Weatherby Healthcare is providing regular travel condition updates to help our locum tenens travelers be better prepared for the rapidly changing travel conditions and requirements of 2020.
Update December 15, 2020
Airlines are making it as safe as possible to travel again.
Here is what United has done.
Delta flew their first “quarantine free” flight on Dec. 15 between Atlanta and Amsterdam.
U.S. airlines already dropped change fees for domestic flights. To encourage people to book international flights, Delta, United, and American are waiving change fees for international flights that originate from the U.S. and are purchased now through March 31, 2021 (basic economy fares do not apply).
Update November 24, 2020
Masks are now mandated in every state.
California has issued new restrictions: 41 of their 58 counties are at “Level Purple” which is their most restrictive. Purple requires nonessential indoor businesses to close. Restaurants, gyms, and places of worship must be outdoors.
Governors in Michigan, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, and Washington have issued similar restrictions. They have announced that a second “stay-at-home” order along with curfews may follow if infections rates are not curbed soon.
Delta Airlines has announced that it will extend their “blocked middle seat” policy to March 30, 2021 (extended from January 6, 2021).
Alaska Air will keep its “blocked middle seat” policy until January 6, 2021.
Southwest is only planning to block middle seats until December 1, 2020.
JetBlue is phasing out their “capacity control” measures. Currently they only sell 70% of their seats. From Dec. 2, 2020 to Jan. 7, 2021, they will sell 85% of their seats. Jan. 8, 2021 and beyond, they will sell 100% of their seat capacity.
United and American have not been blocking middle seats or limiting capacity for some time.
U.S. airlines overall are currently flying about 63% of their full schedule (about 30% of their planes are still parked/grounded).
United Airlines is making it easier to earn Premier Status in 2021. They have reduced the requirements to achieve status by about 50%.
The Boeing 737 MAX (the plane that was grounded last year) has been approved by the FDA to return to service. (Planes must be recertified before they will be put back in service.) Expect to see those planes back in service in the first quarter of 2021.
Many countries are re-opening to non-essential businesses and tourist travel. A negative COVID test is required.
Several airports, including San Francisco, Los Angles, New York, and Houston now have “testing stations” for travelers to get tested before flights (at a cost), or passengers can get a test 72 hours before they travel and bring the results to the airport with them (must be negative). Check your destination requirements before you travel.
International travel restriction maps:
Update November 17, 2020
Interstate travel restrictions
New state rules and restrictions are piling up. States issuing new coronavirus mandates or restrictions this month include:
California: Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday said 41 of the state’s 58 counties, representing 94% of the population, will now fall under the most restrictive of the state’s four-tier reopening system. In this tier, where infections are considered widespread, guests are welcomed only outdoors at restaurants, gyms, and places of worship. The state’s face covering mandate is being strengthened to require residents to wear a mask whenever they are outside of their homes, with few exceptions.
Iowa: Gov. Kim Reynolds issued a basket of new orders running through Dec. 10, including a requirement that people in indoor public spaces must wear masks if they’re unable to socially distance for 15 minutes or longer. Also, “restaurants, bars, bowling alleys, arcades, pool halls, bingo halls, and indoor playgrounds are required to close at 10 p.m. and cannot host private gatherings of more than 15 people,” the governor’s office said. Indoor social, community, business and leisure gatherings or events are limited to 15 people, and outdoor gatherings are limited to 30. This includes wedding and funeral receptions, family gatherings and conventions.
Massachusetts: The governor announced a stay-at-home advisory this month, lasting from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.
Michigan: on Sunday, Nov. 15, the governor announced a “three-week pause targeting indoor social gatherings and other group activities.” During these three weeks, casinos, movie theaters and group exercise classes will be closed, and high schools and colleges must stop in-person classes. Bars and restaurants will be open only for outdoor dining, carry-out, and delivery.
New Jersey: Indoor gathering limits will be reduced from 25 people to 10, and limits for outdoor gatherings will be reduced from 500 people to 150, Gov. Phil Murphy told MSNBC.
New Mexico: A statewide order closing in-person services for all nonessential activities is in effect through Nov. 30, the governor’s office said. “New Mexicans are instructed to stay at home except for only those trips that are essential to health, safety, and welfare — such as for food and water, emergency medical care, to obtain a flu shot or to obtain a test for Covid-19,” the governor’s office said. Restaurants are allowed to offer curbside pickup and delivery services.
North Dakota: Face coverings must be worn in indoor businesses and indoor public settings — as well as in outdoor public settings where physical distancing isn’t possible through Dec. 13, the governor’s office said.
Ohio: Gov. Mike DeWine on Monday announced new limits on social gatherings, weddings, and funerals. The revised order prohibits dancing or socializing in open, congregate areas. Guests must be seated, and food should be served to them at their seats. No more than 10 people can sit at a table, and those people must be from the same household.
Oklahoma: Starting Thursday, all bars and restaurants must close by 11 p.m. — though drive-through windows and curbside pickup are allowed after that — and restaurant tables must be 6 feet apart, the governor’s office said. And starting Tuesday, Nov. 17, all 33,000 state employees under the executive branch will be required to wear a mask in common areas or when they’re around other people.
Oregon will start a “two-week freeze” on Wednesday. Social gatherings will be limited to no more than six people total from a maximum of two households, and restaurants will be limited to delivery and takeout only, among other measures.
Rhode Island: Several new measures went into effect this month, including a stay-at-home advisory in effect from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. on weeknights and 10:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.
Utah: The state last week ordered people to wear masks in public when they are within 6 feet of anyone they don’t live with. That order is in place indefinitely. The state also ordered a limit of social gatherings to households only, and postponed all school extracurricular activities, sports, and clubs, from Nov. 9 to Nov. 23.
Virginia: Starting Sunday, Nov. 15, the commonwealth revised its limit for public and private gatherings, indoors and outdoors, to 25 from the previous cap of 250. Its mask mandate for indoor public settings expanded to include people 5 and older, instead of 10 and older, as previously written. Also, sale and consumption of alcohol is prohibited after 10 p.m. at any restaurant, brewery, distillery, winery, or tasting room.
Washington state: From Monday, Nov. 16 through Dec. 14, restaurant and bar service will be limited to outdoors, with capacity limits, and to-go service, the governor said. Indoor social gatherings with people from outside the home are also prohibited, unless participants quarantine for 14 days prior, or quarantine for seven days before the gathering and receive a negative Covid-19 test result no more than 48 hours prior.
West Virginia: The governor on Friday issued a mask mandate for all public indoor spaces, with some exemptions.
Also, the Navajo Nation — located in parts of New Mexico, Arizona and Utah — began a three-week “stay-at-home lockdown” period Monday. Residents are allowed to leave their homes only for emergencies and “essential activities,” such as shopping for groceries or working at an essential business. Those businesses must close each day at 3 p.m.
U.S. airlines were banking on making up some of their lost income this holiday season. They added back most of their flights for the Nov. 15 – Jan. 6 time period, hoping people would travel for the holidays. However, with the spike in COVID cases, demand for holiday travel is down. On Saturday, Nov. 14, the airlines canceled about 20% of the flights they added. (We are in the process of re-accommodating our providers that are affected.)
Update November 3, 2020
Air travel safety
Despite the surge in COVID cases, airlines claim that air travel is completely safe. They have taken extra precautions to ensure safety — so safe, that another airline (JetBlue) will stop blocking middle seats on December 1.
Interstate travel restrictions
Most states are now requiring a health questionnaire to be filled out before arrival.
New York has increased restrictions for those entering the state (even for those returning home). On the sixth page of the state’s traveler health form (there are 8 pages, but only one or two questions per page), it states that essential workers are exempt. However, they must still fill out the questionnaire. On page 6, they should check the box indicating that they are a healthcare worker.
For full details on how the exemption works and a definition of what constitutes essential workers, go here: Exemptions for Essential Workers
Access the form through your airline app
An easy way to access and complete state health questionnaires is through your airline’s app, which will prompt you at check in and provide the link. This will allow you to complete the health questionnaire before arrival and avoid the need to fill out paperwork later.
Airline apps also typically give the latest COVID and state restriction information appropriate to the state you are flying to.
Screenshot of an airline map:
Update October 20, 2020
Travel rules and restrictions
Hawaii and Alaska have issued new rules for visitors. Healthcare workers are exempt when they travel with their medical license and assignment confirmations.
State of Hawaii testing requirements
Register with Safe Travels
Each adult guest must create a Safe Travels account. Once registered, you’ll use this account to:
- Create your traveler profile
- Enter your trip details
- Upload your COVID-19 test results (PDF format)
- Take the mandatory travel health questionnaire no more than 24 hours before your flight
Travelers are not subject to the State of Hawaii’s 14-day self-quarantine requirement if all travelers in the party ages 5 and older can provide a negative result, taken no more than 72 hours prior to the departure of their Hawaii-bound flight. Only test results from trusted testing partners approved by the Hawaii Department of Health will be accepted. Testing partner list available here.
Once you have received the results of your test, upload them to your Safe Travels account. Then complete your mandatory travel health questionnaire no more than 24 hours before your flight.
Island of Hawaii: Mandatory secondary COVID test at the airport for no fee. Temperature check, and review of health form and trip details.
Kauai: Temperature check, and review of health form and trip details. Guests are asked to take a voluntary follow-up test 3 days after arrival, at your own expense. Participants will receive a $150 gift certificate to select local businesses. Learn more
Maui: Temperature check, and review of health form and trip details. Secondary COVID testing available (voluntary) for no fee.
Oahu: Temperature check, and review of health form and trip details. No additional COVID testing available.
Don’t forget to pack your patience: The pre-travel testing program has just started, and we anticipate long wait times upon arrival in Hawaii for screening at the airport — which will include document verification, temperature checks, and for Kona — mandatory arrival testing. To speed up the waiting time for you and your fellow travelers, please be sure you have uploaded your test results (PDF file) to your Safe Travels profile and completed the mandatory online health questionnaire prior to arrival in Hawaii. Mahalo in advance for your patience.
State of Alaska testing requirements
Carbon Health utilizes the Abbott ID NOW rapid test, which meets the requirements of the State of Alaska’s pre-travel testing program.
- Non-residents of Alaska must arrive with proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of their flight departure, or proof of pending results.
- Non-residents who arrive without a pre-test can be tested on arrival for $250 (USD) per test and quarantine at their own expense while waiting for results.
- Alaska residents may be tested upon arrival at the airport for no cost. Plan to self-quarantine at your own expense while waiting for results.
- Alaska residents may also choose to self-quarantine for 14 days in lieu of testing.
- Critical infrastructure workers may travel under the guidelines of their company’s workforce protective plan on file with the state of Alaska.
If you aren’t able to comply with these requirements, you will need to postpone your trip.
For the latest State of Alaska travel protocol, please visit covid19.alaska.gov
Please note: Some municipalities have implemented stricter mandates for interstate travelers. Please familiarize yourself with all local regulations.
Update October 13, 2020
Air travel requirements
The following requirements are from American Airlines (aa.com):
When you check-in you’ll be asked to confirm you’ve been free of COVID-19 symptoms for the past 14 days. Staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others from getting sick.
A face covering is required while flying on American, except for children under 2 years old. If you decline to wear one, you may be denied boarding and future travel on American.
Keep in mind:
- You should bring your own face covering to use while traveling. While limited quantities of face coverings may be available at the gate, they will not be available for every customer on every flight.
- You’re required to wear a face covering from the time you enter the airport where your trip begins until you leave the airport where your trip ends.
- A face covering can be a mask or any secured cloth that covers your nose and mouth and fits snugly under the chin.
- A face shield can be worn with a face covering, but not in place of one.
- Face coverings with exhaust valves or vents, or made with mesh or lace type fabric, are not allowed.
- You can briefly take your face covering off to eat or drink, but you must put it back on when you’re done.
A recent Harvard University study estimates the use of face coverings on board may reduce infection risks from respiratory particles to less than 1%.
Visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website for more information.
These cannot fly
For the safety of everyone on board, some types of recreational / personal protection equipment are not allowed for use on our planes or in flight:
- Face or full-body pods / tents
- Portable electronic air fresheners / purifiers
- Ozone generators
And from United Airlines (united.com):
Face coverings required for all travelers
For everyone’s safety, all travelers are required to wear a face covering with no vents or openings that fully covers their nose and mouth. Face coverings must be worn during the entire flight and in the airport, including at United customer service counters and kiosks, United ClubSM locations, our gates and our baggage claim areas. A face shield alone does not count as a face covering. Travelers who aren’t wearing their face coverings in the airport or on board may be refused transport and could also lose their travel privileges on future United flights. Children younger than 2 years old are exempt.
Update September 29, 2020
New York City has announced they will issue citations and fines to anyone not wearing a mask.
As of September 2020, there have been over 8,000 fires in California, burning more than 3.7 million acres. The most threating fires today are in Napa and Sonoma Counties. 70,000 residents have been ordered to evacuate.
All commercial airports are open and operating in California today, including the Santa Rosa Airport in Sonoma County.
To sign up for text alerts related to wildfires approaching your area in California, go to www.readyforwildfire.org and click on “Sign up now”.
A lack of rain in the western U.S. has made this an extreme year for fires. Click on the map for a list of current fires.
September (after Labor Day) and October are traditionally the least traveled months. With the lack of travel and no conventions fares and hotel rates are low right now. When booking your own travel, look for fall specials/sales.
Hawaii quarantine requirement
As the U.S. moves toward another phase of reopening, travel restrictions are starting to lift. As of October 15, Hawaii will no longer require a 14-day quarantine for travelers entering the state, but you must have a negative COVID test.
United and Hawaiian Airlines will now make available COVID testing at the SFO and LAX airports.
TSA security check
Denver Airport will pilot VeriFly — a new TSA approved app that limits human contact and speeds up the security checkpoint process.
Update September 23, 2020
The New York City Council passed a bill last week allowing restaurant to charge a “Covid-19 surcharge” of 10% to customers dining-in at restaurants. This surcharge does not apply to delivery or take out.
The U.S. has extended travel restrictions with Canada and Mexico through Oct 21 to slow the spread of COVID-19.
When checking in for flights, if you use an airline app or kiosk, health questions similar to the ones below will pop up that will need to be answered before you can complete check-in. If you check in with an agent, they will ask you the questions.
- Have you been exposed to COVID in the last 21 days?
- Are you experiencing any COVID-like symptoms?
- Do you agree to wear a mask the entire duration of the flight, including your time in the airport?
Passengers who are not able to answer these questions may either change their flights or check with an airline representative at the airport for further review.
U.S. airlines are adding more flights back to their schedules beginning in October, but they are still not at pre-COVID capacity. They are slowly adding flights as demand increases. More international routes will be added in November.
Flight capacity today is at about 50% of what it was September 2019.
Delta, Southwest, and Alaska Air are still blocking middle seats.
All airlines are using the disinfectant foggers to sanitize each aircraft.
Update September 10, 2020
There have been odd weather patterns this week across the country: snow, rain, wind, and extreme heat. However, despite the crazy weather, all U.S. airports are open and operating.
Wildfires are still burning across California and much of the western United States. Information on fires can be found at inciWeb.
Last week, United , Delta, and American Airlines announced they will no longer charge change fees on most of their domestic tickets. Since then, Alaska Air and Hawaiian Air have joined them in eliminating change fees for all flights. Southwest does not charge fees for changes to flights.
The elimination of change fees is for domestic tickets only and does not apply to Basic Economy or Super Saver tickets.
Delta and United consider domestic as 50 U.S. states, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
American Airlines considers domestic as 50 U.S. states, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean.
All airlines have invested heavily in creating useful mobile apps. If you’re traveling, download your airline’s app to receive the latest flight status updates, boarding times, departure and arrival gates, and airport information.
United Airlines has created a guide to help providers understand travel restrictions within the United States.
Update September 1, 2020
United Airlines was the first to announce they will no longer charge change fees on most of their domestic tickets. Delta and American quickly followed with their own announcements of no more change fees.
These big three airlines are hoping to entice more people to fly by making easier if plans change. Note that change fees will still apply to Basic Economy fares.
An increase in fare will still apply if your original ticket was purchased at a 21-day advance fare and you make a change 7 days prior to departure. Only the increase in fare will apply, there will be no additional $200 change fee.
All three airlines will be allowing standby on the same day for no fee. Delta will extend Medallion Membership status for an extra year and offer extensions to Sky Club memberships. Delta will also continue to block the middle seat for the rest of 2020.
New Salt Lake City International Airport Terminals
The new SLC International Airport will open September 15. Some things to keep in mind:
- From September 15 to October 27, some passengers may still be required to use existing facilities in the old terminal, depending upon which airline they are flying. Most Delta flights — but not all — will depart from the new terminal starting on Sept. 15. Travelers on other airlines and a few Delta flights will still depart from gates in the old terminal.
- ALL travelers will be required to go through check-in and security screenings in the new terminal, even if they are on flights that still depart from the old terminal. They will access those gates using a foot bridge, but they must enter the process through the new terminal, as that is the only check in and security area that will be functioning. Because of this, all travelers should allow extra time on their arrival to the airport to ensure they have plenty of time for flights.
- Starting on Oct. 27, the old terminal building will be completely shut down, and all flights will be departing out of the new terminal, either concourse A or B. The old Salt Lake Airport will no longer exist.
- For those travelers who are Delta Sky Club members, the new Sky Club will open on Oct. 15. It is 29,000 square feet and can accommodate up to 660 people, although COVID guidelines will restrict occupancy levels during initial operations.
- The security screening area will have up to 17 screening lines available depending on passenger need.
- Rental car services are still as easily accessible as the current situation, and the physical proximity of the airport has not changed, so hotel locations are unaffected.
- Connection travelers should experience very little change, except for those who might be connecting to/from a flight that will depart from the old terminal until Oct. 27.
International air travel
Travel to New Zealand is at about 65% capacity (to pre-COVID travel). Due to its low rate of cases, New Zealand has reopened most flight routes.
Enterprise Holdings (Enterprise, National, Alamo) deferred delivery of 1 million automobiles, reducing their fleet size. They are “right sizing” their fleet to match demand. Avis and Hertz have taken similar measures.
Hurricane Laura Aftermath
Much of Louisiana is still without power due to Hurricane Laura.
Update August 25, 2020
California wildfires are wreaking havoc in the state. Not only the fires, but smoke and ash are forcing people from their homes.
Delta has announced that they will continue to block the middle seat until January 6, 2021. This will help with distancing passengers on their planes for the rest of the year.
Airlines that accepted benefits from The CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act (under “Preserving Jobs for American Industry”) cannot make any significant changes until October. Jobs had to be preserved and airports/cities had to have service (with few exceptions).
American Airlines has announced that beginning in October (when the Act expires) they will layoff/furlough approx. 19,000 employees and eliminate service to at least 15 cities. American says they will continue to reassess the cities they service and determine if these cities need their service added back or if more cities need reduced service. The 15 cities on their list are all smaller “regional” cities. Other airlines will continue limited service to these cities.
United Airlines has not announced specific numbers of layoff/furloughs for October (they sent 36,000 “warning letters” to employees). United has added 12 new winter routes to Florida.
Delta Air Lines is rumored to possibly lay off 800 employees. Delta will bring back many international flights in October, hoping this helps fill their domestic flights.
Each airline is trying to “right size” their fleet and schedules for a slow pandemic recovery.
Update August 18, 2020
- Canada has extended its ban on travel to and from the United States until September 21.. Essential travel only is permitted.
- The U.S. is lifting travel bans for people coming to the United States. And government policy makers are urging airlines to resume international flights. However, most countries are still banning American from entering their countries.
- Many states are restricting travel if you are entering from certain “hot spot” states, including Connecticut, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Essential/healthcare workers are considered exempt.
Update August 12, 2020
- Airlines have seen an increase in travel this last week. TSA screened 831,789 passengers on Sunday, which is the highest number of passengers since the pandemic started; last year on this same day they screened 2.6 million passengers.
- Airlines have reported that the large increase in travel is due to an increase in leisure (vacation) travelers, with only a slight increase in business travel.
- All airlines are working to secure their Fall route schedules. Delta and United have announced they will increase the number of flights they will operate. American has announced they will partner with JetBlue and Alaska Airlines; between the three, they will “code share” to have more destinations and flights available without adding aircraft.
- The major airlines have clarified their mandatory face mask policy. Face masks must snuggly fit against the face, cover the mouth and nose, and be well secured. Face shields that do not cover the mouth and nose, bandanas, and masks with holes in them (even exhaust valve holes) will not be accepted. Neck gaiters may be worn as face coverings as long as they fit snuggly over the nose and mouth and are secured under the chin. All passengers 2 years old and over must wear face masks/coverings while at the airport and while flying.
- All travelers entering the State of New York are required to fill out a Traveler Health Form. Those entering from the 34 states on their quarantine list must self-quarantine. Healthcare/Essential workers are exempt.
- New York is also setting up check points for out of state visitors.
- It is extremely important for all locum tenens healthcare providers to carry with them a copy of their medical license and a copy of their assignment confirmation.
Update August 5, 2020
- Delta, Southwest, and JetBlue are still continuing to block middle seats.
- All U.S. airlines have extended “no change fee waivers” for another month.
- Car rental companies are now requiring face masks be worn while on their premises, picking up or dropping off rental vehicles. This includes airport and non-airport locations, regardless of state requirements.
- For non-airport locations, Enterprise will make every effort to have the pick-up/drop-off take place outside in an effort to keep people out of enclosed areas.
Update July 27, 2020
Quarantines, curfews, and protests
- Most travelers to New York will need to quarantine.
- 34 states, Washington D.C., and Puerto Rico are on the quarantine list (essential workers are exempt).
- Broward County, FL, still has a curfew mandate from 11 p.m. – 5 a.m. daily until August 20.
- Protests continue in Portland, OR, and a few other cities around the country. Authorities say they are contained in isolated areas (near courthouses/federal offices) and do not pose a risk to most residents or visitors.
Update July 23, 2020
- Mask requirements have been extended. Face coverings must be worn on all flights AND while in the airport. Masks must be worn at check-in, through TSA, in the boarding area, and in the baggage claim area (the entire time a passenger is on airport property).
- The mask mandate is required for all U.S. airports (regardless of the state and whether the state has a mandate).
- Delta, United, and American Airlines have announced they will deny boarding and ban further travel on their airline for non-compliance.
- Face coverings must be worn at all hotels in public areas (at check-in, lobby, dining, and common areas).
Weatherby travel itineraries
- To make it easier for our locums travelers, Weatherby has added a link on your itineraries to the Travel Vendor Health & Safety Guide, which includes the latest updates from all travel vendors. This will allow you to see what each vendor is doing to ensure their safety. For example, if your are traveling on Delta, picking up an Avis rental, then staying at a Marriott, you can see what each of these companies is doing to keep travelers safe. Also included is information about TSA, CDC, and the U.S. Department of State (restrictions on international travel).
Update July 13, 2020
- Delta, American, United, Southwest, and JetBlue have all extended their waiver for change fees. Any ticket booked until July 31 can be changed without penalty if needed.
- Delta, Southwest, and JetBlue will cap the sales of their planes to 50%-65% (depending on the seat configuration) to allow for middle seats to be blocked.
- American and United will not limit the number of seats sold per flight. If a flight is full, they will let any passenger wishing to take another (American or United) flight or change to a different flight (most flights are operating at between 30-60% capacity).
Note: Healthcare workers/essential workers are exempt from most restrictions.