What to know
Travel and the coronavirus
The Covid-19 virus has now spread to at least 150 countries, many of which are closing their borders. Travel rules continue to change, and disruptions are multiplying. Up-to-date travel information is available at the Centers for Disease Control website (cdc.gov). On March 15, the U.S. State Department issued a global Level 3 health advisory, which means travelers should “reconsider” plans to travel anywhere abroad. (A Level 4 advisory would mean “Do not travel.”) American citizens and their families can still fly into or from the U.S., but that could change, and they risk being quarantined.
Should I travel?
Probably not—especially if your trip is nonessential, if you’re older than 65, or if you have an immunocompromising condition such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease. Don’t fly if you’re sick with cold or flu symptoms, because you may be quarantined, and remember that you will be putting others at risk by traveling if you have the virus but are asymptomatic. The CDC is urging travelers to avoid cruise ships; viruses thrive in such close quarters. If you do travel, avoid large gatherings and try to keep a 6-foot distance from others. On an airliner, the air on board is thoroughly filtered. But wash your hands frequently, disinfect your armrests and tray table, and avoid touching your face.
Will I get a refund?
Most major airlines are temporarily waiving rescheduling fees for passengers traveling to regions affected by the virus, including in the U.S. JetBlue is even waiving cancellation fees for flights through April 30. Many cruise lines are offering full refunds or credits toward future trips. Some hotel chains, including Marriott, Hilton, and IHG, are waiving cancellation and rebooking fees. Airbnb is being lenient, too, offering full refunds for bookings made on or before March 11 for travel between March 13 and April 13. Most waivers involve tight time frames, so act promptly if you want to secure a refund.
What about travel insurance?
Few trip-protection policies will reimburse you if you back out of a trip just because of worries about the Covid-19. You might consider a “cancel for any reason” policy, though, which costs more and pays out less than basic insurance. Compare policies and rates at SquareMouth.com and TravelInsurance.com.
Sources: NYTimes.com and WSJ.com ■