I flew home rather hurriedly last week. On March 15th I said people should not travel anymore and return home. A view I got some criticism for. C’est la vie.
I decided to cut short my US visit, cancelled my UK business meetings and long looked forward to weekend hiking trip and hightailed it home.
The world then changed very quickly in a week.
On March 15, Canada warned its citizens not to travel and asked them to return to Canada.
The EU introduced its blanket travel ban on March 17. The UK also gave Travel Advice against all non-essential travel. Then New Zealand told its people to not depart and to return home to NZ. On March 19, the country closed its borders to all people who were not NZ citizens or residents or Pacific Islanders.
On March 18, the Australian government raised its travel warning on Smart traveler to the highest Level 4. On March 25 the Australian government raised its position and announced a ban on all overseas travel, with few exceptions.
The United States of America advised its citizens on March 19 to avoid all international travel due to the global impact of COVID-19 and arrange for immediate return to the United States.
For those overseas from your country decide if you are going home or staying. If you plan to go, bring your travel forward to now. You will need to be able to find a route home bearing in mind countries are banning travel or transit from some locations and airlines are shutting down. You will probably face isolation or quarantine on arrival home.
If you plan to stay somewhere, I think you will find it will be months before you can go home. Only decide to stay where you are, if there are employment or family reasons to stay. Make sure you have accommodation, money and visa to do it.
Do not assume that countries will extend your visa or that immigration offices will remain open and functioning to enable you to make visa changes. Some countries are cancelling some visa types.
Make sure you have cash at hand in local currency and USD or Euro or Pounds. Do not assume banks, ATMs and credit cards will function in an extended lock down. If you are earning income through a job in another country, plan for the possibility that you may be stood down or made redundant. If that happened, you will probably have to stay without money or employer support.
Note most (if not all) travel insurance policies have now been rendered void because of the aforementioned government advice by national governments. This may impact your ability to pay for medical care.
Know what the hospital facilities are like near you are staying? How likely is it that they could be over run with demand? How would you pay for them? Do you have access to ambulances?
Finally, your Government may not be able to help you as your local embassy may be closed, scaled down and overwhelmed. Expect to find your own way help.
Good luck to everyone,
- WHO information on the virus
- CDC: People at Higher Risk
- Environmental Cleaning and Disinfection Recommendations (including schools)
- Communication Resources for Travel
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