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Survey: Domestic travel bans on rise as managers respond to coronavirus

A majority of real estate investment managers in the U.S. have banned international travel amid increasing concerns over coronavirus, while a growing number of firms are implementing essential-travel only rules domestically.

As the number of reported cases of Covid-19 rises, NAREIM members have shared advice about travel policies, employee communications and restricting access to offices.

Key highlights from the NAREIM member survey, conducted March 3, included:

International travel: The majority of respondents have banned international travel to CDC Level 3 and Level 2 countries (China, South Korea, Iran, Italy and Japan) and restricted overseas travel to other countries, with a 14-day self-quarantine required for employees and contractors arriving from or traveling through at-risk countries.

Domestic travel: An emerging number of managers have or are considering implementing travel restrictions within the U.S., with some managers this week announcing a policy of essential travel only. Exceptions require approval from senior management. 

Many firms are requesting employees to suspend or reduce travel unless absolutely necessary and are encouraging employees to use conference and video conference calls if they are uncomfortable with traveling. A majority of firms are continuing to monitor the spread of coronavirus in the U.S. and domestic travel policies – but as one respondent forewarned: “It is coming.”

Conferences/offsites: MIPIM this week postponed its annual meeting until June, but some firms had already opted to cancel travel to Cannes. Global and domestic team offsites planned for April and May have also been cancelled.

Communication: Keep it simple and ensure regular communication comes from the CEO. “The key is for senior leadership to talk the talk AND walk the walk,” said one respondent. Ensure personal outreach to employees in affected areas and ensure communication through team meetings, not just in emails.

Office closures: Offices in Asia and impacted areas of Europe have employed work-from-home policies, with one firm splitting an Asia office workforce between home working and the office, to reduce commuting risk and increase the space between people in an office setting. 

Some firms are allowing more flexible schedules to allow for commuting at off-peak times. Self-quarantine restrictions are imposed for employees and visitors travelling from or through high-risk areas, with declarations of recent travel required for higher-risk areas.

NAREIM will update the survey results each day. To contribute your advice on coronavirus, take part in our survey now. All results are anonymous.

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