As more countries close their borders or introduce travel restrictions, overseas travel is becoming more complex and difficult and you may not be able to return to your country of origin when you had planned to. Consider whether you have access to health care and support systems if you get sick while overseas. If you decide to return to your home country, do so as soon as possible as commercial options may become less available.
The Europe travel ban, barring US entry to foreign nationals who have visited much of Europe in the previous 14 days, went into effect on March 13th. The United Kingdom and Ireland became part of the list of restricted European counties at midnight on March 16th. The last sailings by many major cruise lines are wrapping up, following announcements suspending cruise operations. Several cruise ships, some with confirmed cases of coronavirus on board, are stranded at sea. Across the US — and in many corners of the world — large gatherings such as concerts, parades and sporting events have been cancelled to help stem the spread of the virus. Major cities such as New York, Chicago and San Fransisco have ordered residents to “shelter in place” and practice social distancing including gym, movie theatre and restaurant closures. Restaurants and bars will be restricted to takeout and delivery only, and crowd capacity reduced to 50. Many other towns and cities are expected to follow these measures.
Airlines all over the world have slashed flights amid the outbreak, with many suspending services to hard-hit countries such as China, Italy and Spain. They’ve also slashed domestic service and other routes following a precipitous drop in demand. Some airlines, including United, American, JetBlue and Delta, have built more flexibility into new bookings, waiving change fees for certain periods. Travelers with upcoming bookings should check with their airlines and look for advisories posted on carriers’ websites. Airlines have bumped up their sanitation efforts to stem the virus’ spread but also be sure to wash or sanitize your hands after touching surfaces in airports and planes.
Princess Cruises has suspended global operations from March 12 to May 10, and Royal Caribbean, Norwegian and Carnival have suspended outbound cruises for about a month. Viking is also suspending operations of river and ocean cruises from March 12 to April 30. Virgin Voyages has postponed the maiden voyage of its first cruise ship, Scarlet Lady, until August. Many other worldwide cruise lines are expected to follow suit.
The United States has seen widespread cancellations of large events aimed at stemming the spread of coronavirus, while some states are ordering the closure of bars and restaurants. Sporting events are among the events being called off. The Kentucky Derby has been rescheduled for September, NASCAR will not hold any races until May 3 and the WWE will hold its annual WrestleMania event in an empty arena. In New York City, Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty are both shutting to visitors as of March 17. A reopening date has not been set. On March 12, Disney announced it’s closing Walt Disney World, in Orlando, Florida, as well as its Disneyland resort in California and Disneyland Paris. The company also said that it will suspend departures with the Disney Cruise Line through the end of the month. In Paris, the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower closed March 13, and Italy’s countrywide lockdown means all museums and archaeological sites have been shuttered. Disney parks in Asia are closed, as is Universal Studios Japan, and some of Japan’s crowd-pleasing cherry blossom festivals have been called off. Spain became the second country in Europe to impose sweeping restrictions on the public, telling everyone to stay indoors, with limited exceptions. The government also ordered all schools, restaurants, bars and non-essential stores to close, extending measures that various regional authorities, including in Madrid and in Catalonia, had taken in recent days. Long-distance trains and buses across the country will have less frequent service. In Thailand, several official Songkran (Thai New Year) festivals, due to take place in mid-April, have been canceled.
Airlines are relaxing their policies and some major hotel chains are waiving cancellation fees but recouping all the costs associated with trips canceled due to coronavirus fears is far from guaranteed. An outbreak of a virus is not covered under most standard trip cancellation insurance policies, according to TravelInsurance.com.