AUGUST 12, 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.

The US State Department has lifted its Global Level 4 Health Advisory urging Americans to reconsider all international travel due to COVID-19. The Global Advisory, initially put in place on March 19, 2020, advised US citizens to avoid all international travel due to the global impact of COVID-19. "With health and safety conditions improving in some countries and potentially deteriorating in others, the Department is returning to our previous system of country-specific levels of travel advice (with Levels from 1-4 depending on country-specific conditions), in order to give travelers detailed and actionable information to make informed travel decisions. This will also provide U.S. citizens more detailed information about the current status in each country. We continue to recommend U.S. citizens exercise caution when traveling abroad due to the unpredictable nature of the pandemic," the agency said. US citizens considering traveling abroad should review the entire Travel Advisory for their destination(s) on A full list of recent updates to Travel Advisories can be found at

As the US State Department begins to lift international travel restrictions for Americans, only some countries and territories are allowing Americans across their borders, reports Forbes. For many countries, the US largely falls into a COVID-19 “hot spot” category and is barred. For some of the countries allowing Americans entry, there are certain restrictions. For example, Americans traveling to the UK and Ireland must still self-isolate 14 days. Britain is debating testing at airports to curb quarantine. Other places have various screening measures such as filling out screening questionnaires ahead of travel; and showing, or taking, a negative PCR test on arrival. Click "READ MORE" below for more details regarding travel to open countries.

Countries are beginning to require international health insurance upon arrival in order to protect their own national healthcare systems from the potential financial trouble of tending to travelers who become ill with COVID-19 while abroad and don’t have coverage to pay for their treatment, reports Travel Pulse. Travelers should be aware that international healthcare coverage is something that must be obtained separately from their standard, US-based health insurance and any trip-cancellation insurance, and that international coverage is rarely included in their existing health policies. “The reason for [requiring healthcare coverage] is to prevent local healthcare providers and governments from having to foot the bill for uninsured tourists,” a spokesperson for travel insurance provider Allianz said. “The coverage also does protect travelers from potentially catastrophic medical bills or emergency medical transportation costs.” Many countries, while reopening to foreigners, are already requiring arrivals to present proof of a recent negative COVID-19 test at the airport, or to take a test or retest (at their own cost) once they touch down, and then quarantine themselves while awaiting the results.

American Airlines has announced that face coverings with exhaust valves or vents would no longer be allowed when boarding the carrier’s flights, effective August 19th. The airline consulted with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which reports the face coverings with one-way valves or vents allow exhaled air to be expelled through holes in the material. These can allow for potential spread of COVID-19.

Additionally, American Airlines has announced that it has extended its offer to waive change fees for travelers who purchase tickets by September 30, 2020 for travel through December 31, 2020. The offer is available for any of American’s fares. The change fee will be waived but travelers may still owe any difference in ticket price when rebooking a trip. Effective August 11th:
  • Any ticket purchased by September 30, 2020 for travel through December 31, 2020, will not incur change fees prior to travel. Travelers must pay any fare difference, if applicable, at time of ticketing of the new fare.
  • All AAdvantage® award tickets are included.
  • Travelers are allowed to change their origin and destination cities.

New York, New Jersey and Connecticut removed five states — Alaska, New Mexico, Ohio, Rhode Island and Washington — from the tri-state travel advisory Tuesday, meaning travelers coming from there will no longer be subject to a 14-day self-quarantine upon arrival in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, reports USA Today. Meanwhile, Hawaii, South Dakota and the Virgin Islands were all added to the quarantine list, pushing the total to 33 states and territories. 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.

Both Alaska Airlines and JetBlue are updating their facial covering policies, removing exemptions for travelers over the age of 2, reports Business Travel News. Alaska's new policy states that travelers will not be allowed to travel if they will not or cannot wear a facial covering, and travelers who refuse to wear them after boarding will be suspended from future travel with the carrier. Alaska already had introduced a policy in which travelers not wearing facial coverings on board received a "yellow card" final warning. Alaska now will suspend flying privileges for any traveler who does not wear a facial covering after receiving a card immediately upon landing, including any connecting or return flights. JetBlue's no-exemption policy is based on information from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and its own medical experts. Travelers not wearing facial coverings will not be allowed to board, and those who refuse to wear them during flights "will be reviewed for future travel on JetBlue," according to the carrier. The new policies put Alaska and JetBlue in line with American Airlines and Southwest Airlines, each of which last month announced no-exception rules to their facial covering requirements. United Airlines' policy allows exemptions only in "extraordinary circumstances" approved by the carrier, and Delta Air Lines is requiring any traveler claiming an exemption to go through a consulting process with a third-party medical consultant before all trips.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) reported that it screened 831,789 travelers at airports across the country on Sunday, August 9th, the highest single-day total since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, reports Travel Pulse. Travel is still not close to where it was this last year, as it’s 69 percent less than the 2.6 million people who flew on the same day in 2019. All totaled, airline traffic is about 27 percent overall of what it was at this point in the year in 2019.

Robots that were once considered a high-tech gimmick could now help guests stay safe during a global pandemic, reports Wall Street Journal. Hoteliers and robotics companies say delivery bots like Relay, produced by the Google Ventures-backed Savioke Inc., are cutting down on potentially unsafe interactions between hotel staff and room guests, by offering contactless room service. And cleaning robots, like Maidbot’s Rosie, are vacuuming hallway floors while cleaning crews spend more time than ever sanitizing rooms. Requests for delivery robots from the hospitality sector have doubled since the pandemic began, said Steve Cousins, CEO of Savioke. Many of these companies are looking to start leasing robots next year, Mr. Cousins said, as they begin planning ahead for when they expect business to start picking up again. The use of robots in the hotel industry has concerned some that these machines could eventually be used to replace employees. Many US hotels have reduced staff during the pandemic, and although hotel operators and robotics companies insist robots help rather than reduce staff, robots could limit how much extra labor hotels bring on to meet new sanitation demands.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has started to use credential authentication technology (CAT) at Baltimore/Washington International-Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI), reports Airport-Technology. This technology is used to authenticate the identity of travelers and confirm their flight information. There are 14 new CAT units at the airport. The CAT unit will scan the traveler's ID, which will then inform the officer of the validity of the ID. As the traveler inserts the ID, there is a reduced chance of spreading COVID-19. The unit also checks if the traveler has been pre-screened by the airline agent, meaning that travelers will not have to show their flight boarding passes again. The CAT units are deployed at many airports in the US, including Tampa International Airport (TPA), Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT) and Boston Logan International Airport (BOS).