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Travel - International and Domestic

What restrictions are there on travel?

Based on guidance from international, national, and local agencies, including the Governor of Massachusetts and the U.S. Department of State, Tufts has issued guidance restricting international travel for students, faculty and staff.  As of March 10:

  • All university-sponsored, connected, or funded international or domestic travel by students, faculty, and staff is prohibited.
  • All personal international or domestic travel is strongly discouraged. If you must travel for personal business, we urge you to exercise extreme caution and to monitor both domestic and international destinations where COVID-19 is present for updated information, as well as information, travel warnings and health advisories on the CDC website. 
  • If you arrive from any CDC Level 3 country - please see this list for a full update of countries for a full update of countries, as the situation is changing quickly - you are prohibited from coming to campus and must self-quarantine for 14 days in accordance with the guidance issued by the CDC. You should also complete this travel form and inform your supervisor or dean.
  • If you arrive from a CDC Level 2 travel warning country - please see this list for a full update of countries, which on March 11 was expanded to be global (i.e., all remaining international destinations beyond the Level 3 countries - you must complete the travel form.
  • If you have had contact with someone who has had a presumed or confirmed case of COVID-19, you must self-quarantine for 14 days in accordance with the guidance issued by the CDC, email covid19@tufts.edu, and inform your supervisor or dean immediately.

These restrictions will be in effect until April 30, when we will reassess the situation and determine whether to continue or revise them.

Is there an appeal process for travel to places to which Tufts has restricted travel?

No, there is no appeal process. We realize this is disruptive and may cause disappointment and anxiety for many. However, the CDC has emphasized that widespread transmission of COVID-19 in the United States is occurring, which brings with it the potential that our healthcare and other infrastructure may be overwhelmed and unable to provide the care to those who need it. 

The reason we are taking these strict measures is so that we can not only help protect the safety of the members of our community, but also prevent the spread, especially to people whose lives may be threatened by the virus: vulnerable people, such as older and immune-compromised people.

These measures can help make COVID-19 manageable, and we believe at Tufts that it is our duty not only to protect those most vulnerable, but to do what we can to protect the safety of our community.

I am planning to travel for personal reasons. Is it OK to travel?

As the situation with respect to COVID-19 is evolving daily, there are risks to traveling both outside and within the United States, from being exposed to the virus to being restricted from reentering the country. Cases have been reported on all continents except Antarctica.

As a result, we strongly urge anyone considering personal travel, both international and domestic, for any length of time to cancel their plans immediately for the time being. If your travel is disrupted, if you become subject to government restrictions while you are away, or if you have difficulty returning home, Tufts will not be able to intervene on your behalf. Similarly, if you return from domestic travel to an affected area, in addition to the risk of contracting COVID-19, you risk potential quarantine once you return to the Boston area.

If you do choose to travel, we urge you to:

    • Avoiding close contact with sick people—stay at least 6 feet away to prevent exposure through coughing
    • Avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
    • Washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with 60 percent to 95 percent alcohol.
    • Wiping down frequently touched objects (e.g., phones) and surfaces
    • Covering your cough with your upper sleeve or elbow
    • Avoiding sharing drinks/food/cigarettes and vaping products
    • Seeking medical attention if you get symptoms—coughing, fever, difficulty breathing.
Should I register my travel with the Tufts Travel Registry?

The Travel Registry is for university-related or sponsored international travel only. As all international travel by students, faculty, and staff is currently not permitted, there will be no need to register any international travel. Do not register your personal travel or any domestic travel you do.

What if I already registered my travel and have canceled because of the new guidance?

Please email internationalsafety@tufts.edu and let them know which trip you have canceled, and they will take care of it in the Travel Registry.

Who can help me if I get stuck on personal travel abroad?

You will need to follow local guidance on procedures and next steps. Even for personal travel, it is highly recommended that you obtain a travel assistance provider. You can buy International SOS coverage at 20 percent discount.

What if I travel to a country with a level 2 or 3 CDC warning on personal business? What happens when I get back?

If you have traveled to a CDC Level 3 travel warning country, or if the travel warning for the country you have traveled to has been elevated to a Level 3 before you returned to the United States, you cannot return to campus, even if you are symptom-free, for 14 days. You must fill out a travel form when you return and self-quarantine in accordance with the guidance issued by the CDC:

  • Do not go to work or school.
  • Stay home and avoid contact with others.
  • Limit your activities in public—do not go to crowded places—such as supermarkets, public transportation, etc.
  • Keep 6 feet from other people.
  • Take your temperature with a thermometer 2 times a day, and monitor for fever, cough, or trouble breathing.

If you are returning from any international destination, you must fill out the travel form. Your dean or supervisor will be informed and may recommend or require you to self-quarantine.

What if the country’s travel warning is elevated to a Level 2 or 3 after I have returned to the United States?

If the CDC travel warning for the country from which you have returned is elevated to a Level 2 or 3 after you return from your trip, you must inform the university at covid19@tufts.edu. If it is elevated to a Level 3, you will be required to self-quarantine and remain off-campus for 14 days.  If you are a student who has remained in on-campus housing, you should contact Health Service (617-627-3350) immediately so that arrangements for self-quarantine can be made on campus.

What about returning from personal domestic travel? Do I need to self-quarantine?

The university’s travel guidance strongly discourages personal domestic travel. If you believe you have had contact with a person with a presumptive or confirmed case of COVID-19 while on your travels, you must email covid19@tufts.edu, inform your supervisor or dean immediately, and self-quarantine until you receive approval to return to campus (if you are on campus as an essential employee).

 

What if I have to cancel travel that is already booked and paid? Can I get a refund or avoid cancelation fees?

If you have incurred cancelation fees, or have difficulty obtaining a refund for an already-booked airline, hotel or Airbnb and other travel expenses, you may be able to obtain a refund. We have prepared a template for requesting a refund for canceled travel and a letter signed by Tufts if you require one. The following resources may be useful to you as you pursue refunds from travel providers:

Will the university refund my cancelation fees if I can’t get a refund?

If you are traveling on a research grant and incur cancelation fees on sponsored programs, cancelation fees are an allowable cost if there is a compelling business reason—such as cancelation as a result of coronavirus-related restrictions or policies, or CDC travel restrictions (see CDC Level 3 Countries). Authorized approvers must ensure any change or cancelation fees charged to sponsored funds are reasonable and allowable. The NIH has recently issued guidance on reimbursement of travel expenses. Please reach out to your PI or your research administrator at the school/center for necessary documentation.

For travel outside of research grants, if you have incurred cancelation fees, or have difficulty obtaining a refund for an already-booked airline, hotel, Airbnb, and other travel expense, you may be able to obtain a refund from the provider. We have prepared a template for requesting a refund for canceled travel and a letter signed by Tufts if you require one. Otherwise, the cost will need to be charged to the applicable department or project Dept-ID (as non-sponsored funds).

I am planning to travel for research or for a program in the future. Should I book my travel and accommodations?

It is difficult to predict how the spread of COVID-19 will evolve in the future, and what measures will be taken by local and national authorities (both in the U.S. and in other countries), as well as what Tufts will need to do to ensure our community is safe. If you book your travel, try to find airlines, hotels, or rentals that are offering flexible cancelation and refund policies. (This site offers up-to-date information about airline policies as of March 10, 2020.)

Should I book refundable tickets?

For travel on sponsored programs, higher costs for refundable tickets (not business class) are allowable, if there is a compelling business reason. Given the fluidity of the COVID-19 spread, this criterion is met. Booking a non-refundable ticket is preferred to procuring travel insurance.

For travel on non-sponsored programs, we recommend to budget for the higher costs of a refundable ticket given the fluidity of the COVID-19 spread. You are highly encouraged to book through the university’s preferred travel provider, Travel Collaborative.

Should I buy travel insurance?

You will need to carefully check the policy to ensure that pandemics are not excluded, particularly during a current event of this magnitude. Some carriers over “cancel for any reason” policies, which may cover this event; however, they tend to be significantly more expensive. Booking a refundable ticket may be the preferred method of accounting for potential changes in your travel plans. 

What about visitors who travel to Tufts?

All events with external participants (e.g., conferences, symposia, lectures, etc.) have been prohibited as of March 10, 2020 until at least April 30, 2020.  Any plans for visitors, whether international or domestic, to travel to Tufts for events should be canceled.