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Coronavirus COVID-19 Resource Hub:

A resource for businesses

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The Path Forward

In March 2020, we established this dedicated hub as a business resource for our customers to help them manage day-to-day operations when navigating the growing risks associated with COVID-19. As the pandemic and responses to it evolve, we continue to provide content and resources here.

  • How will COVID-19 developments impact and define the challenges ahead?
  • How do businesses and their employees best move forward and adapt to the COVID-19 workplace?
  • How do all of us participate in building a safer, more resilient future?

Lessons and resources to help companies remain open during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. We share ideas you can implement to build resilience.

Business travel has suffered during the COVID-19 pandemic, but many companies are resuming the practice. Here are some travel safety tips to consider. 

Employer focus on mental wellness can help smooth transitions back to offices, retail businesses and other workplaces following COVID shutdowns.

COVID business travel: How you can help keep employees and others safe
Sep 21, 2021

Business travel has suffered during the COVID-19 pandemic, but many companies are resuming the practice. Here are some travel safety tips to consider.

With the rise of the Delta variant, the United States — and much of the world — quickly went from breathing a collective sigh of relief, believing the worst of COVID-19 was behind us, to returning to a state of extreme anxiety about the pandemic. With alarming rises in hospitalizations among unvaccinated people in many areas and questions surrounding “breakthrough” cases among the vaccinated, that anxiety is understandable. We are still very much in the midst of this historic global health crisis. The light at the end of the tunnel may be further off than we hoped.

However, now well into our second year of COVID-related challenges, responses to the current spike in spread are often coming in different measures than early in the crisis. With so many businesses still struggling to come back from long shutdowns during much of the pandemic, full closures may be less practical and likely. Restrictions like mask mandates and proof of vaccination, however, are becoming more common in spite of large pockets of resistance to such measures in some regions.

In short, many businesses are trying to stay as close to full levels of operation as possible while still fulfilling their duty-of-care responsibilities for employees and trying to help keep the people in the communities where they operate safe and healthy. For some businesses, that aim for consistency means a return to business travel.

Countless businesses discovered significant economic as well as safety advantages of virtual meetings as they were forced to adapt during the early months of the pandemic, and it is expected that — unlike leisure travel — business travel is not likely to ever come close to the levels it enjoyed before COVID-19. That said, many companies do need to continue with business travel and indeed many have already resumed it in some measure. Whether for events aimed at casual networking or those relationship-driven deals, sometimes face-to-face beats face-to-screen communication.

As of August 20, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was still advising that vaccinated people could travel safely within the U.S.1, but now more than ever, businesses need to take the proper precautions to help keep their employees, customers and others in the areas where they travel safe, healthy and secure.

The following recommendations were developed by Zurich North America Risk Engineering.

General COVID-19 travel safety guidelines

You will find transportation- and location-specific guidance in sections below, but no matter how you are traveling or where you stay, these recommendations apply. While we have learned over the last several months that the risk of infection through contact with contaminated surfaces is very low compared to airborne transmission,2 erring on the side of caution is still a good practice in that regard, so these recommendations include practices to avoid common physical touchpoints.

  • Always follow the most recent business travel guidelines from your company, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other medical authorities, as well as state and municipal government agencies. In addition to its domestic travel advisories, the CDC has a helpful page with risk assessment levels for COVID-19 broken down by countries and regions.
  • International travelers should check with the U.S. State Department for travel advisories or restrictions, whether traveling by air, sea or driving. Advisories and restrictions can change quickly, depending on locations. There may be restrictions on non-essential travel and/or a required quarantine period when entering other countries.
  • Comply with physical distancing requirements.
  • Reduce touchpoints (i.e., contact with shared surfaces) whenever possible.
  • Bring your own personal protective equipment (PPE). Don’t assume it will be provided.
  • Wear a mask or face covering as required or recommended and utilize any other appropriate PPE.
  • Wash hands frequently, especially after contacting common touchpoints.
  • Use hand sanitizer often and whenever handwashing is not possible.
  • Follow health safety protocols and posted signage for whatever building you are in or mode of transportation you use.

COVID air travel guidelines

The combination of crowds in airports and confined spaces on planes obviously makes flying a potentially high-risk activity, but there are steps you can take to help reduce the risks.

  • Be familiar with, and follow, all airline requirements. Knowing the guidelines of a specific airline ahead of time can help cut down on points of contact that can be avoided if you don’t need to stop and ask questions.
  • Take advantage of online tools and apps.

- Use online reservation systems.
- Use online check-in tools with your mobile device.
- Select your seat assignment to maximize physical distancing if possible.
- Confirm seat assignment and physical distancing of seat selection prior to travel.
- Scan your own boarding pass using your mobile device, if allowed.

  • Wear a mask or face covering when indoors at the airport and on the plane.
  • Avoid touchpoints whenever possible.

- Baggage check-in: When available, use self-service check-in kiosks to minimize interactions with airline staff.
- Transportation Security Administration (TSA) security: Follow all protocols TSA agents may have in place for minimizing contact. If none are established, check with the people in front and back of you in the line to see if you can accommodate physical distancing.
- Gate seating areas, concessions and restaurants: Allow as much space as possible between you and other people in these areas.
- Restrooms: If you can’t avoid using public restrooms, use best hand-washing methods, allow as much space between you and others as possible, and wear a mask or face covering.

  • Once on the plane, use sanitizing wipes to clean surfaces at your seat, including:

- Arm rests
- Seat belt buckles
- Tray tables
- Seatbacks in front of you

  • Open the air vent to increase air circulation.
  • Take time when exiting after landing to facilitate physical distancing.

COVID automobile travel guidelines

For trips that don’t require air travel, cars can be a safer choice. However, being on the road isn’t without its pandemic-related risks. Try and follow these best practices:

  • Maintain an adequate supply of PPE (masks, gloves or anything else required).
  • Do not store alcohol-based hand sanitizer in a vehicle. Ensure any sanitizer you keep in the car is not flammable.
  • Wear a mask or face covering when entering convenience stores, gas stations, restaurants or other businesses you stop at on your trip. Avoid as much contact with touchpoints in these locations as possible.
  • Avoid ride-share services, as you don’t have control over the sanitation of the vehicle and don’t know the health status of your driver.

COVID hotel safety guidelines

While the hotel industry is putting a heavy focus on COVID-19 safety precautions, business travelers are still the best agents of their own protection. Several of the steps below are also good practices for overall security, presenting safeguards against theft and other criminal activity as well as potential spread of the coronavirus by an unwelcome visitor.

  • Stay only in company-approved hotels.
  • Avoid first-floor guest rooms where foot traffic may be heavier.
  • Avoid exterior corridor hotels (those with outside entrances to guest rooms).
  • Don’t answer the door to your guest room without verifying who it is. Confirm with the front desk if someone from the staff is supposed to access your room and for what purpose.
  • Do not allow food to be delivered directly to your guest room. If the food cannot be dropped off at the reception desk or another safe place, meet the delivery driver in the lobby or a common space.
  • Close the door securely whenever you leave your room.
  • Use the deadbolt and all other locking devices whenever you are in your hotel room.
  • Ensure that all sliding glass doors, connecting rooms and windows are secure.
  • Do not allow strangers into your room.
  • Avoid or minimize contact with common hotel touchpoints:

- Alarm clocks
- Breakfast/common areas
- Desks
- Elevator buttons
- Entrance door handles
- Fitness rooms
- Glassware
- HVAC system controls
- Registration desks
- Restaurants in the hotel
- Room door handles/locks
- Room keys or keycards (Utilize remote check-in where possible to eliminate need for a room key. If a key or card is needed, keep it with you at all times and do not display your room key in public.)
- Swimming pools
- TV remotes

Attending meetings, conferences and events

Substituting online meetings, conferences and events for in-person gatherings is the best safety practice but may not always be optimal for business purposes. Guidelines on in-person business gatherings may vary based on individual state and city orders or recommendations, which can shift with developments about COVID-19 cases and the number of hospitalizations in different regions.

  • Follow all current CDC, state and city guidance for gatherings.
  • Wear masks or face coverings indoors or where required.
  • Confirm prior to the gathering that no active COVID-19 cases have been reported at the location of the event. If cases have been reported or are increasing at a significant rate in the surrounding community, online alternatives and/or cancellation of the event should be considered.
  • Practice physical distancing when arriving, departing and moving around the event location.
  • Practice physical distancing when seated at the event.
  • Do not share materials:

- Pens or other writing tools
- Papers, brochures, conference materials, etc.
- Event prizes, giveaways or welcome packages (gift baskets, etc.)
- Tablets or other devices used for presentations or demonstration exhibits

  • Reduce touchpoints whenever possible.

- Restrooms: If the event is held at a hotel where attendees are staying, encourage them to use the bathrooms in their own hotel rooms. If that is not possible, work with venue management to ensure best sanitation and social distancing practices within public bathrooms.
- Door handles: If the venue does not have automatic doors, try to arrange for interior doors to be kept open to limit shared surface contact.

COVID public transportation guidelines

Avoid using public transportation when possible, but if it is required, follow these guidelines.

  • Try to avoid getting on trains, cabs or buses where recommended physical-distancing spacing is not possible.
  • If allowed, open the window nearest you to allow greater ventilation.
  • Wear a mask or face covering.

As news regarding the coronavirus outbreak changes, recommendations may also evolve. The guidance above should not be considered a definitive list of safety tips, but the suggestions can help reduce some risks at this uncertain time. Travel safety extends far beyond COVID-19 precautions, so be sure your employees are trained appropriately for overall best practices specific to where and how they are traveling.

Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
U.S. Department of State – Travel Advisories
American Hotel & Lodging Association: Guest Safety Tips

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Domestic Travel During COVID-19.” 20 August 2021.
  2. National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD), Division of Viral Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Science Brief: SARS-CoV-2 and Surface (Fomite) Transmission for Indoor Community Environments.” 5 April 2021.

The information in this publication was compiled from sources believed to be reliable for informational purposes only. All sample policies and procedures herein should serve as a guideline, which you can use to create your own policies and procedures. We trust that you will customize these samples to reflect your own operations and believe that these samples may serve as a helpful platform for this endeavor. Any and all information contained herein is not intended to constitute advice (particularly not legal advice). Accordingly, persons requiring advice should consult independent advisors when developing programs and policies. We do not guarantee the accuracy of this information or any results and further assume no liability in connection with this publication and sample policies and procedures, including any information, methods or safety suggestions contained herein. We undertake no obligation to publicly update or revise any of this information, whether to reflect new information, future developments, events or circumstances or otherwise. Moreover, Zurich reminds you that this cannot be assumed to contain every acceptable safety and compliance procedure or that additional procedures might not be appropriate under the circumstances. The subject matter of this publication is not tied to any specific insurance product nor will adopting these policies and procedures ensure coverage under any insurance policy.

 

For more information on COVID-19 visit Zurich's Coronavirus Resource Hub

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