, 2020, with a goal of resuming operations on May 12, 2020.
Additionally, Viking River Cruises also issued a statement on their website explaining that they would also be suspending their operations of both river and sea cruises for voyages taking place between March 12 and April 30.
Celebrity Cruises announced that they have suspended all global sailings through May 11, 2020.
They are also suspending Alaska sailings through July 1, 2020, and Canada/New England voyages departing May 19, May 28, and June 16, will be modified.
Italian cruise line Costa decided to extend the temporary suspension of its cruises until April 30, 2020.
Finally, Holland America has extended its suspension of service for an additional 30 days, cancelling all scheduled sailings departing through May 14.
In terms of sectors within the overall travel industry, cruise lines have been suffering particularly severely with ships such as the Diamond Princess and Grand Princess receiving substantial media coverage for confirmed cases onboard their vessels.
The coronavirus pandemic is sending shockwaves through the entire travel industry, and travellers are growing increasingly concerned regarding their health and safety. It is wise, in times like these, to instill best practices and remain informed regarding any new information surrounding travel advisories and government policies.
If you do plan on travelling, conduct the best prevention practices. Wash your hands frequently, refrain from touching your face, avoid contact with sick people, and educate yourself on the current travel advisories and border closures in place.
For more information regarding how you can protect yourself from coronavirus, visit the World Health Organization website.