It’s so easy to be swept up in a wave of fear or anxiety when turning on the nightly news or scrolling through the headlines.
We get it. There are a lot of questions surrounding COVID-19. As the virus has been ramping up around the world, and more recently in the U.S., travel has become a top concern for anyone who has had a trip planned or was considering booking a trip in the coming weeks.
Whether you’re worried about your honeymoon or guests traveling to your wedding, here’s what you should know about upcoming travel plans.
Are there travel bans in place?
Yes. The U.S. has three bans currently in place that include China, Iran and most of Europe.
The China and Iran travel bans have been in place for more than a month and apply to non-U.S. citizens who have been in China and Iran in the last 14 days. And on March 11, President Trump announced a European travel ban that will suspend entry for foreign nationals into the U.S. from 26 countries for 30 days. The ban went into effect on Friday, March 13.
The countries included in the ban are Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the U.K. and Ireland.
The good news is the ban doesn’t apply to U.S. citizens or to legal permanent residents of the U.S., as well as those who are:
- married to US citizens
- parents and guardians of U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents aged under 21
- brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents, providing both are unmarried and under 21
- children or foster children of U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents
The Centers for Disease Control (C.D.C.) have issued travel notices of varying levels that help Americans decide whether they should postpone or cancel upcoming travel. If you’re curious about travel to specific countries, this map tracks up-to-date recommendations from the C.D.C. by country.
What’s going on here in Arkansas?
Currently, Arkansas has 22 confirmed cases of COVID-19. What that means is that samples from 22 people tested positive for the virus at a state or local laboratory and were then sent to the C.D.C. lab to be tested again. (If you’re curious about the numbers, head to the Arkansas Department of Health’s website.)
There have been several event and school cancellations across the state. The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette is updating this online article with coronavirus-related cancellations.
What can I do if I have upcoming travel booked but want to cancel my flight?
Because the virus has hit the travel industry especially hard, many airlines are being more lenient with cancellations and change fees.
- American Airlines: If a flight is canceled and a customer chooses not to be rebooked, they can request a full refund by visiting aa.com/refunds.is. The airline is also offering to waive change fees for customers who purchased tickets prior to March 1 for travel through April 30. Customers have until Dec. 31 to rebook travel for future flights.
- United Airlines: Customers are able to change any tickets issued March 3-31 free of charge to a flight of equal or lesser value for up to 12 months from the original ticket issue date. If the customer decides to cancel their flight scheduled between March 3-31, they can apply the value of the ticket toward a new trip without any change fee for up to 12 months from the original ticket issue date.
- Delta Airlines: Delta is waiving any change fees for customers with flights booked between March 1-31. Or, customers can cancel their trip and use the value of the ticket towards a future flight any time within one year of the original ticket issue date.
- Southwest Airlines: Southwest never charges a fee to change or cancel their flight. If your plans change, or you decide you no longer want to travel, you can cancel your flight and apply your funds to future travel so long as you cancel the flight more than 10 minutes prior to travel.
What about travel insurance?
This one’s tricky. Generally, travel insurance doesn’t cover something like the coronavirus. But, your travel insurance benefits will ultimately depend on the coverage you bought and when you bought it. Check with your travel agent or travel insurance company early and often to make sure you know what’s covered before you go ahead with your travel plans.
This is a great reminder that travel insurance can be an excellent choice when planning for these big life events. An easy way to navigate the world of travel insurance is to book your vacation through a travel agency. We highly recommend our expert partners Peacock Travel Group. Led by Tricia Kelley Peacock, the group has been in business for more than 36 years and has a large team of independent consultants spanning the U.S. who each bring their own specialties to the table.
Some places in the United States have declared states of emergency. Can I still travel to those places?
A growing number of states have declared a state of emergency or a public health emergency but that does not affect travel within the U.S. Flights are not canceled and the C.D.C. has not issued any travel restrictions.
Who should I talk to if I have concerns about my upcoming wedding date?
Talk to your vendors!
Your planner, photographer, venue coordinator and anyone else involved in your wedding is sure to have ideas to keep you and your guests healthy and happy on your big day. If family members can’t travel to you on your big day, there are some outside-of-the-box ways to keep them included in the day. With the technology we have available at our fingertips, you can live stream just about anything — your ceremony included.
Take the time to talk through any concerns with your family and vendors before deciding on the best decision for you and your loved ones. When it comes to your wedding day or honeymoon, it’s best not to make any rash decisions and weigh out the pros and cons carefully, while keeping an eye on the situation.
However, we strongly recommend you check on C.D.C. guidelines during this time. On March 15, the C.D.C. released this statement regarding mass gatherings of 50 or more people, which include conferences, festivals, parades, concerts, sporting events and, yes, weddings:
"Organizers should continually assess, based on current conditions, whether to postpone, cancel, or significantly reduce the number of attendees (if possible) for mass gatherings."
And on a more local level, the Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr. announced on March 16, that he recommends limiting social gatherings to no more than 50 people and has enacted a curfew from midnight to 5 a.m. to further discourage unnecessary social gatherings.
Bottom line: Canceling or postponing your wedding is a deeply personal decision, but we suggest you take these recommendations to heart and know that we're all in this together to stop the spread and keep our neighbors and loved ones healthy.
If you have any questions or want to reach out to our team, feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We're more than happy to help in any way we can! As for travel-related questions, we recommend our expert partners Peacock Travel Group.