It's not that easy to predict

Many hope the next six to 12 months will herald the beginning of the end for COVID-19. Thanks to increasing vaccination rates, growing immunity and developing medical technologies the pandemic is likely to transition into an endemic disease during 2022. Despite the progress made in fighting the pandemic, travel instability and economic uncertainty are expected to linger for a while longer. The risks of new variants and future waves of infections continue to play havoc with mid-term planning, as governments must balance these risks against the risk of economic recession.

The previous 12 months have seen the world make considerable advances in fighting the virus. In less than a year, over 7bn vaccines have been administered globally. Additionally, leading nations have set goals to vaccinate 70% of the global population by mid-2022. As cases of COVID-19 declined over the summer, many sectors were able to return to a form of operating that somewhat resembled prior to the pandemic. Business proved that it had adapted and the global economy experienced a return to growth.

However, with the winter now upon the northern hemisphere seasonal ill-health combined with the virus has seen a new wave in infections emerge, specifically on the European continent. The nature of global business means economic repercussions from Europe’s new wave will be felt globally. Travel and domestic restrictions are likely to remain in flux as governments react to the changing health environment. This will once again apply pressure to business operations and threaten to undo much of the growth hard-won over the last year.

Businesses are able to use the lessons learnt over the last two years to navigate this further instability. In the background, companies will be updating their contingency plans, focusing on sustaining their businesses in best and worst case scenarios, for example if travel remains difficult for 6, 12, 18 months, or beyond. Additionally, companies will clearly anticipate and plan for the eventual resumption of normal operations, considering how the business environment is likely to have changed. This will include the different administrative, logistical and medical support that their travellers may need.

Finally, it goes without saying that companies and travellers should research specific requirements extant in each country. There will be differences between the guidelines of all nations, and travelling staff must be given the support they need to ensure that they are following the correct procedures of the host country as well as their own national governments.