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Global Talent Mobility Impacted by Coronavirus Related Travel Restrictions

Tristan North - Feb 07 2020
Published in: Public Policy
The U.S. and other countries have placed restrictions on entry for foreign travelers who have recently been to China and major airlines have suspended flights to China in an effort to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared in late January that the coronavirus outbreak presented a global health emergency. On 4 February, WHO Director Sylvie Briand, MD, stated the outbreak is an epidemic but not a pandemic. China, the U.S. and several other countries are implementing policies in an effort to limit the spread of the virus. China has quarantined the residents of the city of Wuhan and limited domestic travel. Other nations put into place entry restrictions and medical screenings of travelers from China. WHO officials have advised governments to take safeguards to prevent the further spread of the virus but have not gone so far as to prohibit the flow of supplies and key personnel to China.

China, the U.S. and several other countries are implementing policies in an effort to limit the spread of the virus.

Flights to China Suspended

The majority of international airlines serving China have suspended or reduced flights to the country at least through the end of February. This includes Air Canada, British Airways, Iberia, Lufthansa, Swiss Air and Turkish Airlines. Airlines that have suspended service through mid to late March include Air France, Air New Zealand, American Airlines, KLM, Qantas, United Airlines and Virgin Atlantic. Delta Airlines has suspended all flights to China until 30 April, and flights on Qatar Airways have been suspended until further notice.

There are still airlines that continue to provide at least partial service to China. Air Asia, Air Nippon, Cathy Pacific, Etihad, Emirates, Japan Airlines, Korean Air and Singapore Airlines have cut back on flights but with most still serving Beijing and Shanghai. The flight suspension timetables could be modified as new information becomes available as to the status of the coronavirus.

Entry Restrictions on Travelers from China


Australia is permitting only Australian citizens to enter the country on flights from China. The Australian government is also advising its citizens to avoid travel to China. Australia, with its proximity to China, is traditionally a top destination for Chinese tourists and business travelers.

European Union

On 7 February, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control issued its latest assessment of risk for EU/EEA/U.K. citizens from contracting the virus. The Center currently rates the risk of infection as low. There have been reports in the media that the EU could consider travel restrictions for foreign nationals who have traveled recently to China.

Hong Kong

As of 8 February, at midnight, Hong Kong citizens and foreign nationals arriving from China through the Hong Kong airport will be subject to quarantine. The City will use tracking devices to ensure those individuals in the quarantine remain at home. Hong Kong has also closed several of its land border crossings with China.


India has invalidated the visas of foreign nationals traveling from China and has discouraged its citizens from visiting China. Individuals who do travel to China will be subject to quarantine upon their return to India.

New Zealand

Foreign nationals traveling from China will be denied entry into New Zealand until possibly 17 February. The New Zealand government has also advised its citizens to not travel to China.


Foreign nationals who have traveled in China in the last 14 days will be denied entry into Singapore.

United Kingdom

The U.K. government has advised its citizens to not travel to China and for those in China to leave the country.

United States

On 31 January, the U.S. government implemented a policy to ban entry into the U.S. for non-U.S. citizens or permanent residents traveling from China. U.S. citizens and permanent residents who have traveled recently to the Hubei Province of China, in which the City of Wuhan is located, will be quarantined for 14 days upon their return to the U.S. Americans who have visited other parts of China recently will undergo a medical screening at one of 11 U.S. airports which have been designated to receive flights from China.

How This Impacts Mobility

Wuhan is a major industrial city in China with a population of more than 8 million people, the ninth largest in the country, and China is a top location for transferees. Foreign companies with operations in Wuhan and China will need to assess what is best for their local employees and transferees. At a minimum, business travel to and from China will be limited for the next couple of months and those who do travel could undergo medical screening and face entry restrictions depending on the country to which they return.