There is a lot to consider in this latest post. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that airports have been the busiest they have been since March 2020. As the pandemic brought travel to a halt, there are now signs of "turning a corner" despite the CDC still advising against travel. With the number of new COVID-19 cases continuing to drop overall and the distribution of vaccine doses picking up, some states are starting to relax their rules. New York and Connecticut, for example, are relaxing rules that require inbound travelers to quarantine. For a full list of coronavirus restrictions and mask mandates for all 50 states, see this New York Times site.
According to USA Today, while Montana, Iowa, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas and Florida have lifted restrictions, most states are easing up, with only Washington, Wisconsin, Georgia and Indiana pausing their re-openings (although Indiana and Virginia are already making plans to ease restrictions again). One has to wonder if the loosening of restrictions is the reason COVID-19 cases are rising in more than half of the U.S., though.
In case you missed it, here are some of the latest locational considerations that global mobility programs should be aware of:
- United States: The U.S., Mexico and Canada are all agreeing to extend the nearly year-old restrictions on non-essential travel between/across borders until April 21. These restrictions were set to expire on March 21. The policy will likely again be reviewed for possible extension in April based on the status of the COVID emergency. (Fragomen)
- United States: As of March 2, fewer categories may qualify for National Interest Exceptions to the United States from Ireland, the Schengen Area and the United Kingdom. Review the changes here. (Newland Chase)
- Italy: On March 19, Bloomberg reported that Italy was shutting down schools and shops again. Infections hit a three-month high and total deaths are over 100,000, The new government has imposed new travel restrictions and closed schools, restaurants and retail stores in most of the country. (Bloomberg)
- Brazil: The situation in Brazil is kind of frightening. Hospitals in all but two of Brazil’s 27 states are north of 80 percent capacity, and more than 2,000 people are dying on a daily basis from COVID-19. Brazil’s seven-day average of new cases stands at 71,800, higher than at any point during the pandemic. (The Hill)
- The Philippines: Experiencing a new surge, on March 20, the Philippines recorded nearly 8,000 new coronavirus infections (new record high), and now has the second-highest number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in Southeast Asia, after Indonesia. The government has temporarily suspended the entry of foreigners and returning overseas Filipinos (ROFs) who are considered as non-overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) from March 20 – April 19. (EIG). Manila and four surrounding provinces are now in a temporary lockdown as well.
- Canada: Wait times have settled down for the government quarantine hotels. However, there are still significant delays for expats who want to drive legally in Canada. Get the latest on hotel quarantine requirements, driving tests and destination services. (All Points) For more information on restrictions, travelling within Canada and planning your entry into Canada, try this.
- France: French citizens, their partners and children are no longer required to prove a compelling motive to enter France. EU citizens, their partners and children are also exempt from this requirement under certain conditions. See the France entry for more information. (Fragomen)
- Ireland: The country is introducing mandatory quarantine in a government facility ("hotel quarantine") for travelers coming from "high risk" countries and to quarantine required travelers from other locations without a negative COVID-19 PCR test result obtained from a test conducted no more than 72 hours before arrival. The cost of quarantine per the 14-day stay is: EUR 1,875 for one adult; EUR 360 for children ages 4-12; and EUR 625 for children ages 13-17. The quarantine fee includes accommodation, all meals, transport from airport/entry port to the hotel, security and two COVID-19 tests. (Fragomen)
- Belgium: Belgium will close schools, non-food stores and hairdressers for four weeks starting March 27 in a sharp, renewed lockdown designed to contain a rising third wave of COVID-19 infections. It is one of 19 EU countries with rising infections. (Reuters)
As Spring Breaks continue and Easter approaches, here are other situations for mobility teams to be aware of are:
- Germany will effectively shut down for an extended Easter break, starting April 1, as the country warns of a more deadly wave of the virus. (France 24)
- Poland, Italy and parts of France have ordered residents to stay home for Easter, and many businesses have shut before the holiday. Italy is currently in a state of emergency until April 30 (extended from Jan. 31) due to the pandemic, and most of the country is in a state of lockdown as it battles with a third wave. (CNN) France and Poland have reintroduced partial lockdowns as both countries battle a sharp rise in infections in recent weeks. (BBC)
- More than a dozen cherry blossom festivals around Tokyo have been canceled, though the government lifted a state of emergency in the city that had been in effect since early January. (NYT)
- Singapore: Making some positive steps forward, up to 75% of employees who are presently able to work from home can now be at the workplace at any one time, up from 50%, and employees may return to the workplace starting April 5 without the split-team arrangements being mandatory. (CNA)
- In the UK, British people attempting to go on vacation while travel restrictions are still in place could face a $7,000 fine under new government legislation. (CNN)
- India just reported its highest single day of COVID-19 deaths this year. As they mark the anniversary of the first lockdown, new COVID-19 control guidelines will be in place until the end of April. CNN)
Let us know if you have specific locations you are concerned about, and understand that due to constantly changing conditions, restrictions are being adjusted and international business travel and assignment plans will often be impacted.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will continue to implement the ban on “non-essential” travel across U.S. land borders and ferry travel with Canada and Mexico through April 21, 2021, according to a set of notifications to be published in the Federal Register. The restrictions were due to expire on March 21. The initial ban on non-essential travel across the northern and southern borders began on March 21, 2020 in response to the COVID-19 outbreak; it was originally scheduled to expire in April 2020 and has been extended continuously in one-month increments. The policy will likely again be reviewed for possible extension in April based on the status of the COVID emergency. The restrictions do not affect air travel.