As the threat of COVID-19 persists throughout the world, many borders remain closed to non-essential travelers. Only a handful of countries have kept their borders open to travelers from the United States in addition to a small number of countries that allow travelers provided they adhere to a rigorous amount of restrictions.

With this in mind, many industries both in the private and government sector are often required to travel during these uncertain times. Having up to date and accurate information about the destination country is paramount for a successful trip. Such information has the potential to be not only time-saving when it comes to customs or self-quarantine restrictions but lifesaving if one of the travelers were to fall ill or have an accident. The medical, security, and financial infrastructure of many countries are experiencing overload due to the effects of this pandemic so it is crucial to know the capabilities and risk factors associated with each destination well in advance so that travelers can be prepared prior to touching down on foreign soil.

ESOC analysts have compiled some of the most popular travel destinations for executives around the world, whether it be for business or pleasure. By examining these countries and their past and current responses to COVID-19 as well as the current strain on their infrastructure, potential travelers can best educate themselves to comply with any special restrictions as well as plan ahead to make their trip a safe one.

Australia

The US Department of State has issued a Travel Advisory for Australia of Level 3: Reconsider Travel due to COVID-19.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a Level 3 Travel Health Notice for Australia due to COVID-19. This level advises travelers to avoid nonessential travel to the region.

Travel and movement restrictions vary by state and travelers that plan to travel across internal state borders should check for individual state restrictions. Be prepared for restrictions to be put into effect with little or no advance notice. Airlines including Delta, Qatar Airways, United, and Air New Zealand are still flying to the country with essential travelers.

On March 20 the Australian government enforced a travel ban on all non-residents and non-Australian citizens from entering the country. Non-essential travel restrictions are gradually being lifted. In mid-July, it was announced that Australia would only allow 4,000 people per week to return to the country. Travelers entering Australia must adhere to a 14-day quarantine at a designated location.

At the time of this report, Australia has a total of 24,236 confirmed cases and 463 deaths attributed to COVID-19. Additional country information can be found here.

Germany

The Department of State issued a Travel Advisory for Germany of Level 3: Reconsider travel to Germany due to COVID-19.

The CDC issued a level 3 Travel Advisory due to COVID-19 risk in Germany being high. The CDC recommends travelers avoid all nonessential international travel to Germany.

International and commercial flights are still operating but may be limited. In addition to a mandatory 14 day quarantine period, Germany announced tests for all travelers arriving from high risk “hot spots” including the United States.

Since the initial outbreak in January, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has pushed for numerous countermeasures including lockdowns, mass testing, contact tracing apps, and work furlough known as Kuzarbeit which has been planned to extend for an additional 24 months.

Many officials say that Germany’s response to COVID-19 is one of the best in the World, there German government even proclaimed the virus was “under control” as early as April 17. While Germany is not without deaths, lower rates can be attributed to proper care being available at hospitals as well as opening up testing capabilities into the private sector which allowed upwards of 200,000 tests per day in March.

At the time of this report, Germany has a total of 226,914 confirmed cases and 9,243 deaths attributed to COVID-19. Additional country information can be found here.

Japan

The US Department of State has issued a Travel Advisory for Japan of Level 3: Reconsider Travel due to COVID-19.

The CDC issued a Level 3 Travel Advisory for Japan due to COVID-19 in addition to a Level 2 Advisory due to a local Rubella outbreak.  The CDC advises travelers to avoid nonessential travel to the region.

International and commercial flights are still operating but may be limited. Japan has currently restricted foreign nationals from the United States and Canada from entering the country as well as any travelers that have visited the US or Canada within 14 days.

While initial cases and death rates were lower than the worldwide average, outbreaks linked to US military bases were reported through the rest of the country had implanted restrictions. Numbers have been steadily rising since June as many of the restrictions were lifted and public events such as baseball games and sumo wrestling returned. In an attempt to stimulate the economy by lifting the restrictions and opening back up, Japan has seen a spike in cases and has now suffered a record economic slump.

At the time of this report, Japan has a total of 57,617 confirmed cases and 1,135 deaths attributed to COVID-19. Additional country information can be found here.

Mexico

The US Department of State issued a travel advisory for Mexico of Level 4: Advisory do not travel due to COVID-19.

The CDC issued a Level 3 Travel Health Notice for Mexico due to COVID-19. The CDC advises travelers to avoid nonessential travel to the region.

International and commercial flights are still operating but may be limited and there is no mandatory quarantine for travelers entering the country.

On March 21 Mexico and the United States undertook a joint initiative restricting non-essential travel along the Mexico-U.S. border. If traveling to Mexico carry evidence of the essential nature of your visit and evidence of residence status in Mexico if applicable. The restrictions are in place until at least September 21, 2020.

An excerpt from the most recent update from the Overseas Security Advisory Council (August 12, 2020):

The number of confirmed and suspected cases is still increasing daily in several regions of Mexico.  Mexico City, Guanajuato, Nuevo Leon, Coahuila, and Mexico State currently report the highest number of active cases for the preceding two-week period.  The states currently reporting the highest rates of hospital occupancy are Nuevo Leon, Nayarit, Colima, Coahuila, and Puebla.  Mexican health authorities have reiterated calls for people to stay home during this time.

At the time of this report, Mexico has a total of 531,239 confirmed cases and 57,774 deaths attributed to COVID-19. Additional country information can be found here.

United Kingdom

The US Department of State has issued a Travel Advisory for the United Kingdom of Level 3: Reconsider Travel due to COVID-19.

The CDC issued a Level 3 Travel Health Notice for the United Kingdom due to COVID-19.  The CDC advises travelers to avoid nonessential travel to the region.

International and commercial flights are still operating but may be limited. UK residents and travelers entering the country must provide their journey and contact details and some travelers may be required to self-isolate for 14 days depending on which country they are arriving from. Self-isolation rules and penalties vary between the countries in the United Kingdom. Travelers from low-risk countries are not required to self-isolate.

The UK government recently announced that a national testing plan has been made in coordination with the Office of National Statistics (ONS) to increase the amount of testing from 28,000 to 150,000 every two weeks. This is the largest increase of testing that the UK has seen as the ONS hopes to use the data to track COVID-19 cases and prevent further outbreaks. Current data is showing the potential for further spikes in cases so it is unclear whether additional restrictions and lockdowns will be applied.

Current Restrictions vary between the four countries and should be reviewed before traveling. Information can be found for England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland on each individual government website.

At the time of this report, the UK has a total of 321,098 confirmed cases and 41,396 deaths attributed to COVID-19. Additional country information can be found here.

Conclusion

The above assessments are merely a sample of the tailor-made Travel Risk Assessments (TRA) that ESOC analysts specialize in. Each TRA is custom made for the specific client’s needs and itinerary, no two TRAs are ever the same. The moment analysts are notified of an upcoming or potential trip, all pertinent location information is added to a global aggregate database that gives constant updates of any potential risks associated with the region of travel. With this data, analysts can identify current and potential risks for clients as well as give the best possible advice for safe travel.

While the trip is underway analysts search for anything that could delay travel or make for an unsafe trip and continue to monitor the area in order to provide alerts for any risks or events that occur that would be beneficial to the client’s safety and security. Such alerts may include incidents of civil unrest, road closures along the planned itinerary route, or even severe weather warnings. ESOC monitoring does not stop until the client is safely back at their home destination.

As more borders open and further restrictions come into play, staying up to date on the pertinent information will become more time consuming for the traveler. The goal of the ESOC analyst is to remove such guesswork and provide all the information in one place so that the client can focus on what is important.