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.

On Tuesday, September 8th, US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) reopened Trusted Traveler Programs enrollment centers to the public. The reopening plans were developed in consultation with CBP health and safety experts and include measures to minimize the risk of exposing travelers and CBP personnel to COVID-19. As of September 8th, conditionally approved Global Entry applicants are able to complete in-person interviews at most Trusted Traveler Programs enrollment centers in the United States. These applicants must schedule enrollment center interviews in advance by logging into their account on the Trusted Traveler Programs website. Interview availability will vary by location. Due to the temporary restrictions on non-essential travel at US land borders, NEXUS and US-Canada FAST interviews at US and Canadian enrollment centers will remain suspended until further notice. SENTRI and FAST-South enrollments on the southern border may also be limited.

Additionally, CBP has introduced new measures at enrollment centers to promote social distancing and protect the health and safety of travelers. CBP personnel at enrollment centers are now required to wear agency-approved masks when interacting with the public. All applicants and visitors at enrollment centers are required to wear face masks consistent with CDC recommendations and state and local mandates. In addition to the new face mask requirements, applicants who visit enrollment centers may observe:
  • Staggered or reduced appointment availability
  • The elimination of sign-in sheets and certain other touch points
  • Limited seating in waiting areas
  • More frequent disinfection of the service counters
  • Plexiglass barriers and/or facial shields at service counters
  • Other measures to promote social distancing

Specific health and safety measures may vary among enrollment centers based upon the physical layout of the facility and other considerations. CBP says that it will continue to require all Trusted Traveler Programs applicants submit fingerprints during their interview to complete the enrollment process.

Four states were added Tuesday to the 14-day quarantine list for New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, reports USA Today. Delaware, Maryland, Ohio and West Virginia were added because of rising COVID-19 rates, the governors of the states' announced. Meanwhile, two US territories, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, were removed. In all, 35 states and territories are on the quarantine list (click "Read More" below to view the current full list). Travelers from states that report at least 10 average daily COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents over the past week are subject to the quarantine order, as are states with a 10% positive test rate over the same time period.

Airline travel had its best day since COVID-19 disrupted the industry, reports Travel Pulse. According to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), the agency processed nearly 1 million travelers on Friday, September 4th, the first time since March 17th that the total number of passengers was above 900,000. That number still pales in comparison to the 2,198,828 that flew on September 4th of last year, but nonetheless, represents a solid figure as airlines work to make a comeback. In fact, the Labor Day weekend was a strong one for the airlines, as there were 877,698 travelers on Thursday, September 3rd. As for the rest of the week, traveler counts varied between 500,000 and 800,000 people.

Amtrak has announced that it is building on its commitment to the safety and well being of travelers by announcing a partnership with RB, the makers of Lysol. According to Amtrak, this new partnership with germ-kill experts and microbiologists from RB will help Amtrak strengthen its comprehensive disinfection protocols for Amtrak trains, stations and Metropolitan Lounges. The partnership will launch in stations served by the Northeast Corridor and Pacific Surfliner trains, before expanding across the Amtrak network. “At Amtrak, the health and safety of our customers and employees is our top priority. We’re excited to build on our industry-leading safe travel standards through this partnership,” said Steve Predmore, Amtrak Executive Vice President and Chief Safety Officer. “By coupling RB’s products and expertise with the guidance of our full-time medical director, and public health and safety teams, travelers can feel a renewed sense of confidence and peace of mind aboard our trains and in our waiting areas.” Amtrak travelers will notice enhanced protocols and processes put in place to help create a safer travel experience, including:
  • Face Coverings: To ensure the safety of travelers and employees, Amtrak requires face coverings in stations, on trains and Thruway Buses throughout the duration of their trip. Face coverings can be removed when travelers are in their private rooms.
  • Onboard Safety: With the assistance of experts at RB, Amtrak will continue to evaluate cleaning and disinfection practices to support personal safety. All trains are currently equipped with onboard filtration systems with a fresh air exchange rate of every 4-5 minutes.
  • Lysol products will be used by Amtrak employees, cleaning crews and travelers at select stations with plans to make it available onboard trains. 

Beginning in October, United Airlines will resume or begin new service on 50 domestic and 23 international routes, reports Business Travel News. The carrier announced that it will operate about 40 percent of its schedule compared with October 2019. The additional capacity is geared toward leisure travel, according to United. United plans to resume eight routes to Hawaii as well as international service to Bogota, Buenos Aires, Lima and Panama City, Panama. Of the 50 added October routes, 37 include United's hubs in Chicago, Denver and Houston, the carrier said. On October 25th, United will increase service between Newark and Tel Aviv to twice daily and between Washington Dulles and Tel Aviv to three times weekly. United "plans to add more flights on days popular with leisure travelers looking to get a head start on long weekend getaways and will schedule fewer flights on days where demand is traditionally lower," according to the carrier.

The UK is reportedly planning to introduce an in-airport COVID-19 testing arrangement, reports Airport Technology. According to a Financial Times report, the UK Government is assessing the feasibility of moving to a system where travelers will be tested for COVID-19 when they arrive at British airports. The move may reduce the need for travelers to remain in self-isolation from fourteen days to a minimum of seven. Under the new system, travelers will be tested twice, once they land and again a week later. If the results of both tests are negative, they can break their quarantine after seven days. UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told Sky News: “You probably have to have some kind of quarantine period here, perhaps seven or eight days, maybe a test then. But these are the things we’re working through at the moment.” However, Shapps did not provide a time frame for the introduction of the new testing regime.

Major airlines want the US and British governments to launch a traveler testing trial for COVID-19 on flights between London and New York to pave the way for a resumption of more international travel, reports Reuters. In a letter to government transportation officials seen by Reuters, the chief executives of Airlines for America, Airlines UK, Heathrow Airport and Virgin Atlantic Airways said both governments should “establish passenger testing solutions in air travel." They urged the governments to establish a testing trial between New York and London by month’s end “to gather real world evidence and data.” Sharon Pinkerton, senior vice president at Airlines for America, which represents American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and others, told reporters on Thursday the industry wanted a pilot program to help boost international travel. “One of the key steps to recovery is setting up an international pilot program between the US and either Europe, Canada, somewhere in the Pacific,” she said, saying that could help eliminate some of the international quarantines now in place. The US Transportation Department (DOT) said it “stands ready to support the safe resumption of international flights between the US and Europe. Conversations are ongoing between the federal government, international partners and industry stakeholders on these matters.”

Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) has accelerated the implementation of touchless technologies to enable travelers to travel safely during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, reports Airport Technology. Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA), the operator of the airport, is working to provide travelers with a touch-free experience from the curb to the gate. LAWA CEO Justin Erbacci said: “At LAWA, new technology is making our facilities more touchless, clean and easier to navigate as we welcome more travelers back to the skies. “We are aggressively creating a touch-free journey from the curb to the gate, setting the standard for a reimagined airport experience.” LAX is now equipped with touch-free faucets, hands-free drinking fountains and hand sanitizer stations. Currently, the airport features 250 hand sanitizer stations while an additional 100 will be installed this week.

Airports Council International (ACI) World officials have outlined an aviation industry recovery plan in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, urging direct government financial support for the entire ecosystem, reports Transportation Today. “As the airport sector, as an integral part of the global aviation ecosystem, has been among the industries most affected by the global COVID-19 pandemic and is confronted by a crisis of liquidity and existential uncertainty, financial support is urgently needed to support industry restart and protect essential operations,” ACI World Director General Luis Felipe de Oliveira said. ACI indicated the policy brief, Path to the airport industry recovery—Restoring a sustainable economic equilibrium, details policy and assistance proposals governments can adopt to accelerate the global industry restart and ensure a sustained recovery. ACI said the measures include governments providing short-term loans or one-time cash injections to minimize default on debt and credit losses; airport rents and concession fees applicable to airport operators be waived in the form of a one-time measure for a defined period of time, without the requirement for airports to pay back the waived amounts later; and regulators pursuing temporary relaxation of limits and allowances for selected duty-free products, as a means of stimulating sales and helping airports generate revenues from concessionaires.