The U.S. State Department has advised Americans not to travel to China, and major airlines have suspended air travel between the United States and the Chinese mainland amid growing concern about the spread of coronavirus.

Key Points:

  • On Thursday, the State Department raised its travel advisory for China to Level 4, urging Americans not to travel to China. The department also urged Americans who are in China to consider leaving. Officials said the government has limited ability to provide resources to U.S. citizens in Hubei province, where the outbreak is believed to have originated.
  • American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines announced Friday that they would suspend travel between the United States and the Chinese mainland. American said it would suspend flights immediately through March 27. Delta said it will operate its last flight to the Chinese mainland on Feb. 3 and that flights would then be suspended through April 30. United said it will suspend flights from Feb. 6 until March 28. News reports indicated that American and United will continue operating flights to Hong Kong; Delta does not fly to Hong Kong.
  • U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Centers for Disease Control continue to conduct screenings for coronavirus for travelers entering the U.S. from China. Beginning Sunday, travelers who have been in China (excluding Hong Kong and Macau) in the past 14 days will be diverted to one of seven U.S. airports for screening. The airports where screening will occur 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 and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

Background: The coronavirus causes flu-like symptoms and double pneumonia. Thousands of people in China have been infected and some travel-related cases in the U.S. have been detected. The World Health Organization called the outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, and a number of countries are moving to impose travel and immigration restrictions to stop the virus’ spread.

BAL Analysis: Those planning travel to China are urged to reconsider their plans amid growing concern about the coronavirus and new travel limitations. Employers and visa applicants in both China and the United States should expect continued processing delays. Employers must be prepared to be flexible with employee schedules and start dates. The response to the coronavirus is evolving rapidly, and BAL will alert clients to additional restrictions as information becomes available.

This alert has been provided by Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP. For additional information, please contact

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