Lack Of Domestic Travel Restrictions May Be Our Greatest Risk Going Forward

With protests mounting to re-open the economy – my own home town in Austin had protests yesterday organized by InfoWars – it’s worth remembering that Tyler Cowen’s point that “America is a democracy, and the median voter will not die of coronavirus.” We’re gong to re-open the economy soon, whether it’s too early or not. This isn’t just a choice politicians will make, it’s something voters will demand.

Here in Texas ‘non-essential’ retail businesses will be permitted to re-open on Friday the 24th, on a curbside basis – no customers in stores, order by phone or online and have goods delivered to your car. Our virus peak isn’t expected for another couple of weeks.

The Trump administration’s plan for re-opening is remarkably similar to the Scott Gottlieb et al proposal from late March. It’s far more nuanced than is broadly reported. Still, there are risks, especially of a second wave of the virus once it’s under control in part of the country. Singapore’s second wave comes from people entering their city-state.

Last month we saw Texas impose quarantine requirements on passengers arriving by air from several states and cities (not just New York!), and place troops on its land border with Louisiana to enforce quarantine of people arriving into the state by car from the neighboring hot spot. New Hampshire police were hunting down New Yorkers who might have entered and not quarantined. Florida sought to quarantine people arriving from the New York area but the virus had already been seeded.

Yet domestic travel restrictions have been remarkably modest. This means that people may leave one hot spot and bring the virus into an area that’s recovering. It means that people might leave an area that’s recovering, pick up the virus and bring it home.

Several Australian states are enforcing borders and banning domestic travel from other states. There are exemptions, and if you qualify for instance in Queensland you can apply for an entry pass. Australia has done a remarkable job containing the virus despite a late start. If spread is influenced by temperature though they may have challenges ahead.

Here’s what domestic travel in Italy is currently like,

[M]oving from one area to another is allowed only in emergency situations. Anyone leaving the house must fill out a form explaining their reason for doing so and declaring that they have not tested positive for Covid-19.

Anyone travelling from one region to another must declare that they understand the lockdown rules, which can vary greatly, in both the region they are travelling from, and the region they’re travelling to. Drivers can expect to encounter police roadblocks in and around towns and cities.

Travel restrictions have a very limited benefit for the place imposing them when the virus is already spreading somewhere. U.S. restrictions on travel from China, and from Europe, came after they were too late to matter. Yet they haven’t come domestically. That may be one of the bigger risks we face as different areas of the country struggle to overcome the spread of the novel coronavirus on different timelines. And of course airlines are required to continue to flying to nearly everywhere they served before the outbreak as a condition of receiving federal CARES Act subsidies.

Canada is requiring masks for travel. That measure hasn’t even been imposed at this point inside the U.S. I imagine there’s more to come that most of us haven’t contemplated yet here in the States.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I cannot imagine. If our medical services are already stretched thin now, how is it going to ever work with an infection rate resulting in severe cases that is higher than what it is at the present?

    I don’t understand the thinking (or non-thinking?) of the current administration. On one hand, President Trump says we are sending 1,000 ventilators to Mexico; then I read that Vladimir Putin is sending the US a thousand ventilators from Russia. What the h**l is going on? Where are the purchasing managers, logistical analysts, and inventory control specialists in all of this?

    Who is running the show? Where is the policy coordinator of all this? And most importantly, where does the buck stop? I can’t figure out anything in all this zaniness.

  2. It all goes back to testing.
    “Second waves” can be managed if testing can capture them and isolate them.

  3. Well, we can die now or die over the next year from no money, no food, no access to medical care, freezing our butts off next winter when no one has money for heating, from suicides, depression, PTSD, heart attacks and strokes from stress, domestic violence, child abuse, crime, and 50 other things. I am not sure that opening up will be worse than staying on lockdown, and no one else is either.

    Get your sainted epidemiologists to model all that.

    Tradeoffs. You pays your money and you takes your chances.


    (actually he’ll just be voted out in 200 days anyways – this will all come back to bite Agent Orange in the ass)

  5. @UA-NYC Trump will definitely get another four years. Start sobbing. How mad will you be?

  6. Most people live month to month. Their monthly salaries pay for housing, food, childcare, etc. They simply don’t have the resources to be out of work months on end while the “experts” figure out how to handle the virus. Lockdowns or not, people will begin to filter back into the economic system, making a personal risk calculation that poverty is worse than the risk of getting a bad case of covid-19. And this will begin to happen on a large scale within 4-6 weeks. Count on it.

  7. It’s nice to see people FINALLY realizing what a deep self inflicted wound we have done to ourselves.

    This virus response will go down in history as one of our blackest marks.
    We are the most scared generation of safety focused people in history. We are sheep, demanding to be kept safe. We are little kids, demanding life to without trouble, always.

    We will rue these days for a long time I fear. I can’t imagine the damage we have done to humanity by stopping the world for what is increasingly clearly – no good reason at all. For shame 🙁

  8. Who cares about coming back to the economy if there is no economy to come back to. If we only have curbside pick up for everything do you know how fkcing long that will take for anything? Forever. And it’s not like if they do only curbside pick up your going to need all employees back in store.

    Restricting travel in one state or region is dumb af. Over here in Washington we’re coming down our curve but if we allow flying and let idiots in from places like Florida and Texas there will be no question of a second wave.

    Look I think staying inside is the smart thing, I get people’s arguments about the economy doing worse but you know what, in all honesty most of these people are trumpers and if they wanna get sick and kill off their own constituents going to protests and the beach then I’m all for it lol

  9. @UA-NYC (aka American Hating Sicko {so called because he is rooting for America to fail}). Go back in your hole, you worm. [Actually, unlike you, worms are innocent, they help the soil, and are very good for the country.

    Also, unlike you, I am a proud American that wants the USA to succeed. Cannot stand your ilk.

  10. We can do what Australia, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Germany and other countries are doing, which is have their governments pay businesses to keep covering high percentages of most workers’ salaries, and otherwise cushion the economic blows to ordinary folks, as certain Republican and Democratic members of Congress are urging. And we can couple that with an ambitious program of testing, monitoring and production of the supplies for tests, to ascertain and limit the spread of the virus.

    Or we can do what this uniquely incompetent president, who for many crucial weeks insisted there was no problem, is doing: abandon any responsibility for any coordinated national program and paint a false picture of public health versus economic health. And we can suffer far more deaths as a consequence.

  11. @OJS , aka the Low Grade Racist – was that you at the Michigan “rally” with a Confederate flag I saw? Maybe a tiki torch? Know what, I think it was!

  12. @Steve, cut the middle man and have the government pay the workers directly – more efficient and saves a bundle!

    @OJS, you conflating “wants the USA to succeed” with gush for the Orangeman which frankly is an oxymoron & couldn’t be furthest from the truth especially with his daily spiteful and disastrous infomercials!

  13. UA-NYC is now attacking tiki torches. These torches add a tropical flair to my yard while repelling mosquitoes. What a hater.

  14. Do you know how many people were dying per day on average in US before COVID-19? According to that number in 2017 was 7,708/day on average with seasonal variations from 7,157/day in summer months to 8,478/day in January. Right now US is running about 2,000/day attributed to COVID-19 but I do not have the total death/day number for April 2020.

  15. @Zilfo and @Steve. Both of you are apparently part of the UA-NYC’s anti-American Sicko gang. You want American to collapse economically, just to get rid of Trump.

    @Zilfo: Also, you said “cut the middle man and have the government pay the workers directly – more efficient and saves a bundle!”. Of course, that is the Government owning the means of production. Full on Socialism. Government is never more efficient than the free markets. That is why communist countries (with no free markets) collapsed everywhere.

    @Steve: You seem to believe that Government can print money (I guess they do not even print it now-a-days) without consequence. Historically, it has never worked.

  16. @Wes – they were and are quite a nice yard ornament (and a great mosquito deterrent!). Unfortunately they have been co-opted by OJS and his ilk, because they do not like a diverse America.

    Fortunately they will scurry back underground in 198 days, deprived of their Dear Leader.

  17. The American Hating Sicko (aka UA-NYC) thinks that the coronavirus tragedy will help him get rid of Trump. So he is basically gloating, despite that fact that the shutdown is awful to diverse Americans. One of the higher human traits is empathy (in this case for those out of work); Unfortunately, the American Hating Sicko lacks it.

  18. Also probably worth remembering Tyler Cowen questioning epidemioligists and demanding to know what their average GRE score was.

  19. @OJS, you were probably too young, were sucking on your thumbs, and don’t remember the 2008 Great Recession when the government shore up Wall Street, the banks, and the billionaires-donor class with trillions $$$ to save their mismanagement. At the same, 5.1 MILLION AMERICAN families lost their homes during the same period. And other than $900/person tax credit received for 2009 tax year, nothing else was done for these families. Banks used the same taxpayer money to buy these properties at better than 50% discount. This is not to mention lost pensions and other financial difficulties faced by every ordinary AMERICAN which set many financially back 10 years or more … and all for the sins of the Capitalists! So what we have here is a socialism for Wall Street, the banks, and the billionaires-donor class and on-your-own capitalist system for the rest of us!

    Your dear leader, cult personality moron-in-chief, knew about the pandemic early enough to show leadership in addressing the crisis. But instead, this failed “businessman” chose to seize the bully pulpit for his own political and personal interests. From day one, he should have appointed a pandemic czar (preferably a good manager military general) and conducted a nonpartisan national rescue plan just like Dubya did after he fired the horse-trainer after Katrina (Lt. General Rus Honore). We don’t need tRump spitefulness, nepotism, and favoritism during our hour of national emergency & neither do we need your brainwashed ignorant diatribe – enough is enough!

  20. Wow OJS is really off the rails now, his “you hate America / MAGA!” diatribe is stuck on repeat now. And that’s all he stands for – there is no substance there.

    No, you stupid twat OJS – Trump has already caused his downfall (and was already going to lose before his absolute lack of any leadership and accountability through CV19 shone through for even the most die hard Trumpers) – now he is a walking 1-termer.

    You can only ride the Obama Economy for so long, only have so many incompetent (or minimal) professionals in your government, or spew so much hate, or have so much graft.

    Go wallow in your misery with your far right brethren.

  21. If domestic travel were to be restricted, how would that be done legally?

    Does the president have the power to do that without approval from governors? Can the governors do it without approval from the WH? No other legal bodies are involved in the process?

  22. @Zilfo. Sorry. that is not what happened. You are basically pretty much in La La Land.

  23. GARY: ” U.S. restrictions on travel from China, and from Europe, came after they were too late to matter.”

    Only partly correct.

    The fact that the West Coast has not been overrun with COV-19 is testament partly to the fact that the flights to/from China were closed down early. Of course, being car culture, LA benefits from less use of mass transit, as well. SEA and SFO as well as LAX also demonstrate that socially conscious individuals can help to squelch the virus by various social distancing strategies — kudos to those residents, even though I disagree with many of them politically.

    The fact NYC got massacred is due to the fact that we were late to close off air travel from Europe — where many people fly to/from and others transit through to get to the former. Add to that the population density of the area as well as the reliance on mass transit and you have the recipe for the virus being propagated throughout the population before social distancing could take effect. In addition, as it has been demonstrated that the genetic fingerprint of the vast majority of ‘NYC cases shows the virus detouring in Europe shows that those flights should have been closed down sooner, as well.

    Likely that those in government did not know the sheer volume of flights directly from Wuhan to Milan/Northern Italy (thrice weekly?) and you have a recipe for disaster as the last month has demonstrated.

    Hopefully, initial case histories demonstrating that theraputics such as Remdesivir and perhaps the Z-Pac dosing with HydroxyChloriquone will prove as viable treatments while we await a hoped for vaccine.

  24. There’s no objective line of thought in the world that says Trump is worth the office he occupies. We got lucky something like this didn’t happen on day 1. Pro-capitalism point: it’s the grass roots, distributed, centers of capital that are helping just as much as the groups of effective governors. You can be conservative AND condemn Trump. What’s saving us now is everyone working together in spite of his horrible leadership. The guy needs to go. But note to the left: you could have had Romney if you didn’t worry so much about the damn binders comment. Additional note to the right: the “deep state” keeps us alone, you dolts. Sometimes career public servants know what the F they’re doing.

  25. More people have died of COVID-19 in 7 WEEKS than died of the flu last season in 7 MONTHS (so no more comparisons please), And that’s with the all the steps that have been taken. How many would have died if it was business as usual.

    No food. No money. For most of those that get unemployment for the next 4 months (and then the 13 month extension) will be making than they ever have.

    I’m retired (and SAVED. for it) I’m all set not to stick my head out at all for two months if need be, I have a few N95 masks for when I do choose to venture out (had them in my workshop). I”ll just stick to my nice wooded 10 acre plot in WV. If I’m wrong, and everything goes great despite some crazy people, I will be glad.

    All this may have an effect kind of like the depression. When things bounce people will start to save,
    live within their means, and not need all the government assistance when something happens. Businesses should do the same. Leave some money in the business for rainy days, rather than pulling all the profits out (or buying back stock).

    Stay safe!

    Just food (no pun intended) for thought.

  26. It’s highly possible that not only is this scamdemic one of the greatest frauds ever perpetrated, but it may turn out to be the most prolific creator of false information. The numbers being tossed out by the medical community, government and the LMS (Lying media scum) are bogus and basically worthless.

  27. James – I was going to reply, to your assertions but then I was reminded of a quotation…

    “Never argue with an idiot. They will only bring you down to their level and beat you with experience.”
    Mark Twain

  28. @Carl WV. A wise man once said ‘Just thinking of the saying “Never get in a sh*t fight with a pig. You just get dirty and the pig has fun”. The funny think is nobody will think they’re the pig.”‘ So, how do Carl WV actually know you are not the pig.

    Although James N states it colorfully, there are some really well known scientists in the field with loads of experience and top degrees that have questions the accuracy and methodology of the models. Those questioning scientists are being demonized in the media. In a rationale world, models need to be questioned, tested, and revised. The fact that the model being used by the Federal government originally were projecting 2.5 million deaths in the USA and are now down to around 60 thousand deaths, should give everyone pause. Or the fact that Cuomo was demanding, due to the models, 30,000 ventilators, when it turns out he only needed around 5 thousand should at least cause some investigation. BTW, in New York City, the new 2,000 bed temporary hospital built in the Javits center by the Federal Government and 1,000 bed military hospital ship parked in New York are basically empty.

    I am not arguing this either way, but maybe we should investigate James N assertions, before dismissing them out of hand and calling him names. If group think cause the models to be wildly inaccurate, maybe we had better fix the models before shutting down the economy and cause over 20,000,000 people to file for unemployment, most small businesses to shut down, self employed people to lose their income, a second time, or a third time…..and so forth. Let’s face it, James N’s implicit question should be asked and analyzed. After all, regular worldwide epidemic panics is not really a plan.

  29. Other Just Saying – You make some good points. I have always agreed on the ventilators (and few making it them),. It’s been lot of wasted effort /money which could have gone towards testing and masks, GM will have bunch more ventilators ready when they’re useless.

    On the other hand James doesn’t really make any arguments or points. It just seems like he’s out to get attention and stir things up. James in your camp doesn’t help you.

  30. @James N: We all get now that you don’t believe the current narrative in the media and it’s totally fine to doubt published numbers and scenarios, but instead of repeating over and over again that you think all is a scam and a hoax, we would really appreciate if you could make a coherent argument for what you think is going on right now. Do you just think the danger is exaggerated or do you believe there’s some dark conspiracy behind all this? Bonus points for quoting believable sources.

  31. @Sven – not worth your time even making the inquiry TBH…there are always going to be Hoaxers and Anti-Vaxxers and their ilk. Fortunately, they are in a distinct minority.

  32. @UA-NYC: Sure, you’re right, but it would still interest me if he’s one of the “It’s less dangerous than the flu”-guys or one that thinks this is all a diabolical plot by Bill Gates and George Soros that lets us all get sick via 5G, so we will be forced to take the vaccine – which in reality will be a poison developed by our reptilian overlords, so all the kids that will become orphans due to the vaccine can be imprisoned below a pizza restaurant in DC to harvest their organs.

  33. @Other Just Saying:
    @James N: The two of you should just go back to your Fox-Holes and leave the discussion to adults. Name-calling and slandering are the weapons of those without valid arguments. Resorting to those tactics will win very few debates. Granted, if you have no facts to offer, it is your only option. You are probably fairly smart people, but have chosen to remain intentionally ignorant by carefully choosing what to believe despite the plethora of evidence to the contrary.

  34. @WileyDog. Another person that does not care that people are out of work. Disgusting.

  35. @Carl WV. I have to say, I appreciate that you did not resort to ad hominem attacks. Maybe it is possible to have a rationale discussion about actual facts. Refreshing.

  36. @Other Just Saying: How do you conclude that I don’t care about people out of work? Of course, I care. We should all get back to work ASAP but until we can test more than a handful of people that would be unwise. Listen, this pandemic is unlike anything we have seen in our lives. That last thing we need are people who dismiss it and remain unbelievers. We can all get back to work faster if we work together and move forward as a team. We don’t need fake patriot protesters, we need masks and social distancing. That is the primary reason that the number of deaths is far below the original estimates.

  37. @WileyDog – very true, fortunately key bipartisan governors (the actual “many fine people on both sides”, not the racists praised by Trump) are thinking smartly & long term, and not giving into the small amount of people riled up by Faux News to “protest”.

    Will be amusing to see the Georgia cases spike, and the clown show governor Kemp have to backtrack.

  38. @WileyDog. Yes, I believe you are too busy building your halo, to strategize how to save the local restaurant, shopkeeper…. down the street. To people like you, these worker bees do not matter against the higher goal of building your halo by saving lives. No empathy.

    In any case, when you have to be defended by UA-NYC (the anti-American Sicko), that is downright embarrassing. Nobody of his ilk cares about the common people of all colors. They care about demonizing conservatives like me, getting rid of Trump at all costs, and using this crisis to implement socialism and the green new deal.

    I am a proud American who cares about the ordinary American who makes American great.

  39. OJS, you stupid dotard – your Dear Leader will have no trouble self-escorting out of the office due to his joke of a presidency. You aren’t even a “conservative” – I have “conservative” friends, and they realize the temporary occupant of the WH isn’t one of them.

    You are a Trump Sycophant, and a slightly racist one at that – no less and no more. Good thing we’ll have a new administration voted in in only 197(!) days, but sadly they will have a mess to clean up.

  40. @Other Just Saying: Actually, you are a prime example of a fake patriot. You are also probably a fake “Christian”. One who has crammed his (or her) version of Christianity to fit his (or her) politics. Or, maybe you are just a sad and lonely troll trying to stir up trouble, In any case, I doubt you know the meaning terms “socialism” and “conservative”. Our Founding Fathers would roll over in their graves if they saw you waving our flag at your ill-conceived rallies. Please open your mind and stop licking the boots of the blustering bulbous billionaire who is Commander in Thief.

  41. Living in NYC, with family and close friends who are doctors and nurses that have shared privately what they’re experiencing on the front lines working at hospitals; or sadly, having lost a close friend, plus acquaintances and other familiar faces in my neighborhood to Covid19; my partner losing a family member overseas to this horrible disease; or hearing from someone we know who actually survived their hospitalization after becoming gravely ill, I’m offended by those who seem to be trivializing just how serious this pandemic is.

    Or worse yet, are taking a “devil may care” attitude and throwing caution to the wind in the (false) belief they, or their loved ones have some sort of magical immunity and possess some sort of special exemption from a debilitating, or even fatal, disease that is like nothing ever seen on our shores in our lifetimes – that of course, yet still lacks both a vaccine or a cure.

    Frankly, my brain, which although hardly at the level of the brightest among us, also isn’t half bad either, and yet cannot possibly understand what exactly is it about this disease that people don’t understand as it being often debilitating, or for many, sadly, even fatal.

    I mean, where’s the common sense?

    Or what exactly about seeing or reading about the pain and suffering of those who become sick, or the longing of their loved ones who survive those who don’t make it isn’t real enough to instill fear about what it could do to oneself or their loved ones should they become infected and progress to full-on illness?

    Try as might, I just cannot understand how some yet still refuse to comprehend that the stakes here are literally a matter of life and death.

    But, hey, that’s just me.

    And even if I was lucky enough to NOT know anyone, let alone several, who succumbed to this insidious disease, I knew before anyone in my life was gone that this was a brutal disease that shouldn’t be trifled with.

    And trust me, mourning three people (partner’s relative; close friend; and an acquaintance) all the span of 10 days; sitting on tenterhooks while another is in ICU unsure if they’ll make it; and wondering about others who haven’t been seen in 2 weeks if they’re alive or not is grueling.

    Meanwhile, being afraid to leave one’s home because they live in a large apartment development in NYC that requires walking through hallways, a lobby or riding an elevator; or braving an occasional trip to CVS or Walgreen’s for necessities that cannot be found online is anything but fun.

    So, yes, apart from being completely unable to understand how anyone can trivialize this disease, you bet I’m angry that others’ ignorance could prolong this horrible situation even an hour longer than need be – let alone allow for it to continue spreading unabated far longer than it otherwise should were basic common sense to be fully understood by EVERYONE as to what works to reduce transmission of this dreadful disease – and what not only does NOT work, but what sadly will imperil the lives not just of the fools who somehow refuse to understand something as simple as if one sticks their fingers on a hot stove they’re going to get burned, but unfortunately, can, and will result in the deaths of even more beloved friends or family members, or possibly myself or my partner.


    Why is it their “Right” to put others in harms way?

    Surely, if one has a death wish there are other ways to fulfill that without subjecting innocent others to such abject selfishness or sadism.

    So, yeah, if you’re “protesting” for the right to die needlessly by failing to understand what exactly constitutes a pandemic, I have NO SYMPATHY for your position – and please, do NOT expect me to ever understand, much less embrace such full-on, bat crap, next level stupidity.

    And like I said, basic common sense made that clear long before losing so many people.

    But, if anyone yet still has any doubts about how serious this pandemic is, they need to get real – because trust, me losing 3 people in 10 days is a form of unbearable sadness I wouldn’t wish on anyone.

    Sorry if this is off airline topic.

    But, I just cannot take this next level insanity from the Faux News crowd.

  42. Ah @otherjustsaying aka, Mr Filth Spewing Nose Up Trumps posterior is back spreading the love. Of course, the cowardly anti American nonce @OJS still doesnt have the courage to admit he wants a dictatorship led by Fuhrer Trump.
    Then again, all these racist trolls arent known for their courage.
    *Cue @OJS running and hiding behind his mommys skirt, all while shouting “See how rude they are to me”

  43. @Howard Miller. I keep on saying you are smarter than this. It is a straw horse to suggest that anyone is making the argument that coronavirus is not serious. Of course it is.

    However, anyone that walks around the deserted streets of New York, with all the restaurants closed, with Broadway closed, with no taxis around, should worry about how the people that worked in these institutions are surviving. I think a number of the restaurants, someone’s dream and life’s work, will never open up again. To me, seeing New York shuttered is way more important than anything I read in the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal. As a New Yorker, you should care about these things.

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