Since reports of the coronavirus surfaced in late December, over 1,200,000 people have been infected and over 68,000 have died around the world. As the virus continues to have a global impact, the countries around the world have established travel advisories, leading airlines and cruises to cancel their routes.

The U.S. has reported more coronavirus cases — at over 324,000 — than any other country in the world. The virus, which originated in China, made its way to U.S. in February and has since lead to a death toll of over 9,100. As precautions including states of emergency, and lockdowns were put in place across the country, the State Department has advised Americans to avoid all international travel. The Trump administration's coronavirus task force announced they are restricting gatherings of 10 or more people.

On March 29, the president announced at a press conference that his restrictive guidelines, including rules for social distancing, number of people in gatherings, and travel bans have been extended to April 30.


​China, which was the origin of the outbreak at the beginning of the year, has started to see signs of relief as the number of reported cases has slowed and their makeshift hospitals have been closing due to lack of demand. Additionally, the strict lockdown on Wuhan and the Hubei Province lifted on March 24.

In Europe, life under strict quarantine has become a new norm, specifically in Italy where the nation is battling over 128,000 cases of coronavirus. Lockdown procedures in Spain and France have also been implemented as they deal with thousands of individuals affected by the virus.

Additionally, on March 24, the International Olympics Committee confirmed that the Tokyo Games would be postponed to 2021.


What is coronavirus?

Coronavirus was first discovered in December 2019 in Wuhan, within the Hubei province of China. WHO announced on Feb. 12 that the official name for the specific strain of coronavirus is COVID-19.

On March 11, WHO tweeted that they have officially characterized coronavirus as "a pandemic."

“Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some causing illness in people and others that circulate among animals, including camels, cats, and bats,” according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC).

Both Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) are caused by a coronavirus, but not the strain that’s currently circulating.

The doctor who first discovered this strain of coronavirus and alerted authorities, Li Wenliang, died at age 34 of the disease on Feb. 7. China quickly launched an investigation into his death, according to a statement released by the official Xinhua news agency.

"We express our deep condolences and sadness, pay our tribute to him for fighting on the front line against the epidemic, and show our sincere sympathy to his family," government reps said in the statement.


What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

The first symptoms of coronavirus feel a lot like the flu. “You'll get a fever, cough — it’s primarily a lower respiratory virus — general malaise, there may be some gastrointestinal distress,” Dr. Rebecca Katz, a professor and the director of the Center for Global Health Science and Security at Georgetown University, recently told Travel + Leisure. When complications of the virus occur, patients could develop pneumonia or kidney-related issues, which could lead to death.

What can you do to prevent coronavirus?

General flu hygiene practices, including washing your hands regularly and covering your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, are simple ways to keep healthy. Extra measures include sanitizing commonly touched surfaces with antibacterial wipes or sprays. Also avoid touching your face and close contact with people you may see coughing or sneezing.

When eating, be sure to thoroughly cook all meat and eggs.

Additionally while traveling, the TSA has allowed for passengers to carry 12 ounces of hand sanitizer in a carry-on bag until further notice, according to their website.

"Passengers can expect that these containers larger than the standard allowance of 3.4 ounces of liquids permitted through a checkpoint will need to be screened separately, which will add some time to their checkpoint screening experience," the update read.


What countries are affected by coronavirus?

The number of confirmed cases and deaths below are according to Johns Hopkins University's real-time map from their Center for Systems Science and Engineering Department, unless otherwise noted.

China: 

Initially, the overwhelming majority of coronavirus cases were within mainland China, with over 82,000 confirmed cases and over 3,300 deaths.

The city of Wuhan, which was the original epicenter of the outbreak and has been under strict quarantine, will have its lockdown lifted on April 8. The lockdown restrictions in the remainder of the Hubei province will be lifted on March 24. Under quaratine, transportation links were cut and streets and shelves were empty as residents were urged to go outside only for essential supplies.

Related: Wuhan’s Cherry Blossom Trees Are in Full Bloom During Last Days of Lockdown

Still, museums are closed until further notice, and China’s National Cultural Heritage Administration has put much of its collection online for visitors to peruse. However at the end of March, the Badaling portion of the Great Wall reopened for visitors.

In the beginning of February, Macau completely shut down its casinos for two weeks. After a partial reopen, the city famous for gambling is seeing a slump in its economy, according to Bloomberg.


Elsewhere in Asia:

South Korea has had more than 10,200 coronavirus cases, and 183 people have died since the first case was confirmed on Jan. 20. However, Johns Hopkins reports that over 6,000 people have recovered from the virus.

On March 13, the country reported that recoveries outpaced the number of confirmed cases for the first time, marking a milestone in relief efforts.

In Japan, there have been over 3,100 confirmed cases and 77 deaths. In what became a major story surrounding the outbreak, many of the confirmed cases were initially on the Diamond Princess cruise ship that was quarantined while docked in the Yokohama port near Tokyo. Four passengers, who were taken off the ship and hospitalized passed away. They were all above 80 years old. Japan officials also decided to close schools amid the outbreak.

In the announcement to postpone the Olympics, a joint statement from the Tokyo Organizing Committee and the International Olympics Committee said, "In the present circumstances and based on the information provided by the WHO today, the IOC president and the Prime Minister of Japan have concluded that the Games of the XXXII Olympiad in Tokyo must be rescheduled to a date beyond 2020, but not later than summer 2021, to safeguard the health of the athletes, everybody involved in the Olympic Games and the international community."


​According to the CDC, South Korea and Japan both have a Level 3 travel advisory, encouraging people to avoid all nonessential travel.

Taiwan — which has 363 cases of coronavirus — has banned entry to Chinese visitors and foreigners with a recent history of travel to China, as well as suspended most flights. Those who have an urgent need to travel to Taiwan must appear at a consulate in their city and prove that they have not been to mainland China within the past 14 days. Those who have visited and were already granted visas are instructed to self-impose a quarantine; failure to do so is punishable by an almost $5,000 fine. Taiwan has also banned all cruise ships from docking at its ports.

Thailand has 2,169 confirmed cases and Vietnam has 241 cases.


​The United States:

There are over 324,000 cases of coronavirus in the U.S. and at least 9,100 deaths.

On March 29 President Trump announced he was extending the guidelines and restrictions for social distancing and traveling until April 30.

The State Department announced on March 19 that they are advising Americans to avoid all international travel in a Level 4 advisory.

"In countries where commercial departure options remain available, U.S. citizens who live in the US should arrange for immediate return," the State Department wrote on Twitter.

Related: US State Department Halts Passport Issuing Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

Following the State Department's announcement California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a "stay at home" restriction for the state where over 13,00 people have been diagnosed with coronavirus and over 324 people have died, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.


​According to the Times, Californians can leave their homes for essential trips to gas stations, pharmacies, grocery stores, farmers markets, food banks, convenience stores, takeout and delivery restaurants, banks and laundromats.

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker followed with announcing the same restriction until at least April 7, according to the Chicago Tribune.  A number of businesses will remain open, including grocery stores, banks, pharmacies, and laundromats. Roads, highways, and public transit will also continue to operate, while restaurants will only offer carry-out service. Those who leave their homes to get exercise or walk their pets are encouraged to follow social distancing guidelines.

On Monday, March 30, Vermont Gov. Phil Scott ordered all hotels, bed-and-breakfasts, Airbnbs, and campgrounds to close, according to CNN. Furthermore, anyone entering Vermont from another state is required to self-quarantine for 14 days. This comes after Scott issued a stay-at-home order on March 26.

On March 18, President Trump announced that the border between Canada and the U.S. will be closed for non-essential travel, which was also confirmed by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.


​The ruling comes after the government declared a national emergency on March 13, according to The Associated Press, which followed a travel suspension on individuals coming from Europe. On Saturday, the travel ban was extended to include the UK and Ireland, Vice President Mike Pence announced.

Since Trump previously announced a state of emergency on March 13, $50 billion will now be available to fund state and local responses to the outbreak, The AP reported. The administration also restricted travel from Europe to the U.S. which was later extended to the UK and Ireland.

The experience might look and feel different once the world begins to reopen, but people still can count on the positive impact of travel.

​The outbreak of coronavirus and its rapid spread around the world have had an unprecedented impact on the travel industry. Though some airlines are still flying, including rescue flights to repatriate people to their home countries, many carriers have all but shut down for the time being. Hotels are laying off employees by the hundreds of thousands. After several ships were stuck at sea for weeks, many cruise lines have axed sailings through the summer. Travelers are scrambling to cancel trips and get refunds or salvage future plans. In short, the travel industry has never faced panic, change, and disruption on this scale.

In search of insights about how coronavirus is likely to change the way we travel in the future, we talked to experts in the fields of aviation, hospitality, cruising, finance, and even epidemiology. While some provided predictions and projections, the one thing that almost all of them said to expect is a lot more uncertainty for some time to come.

How Amtrak Hopes to Give Riders 'Confidence in Their Journey' After Coronavirus

As stores, restaurants, and more businesses and public gathering places continue to close in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, it may be difficult to keep your physical and mental health intact — after all, nutrient-rich foods aren't as easy to come by, social gatherings have been halted, and gyms and fitness centers aren't able to welcome guests.

While keeping up healthy habits is easier said than done under such circumstances, it's not impossible. Travel + Leisure chatted with Dr. Roshini Rajapaksa of NYU Langone Health about the importance of exercise and nutrition right now, and the best ways to give your body and mind what they need in times of uncertainty. Here are her tips for the coming weeks and months.

First Steps to Take at Home

“With so many of us at home right now... there are things we can do to stay healthy in the home and make sure we’re not spreading the germs to our loved ones or family members. If we’re not sick right now, or not sure if we’re going to become sick in the next couple days, you just want to make sure you’re keeping your germs to yourself. So one of the things I recommend is, in terms of cleaning and disinfecting, to make sure you’re using the right agents to do that," Dr. Rajapaksa said.

Related: The Best Products for Disinfecting Your Travel Gear

"So, we’re talking about those high-touch surfaces, things like doorknobs and kitchen countertops, or the refrigerator door handle. All these things should be cleaned daily with a solution that has a high level of bleach, or at least 70% alcohol. The good news is most of the disinfectants out there that you can buy in the store do have this level of bleach or alcohol. Just double check to be 100% sure, and just be mindful that you’re not sharing germs with anyone else in the home. Part of that is using gloves when you are cleaning, and if possible, disposing of those gloves every day.”


​Looking After Your Mental Health

“Going stir-crazy is something a lot of Americans are facing right now, but there are steps you can do to maintain your sanity. One thing I highly recommend is adhering to a schedule. That means getting up at the same time every day, actually taking a shower, getting dressed. I have a lot of friends who are joking about their day pajamas versus their night pajamas. But really, changing into your regular clothes for the work day, eating at regular times — so eating your meals at certain times of the day — and also allowing for some type of activity, whether that’s in the home or stepping outside by yourself," Dr. Rajapaksa said.

Related: How to Work From Home and Keep Your Work-life Balance

"This is very important to maintain not only a sense of calm, but a sense of control during this very uncertain, topsy-turvy time. I personally like to wake up every morning and when I’m in my bed, before I even get out, think about three things I’m grateful for and take five slow, deep breaths. All of this is really going to help maintain your sanity during this very challenging time.”


​The Importance of Exercise

“Finding ways to exercise right now can be challenging because a lot of the gyms are closed, and even if they’re not closed you probably should not be going to them. But it is extremely important, especially during this time, to maintain some physical activity. We know exercise is great for our overall health, for our immune system in particular, and also really important for maintaining mental health and decreasing stress," Dr. Rajapaksa said.

Related: How to Exercise During the Coronavirus Outbreak — and Why You Should

"So what should you do? Well, there are many free videos on YouTube or on cable that have fitness or dance classes. I’ve been doing a different one every day. Hip-hop one day, salsa the next. I’ve realized I’m not a great dancer, that’s something I’ve learned during this time, but they’re really fun and I’ve burned some calories. You can also stream some boutique fitness classes, there are great apps for that. But I also recommend trying to get outdoors by yourself, not being close to crowds or really other people at all, but trying to take a brisk walk, doing some stretches outside, just being out in the fresh air and doing some activity outside is also wonderful for your mental health.”

Maintaining a Healthy Diet

“Many people are worried about food shortages. Grocery stores are either overcrowded or depleted of supplies, so a lot of people are concentrating on storing food as much as possible. But it’s important to remember you want to store the right food, and maintaining a healthy diet right now is more important than ever, because we know that what we eat can really affect our health as well as our immunity. So I really want to encourage you to stick to, as much as you can, immune-boosting foods like fruits and vegetables that are high in antioxidants, foods that have omega-3 fatty acids, things like walnuts and fish if you can get it. And you know, frozen foods are not all bad for you. In fact, you can freeze vegetables so they can last a long time," Dr. Rajapaksa said.


​You can also buy fresh vegetables that have a long shelf life. Things like apples and beets and carrots, potatoes. These are things that can last for several months in your refrigerator. So make sure you’re really incorporating fruits and vegetables, especially the green, leafy vegetables in your diet, if possible, every day. Nuts are another great snack, and there are certain nuts that are high in protein and high in antioxidant quality. They also are very satiating, so a few nuts can actually keep you full as a snack longer than a bag full of chips, for example.”

Why Is Diet so Important?

“If you’re wondering how what you eat really affects your immune system, you should know that much of our immune system’s actually based in our gut, in our digestive tract. And that’s why it’s so important to eat the foods that really foster a healthy microbiome," Dr. Rajapaksa said. "Those healthy, good bacteria live in your gut so that they can help produce the right kind of immune cells for your overall health.”

How Do I Know if I’m Staying Healthy?

“Some signs to look out for that you’re not really eating the proper foods or exercising the right way is a feeling of sluggishness. So you’re feeling just low energy, you don’t have the same level of energy you normally do. If you’re noticing your hair is a bit drier than normal, your skin seems drier, your nails are more brittle, they actually break more easily, these are potentially signs of poor nutrition, and you really want to make sure you’re looking at your diet, and getting all the nutrients you need," Dr. Rajapaksa said. "And this may be a time, if you’re not already doing it, to start taking a multivitamin. I normally prefer people to get these vitamins and minerals through their foods, but if your diet is a little bit off right now, you don’t have access to the normal foods that you usually get, it’s not a bad idea to just take a multivitamin as well.”

They arrived in Rome on March 5, but by the time they made their way south to Pompeii, the famed site had closed and Italy was placed under lockdown. They were stranded, the AP noted, and settled into life in the small town, walking more than 7,000 steps per day, looking upon the archaeological ruins from afar, learning Italian, and picking oranges and lemons from a tree near their Airbnb (and making limoncello, of course).

“We made a great connection with our Airbnb host family,” Colleen told the wire service while Marvin said the quintessential Italian activities “helped to pass the time.”

“We looked at real estate. It would be a dream,” Marvin added. “We saved a lot of money because all of the stores were closed. We really are thinking of coming back.”

They arrived in Rome on March 5, but by the time they made their way south to Pompeii, the famed site had closed and Italy was placed under lockdown. They were stranded, the AP noted, and settled into life in the small town, walking more than 7,000 steps per day, looking upon the archaeological ruins from afar, learning Italian, and picking oranges and lemons from a tree near their Airbnb (and making limoncello, of course).

“We made a great connection with our Airbnb host family,” Colleen told the wire service while Marvin said the quintessential Italian activities “helped to pass the time.”

“We looked at real estate. It would be a dream,” Marvin added. “We saved a lot of money because all of the stores were closed. We really are thinking of coming back.”

ustravelonline.net

The experience might look and feel different once the world begins to reopen, but people still can count on the positive impact of travel.

​The outbreak of coronavirus and its rapid spread around the world have had an unprecedented impact on the travel industry. Though some airlines are still flying, including rescue flights to repatriate people to their home countries, many carriers have all but shut down for the time being. Hotels are laying off employees by the hundreds of thousands. After several ships were stuck at sea for weeks, many cruise lines have axed sailings through the summer. Travelers are scrambling to cancel trips and get refunds or salvage future plans. In short, the travel industry has never faced panic, change, and disruption on this scale.

In search of insights about how coronavirus is likely to change the way we travel in the future, we talked to experts in the fields of aviation, hospitality, cruising, finance, and even epidemiology. While some provided predictions and projections, the one thing that almost all of them said to expect is a lot more uncertainty for some time to come.


Travelers will focus on health for themselves and others.

Dr. Nabarun Dasgupta, an infectious disease epidemiologist at the University of North Carolina, says the pandemic will force consumers to factor health concerns into their travel choices even more than before. He recommends checking verified apps like Outbreaks Near Me to take proper precautions before traveling to a new destination.

“I caution people against heading into active hot zones, even if you’re immune, because you don’t know what kind of lockdown you might be subject to if cases suddenly increase upon your return,” he said. “Many countries, and even some U.S. states, now have mandatory requirements for visitors to isolate for two weeks. This should be factored into travel planning.” Dr. Dasgupta also says, “If a coronavirus vaccine becomes available, depending on the safety profile, it would be worth considering even if you’re not venturing far from home.”

Finally, he says, people should start thinking about how their travel plans might impact the health conditions of the places they visit. “As much as we think about our own health when we travel, we should have compassion through realization that we may inadvertently bring the virus with us,” he said. “For isolated, highlight-reel destinations like Rapa Nui, this could be devastating.”

Looking to the future, when coronavirus quarantines no longer restrict us from relaxing on a long train ride, Amtrak is preparing for their customers to return with the help of an enhanced mobile app and cleaning protocols.

"There's a whole fleet of technology that we've been working on, that I think in general provides customers with more information, more control, [and] easier transactions," Amtrak chairman Tony Coscia said on a conference call on Thursday. "In response to the crisis we're in now, and the changing expectations of customers, we're just looking to see how can we accelerate that where we create less contact and easier use for our passengers."

Specifically, Coscia mentioned relying more on their app for tickets, and their text messaging system that provides passengers with boarding information "so that folks know right away where to head [and] they don't have to spend time walking around or engaging in more idle time in the station than necessary."

When it comes to meals on board, he said the company envisions purchases being made in advance or on the app to ensure efficient and reduced contact during transactions.


"Rather than go and wait in the café, we can receive your order in advance and process that order and you can come and pick it up  and have less interaction, and more control, and a better overall experience," he said.

Disney World Announces Plan to Reopen on July 11


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Doctor: How to Stay Healthy at Home During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Disney has finally revealed plans to reopen Walt Disney World Resort in Florida.


​Disney World announced plans to begin a phased reopening of its theme parks on July 11 with new health and safety precautions in place after closing in mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom will open on July 11, and Epcot and Hollywood Studios will follow on July 15, according to plans revealed today.

In today's virtual meeting of the Orange County Economic Recovery Task Force, Jim McPhee, senior vice president of operations at Walt Disney World, presented Walt Disney World’s plans for reopening.


​According to McPhee, a series of health rules and guidelines will be implemented to ensure guest and cast member safety while also keeping the experience "as real and as magical as possible."

These new health and safety guidelines include:

Enhanced safety measures, including required face coverings for guests and cast members, increased hand washing and sanitization stations, and physical barriers
Physical distancing, including a "significant reduction in overall capacity" across the theme parks, and in their attractions, stores, and food and drink locations
Enhanced cleaning and sanitation
Temperature and health screenings for cast members and guests
Limited contact enhancements and increased signage and education

These measures also include temporarily suspending parades, fireworks, and other events that draw crowds, as well as closing high-touch experiences like character meet and greets, playgrounds, and water effects that may draw crowds and compromise social distancing.

Theme park attendance will be managed with a new reservation system that will require guests to obtain a reservation for park entry in advance. According to a statement shared with Travel + Leisure, Disney World is temporarily pausing new ticket sales and hotel reservations so they can work with guests who have existing tickets and reservations. People who already have tickets and annual pass holders will be able to request reservations before Disney sells new tickets, with more details to follow. Disney Vacation Club resorts at Disney World will reopen to guests and members on June 22.

Education, communication, and engagement are pillars of the reopening plan, with new "know before you go" guides from Disney and a "social distance squad" that will engage and inspire guests to follow social distancing guidelines.

The plan was approved by the task force. Next, Disney World’s plan to reopen will have to be approved by Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.

May has been an exciting month for fans eager to get back to their favorite theme parks.

This news comes just a week after phased reopening started at Disney Springs, the outdoor shopping, dining, and entertainment complex at Walt Disney World Resort. On May 20, some third-party restaurants and shops opened at Disney Springs, and today, Disney-owned locations are set to open. On May 11, Shanghai Disneyland welcomed visitors back with new health and safety procedures in place, making it the first Disney theme park to reopen after the coronavirus pandemic led to the closures of all six international theme park resorts for the first time in Disney’s history.

Last week, Universal Orlando announced their approved plan to reopen their theme parks — Universal Studios Florida, Universal’s Islands of Adventure, and Universal’s Volcano Bay — to the public on June 5 after a phased reopening beginning on June 1. Universal Orlando’s health and safety measures are very similar to Disney World’s — guests must have their temperatures taken before entering, wear masks while in the parks, practice social distancing, and use virtual lines for popular attractions, among other rules.

American Couple Stuck in Italy During Lockdown for Months Finally Gets to Visit Pompeii

Will Travel Change After Coronavirus? Here's What Experts Have to Say

Disney World Announces Plan to Reopen on July 11

What's New with the Corona Virus

Cruise lines will work hard to clean up their image.

Paul Hackwell is a partner at TPG Capital and leads the firm’s consumer investment practice. He says the cruise industry has faced challenges in the past, but always rebounds thanks to a loyal customer base and the value that cruise vacations provide travelers. “This is an industry where things happen — recession, wars, hurricanes, the Costa Concordia disaster — but cruises have always bounced back. It typically takes about a year, but we are going to be in a recession, so I think this will be a multiyear bounce back.”

Though many sailings have been canceled for 2020, a lot of customers simply seem to be rebooking for 2021 and beyond at current fares. CruiseCompete.com has even logged a bump in new bookings for next year. Rudi Schreiner, the founder of AmaWaterways, says, “A lot of the people who are canceling cruises for 2020 are rebooking for 2021, so next year is already looking very good, and we just put our 2022 deployment together.”

The already stringent hygienic standards aboard cruise ships will become even more rigorous and visible. “Cruise lines will need to make the public very aware of procedures taken to contain onboard illness,” said Andrew Coggins, Jr., professor of management at Pace University’s Lubin School of Business. “They may also be required to expand their onboard medical capabilities and facilities. This would mean taking revenue space for medical space, but if pandemics become a way of life, that may increase the cruise industry’s resiliency.”

Hackwell says one of the other cruising issues highlighted by coronavirus was not being able to dock and disembark sick passengers. “People have always gotten sick on cruise ships — and planes, too, for that matter — but they are still usually allowed to disembark,” he said. “Cruise lines will have to work in concert with ports to make arrangements for scenarios if they have a passenger with a contagious disease, to get that person off the ship so they don’t become a potential carrier for the rest of the passengers, or put anyone at risk in the port.”


Travel agents will make a comeback.

Travel agents have become more niche in recent years, as the majority of consumers simply book travel themselves online. These days, many agents focus their practice on business and luxury accounts. Given the fast-changing nature of the crisis and the difficulties some travelers encountered getting home, however, more people will likely turn to agents for trip-planning purposes, simply to have an advocate in their corner if and when things go wrong.

Misty Belles, the managing director of global public relations for the Virtuoso network of luxury travel advisors, said, “Even people who didn’t originally book with a travel advisor turned to them for help” during the coronavirus outbreak. The network’s advisors could rely on Virtuoso’s crisis toolkit, which provided real-time updates from operators on the ground as well as the U.S. State Department and CDC. Agents were also able to navigate evolving airline and hotel cancellation policies more fluidly than the average consumer.


​“In a post-COVID world, people will value advisors for their connections and guidance that go beyond destination and product expertise. Having a real-life person to assist [you] underscores the significance of human connection and the reassurance of knowing someone has your back,” said Belles.

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Colleen and Marvin Hewson waited years to see Pompeii, but when they showed up over two months ago, they were told it was closed due to the coronavirus. Earlier this week, they were first in line to get in.

“We have been patiently waiting since then for the ruins to open,” Colleen Hewson told The Associated Press, while at the site.

The Hewsons, from Michigan, landed in Italy in early March, just as COVID-19 was sweeping across the world, and throughout the European country. The retired couple was there to celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary and Marvin’s 75th birthday — a trip of a lifetime returning to the ruins that Marvin visited when he served in the U.S. Navy in the 1960s.

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But above all, we will travel again.

Despite the tragedy unfolding around the globe, with entire countries closed to the outside world, all the experts we spoke to had confidence that travel will eventually resume and be as rewarding as ever. While the experience might look and feel different once the world begins to reopen, people can count on the transformative and positive impact of travel to change their own lives and the destinations they visit for the better. We just hope that begins to happen again sooner rather than later.

Air travel will restart slowly, domestically, and with social distancing.

Aviation expert Henry Harteveldt of Atmosphere Research Group expects the travel industry, much like the rest of the economy, to rebound in a staggered fashion as various cities, states, and regions confront different challenges. “You can expect airlines to begin with flights out of their most important hubs and cities where public health conditions are best and demand is strongest,” he said.

According to John Grant, a senior analyst with British aviation data and analytics firm OAG, “That may mean less choices for passengers as the number of airlines shrink and the number of frequencies operated reduce. Some city pairs, or routes, that have been operated with low frequency — say less than weekly — will perhaps be dropped altogether.” He expects passengers will also opt for more direct routings to avoid having to pass through extra airports on layovers.

“Once we get the proverbial all-clear,” says Harteveldt, “I anticipate public health officials will still encourage social distancing. Airlines might continue blocking middle seats or limiting the number of people in premium cabins. We may see flight attendants wearing masks and gloves and limiting onboard service.”

Airlines could require proof of good health before allowing passengers to fly, sort of like Etihad’s new trial kiosks in Abu Dhabi. “In terms of boarding, airlines might limit the number of people down the jet bridge at any given time,” says Harteveldt.

Still jittery from fast-moving travel bans and restrictions, mandatory quarantines, and State Department warnings, folks will likely want to stick close to home for a while. That’s also due, in part, to the economic impact on travelers’ wallets. According to Grant from OAG, “There is a piece of research already in China from Ctrip, a major travel company, claiming that 74 percent of Chinese nationals are keen on taking domestic flights in the very near future. But incomes have been hit and disposable wealth damaged, so how it will play out is another part of the whole ‘what if’ situation we face.”


​Don’t expect to see major investments in new onboard seats or services from airlines either, said Harteveldt. “Airlines will focus on essentials. They will do anything that contributes to generating revenue or is a competitive necessity, but they will hold off on retrofitting their fleets with new seats if they have not already ordered them, opening new lounges, or refurbishing existing ones.”

That might have some people considering flying private for the first time, says Alex Wilcox, the CEO of private aviation firm JSX. “I think we are entering a two-year period where travelers won’t want to touch anything and will crave space. Crowd-free, hassle-free travel is the way of the future.” Little wonder, then, that private aviation firms like his have seen a dramatic increase in interest from both personal and corporate clients for private plane charters with social distancing measures in effect.


There will be great deals, if you’re brave enough to book them.

“In the short term, airlines will extend their fee waivers, making it easier for travelers to make and change their plans,” said Scott Keyes, founder of Scott’s Cheap Flights. “We’ve been living in the golden age of cheap flights, but the pandemic has exerted even more downward pressure on airfares.” He also notes the economic stress on everyday people and says that will make finding deals even more important to folks who hope to travel.

Harteveldt cautions about getting too enthusiastic about some of the deals we’re seeing now, though. “We don’t know how long this virus will manifest itself, or the decisions airlines will make even months from now. Look at [the] airline’s refund and cancellation policies. If the rebooking options are acceptable to you, great. But I would encourage people to wait until we get closer to knowing when the U.S. might reenter more normal conditions before starting to book trips.”

According to Gary Leff, founder of the loyalty blog View From the Wing, “There are going to be great deals – both with miles and cash – for quite some time because there will be empty seats and empty rooms that need to be filled.” Be sure to double check your points and miles accounts, so you can jump on any bargains that crop up. “That will only last until good times return,” said Leff. “When travel demand comes back fully…award seats will become scarce and rooms will be expensive.”


Hotels and rentals face slow reopenings and depressed rates.

“There will be several phases to the rebound, and it is all about adapting to demand,” said Robert Cole, a senior research analyst specializing in lodging and leisure travel for research firm Phocuswright. “In the immediate term, with social distancing and travel restrictions, hoteliers need to focus on the needs of their local community, assisting the medical community and local government to help with housing essential workers.”

President and CEO of the American Hotel & Lodging Association, Chip Rogers, also expects the recovery to come in stages, starting with leisure travelers, followed by business and then group bookings. If all goes well, the AHLA projects the U.S. hotel industry will be back at 70 to 80 percent of what it was before coronavirus by this time next year. However, Roger says, “There will be fewer hotels in operation, and many fewer hotels in development.” Travelers might also see hotels opening only a fraction of the rooms they have and looking for technological solutions to replace staff and save on cash.

During both 2019 and 2020 to date, hotel occupancy was at a 40-year high, according to Bjorn Hanson, a lodging industry consultant and former dean of NYU’s Tisch Center for Hospitality, Tourism, and Sports Management. Even so, he says, room rates remained relatively cheap, and he does not expect that to change. “There will be room rate discounting to stimulate travel,” he said. “During economic downturns, it normally takes hotel rates twice as long to recover to pre-downturn levels as it took them to fall to their lowest point,” says Phocuswright’s Cole. So, be on the lookout for deals for several months, if not years, to come.

Cole also says, “Travelers will likely consider staying in someone else’s residence to be riskier than a hotel. Vacation rentals may be less negatively impacted, but hotels will be touting their cleaning standards and the dedication of their staff to ensuring guest safety and security. It will be much more difficult for Airbnb and other short-term rental groups to establish and enforce standards across thousands of independent hosts.”

Rogers also points out that the rental market is made up of millions of individual owners who might decide to reenter the market at times of their own choosing. By contrast, he says, “Hotels will welcome back travelers the moment they are allowed to do so, and probably priced better than people have seen in years.”

Disney has finally revealed plans to reopen Walt Disney World Resort in Florida.


​Disney World announced plans to begin a phased reopening of its theme parks on July 11 with new health and safety precautions in place after closing in mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom will open on July 11, and Epcot and Hollywood Studios will follow on July 15, according to plans revealed today.

In today's virtual meeting of the Orange County Economic Recovery Task Force, Jim McPhee, senior vice president of operations at Walt Disney World, presented Walt Disney World’s plans for reopening.


​According to McPhee, a series of health rules and guidelines will be implemented to ensure guest and cast member safety while also keeping the experience "as real and as magical as possible."

These new health and safety guidelines include:

Enhanced safety measures, including required face coverings for guests and cast members, increased hand washing and sanitization stations, and physical barriers
Physical distancing, including a "significant reduction in overall capacity" across the theme parks, and in their attractions, stores, and food and drink locations
Enhanced cleaning and sanitation
Temperature and health screenings for cast members and guests
Limited contact enhancements and increased signage and education

These measures also include temporarily suspending parades, fireworks, and other events that draw crowds, as well as closing high-touch experiences like character meet and greets, playgrounds, and water effects that may draw crowds and compromise social distancing.

Theme park attendance will be managed with a new reservation system that will require guests to obtain a reservation for park entry in advance. According to a statement shared with Travel + Leisure, Disney World is temporarily pausing new ticket sales and hotel reservations so they can work with guests who have existing tickets and reservations. People who already have tickets and annual pass holders will be able to request reservations before Disney sells new tickets, with more details to follow. Disney Vacation Club resorts at Disney World will reopen to guests and members on June 22.

Education, communication, and engagement are pillars of the reopening plan, with new "know before you go" guides from Disney and a "social distance squad" that will engage and inspire guests to follow social distancing guidelines.

The plan was approved by the task force. Next, Disney World’s plan to reopen will have to be approved by Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.

May has been an exciting month for fans eager to get back to their favorite theme parks.

This news comes just a week after phased reopening started at Disney Springs, the outdoor shopping, dining, and entertainment complex at Walt Disney World Resort. On May 20, some third-party restaurants and shops opened at Disney Springs, and today, Disney-owned locations are set to open. On May 11, Shanghai Disneyland welcomed visitors back with new health and safety procedures in place, making it the first Disney theme park to reopen after the coronavirus pandemic led to the closures of all six international theme park resorts for the first time in Disney’s history.

Last week, Universal Orlando announced their approved plan to reopen their theme parks — Universal Studios Florida, Universal’s Islands of Adventure, and Universal’s Volcano Bay — to the public on June 5 after a phased reopening beginning on June 1. Universal Orlando’s health and safety measures are very similar to Disney World’s — guests must have their temperatures taken before entering, wear masks while in the parks, practice social distancing, and use virtual lines for popular attractions, among other rules.