AUGUST 5, 2020

At Ovation, we remain committed to providing excellent service to our valued clients throughout the COVID-19 global pandemic. Click the link below to view our travel resources guide which includes traveler health & safety information, interactive risk maps, client communications, travel management best practices, webinar recordings and more regarding COVID-19.

Air travel is slowly making a comeback as more travelers appear to be gaining confidence with airlines that are imposing strict rules for wearing masks, reports The Hill. The uptick in flight activity — 2.3 million travelers this past weekend, up from 1.8 million in late June — comes as the US saw its smallest daily increase in COVID-19 cases in nearly four weeks. Airports and labor unions are hoping to build off the recent momentum in travel by having the federal government impose nationwide policies for facial coverings and social distancing on air travel, while some airlines argue they should be able to enforce their own policies. Experts say either way, enhanced measures are needed to keep travelers coming back and in higher numbers. “The face-covering requirement, along with extraordinary cleaning and sanitation practices, are key components in our multi-layered approach to protecting the well-being of our employees and the traveling public,” said a spokesperson for the industry group Airlines for America (A4A).

A Democratic coalition of 18 US House of Representatives members has introduced legislation requiring travelers to wear face coverings while they are in airports and while they are on board planes, reports Transportation Today. The group introduced the Healthy Flights Act of 2020 to provide a set of uniform requirements for aviation travel that would protect both travelers and airline and airport workers. If passed, the legislation would clarify the FAA’s authority to impose any requirements on traveler and cargo air travel that may be necessary to protect the health and safety of airline workers and passengers; would require that passengers wear face coverings on board aircraft and within airports, while requiring personal protective equipment be issued to airline employees and certain FAA employees; would mandate the development of a national aviation preparedness plan and would create an FAA Center of Excellence on Infectious Disease Response and Prevention in Aviation to advise the FAA on infectious diseases and air travel. “The Healthy Flights Act provides clear, consistent rules and guidelines that give flight and cabin crews the authority they need to keep passengers safe, mitigate the spread of this insidious disease, and help our country prepare for future pandemics,” said Peter DeFazio (D-OR), chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.

New York, New Jersey and Connecticut again expanded the list of states whose residents must self-quarantine when visiting the tristate area on Tuesday; visitors from just 15 states can travel there freely, reports Yahoo. Rhode Island now joins 33 other states plus Puerto Rico that have to self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival or be subject to fines of $2,000 — at least in New York — for failing to provide contact information for tracing purposes. As of August 4th, the states subject to the self-quarantine rules include: Alaska, Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Mexico, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said New York City would start implementing checkpoints across the five boroughs to help enforce Governor Andrew Cuomo's quarantine order for travelers from viral hotspots, citing the ongoing national COVID-19 threat, reports NBC New York. The measure announced Wednesday is the first significant effort by New York City specifically to help enforce the 14-day quarantine for travelers from 34 states and Puerto Rico. Travelers who land at New York airports are required to fill out a form for contact tracing purposes. The same requirements apply for travelers coming to the state by car, train or bus. Starting today, the city has implemented COVID-19 checkpoints at key entry points into the city, de Blasio said. They will vary daily, though the mayor said one will appear at Penn Station on Thursday. Another is planned for Port Authority. Travelers will be given the state contact forms to fill out. Failure to submit the form can result in mandatory quarantine and a $2,000 fine, while failure to comply with the overall order can incur up to a $10,000 civil penalty. The city hopes to implement "full-fledged checkpoints" where viable and hold them at other locations where they're unlikely to create major traffic backups.

Individuals entering Massachusetts through Logan Airport or by car, bus and train will now have to prove that they're COVID-19 negative or quarantine for 14 days, reports NBC Boston. The mandatory travel order, which went into effect on August 1st, stipulates that all visitors and residents returning to the state from high-risk areas must either quarantine for 14 days or produce negative COVID-19 test results upon return into the state. "Lodging operators like hotels and AirBnB will be required to inform guests about this order at the time of booking and arrival," said Mass. Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. Individuals who have not received COVID-19 test results prior to arrival are required to quarantine until they receive a negative test result. Additionally, travelers who are over 18 or unaccompanied minors from high-risk areas will be required to fill out the Massachusetts Travel Form. Violators may face a $500 fine per day. States considered lower risk, and thus exempt from the travel order, include Connecticut, Hawaii, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York and Vermont. Other exemptions to the new travel rules include people passing through, people who commute across state lines for work or school and people coming to the state for medical treatment or military purposes.

As summer travel has slowly picked up during the COVID-19 pandemic, many states have mandated that inbound travelers adhere to quarantine rules upon arrival, while some have testing or pre-testing options so that travelers can skip the self-isolation period, reports CNN. Several states have identified specific areas of the country from which travelers are subject to restrictions, while others have imposed none at all. Click "READ MORE" below for a comprehensive list of state-specific travel restrictions currently in place across the US.

Delta Air Lines has announced that it has extended its change fee waiver on new flights purchased up until August 31st. The policy allows travelers to change their flight without a fee for a year from the date of purchase. Effective July 30th:
  • Delta is extending their change-fee waiver to new flights purchased through August 31st.
  • Delta is offering the ability to rebook travel for up to two years for travelers who purchased flights prior to April 17, 2020, that are pending travel through the end of year
  • Implementation of automatic seat blocks through at least September 30th, which will automatically block seats adjacent to those selected by a traveler once a reservation is complete and allow parties of three or more to book seats together, including middle seats

“When booking their travel, customers tell us they value more space and greater flexibility during a time of physical distancing and heightened uncertainty,” said Dwight James, S.V.P. – Pricing and Revenue Management. “We want our customers to book and travel with the peace of mind in knowing their health and safety remains Delta’s top priority, and that we’ll continue evaluating our policies to maintain the high standard of care they expect.”

A recent survey conducted by travel insurance company Allianz Travel found that 54 percent of Americans are willing to fly for a vacation, compared to 42 percent who plan to drive, reports Travel + Leisure. The survey, which had 4,300 participants from May 20th to June 25th, saw demand for domestic trips increase significantly. The company saw a 93 percent increase in requests for travel insurance quotes for the US from the first quarter to the second quarter of this year. Conversely, searches for travel insurance quotes for previously popular international destinations are down — the company saw a 53 percent drop for Italy and a 43 percent drop for France for the same time period. Regardless of where people decide to stay, Allianz noted that cleanliness was on travelers' minds with “advanced sanitizing efforts” a top concern when it comes to feeling safe to travel again. Having a proven vaccine was No. 2 on people’s lists.

New York's LaGuardia Airport (LGA) has opened its second light-filled concourse, as well as seven new gates, at Terminal B as part of its ongoing $8 billion transformation project, reports Airport-Technology. The first seven new gates in the new Western Concourse will be activated August 5th, welcoming more travelers through the airport’s Terminal B. The new concourse includes an indoor park, touchless restrooms and various other amenities. It will mainly serve American Airlines and will house the future American Airlines Admirals Club. Commenting on the new development, New York Governor Cuomo said: “With the opening of this new concourse, LaGuardia Airport’s Terminal B is hitting two major milestones in one summer and moving closer to its full transformation into a 21st century travel facility.