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Corona series part 2: Can I still go on business trips?

In Part 2, we will explain the current travel regulations and the conditions under which business trips are still possible. At the end of the article you will find a coronavirus checklist for business trips.

The freedom of movement of people is currently severely restricted by the coronavirus. A particularly hard blow for the travel industry: airlines, travel agencies and hotels are shutting down their operations or temporarily stopping them.

That in turn has an impact on the economy. In most cases, planned business trips have to be postponed or canceled without replacement. In fact, a number of companies have already banned all business trips, as has been proven by media reports and Twitter posts by employees. But what if a business trip is absolutely necessary? Are employees still allowed to go on a business trip in such urgent cases?

The most important questions about the coronavirus and business travel

  • Are business trips still allowed at all due to the coronavirus?

Yes, business trips are still allowed. So far, the federal government has not issued a specific ban in this regard. However, other restrictions imposed mean that business trips are hardly feasible. Many hotels close or restrict their operations. Air, bus and train connections will be reduced to a minimum or canceled. Even if business trips are still officially allowed, most companies have de facto sent their employees to work from home. Instead of business trips to business partners or customers, many appointments now take place via video or telephone conference.

  • What should you watch out for when you are on a business trip?

Anyone who goes on a business trip in the Corona crisis has to pay attention to a few things. For example, whether the destination is in a cordoned off area or in a danger zone. In this case, travel is impossible. Anyone traveling abroad must find out whether it is possible to enter the country of destination. Several countries have closed their borders due to the Corona crisis. If you have to deal with people who have symptoms associated with the coronavirus, it is important to keep your distance. If you suspect that you have dealt with a corona infected person, it is imperative that you notify your doctor or the responsible health department.

  • Can the employer still send his employees on business trips?

Theoretically and legally: yes. However, as part of his duty of care, he must weigh up how reasonable business trips are for employees in the current situation.

  • Can the employee refuse a business trip?

Despite the corona crisis, the duty to work still applies. In the case of business trips, this means that employees may not refuse business trips that have been ordered by the employer. An employee may not refuse a business trip simply out of “fear of Corona”. In extreme cases, this can even lead to termination. The situation is different, however, if there is an official travel warning from the Federal Foreign Office for the destination. An employee does not have to go on a business trip to such areas.

  • Where else can you travel on business?

Before starting a trip, whether for private or business purposes, you should obtain important information in advance. For example, whether the Federal Foreign Office has issued a travel warning for the corresponding area. There is currently a worldwide travel warning for “unnecessary, tourist trips abroad”. However, this is not to be equated with a travel ban. Travel within Germany is still possible, apart from travel to restricted zones or danger areas. International business trips are also feasible if the destination country has not closed its borders or allows travelers from Germany to enter. In practice, however, this is hardly feasible, as many airlines have reduced their operations to a minimum or have ceased operations altogether.

  • Are business trips still possible / allowed if a curfew should be imposed in Germany?

Hardly likely. In theory, such a scenario would depend on which exceptions apply to the curfew. But the exceptions would probably only concern the most necessary matters: going to the supermarket and the pharmacy, walking the dog, helping other people. However, if commuting to work is also included in the exceptions, business trips may still be allowed. However, this is considered unlikely.

  • Do employers face a penalty if they send their employees on business trips despite the corona crisis?

At the moment, the state and federal states do not sanction such cases. However, this can change if there are further restrictions on public life.

Coronavirus checklist for business trips

  • Observe travel warnings from the Federal Foreign Office
  • Inform about destination: is it a danger zone?
  • Obtain information on whether the flight, bus or train connection has been canceled
  • Consultation with the hotel whether an overnight stay is possible
  • Carry disinfectants with you and use them regularly
  • Have a face mask with you to protect yourself or your fellow human beings
  • Maintain a minimum distance from business partners, customers and other people
  • Do not touch your face with unwashed hands
  • Avoid busy places and events
  • According to the recommendation of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), anyone who comes back from a risk area must be in quarantine at home for 14 days

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