Is it Safe to Travel Internationally During this Phase of the Pandemic?

airplane in the sun light casting silhouetteOn March 19, 2020, The Department of State in conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control issued a Level 4 Global Health Advisory warning Americans not to travel internationally because of COVID-19 globally. The Department of State lifted the Level 4 Global Health Advisory on August 6, 2020, but does that mean it is safe to travel as it was pre-pandemic?  Not necessarily.  Before you decide whether you want to travel there are many things you should consider such as where you are allowed to go, whether they are safe, what happens if you get COVID-19 while abroad and can you get home?

Are Other Countries Allowing U.S. Travel?

Currently, many international travel destinations are not allowing Americans to enter due to the accelerated spread of the disease in the United States.  According to the Harvard Global Health Institute, presently there are 17.3 cases of coronavirus for every 100,000 people in the United States. This has caused 90% of the countries worldwide to refuse entry to Americans because of the accelerated spread of the virus. This series of precautions taken by other countries to safeguard against the pandemic locally have complicated travel globally for many Americans.

Where Are U.S. Citizens Allowed to Travel?

The countries that are allowing Americans access for business and tourism are Antigua, Barbuda, Aruba, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, Cambodia, Croatia, Dominican Republic, Egypt, French Polynesia, Jamaica, Maldives, Mexico, North Macedonia, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Serbia, Rwanda, Tanzania, Turkey, Turks and Caicos, and the United Arab Emirates. Travel restrictions change as the situation changes. To check what restrictions a particular country has, you can see travel restrictions by country at Kayak.com.

What is the COVID-19 Risk in Countries That Are Allowing U.S. Travelers?

Most of the countries with the exception of Barbados are at the highest threat level (3).

With much of the globe off-limits to Americans, some research to determine what the social situation is in the countries that are allowing Americans to enter their borders is necessary for proper planning. The Center for Disease Control has assessed risk categories to many countries in the world to let you know where it is safe to travel.

The CDC has developed a three-tiered threat level system broken down from level 3, being the worst risk for contracting the COVID-19 virus, to level 1 being low-risk for contracting the COVID-19 virus with necessary precautions taken.  Unfortunately, all the countries welcoming Americans for tourism or business are considered to be in the highest risk category (3) for contracting COVID-19 except for the island nation of Bermuda. Bermuda is presently considered to be a level two (moderate) threat for contracting the COVID-19 virus. The CDC is recommending that individuals who are considered to be high risk avoid travel to any of these destinations to minimize their risk of contracting the COVID-19 virus. But if you must get away, Bermuda may be your best option purely from ‘safe to travel’ analysis.

Clean COVID Tests Typically Required

Before departing, you likely will have to have a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of departure and be prepared to show the results at the airport. There is also a strong likelihood of having to take another COVID-19 test at the airport upon your arrival.

Aruba Travel

Aruba opened their shores to American tourists again on the 10th of July. The government of Aruba is requiring that the negative COVID-19 test results be uploaded a minimum of twelve hours before departing. The island reopened outdoor restaurants on May 25th and the island has put enhanced cleanliness measures into effect, such as plexiglass partitions installed at desks as well as cleaning and hygiene certification programs.

Mexico Resorts

Our neighbors to the south in Mexico are welcoming Americans for business and tourism in certain states, however, the land crossing is officially closed. Mexico has implemented a color-coded system for each state, and it changes as the situation changes.

However, just because they are open to travel does not mean that it is safe to travel there. Popular vacation destinations such as Cancun, located in Quintana Roo, and Puerto Vallarta, located in Jalisco, are both currently in the red category. According to information provided by the Travel and Leisure website, the red designation allows entry only for critical functions, and capacity at hotels is limited to 25% for visitors working on these projects. Those states with the orange color designation, such as Mexico City, are opening hotels and restaurants with a 50% capacity restriction in place.

Where to Find More Information

For more up to date information on what the social situation is at your chosen destination, please visit the Travel and Leisure country-by-country guide.

Threat levels will hopefully decrease as time goes on. You can monitor this by visiting the Harvard Global Health Institute risk-assessment map.

What Happens When You Contract COVID-19 While Abroad?

With mandatory travel restrictions in place globally, if you find yourself in another country and have contracted COVID-19, you are likely going to find yourself stranded and ordered to quarantine for a minimum of 14 days. You will not be permitted to board a flight if you have COVID-19.  With the global shortage of medical supplies and personal protective gear due to the coronavirus outbreak, the situation could put your life in serious jeopardy depending on what part of the world you find yourself in and how crowded their hospitals are due to the coronavirus.

What Other Travel Protection Options Do I Have?

The typical travel protection plan you get with your credit card might get your ticket cost refunded if you cancel before you go, but they will not do a thing to help you if you are there and cannot get back. However, if you want to be sure you can return even if you get COVID-19 while traveling abroad, a start-up company called Covac Global offers a new insurance to get you home. But, it is not cheap.

Covac Global is offering coverage to get you and your family, business partners, friends, or fellow travelers repatriated to the United States from anywhere in the world if you contract COVID-19 and are not allowed to return via normal means. By purchasing a “membership” in their travel protection program, they claim to be able to provide you with a swift and discreet repatriation (without a mandatory hospital stay) if you are unfortunate enough to contract COVID-19.

The service they offer can be purchased in 30, 60, or 90, travel day packages. You select the number of travel days out of the year you wish to be covered for.  Family plans are also available.  The service this company offers is not cheap though.  The price is roughly $995.00 per person for a 30-day package.  For more information on this service, please visit Covac Global.  While this option is not in everyone’s price range, the peace of mind knowing you have a way home in the event you get sick could make your trip more enjoyable.

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