Coronavirus response: International travel information

Vice Provost for Academic Planning and Senior International Officer Lisa Alvarez-Cohen sent the following message to the campus community on Tuesday:

We understand that many faculty, staff, and students have questions regarding University-related travel, particularly in view of the COVID-19 situation during summer and fall 2020. We also acknowledge the desire to make international travel plans in the near future and the significant difficulty imposed by this uncertain period. This message includes the most updated information available pertaining to the campus’ travel protocol, travel insurance, travel reimbursement, and international agreements.

UCOP Directives and Campus Travel Protocol 
According to the directives issued by UCOP, all UC community members should temporarily avoid non-essential travel to countries with a CDC Level 2 Travel Health Notice and greater. In addition to the UCOP directive, and local to the UC Berkeley campus, University travel to U.S. State Department ‘Do Not Travel’ level 4 locations requires a two-step approval process, first at the decanal level and then from the Vice Provost for Academic Planning. For details related to how essential travel is defined, and to learn about the approval process, please refer to the Global Engagement Office.

Travel Insurance 
As a reminder, faculty, students, and staff who do not book their travel using Connexxus are encouraged to register all travel whether funded by UC Berkeley or another entity. Travel booked through Connexxus is automatically registered with the UC Travel Insurance program. Registering has many benefits, including travel advisories for the locations that you travel to/through, and the ability for the UC to rapidly assist you in case of emerging incidents, medical emergencies, etc. For those intending to travel using UC Berkeley resources or for campus-approved research or educational purposes, please review the campus’ travel protocol and seek essential travel approval beforehand.

Please keep in mind that travel insurance does not cover foreseeable risk; therefore, any travel to areas with a U.S. State Department ‘Do Not Travel’ level 4 advisory will invalidate travel insurance benefits. UC personnel traveling to regions against this advisory do so potentially at their own physical and financial risk. For more information about travel insurance, please visit Risk Services.

Travel Reimbursement
If your business travel has been canceled as a result of COVID-19 and you were not able to obtain a full refund of some or all of your expenses, you have options for requesting reimbursement, which can vary depending on how you booked your travel. These options are outlined on the travel website as well as on a recorded webinar from April 21st provided by UC Berkeley Travel. A wide range of issues associated with travel impacted by COVID-19 are addressed, including an extended question and answer session.

International Contracts
International agreements committing members of the UC community to travel, or foreign cohorts to visit campus, should include terms that allow for no penalty cancellation of in-person deliverables. Depending on the specific language, force majeure clauses may not cover epidemics (e.g. COVID-19), especially where the cancellation or non-performance due to the incident was foreseeable or predictable at the time of contract execution. Senior administration is coordinating with Business Contracts and Brand Protection (BCBP) and Risk Services to revise the language in international agreements to allow for remote alternatives in lieu of in- or outbound travel, or cancellation without penalty.

For further questions or concerns related to any topic in this message, please contact geo@berkeley.edu.

We thank you for your resilience amidst this crisis. We are committed to providing our entire campus community with the best experience possible. As such, we will continue to inform you of the latest developments regarding travel and COVID-19’s impact on international activity.