As an example of quickly changing circumstances, the U.S. State Department Friday raised its travel advisory Italy to level 3: reconsider travel. On Wednesday, it raised South Korea to level 3. The two countries have the most coronavirus cases outside China.
The travel industry in turn faces an unprecedented situation. What is the U.S. government recommending? How can airlines, cruise lines and hotels accommodate travelers?
Coronavirus travel warnings from CDC, State Department
China: In January the State Department issued a level 4 travel advisory ("do not travel") – its most severe warning – for all of China. The CDC recommends travelers avoid nonessential travel to China, a level 3 warning, also its most severe warning. This excludes Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan.
South Korea: Wednesday's State Department update comes as the CDC is warning against travel to South Korea because of the large number of cases there. On Monday, the CDC issued a level 3 advisory, it's highest, which warns to "avoid nonessential travel" to the East Asian country.
Italy: On Friday, both the State Department and CDC elevated their travel advisories after the number of cases in that country more than doubled over the course of one week, increasing from 270 to 655. The CDC raised Italy to level 3 ("Avoid non-essential travel – widespread community transmission"), its most severe warning, noting that "older adults and people with chronic medical conditions may be at increased risk for severe disease." The State Department raised its Italy advisory one step to its second-highest level, 3 ("Reconsider travel").
Japan: Japan, like Italy, also has a level 2 alert: "practice enhanced precautions." Like South Korea, the State Department updated its advisory for the country to a level 2 on Saturday.
Singapore: There is no CDC nor State Department advisory at this time for Singapore despite nearly 100 recorded coronavirus cases.
Hong Kong: The CDC advisory for Hong Kong is only a level 1, a "watch," meaning travelers should exercise "usual precautions." The CDC specifically mentions it "does not recommend canceling or postponing travel."
Hong Kong, like South Korea and Japan, has a level 2 warning from the State Department due to coronavirus.
Iran: Iran has a level 2 CDC warning: "practice enhanced precautions." Iran's State Department advisory was last updated Dec. 26, 2019, with a "level 4" warning of "do not travel" on account of kidnapping, arrest, detention risk.
The State Department on Feb. 26 said that those currently in the country "should exercise increased caution" on account of the outbreak.
Mongolia: Mongolia's travel advisory is a "level 3" ("reconsider travel") because of Mongolia's response to China's coronavirus outbreak.
Cruise ships: The State Department is warning travelers to reconsider going on a cruise to or within Asia. The warning says cruisers will be faced with strict screening procedures, and travel restrictions could affect itineraries, ability to disembark and lead to quarantine procedures.
"While the U.S. government has successfully evacuated hundreds of our citizens in the previous weeks, repatriation flights should not be relied upon as an option for U.S. citizens under the potential risk of quarantine by local authorities," the statement also reads.
After being turned away from multiple Caribbean ports, the MSC Meraviglia has received clearance to dock at the Port of Cozumel in Mexico. MSC cruises said in a statement provided by spokeswoman Paige Rosenthal that the ship would arrive there late Wednesday local time. No cases of coronavirus have been reported aboard the Meraviglia or any other MSC ships, the company said Wednesday.
Coronavirus: Flights and waivers
United, American and Delta have suspended flights to China and Hong Kong into late April. Here's how each airline is handling travel waivers for passengers holding tickets on those and other routes.
United: The airline has travel waivers in place for China, Hong Kong, South Korea and nine airports in northern Italy, including Milan and Venice. The Italy waivers cover passengers scheduled to travel through April 30. In addition to suspending flights to China and Hong Kong, the airline became the first to reduce flights to Japan and Singapore due to weak demand, changes that take effect in early March.
American: American has waivers in place for China, Hong Kong, South Korea and all destinations it serves in Italy, including Rome, which it added to the waiver on Feb. 28. The Italy waiver, which includes Florence, Milan, Venice and Naples among other cities, covers passengers with tickets for travel through March 15.
Delta: There are waivers in place for China, South Korea and Italy. The Italy waiver, which covers travelers holding tickets for travel through March 15, now covers all Delta destinations in Italy. The waiver initially only covered northern Italy.
Delta is also reducing some of its weekly flights from the U.S. to South Korea. Service between Minneapolis/St. Paul and Incheon International Airport is suspended from Feb. 29 to April 30. The airline will limit service between Seoul and Atlanta, Detroit and Seattle through April 30. Incheon to Manila service was supposed to begin on March 29 but will now start on May 1.
JetBlue. There are no travel restrictions that affect JetBlue's mostly domestic network, but the airline said Wednesday that it's waiving change and cancel fees from Friday through March 11 for travel completed by June 1.
"While authorities have not issued any travel restrictions to the locations we fly," said Joanna Geraghty, JetBlue's president and chief operating officer, "we want to give our customers some peace of mind that we are ready to support them should the situation change."
Alaska Airlines. Following JetBlue's lead, Alaska is suspending its change and cancellations fees due to coronavirus concerns, from Feb. 27 through March 12.
Hawaiian Airlines. The airline is suspending its service between Honolulu and Seoul from March 2 through April 30 as a result of the coronavirus outbreak and leisure travel demand.
The airports are: John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York; Chicago O’Hare International Airport; San Francisco International Airport; Seattle-Tacoma International Airport; Daniel K. Inouye International Airport in Honolulu; Los Angeles International Airport in California; Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport; Washington-Dulles International Airport in Virginia; Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey; Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport; and Detroit Metropolitan Airport.
Coronavirus: Cruise travel updates
Norwegian and Royal Caribbean International cruise lines both announced they would bar passengers holding passports from China, Hong Kong or Macao. These measures are in addition to screening and other preventative protocols adopted by trade association Cruise Lines International Association, which represents about 90% of the ocean-going cruise ships in the world.
Through mid-March, the cruise line canceled or modified most of its sailings in the continent. American passengers set to depart before March 23 looking to change their plans can rebook without penalty.
Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings announced last week it would cancel all voyages in Asia across its three cruise brands through the summer months due to the coronavirus outbreak, and that it will temporarily remove the company's ships from the region.
Cruise Critic has a comprehensive look at itinerary changes, cruise cancellations and what each cruise line is doing.
How hotels are handling coronavirus
Marriott is waiving fees through March 15 for guests with reservations at mainland China, Hong Kong SAR, Macau SAR and Taiwan hotels, as well as guests from those locations headed to other Marriott properties around the world.
As of Feb. 26, Marriott is waiving fees through March 15 for guests staying in South Korea, Japan and the Milan (Lombardia region) and Venice (Veneto region) regions of Italy. It is also waiving fees for guests traveling to other Marriott destinations from these locations.
The company has closed about 90 hotels, CEO Arne Sorenson said on an earnings call, and occupancy declines have been gradual from Wuhan to other Asia-Pacific markets. But it's also reopening hotels in China, too. "We are actually now reopening hotels in China every day," Leeny Oberg, EVP and CFO of Marriott, said on the call.
IHG is also issuing waivers, and Airbnb has a coronavirus guide on its website. Hyatt, too, is waiving cancelation fees through March 31 for guests from Greater China, South Korea, Japan and Italy with Hyatt reservations around the world, as well as guests with reservations at Hyatt hotels in those locations.
Hilton had said it closed about 150 of its hotels in China.
Contributing: Cydney Henderson, Hannah Yasharoff, Dawn Gilbertson, Curtis Tate and Julia Thompson, USA TODAY; Associated Press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Coronavirus travel: The latest advisory, flights, cruises, hotel info