Business travel came to a screeching halt in March 2020, when the full weight of the global pandemic struck, amid concerns over health risks and potential exposure to COVID-19. Many employers canceled trips to keep employees safe – while governments around the world closed borders, imposed quarantines, issued isolation orders, and limited group gathering sizes, making in-person business travel meetings almost impossible.
While the short-term situation remains fluid and uncertain, pandemics of the past suggest things will eventually return to normal – and, when they do, business travel will pick back up. Most forecasters think “the return” won’t happen until well into 2021 or 2022, but it’s never too soon to start planning for a post-COVID world.
Regardless of employer and employee comfort levels, travel patterns will likely be dictated by “where infection prevalence is the lowest, where travel is the most available, where borders are open, where there are no quarantine orders, and where offices are open for meetings and that kind of thing,” explains John Thompson, division president, International Accident & Health at Chubb. “As individuals and employers start to think about business travel, prevention will continue to be of the utmost importance. Individuals must do everything possible to minimize their exposure to the virus. Employers need to continue to properly monitor… infection rates by geography, knowing where they can safely allow employees to go. They may have to favor certain travel providers, airlines, and hotels that are known to have stricter or better controls in place. They might also consider private services, as opposed to mass transit, and it almost certainly will mean a restriction of entertainment activities, including dining out.”
According to Thompson, COVID-19 has placed even greater emphasis on an employer’s duty of care to its employees. Employers must ensure employees are safely treated if they get sick while traveling for work, and that they receive continuing education on safety, security, evacuation, and medical assistance for individuals that are traveling overseas.
Source: Insurance Business