COVID-19 outbreak - global overview
The COVID-19 outbreak has been taking over the headlines worldwide since February 2020, and it is having widespread effects on daily life everywhere. Generalized lockdown and international travel bans in many countries are having a massive short- and long-term impact on the international moving and relocation industry - read the FIDI Focus report on reactions of FIDI Affiliates around the world.
While it is difficult to keep track of international developments as they happen, we strongly encourage all our FIDI Affiliates and partners to keep up-to-date by checking with your local authorities on applicable rules and regulations in your respective countries, and by consulting recognized information and media channels.
- Microsoft Bing publishes a clear and regularly updated interactive map on the development of the COVID-19 situation by country, with a link to the latest news reports.
- The transport and logistics website trans.info gives a good overview of transport restrictions within Europe
- For an up-to-date overview of air travel bans by country, refer to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) website.
- For an updated overview of port restrictions by country, visit the Wilhelmsen website with a very clear interactive map of the main world ports affected.
- FEDEMAC, the European federation of moving companies, has published a very useful page with advice and updated information for European movers.
- The International Association of Movers (IAM) has put up a regularly updated page on the COVID-19 impact on the international moving industry, with a strong focus on military moves and the decisions of the US DoD.
- On our fellow FIDI affiliated company, Keller Swiss Group's website you can find a very clear and updated map on the restrictions on international moving in the world.
The COVID-19 outbreak - current situation & advice for international moving and relocation companies
As of mid-March, most regions of the world have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and national authorities have put measures in place to try to limit the spread of the disease. International travel has been banned in many countries. The European Commission has declared that all travel to and from the EU Schengen zone will be banned for 30 days as of 16 March and that all travel within the EU Schengen zone should be kept to a strict minimum. The USA has declared that all travel to Europe will be banned until further notice. Travel within Asia is also highly restricted.
While transportation of cargo and household goods are generally still allowed, shipments increasingly suffer from delays in port due to stricter customs measures and slower clearance processes, leading to demurrage and storage charges. As a consequence of international travel bans, many scheduled international moves have been delayed or canceled.
Faced with this global crisis, international moving and relocation companies have had to adapt and implement certain measures, in line with local rules and regulations. FIDI Global Alliance does not impose specific regulations or processes on its affiliated companies, but does advise to use common sense and follow some simple precautionary measures:
> where possible, allow your office staff to work from home; allocate crews to specific locations and avoid mixing teams as far as possible
> implement stricter hygiene measures: instruct your staff (especially operational crews) to wash their hands regularly and to avoid close contact with clients and external service providers; if possible, provide operational crews with disposable gloves when packing or unpacking goods at the client's resident; implement regular cleaning of all your facilities and vehicles
> inform your clients of the special measures put into place regarding safety and health measures
> FIDI recommends all Affiliates to carefully verify whether it makes sense to load and ship containers for the time-being, particularly considering the rapid changes in various countries worldwide. Any charges caused by the global shutdown and related to delays in ports (such as demurrage, quay rent, bonded storage, etc.) are for the full account of the origin agent (shipper), who of course is at liberty to seek reimbursement from its clients or booker. As always, clear and timely communication is key to avoid misunderstandings and/or disagreements.
From a business perspective, TriGlobal has shared some valuable advice on how to bridge these difficult times:
> Accept that business will be severely impacted for at least two, but probably three or more months. Cut as many immediate costs as you can, now!
> Protect your staff and customer’s health by increasing safety precautions
> Look for alternative and creative ways to still use your trucks, warehouses and crew to bridge the gap. According to TriGlobal's data, local markets have a delayed effect in their decline; there is also a chance they could open earlier than international ones. Office moves and baggage are still operating (for now).
> Pause your online advertising (for now). People are likely to panic which will increase moving-related searches, but it will not be the right searches that your business needs to earn revenue
> Maintain a tight relationship with the industry, associations, other movers and suppliers - we are all in this together. Use video calls to speak with partners/suppliers. Especially in cases of lockdown, it’s nice to see faces and keep the relationships going. Some options are Zoom, Skype or WhatsApp