Due to client feedback NEI has received for coverage of this rapidly evolving issue, we would like to share two important, new updates: a White House Executive Order impacting new travel restrictions and new Closures throughout the APAC region.
Coronavirus now has been declared a global emergency by the World Health Organization and the U.S. Department of State has also updated its travel advisory to “Level 4: Do Not Travel” for China. The virus has infected almost 24,662 people across 28 countries with 493 deaths - 99 percent of those cases occurring in China.
Participate in Our Survey
Please click HERE to participate in our survey to consolidate the various actions being taken by Global Mobility professionals in response to the Coronavirus Outbreak. Deadline to complete the survey has been extended to 6 February at 5:00 pm ET so we can provide a timely response to participants by week's end.
Executive Order Defining New Travel Restrictions
To help contain the outbreak from China, the United States, by White House Executive Order (E.O.), “Proclamation on Suspension of Entry as Immigrants and Nonimmigrants of Persons who Pose a Risk of Transmitting 2019 Novel Coronavirus”, began implementing strict travel restrictions that went into effect Sunday night 2 February at 5 PM. ET.
The E.O. includes temporarily denying entry to foreign nationals who visited China in the 14 days prior to their arrival in the U.S. Restrictions also apply to U.S. citizens who have been in China's Hubei province in the two weeks prior to their return to the U.S. Upon their return, those citizens will be subject to a mandatory quarantine of up to 14 days. The E.O.’s Sec. 2 provides a 10-point bullet list of limited exceptions to the ban for some non-immigrants related to U.S. citizens or permanent residents. A link to the E.O. can be found HERE.
Eleven Designated Airports in U.S.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued instructions that direct all flights from China – and all passengers who have traveled to China within the last 14 days – to be routed through one of eleven (11) U.S. airports. At these eleven airports, the government has established enhanced screening procedures and has the capacity to quarantine passengers, if needed. If passengers are screened and show no symptoms, they will be re-booked to their final destination and asked to "self-quarantine" inside their home, DHS stated.
Due to these new restrictions, it is possible employees/families may need to remain in China as many airlines have temporarily cancelled flights to and from the country. If assistance is needed with housing options or extending housing, please let your NEI representative know.
Employers and visa applicants in both China and the U.S. should expect continued delays. Employers should be prepared to be flexible with employee schedules and start dates. Similar delays are occurring for those needing to deregister from China. If an inability to travel to/from China has an impact on one’s visa status, we recommend contacting a member of your NEI team or your visa and immigration partner for discussion. NEI can help clients explore other travel options and their employees’ immigration needs, including potentially applying for a visa at a third-country consulate.
Increased Closures Throughout the Region
Various government offices, schools and businesses have announced closures. In all cases, it would be best to check websites or call before making a personal visit. Some examples that would impact mobile employees:
- The U.S. Embassy and consulates in China are canceling all immigrant and non-immigrant visa appointments the week of 3 February
- Local closures of businesses or reduced staffing may impact services
- Kindergartens and schools are closed until at least March 2
- Government offices will have limited office hours; this will impact HKID registrations and visa and immigrations services
- Schools are closed until February 25
- Approximately 500 schools have suspended classes
Singapore and Malaysia
- Visa and immigration applications from China have been temporarily suspended
In a developing story from Thailand, the Ministry of Public Health on Sunday said they discovered a medical treatment that rendered the new strain of Coronavirus impotent in 48 hours with one 70-year-old patient. While the finding will be shared with the international medical community, they warned that the method posed a negative reaction in another instance and more testing is needed.
NEI Global Relocation Assistance
NEI continues to monitor the situation as it progresses and will share updated information as it becomes available. If you missed our prior update on how other companies are approaching this related to their mobile employee population, you can access that article HERE.
If you would like to discuss a plan of support for your traveling or on-assignment employees, please do not hesitate to reach out to your NEI representative or Mollie Ivancic, NEI’s VP, International Services.