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COVID 19 - Travel in the NEW Normal

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Industry Guidance for Promoting the Health and Safety of All Travellers. 

The clearest lesson learned is that responding effectively to COVID-19 is a shared responsibility requiring a multi-layered approach. We must all work together. Travellers must do their part by adopting safe travel practices and following science-based guidelines to help protect themselves, the health of their family and all those around them. 

The following guidance underscores the essential role the travel industry plays in promoting the health and safety of our customers and employees. It was developed in collaboration with all segments of the travel industry—hotels, resorts, airports, airlines, attractions, restaurants, retail, rental cars, meeting venues, event producers, travel advisors, cruise lines, vacation rentals etc.— who, with input from public health experts, reached agreement on a core set of health and safety guidance for the industry to adapt to their businesses. This guidance builds upon and is aligned with CDC evidence-based guidelines for travel during the COVID-19 pandemic and is valid globally.

Creating Transmission Barriers - most importantly, wear a mask

Travel businesses should adapt operations, modify employee practices and/or redesign public spaces to help protect employees and customers.

Travel businesses should follow strategies designed to reduce risks of COVID-19 transmission. Strategies should include operational changes, new employee practices or reimagining high-traffic public spaces. Strategies should also align with international guidelines to build confidence with travelers and industry employees that their health and safety is our top priority. These strategies should include practices such as:

  • Wearing masks to protect both the mask wearer and others. The travel industry strongly urges all travel employees and customers to wear masks. A wealth of information from medical experts makes clear that wearing a mask is a highly effective tool to prevent the spread of infection;
  • Reinforcing hand hygiene which can decrease the risk of transmission of respiratory viruses by ~50%;
  • Encouraging physical distancing by ensuring by posting new signage to ensure proper separation in lines and common areas, discouraging congregating in crowded areas, reconfiguring public spaces, or limiting the number of employees and customers in various areas;
  • Thinking creatively to limit staff physical contact with customers where practical while still delivering superior service, for example, through online ordering, curbside service delivery, automated entrances and other practices;
  • Utilizing personal protective equipment (PPE);
  • Installing physical barriers, such as transparent screens to provide proper separation between customers and employees;
  • Educating both employees and customers about their shared responsibility to help protect each other in a COVID-19 environment.

Travel businesses should consider implementing touchless solutions, where practical, to limit the opportunity for virus transmission while also enabling a positive travel experience.

This could mean implementing touchless or low-touch solutions, along with pursuing technological and innovative practices to further promote safe and enjoyable experiences. Such measures may include adopting contactless technologies or procedures for:

  • Purchasing tickets;
  • Limiting queues;
  • Confirming identification;
  • Checking in / checking out;
  • Automating ordering and pick-up for food and services; and
  • A broader range of travel and hospitality amenities.

Enhance Sanitation

Travel businesses should adopt and implement enhanced sanitation procedures specifically designed to combat the transmission of COVID-19.

Protecting against COVID-19 requires heightened sanitation practices. In an industry as diverse as travel, specific practices will vary from one segment to another. Each travel business will continue to tailor procedures to its own operating environment and the expectations of its customers. Some will also adopt practices verified by third-party certification services. But sanitation procedures will align with leading public health authority guidelines. To promote the health and safety of our customers and employees, every segment of the travel industry should deploy enhanced sanitation procedures that include:

  • Establish a policy implementing more frequent hand washing by all employees and, in the absence of hand washing, make frequent use of an alcohol-based hand sanitizer (at least 60% alcohol);
  • Sanitizing more frequently, using products and disinfectants that meet requirements for effectiveness against COVID-19; special attention to high-touch surfaces; 
  • Providing hand sanitizer in public areas throughout facilities; 
  • Modifying business hours when necessary to carry out thorough sanitation and disinfection procedures; 
  • Providing new training for employees on implementing these measures with oversight on execution;
  • Researching technological innovations and testing new procedures, as appropriate, to enhance sanitation. 

Promote Health Screening

Travel businesses should recommend travel employees get the COVID-19 vaccine in addition to providing health screening measures, isolating workers with possible COVID-19 symptoms and providing health resources to customers.

Travel businesses should adopt health screening procedures that require all employees:

  • To monitor their health;
  • To get an annual flu shot;
  • To not report to work if they are ill and/or showing any symptoms;
  • To self-isolate if showing symptoms of COVID-19, if awaiting test results, or if diagnosed with COVID-19; and
  • Get an approved COVID-19 vaccine when available.

Travel employers and operators should review their policies to more easily enable employees to stay home when sick or when possibly exposed to the coronavirus. This could also include, for some, updating sick leave policies and allowing employees to stay home to care for sick family members or to fulfill self-isolation requirements. Travellers also have a role to play in preventing the spread of COVID-19. To help them fulfill this responsibility, travel businesses should offer appropriate resources to customers to better enable them to monitor and screen their own health, including:

  • Signage communicating COVID-19 symptoms;
  • Guidance to local public health resources in case testing or treatment is needed;
  • Materials describing good health practices to protect themselves and others;
  • Communications encouraging travelers to stay home if they are sick and to postpone travel until they are well

Travel businesses should establish a set of procedures should an employee or customer test positive for COVID-19. 

If an employee or customer tests positive, travel businesses should follow an appropriate checklist of actions in response. Travel businesses should follow guidance from leading public health authorities to define necessary actions in these instances.

Follow Food & Beverage Service Guidance

Travel businesses should follow best practices in food and beverage service to promote health of employees and customers.

While COVID-19 is not a foodborne illness, food and beverage service is an essential and ubiquitous part of the hospitality our industry provides to travellers. When serving food and beverages, travel businesses should follow international best practices recommendation.

A Shared Responsibility 

Responding effectively to COVID-19 is a shared responsibility. Above guidance reflects the essential role the travel industry must play to help promote the health and safety of our customers and employees. But no industry can overcome this challenge alone.

Travellers also have a responsibility. They must adopt new travel practices and follow science based guidelines to help protect the health of their family and those around them, including fellow travelers and industry employees. In the spirit of collective action needed to defeat COVID-19, we urge travellers to do their part and follow government and industry guidance to help protect themselves and others. By working together, we can overcome the challenge, begin to reopen our economy and responsibly get travelling again.

Source: 2021 US Travel Association - Developed based on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and in consultation with public health expert

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