Business Travel Advisory
Novel Coronavirus Outbreak
Imported cases of the 2019 novel coronavirus have been confirmed in several countries. All of them have a history of recent travel from China, mainly from Wuhan. This new coronavirus, which is causing an outbreak in China, can cause symptoms of fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Severe disease is possible. Although transmission from human to human has occurred, there is no suggestion at this stage of any further spread in these locations. Travelers in affected locations are advised to pay attention to general hygiene and avoid direct contact with people who are obviously sick. Anyone with symptoms of pneumonia, which include high fever and shortness of breath, should seek medical attention.
Authorities in multiple countries have introduced travel restrictions, along with health screening measures at various airports, after an increase in reported 2019-Novel Coronavirus cases. The measures apply primarily to travelers arriving via air either directly or indirectly from China. Some airlines have temporarily suspended flights to and from mainland China. Travelers should anticipate related disruption at airports and reconfirm their itineraries, as well as the overall feasibility of their journeys, given the increased restrictions affecting certain countries.
Authorities in several countries have introduced travel restrictions following an increase in reported 2019-Novel Coronavirus cases to curtail the spread of the virus. Health screening measures have also been implemented at various ports of entry across the region. Such measures apply particularly to passengers arriving from or transiting through China, especially those intending to travel from Hubei Province. Several airlines have suspended or reduced flights to and from China. Travelers should maintain flexible itineraries accounting for disruption at airports. Those travelers arriving from or having transited through China should anticipate more stringent scrutiny and ascertain the overall feasibility of travel to countries with entry restrictions prior to departure.
Cases of the novel strain of coronavirus, currently causing an outbreak of pneumonia in mainland China, have been confirmed in the United States. Isolated cases have been detected in Arizona, California, Illinois, and Washington. Nearly all individuals had visited China recently. Limited local human-to-human transmission has occurred. Travelers in affected locations are advised to pay attention to general hygiene and avoid direct contact with people who are obviously sick. Anyone with symptoms of pneumonia, which include high fever and shortness of breath, should seek medical attention.
Travelers arriving from or transiting through China should expect heightened screening measures and related disruption following an increase in reported 2019-Novel Coronavirus cases. All flights from China are being re-routed through ten airports (JFK, ORD, SFO, SEA, HNL, LAX, ATL, IAD, EWR, DFW & DTW), while additional entry restrictions for travelers from China will also be implemented.
The US Department of State has issued a Level 4 (Do Not Travel) warning for mainland China. The State Department advises US citizens not to travel to China due to the novel coronavirus first identified in Wuhan, China. The World Health Organization has determined the rapidly spreading outbreak constitutes a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. Travelers should be prepared for travel restrictions to be put into effect with little or no advance notice. US citizens currently in China should consider departing using commercial means. The Department of State has requested that all non-essential US. government personnel defer travel to China in light of the novel coronavirus. To help contain the novel coronavirus, Chinese authorities have suspended air, road, and rail travel in the area around Wuhan and placed restrictions on travel and other activities throughout the country. On January 23, 2020, the Department of State ordered the departure of all non-emergency US. personnel and their family members from Wuhan. The US government has limited ability to provide emergency services to US citizens in Hubei Province.
The Department of Homeland Security announced that travelers who are residents of New York state will no longer be able to enroll in Global Entry and other Trusted Traveler Programs due to aspects of the state’s “Green Light Law” which protect undocumented immigrants. Existing members of Global Entry and other Trusted Traveler Programs will still be able use these services. Only new enrollments or re-enrollments will be curtailed for New York residents. Other programs that will no longer accept applications from New York residents include the Secure Electronic Network for Travelers Rapid Inspection (SENTRI); NEXUS, which allows for expedited border crossing between the US and Canada; and the Free And Secure Trade (FAST) program, which allows faster clearance for commercial shipments between the US border, Canada, and Mexico. The TSA PreCheck program is not part of this new restriction.
Today, travelers in Los Angeles, CA should anticipate local disruption around a series of protests and counter-protests involving the rights of LGBTQ individuals. The controversial Westboro Baptist Church group plans to stage anti-LGBTQ demonstrations at a number of local educational institutions, including the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). In response, students and other likeminded activists will be holding counter-protests against the group. Travelers should plan journeys bypassing these gatherings to minimize delays.
An increase in flu activity has been noted. The most common virus strain circulating since early February is influenza A(H1N1)pdm09. The current northern hemisphere influenza vaccine is protective. Flu is a viral illness, causing a sudden fever, cough, headache, weakness, and muscular pains. Most cases are mild although some can be severe or even fatal. Pregnant women, adults over 65, and young children are at higher risk of severe illness. Travelers should prevent infection through vaccination and attention to hygiene.
Cases of the novel coronavirus, currently causing an outbreak in mainland China have been confirmed. All individuals had a recent travel history to Wuhan. Travelers to affected locations are advised to pay attention to general hygiene and avoid direct contact with people who are obviously sick. Anyone with symptoms of pneumonia, which include high fever and shortness of breath, who is or has been in an affected location should seek medical attention.
Travelers should expect additional screening measures at airports following an increase in reported 2019-Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) cases in China. The Canadian Border Services Agency has announced that passengers arriving from international flights at Montreal-Trudeau (YUL), Toronto Pearson (YYZ), and Vancouver (YVR) international airports will be asked a screening question as part of the regular arrival process. Passengers identified to be at an increased risk may be required to undergo further screening. Travelers should anticipate related disruption and follow all official directives.
Travelers in Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Quebec should anticipate disruption due to the passage of a winter storm. Environment Canada has issued warnings for wind and extreme cold in Newfoundland and Labrador. Severe weather conditions have led to road closures across Quebec and the Atlantic provinces. Flight delays were reported on February 7-8 at Fredericton International (YFC), Greater Moncton Romeo LeBlanc International (YQM), Saint John (YSZ), and Halifax Stanfield International (YHZ) airports.
Travelers in El Salvador, particularly San Salvador, should anticipate an increased security presence and avoid demonstrations amid heightened political tensions. Yesterday, President Nayib Bukele deployed police and military to the Legislative Assembly building following the opposition’s refusal to attend extraordinary sessions to approve additional funding for his security program. Adjacent streets were closed, and checkpoints erected; some opposition legislators and journalists reportedly were prevented from entering. Bukele announced he would call for demonstrations should opposition legislators fail to pass the measure. Travelers should follow official directives and avoid any related demonstrations.
AFRICA & THE MIDDLE EAST
Authorities in Bahrain, Egypt, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia have introduced health screening measures at several airports after an increase in reported 2019-Novel Coronavirus (‘2019-nCoV’) cases. The measures apply primarily to travelers arriving via air either directly or indirectly from China. Travelers should anticipate disruption if on direct or indirect flights from China to airports in any of the aforementioned countries. Other countries and airports in the region may also introduce pre-emptive checks.
Travelers in Morocco and Tunisia should continue to plan journeys bypassing further planned protests against the US-led Middle East peace plan due to the risk of local disturbances. Yesterday, thousands marched peacefully in the vicinity of the Parliament in Rabat, causing significant disruption. Similarly, hundreds of protesters denounced the US-led peace plan in Sfax, with many burning Israeli flags and calling for the boycott of US products. Potential flashpoints for future related gatherings across both countries include US diplomatic offices, local government buildings, and primary thoroughfares.
Today through February 16, travelers in Algiers should anticipate disruption during planned power cuts, which will affect the suburbs of Bouzareah and Ouled Fayet daily from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM local time. A lack of street lighting and malfunctioning traffic lights may affect road travel and exacerbate travel difficulties. The power outages have been scheduled by national electricity and gas provider Sonelgaz for maintenance work on electrical infrastructure.
Yesterday, an armed attack on a police outpost in Keremou reportedly left at least one officer dead and another injured, in the first significant attack in northern Benin since mid-2019. The assailants arrived on motorcycles and in four-wheel-drive vehicles at around 2:00 AM local time, fired gunshots and burned down the outpost. No group has claimed responsibility, though the modus operandi is typical of Islamist extremist groups.
Yesterday, militants attacked a military checkpoint in the town of al-Sheikh Zuweid. Ten militants and two soldiers were killed in the ensuing gunfight, while five other soldiers were injured. On February 2, at least six militants planted explosives under a natural gas pipeline in the town of Bir al-Abd. The explosives sparked a fire upon detonation but did not result in fatalities.
Tomorrow, travelers in Tehran and other urban centers should anticipate disruption during nationwide celebrations commemorating the 41st anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution. The day is a national holiday, and celebratory gatherings and rallies are expected to attract tens of thousands of people. No significant security incidents have occurred on previous anniversaries and, while the date has traditionally been associated with anti-Western sentiment, foreigners are unlikely to be targeted for violence.
Travel to Baghdad and southern provinces can continue. Although pro-Iran groups in Iraq retain the intent and capability to target US diplomatic and military interests, the immediate threat of an escalation between the US and Iran has reduced since the uptick in tensions in early January. Due to the still-heightened risk of harassment and detention by security force elements, US Nationals should continue to defer all travel to federal Iraq.
Travelers in Beirut should anticipate disruption and heightened security in the lead-up to a Parliamentary Vote of Confidence on the newly formed cabinet on February 11-13. A heavy security force presence will be in place around the Parliament building, including in Nijmeh Square and along nearby roads. As part of the ongoing anti-government movement, protesters are mobilizing at Nijmeh Square tomorrow under the theme of “No Trust” in protest of the vote. Participants will also call for a general strike, lasting through February 13, to stop the vote by blocking all road access to Parliament. Security forces may forcibly disperse unruly crowds; travelers should take appropriate precautions due to the credible risk of unrest.
Travelers should monitor for further protests after the Constitutional Court recently overturned the May 2019 Presidential Election and called for a new election within 150 days. President Peter Mutharika and the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) have already appealed the decision, and the High Court will hear the case at 9:00 AM local time tomorrow. While the court’s February 3 verdict was celebrated by the Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC), they have called for a fresh protest at MEC offices nationwide on February 13 if its members do not resign.
Travelers should carefully monitor developments related to negotiations on the formation of a transitional unity government, led by President Salva Kiir and opposition leader Riek Machar. As a related February 22 deadline approaches, several unresolved issues remain, and the chances of an agreement being reached within the stipulated timeframe are low. The security situation within South Sudan remains volatile, with notable recent increases in violence in Yei River and Lakes. As such, travelers should monitor developments closely.
Yesterday, two individuals, at least one of whom was a Spanish National, were robbed at gunpoint in the Marowijne district; the victims were not injured. The incident underscores the risks posed by crime, and the need for travelers to exercise precautions at all times.
ASIA & THE PACIFIC
Countries are continuing to implement additional travel restrictions and health screening measures at airports to contain the spread of the 2019-Novel Coronavirus outbreak. Further restrictions may be imposed at short notice. While stringent restrictions apply particularly to passengers arriving from mainland China, many countries have adopted measures for a wider range of travelers. Travelers should reconfirm itineraries according to the restrictions in place at their destination and transit locations prior to travel. Travelers holding People’s Republic of China passports, coming from mainland China or who have been to or transited mainland China 14 days prior to arrival at their destination should reconfirm their itineraries, visa status, and the overall feasibility of travel to the country before departure.
All travelers arriving in Hong Kong from mainland China are required to undergo a two-week quarantine as part of measures to contain the outbreak of 2019 Novel Coronavirus. Most routes to and from mainland China are closed, leaving only Hong Kong International Airport (HKG), the Shenzhen Bay Checkpoint, and the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge open. The Kai Tak and Ocean cruise terminals are also closed.
Travelers arriving to American Samoa should follow all official directives amid restrictions imposed due to the outbreak of measles and the 2019 Novel Coronavirus outbreak in the region. Authorities have suspended all entry permits and permit waivers for all non-US passport holders until further notice. US passport holders applying for an entry permit will be subjected to a 30-day review. All travelers, including US passport holders and American Samoa permanent residents, initially required to spend 14 days in Hawaii, are now required to spend 14 days in Samoa before entering the territory.
Travel can resume with flexible itineraries to areas of Western Australia state currently under a Severe Weather Warning, as well as to areas formerly under a Warning Zone. Previous Gale Warnings and Watch Zones on inland parts of Pilbara were canceled yesterday following the downgrading of Tropical Cyclone Damien to a lower-intensity tropical low. A Severe Weather warning (heavy rainfall and damaging winds) remains in effect for parts of the Gascoyne and Goldfields-Esperance regions through this morning.
Travelers in urban centers should anticipate intermittent disruption caused by heavy rain and flooding through April and maintain flexible itineraries. Continued rainfall in Brisbane has caused creeks to overflow, resulting in road closures and the suspension of the Ipswich-Rosewood train line. Flash flooding occurred in the city’s Durack, Holland Park, Kenmore, Moorooka, Pullenvale, Tarragindi, and Woolloongabba suburbs. Flooding was also reported in other urban centers on February 8, such as Sydney and Gold Coast. Travelers should monitor prevailing weather conditions and reconfirm the feasibility of journeys before setting out.
Today, authorities announced increased restrictions as part of measures to contain the outbreak of 2019 Novel Coronavirus. Travelers of all nationalities with travel history to China since January 15 may be denied entry or quarantined. All existing visas, including e-visas that have already been issued, are no longer valid for travelers of all nationalities inbound from China. Those who have traveled to China since January 15 should reconfirm their itineraries, visa status, and the overall feasibility of travel to India prior to departure.
Travelers should plan journeys accounting for disruption during the passage of Tropical Depression Uesi. Meteo-France noted that the tropical depression, not forecast to make landfall on the archipelago, is anticipated to pass north of GrandeTerre tomorrow night or Wednesday morning, February 12. A Cyclone Pre-Alert issued by Meteo France is in place over the archipelago. Short-notice disruption to flights, particularly at Malabou Airport (PUV) and Koumac Airport (KOC), is possible due to strong winds and heavy rainfall. Uesi is also expected to bring heavy rainfall to Vanuatu in the coming days.
Travelers on South Island, particularly the Southland region, should continue to plan journeys accounting for residual disruption from heavy rain and flooding. While no Severe Weather Warnings are in force, a State of Emergency declared on February 4 in Southland has been extended through February 18 as authorities continue to assess the impact of the floodwaters. Furthermore, State Highway 94, the only route to and from the popular tourist destination of Milford Sound, remains seriously damaged.
Travelers should plan journeys accounting for disruption during the passage of Tropical Cyclone Uesi, currently a Category Two Cyclone (fourth-highest on a five-tier scale). The National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) has advised that a Red Weather Alert (the highest of three levels) is in force for Sanma and Malampa provinces. A Yellow Weather Alert (secondhighest) is in force for Torba and Penama provinces. While the tropical cyclone is unlikely to make landfall in Vanuatu, it will bring heavy rainfall and strong winds in the affected provinces through February 13.
Authorities in several countries have introduced health screening measures at certain airports and, in some cases, land border crossings with China. This follows an increase in reported 2019-Novel Coronavirus cases. The measures apply primarily to travelers arriving via air or land from China. Some countries have also suspended flight connections with mainland China. Travelers should continue to anticipate flight cancellations and disruption at airports and land crossings with China.
Travelers in the Czech Republic, Germany, and Luxembourg should anticipate disruption and reconfirm transportation arrangements during the passage of Storm Sabine. The meteorological agencies of these three countries have issued weather warnings through today, including expected wind gusts of up to 80 mph. The storm is causing significant disruption to flights, trains, and road networks. Long-distance rail services throughout Germany are gradually being suspended, as well as regional train services in North Rhine-Westphalia. German rail operator Deutsche Bahn has advised travelers to postpone itineraries until tomorrow.
Travelers in the UK, Ireland, Netherlands, Belgium, and France should anticipate disruption and reconfirm transportation arrangements during the passage of Storm Ciara. The meteorological agencies of all five countries have issued weather warnings for wind and rain through today, with expected gusts of up to 100 miles per hour in coastal areas and up to 60 miles per hour inland. The storm is causing disruptions to flights, ferries, trains, and road networks. Travelers should exercise increased caution due to possible injury and threat to life from flying debris and large waves.
Travelers in the UK and EU should continue to monitor developments and follow all government guidelines related to the process of the UK leaving the EU, known as “Brexit.” A withdrawal agreement was signed into law on January 23 after being ratified by the UK Parliament. Under the agreement, the UK left the EU at 11:00 PM local time on January 31. There will now be a transition period, during which most laws will remain unchanged. Local gatherings relating to Brexit may take place in the UK, with most such events likely to be focused on Parliament Square in London.
An increase in gastrointestinal illnesses, related to consumption of oysters, has been reported. Several cases have tested positive for norovirus infection. Gastrointestinal infections occur as a result of ingesting contaminated food or water or contact with infected persons or contaminated surfaces. Noroviruses are highly contagious and tiny amounts of infectious material can make someone sick. Usual symptoms are sudden vomiting, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea. People usually recover on their own within one to three days. Travelers should prevent infection through general hygiene measures.