Everything You Need to Know If You're Traveling During the Coronavirus Outbreak

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Restrictions and guidelines in the U.S. have been extended to April 30.

This article originally appeared on Travelandleisure.com

Since reports of the coronavirus surfaced in late December, over 2,200,000 people have been infected and over 149,000 have died around the world. As the virus continues to have a global impact, the countries around the world have established travel advisories, leading airlines and cruises to cancel their routes.

The U.S. has reported more coronavirus cases — at over 679,000 — than any other country in the world. The virus, which originated in China, made its way to the U.S. in February and has since lead to a death toll of over 25,000. As precautions including states of emergency, and lockdowns were put in place across the country, the State Department has advised Americans to avoid all international travel. The Trump administration's coronavirus task force announced they are restricting gatherings of 10 or more people.

The president announced at a press conference that his restriction guidelines, including rules for social distancing, number of people in gatherings, and travel bans have been extended to April 30. The Department of Transportation also released guidance mandating airlines to issue refunds for flights that have been cancelled or changed do to coronavirus.

China, which was the origin of the outbreak at the beginning of the year, has started to see signs of relief as the number of reported cases has slowed and their makeshift hospitals have been closing due to lack of demand. Additionally, the strict lockdown on Wuhan and the Hubei Province has lifted.

In Europe, life under strict quarantine has become a new norm, however Spain and Italy have eased their restrictions, allowing non-essential employees to go to work. Lockdown procedures in France and Germany have also been implemented as they deal with thousands of individuals affected by the virus.

Additionally, on March 24, the International Olympics Committee confirmed that the Tokyo Games would be postponed to 2021.

Here is everything you need to know about traveling right now.

Airplane at the airport warning sign coronavirus. Animaflora/Getty Images

What is coronavirus?

Coronavirus was first discovered in December 2019 in Wuhan, within the Hubei province of China. WHO announced on Feb. 12 that the official name for the specific strain of coronavirus is COVID-19.

On March 11, WHO tweeted that they have officially characterized coronavirus as "a pandemic."

“Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some causing illness in people and others that circulate among animals, including camels, cats, and bats,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Both Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) are caused by a coronavirus, but not the strain that’s currently circulating.

The doctor who first discovered this strain of coronavirus and alerted authorities, Li Wenliang, died at age 34 of the disease on Feb. 7. China quickly launched an investigation into his death, according to a statement released by the official Xinhua news agency.

"We express our deep condolences and sadness, pay our tribute to him for fighting on the front line against the epidemic, and show our sincere sympathy to his family," government reps said in the statement.

What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

The first symptoms of coronavirus feel a lot like the flu. “You'll get a fever, cough — it’s primarily a lower respiratory virus — general malaise, there may be some gastrointestinal distress,” Dr. Rebecca Katz, a professor and the director of the Center for Global Health Science and Security at Georgetown University, recently told Travel + Leisure. When complications of the virus occur, patients could develop pneumonia or kidney-related issues, which could lead to death.

What can you do to prevent coronavirus?

General flu hygiene practices, including washing your hands regularly and covering your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, are simple ways to keep healthy. Extra measures include sanitizing commonly touched surfaces with antibacterial wipes or sprays. Also avoid touching your face and close contact with people you may see coughing or sneezing.

When eating, be sure to thoroughly cook all meat and eggs.

Additionally while traveling, the TSA has allowed for passengers to carry 12 ounces of hand sanitizer in a carry-on bag until further notice, according to their website.

"Passengers can expect that these containers larger than the standard allowance of 3.4 ounces of liquids permitted through a checkpoint will need to be screened separately, which will add some time to their checkpoint screening experience," the update read.

What countries are affected by coronavirus?

The number of confirmed cases and deaths below are according to Johns Hopkins University's real-time map from their Center for Systems Science and Engineering Department, unless otherwise noted.

China: 

Initially, the overwhelming majority of coronavirus cases were within mainland China, with over 83,000 confirmed cases and 3,345 deaths.

The city of Wuhan, which was the original epicenter of the outbreak and has been under strict quarantine, will have its lockdown lifted on April 8. The lockdown restrictions in the remainder of the Hubei province will be lifted on March 24. Under quarantine, transportation links were cut and streets and shelves were empty as residents were urged to go outside only for essential supplies.

Related: Wuhan’s Cherry Blossom Trees Are in Full Bloom During Last Days of Lockdown

Still, museums are closed until further notice, and China’s National Cultural Heritage Administration has put much of its collection online for visitors to peruse. However at the end of March, the Badaling portion of the Great Wall reopened for visitors.

In the beginning of February, Macau completely shut down its casinos for two weeks. After a partial reopen, the city famous for gambling is seeing a slump in its economy, according to Bloomberg.

People wearing protective face masks arrive at a railway station in Shanghai on February 10, 2020. Noel Celis/Getty Images

Elsewhere in Asia:

South Korea has had more than 10,600 coronavirus cases, and 230 people have died since the first case was confirmed on Jan. 20. On March 13, the country reported that recoveries outpaced the number of confirmed cases for the first time, marking a milestone in relief efforts.

In Japan, there have been over 9,200 confirmed cases and 190 deaths. In what became a major story surrounding the outbreak, many of the confirmed cases were initially on the Diamond Princess cruise ship that was quarantined while docked in the Yokohama port near Tokyo. Four passengers, who were taken off the ship and hospitalized passed away. They were all above 80 years old. Japan officials also decided to close schools amid the outbreak.

In the announcement to postpone the Olympics, a joint statement from the Tokyo Organizing Committee and the International Olympics Committee said, "In the present circumstances and based on the information provided by the WHO today, the IOC president and the Prime Minister of Japan have concluded that the Games of the XXXII Olympiad in Tokyo must be rescheduled to a date beyond 2020, but not later than summer 2021, to safeguard the health of the athletes, everybody involved in the Olympic Games and the international community."

Related: I Traveled to Japan During the Coronavirus Outbreak — Here’s What It Was Really Like

According to the CDC, South Korea and Japan both have a Level 3 travel advisory, encouraging people to avoid all nonessential travel.

Taiwan — which has 395 cases of coronavirus — has banned entry to Chinese visitors and foreigners with a recent history of travel to China, as well as suspended most flights. Those who have an urgent need to travel to Taiwan must appear at a consulate in their city and prove that they have not been to mainland China within the past 14 days. Those who have visited and were already granted visas are instructed to self-impose a quarantine; failure to do so is punishable by an almost $5,000 fine. Taiwan has also banned all cruise ships from docking at its ports.

Thailand has 2,700 confirmed cases and Vietnam has 268 cases.

Related: What It’s Really Like to Live in Hong Kong Amid the Coronavirus Outbreak

The United States:

The United States now has the highest number of coronavirus cases in the world at over 679,000 cases and over 34,000 people have died. For a state-by-state breakdown of responses to the coronavirus, see T+L's guide.

Americans are advised to avoid all international travel in a Level 4 advisory issued by the State Department.

"In countries where commercial departure options remain available, U.S. citizens who live in the US should arrange for immediate return," the State Department wrote on Twitter.

The Trump Administration has also extended social distancing and non-essential travel restrictions until April 30.

The border between Canada and the U.S. is currently closed and Americans flying home from any countries listed in Trump's travel ban are subject to enhanced screening when touching down in the U.S. The administration also restricted travel from Europe to the U.S. which was later extended to the UK and Ireland. Following the Europe travel ban, the government declared a national emergency, according to The Associated Press.

Related: US State Department Halts Passport Issuing Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

Around the country, Universal theme parks in Florida and California have temporarily closed, while Disney has shut all parks around the world until further notice.

During a White House Press conference following the the passing of the first coronavirus-related death in Washington state, the Trump administration subsequently asked the State Department to increase their travel advisory for infected parts of Italy and South Korea to a Level 4 "do not travel" warning.

As cases circulate around the country, the CDC has warned that many cases may be instances of “community spread,” which means “spread of an illness for which the source of infection is unknown.”

“At this time, the patient’s exposure is unknown … however, the patient may have been exposed to a returned traveler who was infected,” the CDC explained.

Amid the outbreak, airports around the country, including JFK and LAX, have rerouted passengers coming in from China to screening centers. If passengers show no symptoms during their enhanced screening, they are rebooked to their final destination, although they are asked to self-quarantine for 14 days.

Europe:

Spain has the most cases of the coronavirus in Europe at over 188,000. Citing downward trends in death tolls and hospitalizations, the country, along with Italy — with 172,000 cases — slightly lifted their quarantine restrictions allowing non-essential employees to go to work and select Italian shops to open.

Italy's lockdown has been extended to May 3.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte placed the country under lockdown in the beginning of March after first quarantining northern regions of the country. Tourist attractions like the Sistine Chapel, Colosseum, museums and nightclubs are closed. When the virus first emerged in Italy, the scare prompted Venice's Carnival to end early as well as adjustments in how shows were viewed during Milan Fashion Week.

An Italian soldier speaks to a passenger at Milano Centrale train station on March 10, 2020 due to the Italian Government has taken the unprecedented measure of a nationwide lockdown, limiting people to move only for work or health reasons. Emanuele Cremaschi/Getty Images

The startling increase led the European Union to close all borders in an announcement in March.

France is under similar quarantine rules that recently got extended to May 11. With 147,000 cases,"non-indispensable" businesses including cafes, restaurants, theaters, and most shops are closed.Ireland has called on all bars and pubs in the country to close until the end of the month with over 13,200 cases confirmed.

Meanwhile, the Czech Republic is barring visitors from "high-risk countries," including China, South Korea, Iran, Italy, Spain, Austria, Germany, France, Norway, Denmark, and Sweden, The New York Times reported. Outbound travel to these countries is also prohibited.

Belgium, with over 36,000 cases, also implemented lockdown restrictions including limited movement to supermarkets, pharmacies, banks, or medical emergencies.

Germany has over 135,000 cases and has also closed its borders.

United Kingdom:

The United Kingdom has over 109,000 confirmed cases and over 14,000 confirmed deaths.

The rapid increase in cases lead to Queen Elizabeth II to deliver a televised address to the country where she thanked medical workers and those quarantining at home.

 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Prince Charles have both tested positive for the virus. While Prince Charles has finished self-quarantining, the prime minister was admitted to the hospital but has since been released and is recovering.

In a televised address prior to his diagnosis, Johnson implemented a "stay at home" restriction allowing citizens to only leave their homes for shopping for necessities, one form of exercise a day, medical needs, and essential travel to and from work that cannot be done remotely. He also  announced non-essential shops including clothing and electronic stores and playgrounds, places of worship would be closed.

The British government will be leaving parks open for exercise however gatherings of more than two people are restricted.

https://twitter.com/BorisJohnson/status/1242187201334607886

Earlier this month London's beloved Harry Potter studio tour announced it would be closing and days later Prime Minister Boris Johnson's initial announcement that closed pubs and restaurants. Wimbledon has also been canceled.

Canada:

Canada has over 32,00 confirmed cases and 1,300 deaths. In March, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the country will be closing the border to anyone who is not a citizen, according to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. The announcements comes after Trudeau has been self-isolating after his wife tested positive for the virus.

Since March 18 international flights are now permitted to land only at the international airports in Montreal, Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver, in order to enhance screening, the CBC also reported.

"To help asymptomatic Canadians to return home, our government will set up a support program for Canadians who need to get on a plane," Trudeau said. "Canadian travelers will be able to get financial assistance to help them with the costs of returning home or temporarily covering basic needs while they wait to come back to Canada."

Trudeau also confirmed at a press conference that he spoke with President Trump and has agreed to close the border to the U.S.

https://twitter.com/PnPCBC/status/1240289528730058758

India:

India has a reported over 13,800 cases.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the world's largest lockdown on March 24, which has now been extended to May 3, according to Reuters.

“Till May 3, every Indian will have to stay in lockdown. I request all Indians that we stop the coronavirus from spreading to other areas,” Modi said in a televised address.

Essential places like grocery stores, ATMs and gas stations will remain open. The Taj Mahal is also closed.

India Railways is currently repurposing its empty train cars for makeshift isolation wards.

Brazil:

Brazil has reported over 30,000 confirmed cases. Latin America's first case of coronavirus is a man who traveled home from Italy to Brazil in February, according to Brazil's health ministry, per CBS News. He is 61 and returned to Brazil on Feb. 21 from the Lombardo region of northern Italy.

Most states have instituted quarantine restrictions, according to The BBC.

Australia: 

Australia's Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, has instituted nationwide restrictionsincluding closures of restaurants, gyms, and places of worship. Australians are also advised to avoid non-essential travel, as the country has just over 6,500 cases of coronavirus, and a reported 66 deaths.

Anyone returning from overseas must quarantine for 14 days.

Under the new restrictions, gatherings of more than 500 people outside or more than 100 people inside. However, schools are still open but parents have the option as to whether they'd like their children to attend.

Actor Tom Hanks and wife Rita Wilson both tested positive while in Australiaand have since returned home to the U.S.

Australia's Department of Health has an ongoing active warning in regards to coronavirus, with strict travel restrictions to China.

On Christmas, in the beginning of the outbreak, Australia evacuated 270 citizens who wished to leave Wuhan and transferred them to quarantine in an immigration detention center, according to The New York Times.

 

New Zealand:

New Zealand is at a level 3 alert, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced Monday afternoon local time, adding that the country would move to a level 4 in 48 hours to give residents time to "get things in order."

In the address, posted by New Zealand radio show NewstalkZB, Ardern said schools and non-essential services would be closed for the next four weeks across the country, where the number of coronavirus cases rose over 1,400. Public transportation will be available only for those working in essential services, or moving essential goods.

How are airlines responding to coronavirus? 

In the latest news in the airline industry, the Department of Transportation has ruled that airlines are required to issue refunds for flights that are cancelled or changed due to coronavirus.

“Although the COVID-19 public health emergency has had an unprecedented impact on air travel, the airlines’ obligation to refund passengers for cancelled or significantly delayed flights remains unchanged,” the DOT wrote in its Enforcement Notice. “The longstanding obligation of carriers to provide refunds for flights that carriers cancel or significantly delay does not cease when the flight disruptions are outside of the carrier’s control (e.g., a result of government restrictions).”

T+L spoke to experts for more clarification when it comes to getting a refund.

On April 14, the federal government reached a deal with major U.S. airlines for a bail out deal of $25 billion.

Airlines around the world have halted service to mainland China amid warnings from WHO. As time has gone on since the beginning of the outbreak, airlines have adapted to evolving restrictions and advisories to accommodate customers.

United, American, and Delta have all suspended their service to China, citing low demand. The longest of these cancellations is with Delta, which has suspended mainland China service until April 30. As New York has become an epicenter of the outbreak in the United States, many airlines have suspended their flight routes to and from JFK and LaGuardia Airports.

In a statement, Lufthansa Group (including Austrian Airlines and Swiss) said they will not accept new bookings to China through the end of February, however the airlines will continue to operate flights to Hong Kong. British Airways announced an “immediate” suspension of flights to mainland China.

Travelers should contact their airline directly for more information.

Workers wearing protective suits disinfect a Vietnam Airlines plane amid concerns of the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus at Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi on March 3, 2020. Nhac Nguyen/Getty Images

How are cruise lines responding to coronavirus?

All members of Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) are voluntarily suspending operations from U.S. ports of call for 30 days. The temporary halt started on March 14. 

“This is an unprecedented situation,” Kelly Craighead, President and CEO of CLIA, said in a statement. “Our industry has taken responsibility for protecting public health for more than 50 years, working under the guidance of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and prides itself on its ability to deliver exceptional vacation experiences for guests, as well as meaningful employment opportunities for crew. This has been a challenging time, but we hope that this decision will enable us to focus on the future and a return to normal as soon as possible.”

While cruise lines have released their own safety regulations regarding their handling of the outbreak, the CDC and U.S. State Department has also advised travelers to avoid cruise vacations. They additionally recommend that individuals who do go on a cruise self-quarantine for two weeks after their trip. The agency's announcement follows the various isolated incidents that have occurred on ships throughout the world. 

stranded British cruise ship is making its way to Cuba with five confirmed coronavirus cases onboard. The Braemar, a Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines ship, was floating off the coast of the Bahamas to replenish its food and medical supplies. Onboard the ship, 25 passengers and 27 crew members have been placed in isolation for the return journey. The passengers are expected to fly home from Havana on Wednesday evening. 

The Grand Princess cruise ship, which was quarantined on the coast of California, finally let crew disembark after a week docked in Oakland after one passenger died from coronavirus. More than 2,000 passengers were allowed off the ship last week and put into a two-week quarantine at a military base. The Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan has been completely evacuated after its quarantine from Feb. 1 through 14, during which time five passengers died. Princess Cruises has canceled all its global sailings through May 10 following both incidents. 

Another cruise ship that was under quarantine earlier this month was Holland America's Westerdam, which left Hong Kong on Feb. 1. It was denied disembarkment in the Philippines, Taiwan, Japan, Guam, and Thailand. The cruise ship always asserted that its 1,455 passengers and 802 crew members on board were healthy. Passengers aboard the cruise ship who have returned to the United States no longer need to isolate themselves and can resume normal activities, according to the CDC, The New York Times reported.

A man in protective gear near the Diamond Princess cruise ship in quarantine due to fears of the new COVID-19 coronavirus, at the Daikoku Pier Cruise Terminal in Yokohama on February 19, 2020. charly triballeau/Getty Images

Norwegian Cruise Line announced in a press release that it is halting operations until April 11. Passengers are asked to wait until March 23 to contact the cruise line about refunds on their scheduled trips.

Royal Caribbean also says it plans to resume operations on April 11 and has a "cruise with confidence" policy where ticket holders can cancel within 48 hours. Carnival Cruise Lines plans to resume on April 10. ""Guests will receive a full credit for their fare, usable on any future sailing of the guest’s choice in 2020 or 2021," their announcement read. 

Seabourn has updated its policy, allowing passengers to cancel up to 48 hours before their scheduled departure for all existing and new bookings made through July 31, 2020. If passengers choose to cancel, they will receive a 100 percent future cruise credit they can use through December 31, 2021. The future cruise must be rebooked by December 31, 2020.

Virgin Voyages delayed its much-anticipated debut of The Scarlet Lady, originally scheduled to happen in April. The inaugural cruise has now been pushed back to August, “when we can all feel free to enjoy ourselves,” Richard Branson wrote in a letter to passengers. 

Viking River Cruises also announced suspension of its trips taking place between March 12 to April 30. The company's announcement follows the news of a passenger on one of their ships who has tested positive for Covid-19 leading to the quarantine of 28 passengers. Customers whose trips are now canceled can receive a 125 percent credit or a cash refund depending on individual circumstance.

Mayflower Sails 2020, the 400th anniversary of the pilgrims landing in Massachusetts, has been delayed. The original event, with the pilgrims’ ship restored, was scheduled to take place May 14 through 19 in Boston’s Charlestown Navy Yard. 

For future cruise plans, the managing editor of Cruise Critic recently told Travel + Leisure, "It’s best to contact your cruise line or travel advisor directly with any questions or concerns. All cruise lines that have canceled cruises are offering affected guests the option to receive a full refund.”

Should I cancel my trip because of the coronavirus outbreak? 

 

The U.S. State Department issued a level 4 — its highest level — warning, notifying Americans that they should not travel to China. The CDC also issued a warning against all nonessential travel to China. However, this does not include Hong Kong, Macau, or Taiwan.

Travel warnings for Italy and South Korea were increased from a Level 3 to a Level 4 on Saturday, advising Americans not to travel to infected areas.

To feel secure about any upcoming travel plans, communicate with your hotel and airline directly, and monitor updates and alerts for the current information in your destination.

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The information in this article reflects that of the publishing time above. However, as statistics and information regarding coronavirus rapidly change, some figures may be different since this story was originally posted. While we strive to keep our content as up to date as possible, we also recommend visiting sites like the CDC or websites of local health departments.