We have received many questions from divers concerned about travel during the Covid-19 outbreak occurring throughout the world. There is no doubt that this public health emergency is cause for concern so here is what we know about how this may impact travelers with Blue Green Expeditions.
The Center for Disease Control and the World Health Organization have established geographic risk-stratification criteria for the purpose of issuing travel health notices for countries with COVID-19 transmission and guiding public health management decisions for people with potential travel-related exposures to COVID-19. A number of factors determine this designation including size, geographic distribution, and origin of the outbreak. The three CDC Threat Levels are:
THREAT LEVEL 3: AVOID ALL NON-ESSENTIAL TRAVEL
THREAT LEVEL 2: PRACTICE ENHANCED PRECAUTIONS
THREAT LEVEL 1: PRACTICE USUAL PRECAUTIONS
The current CDC Threat Level breakdown as of March 15,2020, is as follows:
- THREAT LEVEL 3: Widespread community transmission and restriction on travel to the US and many other countries. Community transmission means those infected have not traveled to high risk countries or been in direct, close contact with someone who is infected. In other words, the source of the infection is not really known.
- Most of the EU: Travel from European countries in the Schengen group including the UK and Ireland for non-US citizens and permanent residents banned starting March 12 for at least 30 days. US citizens subject to medical screening and potential home quarantine.
- THREAT LEVEL 3: Widespread community transmission.
- Korea: Travelers from S. Korea must undergo a 14 day self-quarantine upon arrival in US. Restricted from entry into many other countries.
- THREAT LEVEL 2: Sustained community transmission. Older adults and people of any age with serious chronic medical conditions are at increased risk for severe disease and should consider postponing nonessential travel.
- Rest of the world including the US: This designation is a recognition of the global nature of the infection and the constantly changing landscape we are facing. Several states within the US and much of Europe are experiencing significant community spread of COVID 19. Experts estimate tens of thousands in the US, if not more, are infected but experience few of no symptoms. Regardless of the travel restrictions in place, there is no doubt there will be more infected people identified as testing improves. Please do not allow this to unduly alarm you. Identifying possibly contagious people is a critical part of getting this under control. Remember, they would have been infected regardless. Now at least we know what we are dealing with.
- CDC also recommends all travelers reconsider cruise ships at this time.
At this time, none of our expeditions involve countries on Thread Level 3. Nor do we offer cruise ship style voyages where disease is much more likely to spread. This is an incredibly dynamic situation and there is no way to predict what will happen in the next few weeks, never mind the next couple of months. We are monitoring the situation daily and will reevaluate with new information.
However, two of our upcoming expeditions are affected by other travel restrictions: Oman and Israel/Jordan. In both cases, these small countries have decided to close their borders for at least one month to almost all foreign visitors. This is partially due to the number of foreign visitors they receive in proportion to the health care resources they have available. As a result, both trips are postponed indefinitely. We have been in touch with the participants about their options, and we will plan on rescheduling these trips for a later time.
It is possible other trips will be affected in the future. Certainly, some flights might need to be changed in order to avoid countries with heightened risk or to comply with entry requirements of the country of your final destination. In that case, your airline should allow you to change your flight at no cost or for a small fee. In the event a country we will be traveling to is added to the CDC’s Threat Level 3 list, we will work with our vendors to rebook travelers on a future date. Please be aware that your trip cancellation insurance may not cover a trip cancelled due to Covin-19 spread so please check with the company directly.
While this is a challenging situation for everyone, we will get through this if we remember to use our common sense and listen to the recommendations of scientific and medical experts.
To minimize your risk:
- Avoid contact with sick people and large groups with close contact
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands
- Clean your hands often by washing them with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at 60%–95% alcohol. Soap and water should be used if hands are visibly dirty.
- Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
- Monitor the CDC Threat Level https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html
- Have medical evacuation insurance such as that provided by DAN and other travel insurance agencies.
If you have any questions about how your upcoming trip may be affected or how this crisis may affect things in the future, please do not hesitate to contact us at info@BlueGreenExpeditions.com or +1 619 405 2493. We navigate this rapidly changing situation together.