Travel During Break

December 6, 2021

To members of the Yale community,

As we prepare for the winter break, many of us are thinking about travel to see family and friends, as well as university-sponsored travel over break and next semester. Both international and domestic travel are indeed possible, however please remember that travel and associated activities have been identified as a risk for exposure to COVID-19. The university urges travelers to assess risks prior to travel and deploy safe practices during all travel. International travel poses greater risk than domestic, even for fully vaccinated travelers. You may wish to alter or even cancel your international travel plans.

On November 26, the World Health Organization (WHO) classified a new variant, B.1.1.529, as a Variant of Concern and named it Omicron. At this time, not a lot is known about Omicron. Travelers should consult the CDC for the latest information. International SOS has developed an Omicron travel FAQ that travelers may also consult.

Safe travel experiences depend on proper planning and preparation. This is especially important given the potential for rapid COVID-related changes in both risks and regulations.

All travelers, whether traveling within the United States or internationally, should continue to take health precautions. Please review Yale’s Travel Policy, which is updated as needed and applies to personal and university-sponsored travel. Post-travel testing (and quarantine for those who are not fully vaccinated) requirements are described in the policy.

Community members planning international travel must complete the Yale Self-Assessment of International Travel. This will guide you through the steps needed to help you understand policies, laws, and preparations to take prior to committing to international travel. New restrictions, sometimes imposed with little warning, and a significant number of flight cancellations could complicate international travel. Travelers should be prepared for the possibility that sudden changes may cause them to be stranded, possibly for extended periods. Ensure that you reconfirm your itinerary, stay flexible, have appropriate contingency plans in place, and check the latest restrictions for your destination.

Due to concerns over the new Omicron variant, the U.S. has changed travel requirements. Starting December 6, all air passengers, regardless of vaccination status, must show a negative COVID-19 test taken no more than 1 day before travel to the United States. The CDC has prepared a quick reference guide to help explain requirements and restrictions.

In addition, President Biden imposed travel restrictions starting on November 29 from Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. These travel restrictions do not apply to U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, and certain other categories of travelers. State Department advisories for each of these countries are “Level 4 – Do Not Travel,” which reflects the emergence of the Omicron variant and significant number of flight cancellations in these countries.

Students and scholars who are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents should remain in the U.S. if at all possible. You may face additional delays returning to the U.S. and should consult with Yale’s Office of International Students and Scholars before departure.

As a reminder, university-sponsored travel is only allowed for fully vaccinated faculty, staff, and students subject to obtaining approvals required under existing university policies and processes. Faculty, staff and students who are not fully vaccinated may not participate in university-sponsored travel.

Travel planning resources

COVID-19 safer travel guide. Yale Environment Health and Safety has prepared a helpful guide to safer COVID-19 travel practices

Contact International SOS travel assistance
All members of the Yale community are automatically enrolled with International SOS (ISOS), which provides pre-travel consultations and 24/7/365 domestic and international emergency medical, security and travel assistance for Yale travelers and accompanying family while more than 100 miles from home.

Register your travel
Whether you travel internationally for research, conferences, internships, or personal reasons, to destinations familiar or exotic, please register your travel so that in the event of a major emergency the university will be able to contact you. This information has been critical to our efforts to locate and help Yale travelers following natural disasters or incidents of violence.

Travel booked through Yale’s Egencia account is automatically fed into the travel registry. Other ways to register travel include emailing your travel itinerary to YaleTravel@itinerary.internationalsos.com or registering travel via the ISOS App

Medical Insurance
Check with your medical insurance provider before you travel to verify coverage of routine medical needs and coverage limitations while you are away from campus. If you are a member of Yale Health or a student enrolled in Yale Health Basic and Hospitalization/Specialty Coverage, your Yale Health insurance coverage is good worldwide in the event of a health emergency. Aetna members also enjoy medical insurance coverage while overseas. 
 
Note that some travel medical insurance is provided with International SOS travel assistance. For details on coverage, visit https://ogc.yale.edu/erm/ISOS and click on “Out-of-country medical care coverage” for additional information.

In the event of an emergency

In a medical emergency, always seek treatment first. In other emergency situations, get to a safe place, heed any local government warnings, and avoid trouble areas. 

Alert International SOS (call collect +1-215-942-8478). They will notify Yale and activate the university’s emergency response.

For international students and scholars

International students and scholars on non-immigrant visas should consult the OISS travel guidance web page before you depart and check with OISS if you have any concerns about your travel plans or return to the U.S. Due to the continued uncertainty in the availability of international flights and various travel restrictions that are still in place in countries you might travel through, if you choose to travel, your return to the U.S. might be delayed. Advice on handling immigration emergencies can be found here.

Other resources

If you have questions, please email world@yale.edu.

Best wishes for a safe and happy holiday season,
Donald L. Filer
Associate Vice President for Global Strategy