This story is part of the CBS 42 special report Coronavirus: The Facts.
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Spring Break is on the horizon for many families, but the coronavirus has forced many people to either cancel their travel plans or significantly change them.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently issued travel advisories for multiple countries including China, Hong Kong, South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, Japan, Iran and Italy. Several people in the Birmingham metro area told CBS 42 they have either cancelled their plans to travel abroad or their employer/school cancelled their trip for them.
The Levet family in Hoover cancelled their trip to Rome because of their concerns about the coronavirus. The trip was scheduled to begin March 18.
“My daughter has some health issues and I just got over breast cancer about a year and a half ago, so I’m not taking any chances,” Mary Anne Levet said. “Our grandson is not yet three so we didn’t want to have him exposed as well.”
Thankfully, Levet said American Airlines has promised to refund their trip in full.
As the country faces shortages of hand sanitizer, tissues and other cleaning supplies, the CDC recommends you make room for those items in your luggage and bring them with you.
AAA boasts the largest team of travel agents in North America with three offices in the Birmingham area. Clay Ingram, spokesman for AAA Alabama, told CBS 42 the agents have received countless phone calls from people concerned about the coronavirus. However, he said they have not had many cancellations.
Instead, travelers are making changes to their destinations to avoid travel advisories.
“We’ve had a few people re-direct themselves from Italy to another destination as well,” Ingram said. “The travel vendors are actually trying to help people as well with either giving refunds or credits or helping them pick another destination as well. “
Ingram said there is no charge to talk to an agent and they will keep you updated if any part of your trip falls under a travel advisory after you book.
Some travelers, though, told CBS 42 they feel no need to play it safe.
“I’m not really worried about it,” Vicki Muldoon said. “I mean, it hasn’t affected the way I travel and I usually travel every Monday and I come back on Fridays. My middle daughter is a doctor and she’s like: ‘Don’t you want to get one of those masks?’ And I’m like: ‘No, not really.'”
If you do travel, especially to destinations under travel advisories, the CDC recommends you clean your hands with either soap or water or with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Also, avoid toughing your eyes, nose or mouth and avoid people who are sick and do not travel if you are sick.
If you do purchase travel insurance, be sure to read the fine print. Some policies state they will not cover a cancellation due to “an epidemic.”
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