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Updated Guidance for International Travel by UNC Students, Trainees and Faculty

August 24, 2021

COVID-19 variants of concern continue to place some health care systems under strain and claim lives (more lives lost globally in the first half of 2021 than in all of 2020). As deans and others weigh the required certification that the benefits to UNC of proposed international travel exceed the risks, the elevated risks of international travel must be front and center in making judgments.

In practical terms, this means that travel to destinations of concern should, in many cases, be delayed or deferred. The benefits to UNC and beyond of travel for such purposes as conducting essential humanitarian activities, engaging in training essential to UNC’s mission, COVID-19 vaccine or treatment trials, or other life-saving activities may receive special consideration.

Why should travel be restricted?

  • COVID-19 variants are spreading rapidly and, while we know that travelers who are fully vaccinated reduce their risk of suffering severe disease, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19, we still do not know the durability of the current vaccines and cannot, with confidence, rely on vaccines to ensure protection against infection from COVID-19 variants.
  • Travelers who become ill with COVID-19 or another illness may not be able to access health care, at least not the level of care available in Chapel Hill.
  • The evolution of COVID-19 does not allow us to predict the quarantine trajectory. A place that currently allows travel may suddenly impose new travel restrictions, possibly leaving personnel stranded.

In summary, as decision-makers weigh the risks of travel against the benefits to UNC’s educational and research mission, the elevated risks of travel must be given all due consideration.  Current conditions still call for a highly restrictive UNC international travel policy.

This will be re-evaluated monthly as the situation evolves.