Global Security Bulletin July 2020
Author: Peter Cooper, Global Security Director.
Peter has held lead roles at two of the world’s top Travel Risk Management services firms, delivering security solutions and evacuation plans in countries such as the Ukraine and Nigeria. He also served in the British Army in a variety of roles as an Officer in the Royal Military Police. Peter is responsible for ensuring robust monitoring and crisis response procedures to support Collinson’s businesses travel services with proactive security advice.
This month's security bulletin focuses on:
- Returning to travel
Returning to Travel
Whilst the COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc across the world and we see spikes in cases in a number of locations that had reduced transmission, travel is slowly starting to increase. There is still a long way to go before volumes start to look anything like they did pre COVID however. Hotels are starting to reopen; airport lounges are operational; and there are several products and services that have been worked up to support the hospitality sector as they reopen their doors and welcome back guests. We have been involved with GSA to provide independent accreditation, ensuring that locations can show “best in class” levels of assurance.
As this very gradual resumption of travel occurs there are a few things that I think are important to remain aware of. It is easy to become overly focused on one issue, to the detriment of others. It is only natural for us to be worried about COVID and to want to ensure that we or our colleagues are as safe as possible from this risk. We cannot however forget that other risks still exist – the routine medical and health issues are still present (food poisoning and other gastro-related issues) as well as security risks such as petty crime or alcohol fuelled violence. Additionally, there may actually be more demonstrations as people vent their feelings about lockdown, being forced to wear masks or the economic impact of an authority’s response.
Staying aware of, and paying attention to all risks and not being overly focused on one is something that we can all take away but we also shouldn’t just assume that the risks that were around before COVID are exactly the same as they were before – this goes for everywhere that people may be travelling too. As mentioned above there may be an increase in protests due to restrictions or perceived failure in response but what are the knock-on implications of the coronavirus? More people are going to be to off work which may well lead to an increase in crime. Hotels have always been an easier target for thieves so will we see an increase in criminal activity around them? How can we ensure that we and our travellers are prepared for this and are confident in how to deal with it?
Whilst parts of the world have been opening up over the last few months, it is important to recognise that this is not universal and indeed restrictions can be re-applied with little notice (the UK’s decision that people travelling from Spain would have to quarantine being a case in point). It is important that in this fluid environment organisations remain flexible and alive to change. I would recommend to run over likely scenarios, how they could affect your business and operations and what responses you could have ready to go. This would work in conjunction with an escalation/de-escalation decision matrix allowing you to flex controls on and off as things change and to ensure that you can remain responsive to the different measures in place in varying jurisdictions around the globe.
The Caribbean region has entered the hurricane season, adding additional complications to an already fragile situation. Texas recently faced the first of the season, Hurricane Hannah with reports of 15 inches of rain falling in a few hours and causing serious flash flooding along with power loss for thousands. Florida is braced for Isaias to hit just as it had recorded its highest daily death toll from COVID.
Generally, hurricanes are well reported and there is some element of warning which allows people to prepare (or if travelling, potentially leave or avoid the area altogether). The current COVID situation could limit quick flight options though, so if you do have people planning to travel into the area do think about contingency plans and supporting communications so that you and they are able to respond effectively if caught out.
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