Hopes that business travel would start to resume in the first quarter of 2021 have been snuffed out by the pandemic’s second wave. Almost every day new restrictions are being put on travel by different countries; and airlines are suspending routes. The vaccination cannot come fast enough for those wanting to get back on the road.
Whenever travel is back on the agenda, risk management and duty of care will be at the forefront.
It will be essential that businesses have oversight of whether their travellers have been tested and inoculated in accordance with the rules of the destination. Countries and consequently airlines are expected to introduce restrictions to travellers who have not been vaccinated.
Different rates of efficacy between the different vaccination types and the time frames for them to become effective, means employers will need to understand what vaccines their people have had and when, if they are scheduled to travel. It is still not known how long it takes for the vaccines’ protective impact to come into effect and individuals who have been infected prior to being inoculated can still come down with the virus.
Concerns about keeping such data will arise and it should be expected that some of the travelling workforce will be vaccination hesitant.
Given the still unknown effectiveness of the vaccinations, current hygiene, mask wearing and social distancing protocols will be important to reduce transmission. This message will not be well received by vaccinated travellers, who may have lowered their guard and perceive themselves immune. The advice from many experts to those who have received their first dose of the vaccine is to pretend it didn’t happen, i.e. maintain the same safeguards as before.
Travel risk managers will need to make sure they have the ability to:
- Access vaccination records about travellers before booking travel. This is obviously a sensitive subject and it is essential that senior management have a corporate-wide policy and staff communications plan in place if records are going to be stored. Being able to securely store and update data in compliance with data regulations is of course essential.
- Introduce best practice advice and rules for travel post vaccination. These will no doubt need to be changed quickly in response to ever evolving circumstances.
- Monitor and effectively communicate ongoing changes to best practice, corporate policy and changing rules to travelling staff.
- Risk assess locations and the activities the staff are engaging in. Traditionally popular business destinations will have been transformed by the pandemic; local emergency services might be over stretched and new threats from crime or unrest could emerge as the socio-economic impact of the pandemic unfolds.
- Ensure travel insurance and medical evacuation policies are suitable for the destination and Covid-19 considerations.
We expect that traditional travel risk management tools will struggle to deliver these requirements. RiskPal can. Please get in touch to find out how.