November 16, 2020

The Debate

No, I’m not referring to any particular political debate, rather the debate unleashed last week about whether it is ethical to recommend travel right now.

The argument is that travel can spread Covid-19 and therefore we should not travel. And also that advisors should fully disclose the risks of travel (and even implying that some may not be doing so, or worse, are acting in an unethical manner by simply recommending travel during a pandemic). I’m not here to take sides but to simply acknowledge that information on the risks to travel should absolutely be disclosed. As we all know, travel is by its very nature dangerous; planes crash, kidnappings happen, accidents happen, and malaria and Dengue fever are out there to name but a few of the many travel hazards. And these days, staying at home has its own hazards worth mentioning. So to be fair, let us disclose *all* the information to clients, both good and bad.

Here are the facts:

The CDC states that travel increases your chance of getting and spreading Covid-19.

The DoD and United Airlines did an extensive study about the risks of getting Covid-19 and found that the risk of getting Covid-19 on a fully loaded flight, even if sitting next to the infected passenger is 0.003% as long as you wear a mask. In fact, the air on an airplane is safer than in operating rooms.

An IATA study found that during 2020 only 44 airline passengers out of a total of 1.2 billion contracted Covid-19 on a flight.

Airline flight crews have a lower incidence of Covid-19 than the general public.

Also, if someone does choose to travel based on all the information out there and they decide to go  international, let’s say to Bermuda, they will have multiple PCR tests and spend their time on an island that has had just over 200 cases in 8 months. Most other international destinations require one or more negative PCR tests as a condition of entry as well. The same applies to Hawaii, New York, and Connecticut. If you go, you must have a negative PCR test as part of the entry protocol. In all these cases, travelers won’t inadvertently be spreading Covid-19.

Finally, we should consider what people will do if they don't choose to travel. Unless they are quarantining in their homes they are going out for groceries, perhaps going to a restaurant, and their kids are playing with other kids or going to school. Which means that they might end up being one of the over one million people who got Covid-19 in the U.S. just this past week.

I’m not an ethicist but it does seem that before answering the question, “is it ethical to recommend travel right now” one should consider if they will be tested prior to traveling and the risks associated with staying at home where 1 million people a week are becoming infected.

To see all the countries open to travelers where testing is part of the entry protocols, please go to DragonSlayer for your 14 day free trial.