The Changing Landscape of International Travel
Posted on February 3, 2021
With many people tired of quarantine lockdowns and with vaccines in sight, there is hope on the horizon to explore our world once again. Companies are starting to book international travel to get back to business, but not so fast, say many governments and health organizations, including the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO), that state the risk remains high for contracting the Coronavirus. There are several countries still accepting US travelers, but many precautions are needed before takeoff.
Effective January 26, 2021, all air passengers entering the US must have a negative test within 72 hours prior to boarding their flight back to the US. If you are leaving the US, make sure you are intimately familiar with the government restrictions imposed for your desired destination, which vary widely and can change quickly. Outlined below are the most current details for Canada and Mexico travel to highlight how different countries handle the many challenges with this global pandemic.
Canada is currently only allowing essential travel by land, air, and sea. Non-essential travel includes anything recreational in nature. If your travel is work or education related, especially for critical industries like health, immediate medical care, supply chains, and critical infrastructure, you may be allowed to travel within Canada. Keep in mind their border crossings are operating at reduced capacity. US citizens also are required to present a 14-day quarantine plan upon entry to Canada, and if regulations are not followed, hefty fines could come into play.
If Mexico is your desired destination, exercise caution as ten of the thirty-two states allow only essential travel as of January 25, 2021, according to the US Embassy & Consulate in Mexico. Non-essential visitors are currently not permitted in Mexico via ground travel. However, air travel is open to non-essential passengers from the US. Passengers returning to the US must present a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of boarding their home-bound flight, so be sure to coordinate testing in Mexico. Some hotels are offering testing services on-site, so be sure to check with your hotel or travel agent for more information. If you test positive, you will not be allowed to travel back to the US, which means a quarantine period in an international location could be a reality.
If International travel is in your future, consider the following before making your arrangements:
- Frequently check the travel restrictions for your destination, as governments are moving quickly to update and regulate travel flow. Travel.State.Gov is a good resource to keep up-to-date on the latest travel information.
- Have a plan and get connected with the local testing agencies both in the US and abroad to ensure that the airlines' timelines (in many cases 72 hours) can be met.
- Getting stuck in-country is a real possibility if your test comes back positive. Proactively have an idea of the destination's requirements for quarantined individuals. There are even some hotels boasting that you can stay for free if you test positive.
- Invest in travel insurance, but be sure to read the fine print. Be sure there is coverage for changes/cancellation in travel and medical expenses that may be incurred due to COVID-19.
There are still many opportunities in which it is necessary to travel internationally, as our own Director of Operations, Lindsey Warner, will be representing the North Dakota Trade Office at GulFood in Dubai later this month. The Dubai food show is still committing to a live event and has not transitioned to virtual activities, but safety is a top priority for the show this year. NDTO has participated with several ND companies in the past, is interested in seeing how the show has changed in the face of a global pandemic. Arranging travel to Dubai has been a learning experience as Warner said, "Ensuring that all travel guidelines are met has been an interesting process. There are plenty of resources available online, but if you are unsure about any of the restrictions, do not hesitate to ask questions. Reach out to your travel agent, the embassy or consulate for the country you are traveling to, or call us at the NDTO. We are here to help you travel as safely as possible."
While international travel is a challenge right now, there is no replacement for in-person relationship building. The opportunity to get back to business and continue the flow of goods, ideas, and innovation is enticing. Preparations and precautions are going to be key if you decide that international travel is worth the risk for you. Below are some resources to aid in preparations and keep up-to-date with constantly changing restrictions.