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COVID-19 Travel FAQs

FAQs will be continuously updated as we receive new information or as additional questions are raised.

 

What are the travel restrictions and through what dates?

As communicated to the University in the July 2, 2020 OHIO News article , the in-state travel ban has been lifted. However, all other travel is still suspended until further notice. If you need to obtain a travel exception, the following process must be followed:

  • Administrative unit travel requests, outside the state of Ohio, must be approved by the Vice President of the planning unit.
  • Academic unit travel exception requests should be addressed to the Provost Office for review.
  • Travel exceptions for research or creative activity must be approved, prior to being arranged, by Joe Shields. For additional information on this process please see the May 25, 2020 message to the University community.

All travel arrangements must be made through the University travel provider, Christopherson Business Travel (CBT), in accordance with University policy 41.121 - Reimbursement for Official University Travel and Entertainment.

I have travel that is critical to the mission of Ohio University. How do I get that approved?

As communicated to the University in the July 2, 2020 OHIO News article , the in-state travel ban has been lifted. However, all other travel is still suspended until further notice. If you need to obtain a travel exception, the following process must be followed:

  • Administrative unit travel requests, outside the state of Ohio, must be approved by the Vice President of the planning unit.
  • Academic unit travel exception requests should be addressed to the Provost Office for review.
  • Travel exceptions for research or creative activity must be approved, prior to being arranged, by Joe Shields. For additional information on this process please see the May 25, 2020 message to the University community.

All travel arrangements must be made through the University travel provider, Christopherson Business Travel (CBT), in accordance with University policy 41.121 - Reimbursement for Official University Travel and Entertainment.

Since COVID-19 I have been working from home. My normal work location is (pre-COVID) was on a University campus. If I have to travel for University business, I am now leaving from home because I am working remotely. How do I calculate mileage reimbursement?

Employees are responsible for getting to and from work each workday. Employees will not be reimbursed for mileage associated with their normal commutes (from home/remote location to the office for instance), regardless of the location of their home in relation to their official duty station/primary work location at the University.

Moreover, when an employee travels from their home to an off‐site business destination (including an airport or a rail station or other University partner location), only the difference between the mileage to the off‐site destination and the mileage of the employee’s normal commute is eligible for reimbursement. In other words, employees must deduct the mileage of their normal commute when they claim mileage for travel from their homes to business destinations.

I am a student at Ohio University, how do the travel restrictions apply to me?

Student travel that is University-sponsored is suspended until further notice.

If you are an Ohio University student currently enrolled in one of our study away programs, please contact the Office of Global Opportunities with any questions or concerns.

Is it okay for me to personally travel?

For personal travel, we strongly advise all students, faculty and staff to follow travel alerts from the CDC.

All individuals who are returning from locations with increased risk of exposure are asked to check in with and follow any recommendations of their local department of public health  before returning to campus.

Is it okay to have outside groups travel to Ohio University for meetings, presentations, or collaborations?

It is recommended that rather than attend meetings in person that you utilize online meeting tools, both within the University and ones that are available through your outside contacts.

I have existing University related travel plans that occur at some point in the future. Should I cancel those travel plans?

Yes, any travel that you have scheduled for future dates is suspended effective immediately and until further notice. To help departments plan, the University travel partner, Christopherson Business Travel (CBT), will be reaching out to assist in cancelling near term travel. We will continue to monitor the travel restrictions and reach out for previously scheduled travel as needed. Departments cannot arrange any new future travel until the travel restriction for Ohio University has been lifted.

If you are a faculty/staff member and have arranged your travel through Christopherson Business Travel (CBT), please contact Finance Customer Care at financecustomercare@ohio.edu and a travel representative will be in touch with you as soon as possible to work with you to cancel your travel plans.

Is it OK to travel/drive within the State of Ohio to attend meetings?

As communicated to the University in the July 2, 2020 OHIO News article , the in-state travel ban has been lifted. If it is essential to essential to attend a meeting, you can do so within the State of Ohio.

What if I need to arrange new travel for business?

The President has indicated that non-essential travel should not be occurring until further notice. If you have a travel exception it must be pre-approved before any arrangements can be made using the following process:

  • Administrative unit travel requests, outside the state of Ohio, must be approved by the Vice President of the planning unit.
  • Academic unit travel exception requests should be addressed to the Provost Office for review.
  • Travel exceptions for research or creative activity must be approved, prior to being arranged, by Joe Shields. For additional information on this process please see the May 25, 2020 message to the University community.

All travel arrangements must be made through the University travel provider, Christopherson Business Travel (CBT), in accordance with University policy 41.121 - Reimbursement for Official University Travel and Entertainment.

I still would like to travel, how can I do that?

The President has indicated that non-essential travel should not be occurring until further notice.

If you have essential travel within the State of Ohio you can attend those events as the travel restrictions within Ohio have been lifted. If you have a travel exception it must be pre-approved before any arrangements can be made using the following process:

  • Administrative unit travel requests, outside the state of Ohio, must be approved by the Vice President of the planning unit.
  • Academic unit travel exception requests should be addressed to the Provost Office for review.
  • Travel exceptions for research or creative activity must be approved, prior to being arranged, by Joe Shields. For additional information on this process please see the May 25, 2020 message to the University community.

All travel arrangements must be made through the University travel provider, Christopherson Business Travel (CBT), in accordance with University policy 41.121 - Reimbursement for Official University Travel and Entertainment.

How is essential business travel defined?

Essential business travel is defined as travel that is absolutely necessary to fulfill the mission of the University; can only be completed by the traveler’s physical presence and does not create an unacceptable health hazard. Conference attendance and presentations are not generally considered essential travel. If you feel you have extenuating circumstances, please see the answer to the question “I have travel that is critical or essential to the mission of Ohio University. How do I get that approved?”

I charged my travel costs to a grant and I can no longer attend as a result of the travel restrictions. Do I need to move the charges off of the grant to another account?

If the charges were posted against a grant account, the charges MUST be moved off of the grant to an operating account of some kind if there is not specific guidance from an agency. Grants can only incur the costs if the event/trip actually occurs. See Institutional and Agency Responses to COVID-19 and Additional Resources for agency specific guidance. 

If you have questions please contact ORSP@ohio.edu and finance.grants@ohio.edu so the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs (ORSP) and Grants Accounting can work together to answer your questions.

Will the University cover the costs incurred by my department or grant for cancelled travel?

There is no central funding available to offset the costs of University-sponsored travel, planning units must absorb any costs or cancellation fees.

If the charges were posted against a grant account, the charges MUST be moved off of the grant to an operating account of some kind if there is not specific guidance from an agency. Grants can only incur the costs if the event/trip actually occurs. See Institutional and Agency Responses to COVID-19 and Additional Resources for agency specific guidance. 

If you have questions please contact ORSP@ohio.edu and finance.grants@ohio.edu so the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs (ORSP) and Grants Accounting can work together to answer your questions.

What if I already received a "per diem" or cash advance for a trip that is now cancelled?

You must reimburse the “per diem” or the cash advance to the University Bursar immediately. If you are not on campus to return the per diem, you need to reach out to your program contact and make arrangements to return those dollars. You can also reach out to financecustomercare@ohio.edu and Finance will work with you to make the necessary arrangements to return the funds at a future or through an alternative means.

What if I registered for a conference?

All non-essential travel has been suspended, including professional development related travel in accordance with the President’s directive. You should proceed with cancellation of the registration and request a refund.

Can I make future travel plans?

The President has indicated that non-essential travel should not be occurring until further notice.

If you have essential travel within the State of Ohio you can attend those events as the travel restrictions within Ohio have been lifted. If you have a travel exception it must be pre-approved before any arrangements can be made using the following process:

  • Administrative unit travel requests, outside the state of Ohio, must be approved by the Vice President of the planning unit.
  • Academic unit travel exception requests should be addressed to the Provost Office for review.
  • Travel exceptions for research or creative activity must be approved, prior to being arranged, by Joe Shields. For additional information on this process please see the May 25, 2020 message to the University community.

All travel arrangements must be made through the University travel provider, Christopherson Business Travel (CBT), in accordance with University policy 41.121 - Reimbursement for Official University Travel and Entertainment.

Are travel providers willing to refund costs from cancelled travel plans?

There are no guarantees that you will be fully refunded for anything. Generally, hotels and rental car arrangements have been cancelled without penalty.  For airline tickets, most airlines will at least allow you to use the ticket for a future trip. However, airlines are continuing to modify how they are handling airfare cancellations.  If you have booked non-refundable airfare you have agreed to the terms and conditions of that airline ticket at the time of booking and should not expect a refund.

Event cancellations are generally assessed a cancellation fee and to date, our experience has been that they are not waiving cancellation fees (which they are often entitled to under the contract).

Are employees going to be held personally responsible for costs associated with cancelled University-sponsored travel?

If the employee booked University-sponsored travel that is no longer allowable, they will not be held personally liable for those costs. However, the costs of cancelled travel will have to be absorbed by the planning unit. If travel was booked through the University travel provider, CBT, the employee should reach out immediately to financecustomercare@ohio.edu to start the cancellation process.

If an employee booked University-related travel on their personal credit card, without an approved exception before doing so, will they be held personally liable for those travel costs and related cancellation fees?

Yes, but the University will cover non-refundable fees related to University travel provided the reservation was made through proper approvals/processes. Each instance must be reviewed individually based on the facts and circumstances involved to determine if the costs are eligible for reimbursement.

I have scheduled upcoming business travel that included some personal travel time. Due to the University travel restrictions, can those expenses be reimbursed?

Only business travel expenses can be reimbursed in accordance with policy 41.121 Reimbursement for Official Travel and Entertainment. Personal expenses are not reimbursable.  

What documentation do I need to provide to support the expenses associated with cancelled business travel?

The itinerary cancellation notice from CBT needs to be attached to the transaction to support the cancellation of the trip. Please be advised that given the cancellation volume being experienced by CBT it may take up to 4 business days to receive the cancellation document. Please be patient as our travel provider works to address the most critical needs at this time but rest assured, CBT will get you the necessary documentation as soon as possible. If you have questions about documentation please contact financecustomercare@ohio.edu and someone will address your question/issue as quickly as possible. 

If a 3rd party is paying for the travel expenses, can I still travel?

Essential travel within the State of Ohio is currently allowable. Any travel outside the State of Ohio must be pre-approved. If you feel you have extenuating or special circumstances, please see the answer to question “I have travel that is critical or essential to the mission of Ohio University. How do I get that approved?” Also please see the definition of essential travel in question “How is essential business travel defined?”

Is it okay to drive versus flying to my travel destination? What is actually restricted domestically?

The President has indicated that non-essential travel should not be occurring until further notice.

If you have essential travel within the State of Ohio you can attend those events as the travel restrictions within Ohio have been lifted. If you have a travel exception it must be pre-approved before any arrangements can be made using the following process:

  • Administrative unit travel requests, outside the state of Ohio, must be approved by the Vice President of the planning unit.
  • Academic unit travel exception requests should be addressed to the Provost Office for review.
  • Travel exceptions for research or creative activity must be approved, prior to being arranged, by Joe Shields. For additional information on this process please see the May 25, 2020 message to the University community.

All travel arrangements must be made through the University travel provider, Christopherson Business Travel (CBT), in accordance with University policy 41.121 - Reimbursement for Official University Travel and Entertainment.

I was planning to travel to a conference to present my research work supported by my grant, but the conference was cancelled due to precautions regarding COVID-19. May I still charge the travel-related costs to the grant?

To date, each federal agency is reviewing their policies relating to charges to awards for non-refundable travel, conferences, and related expenses that were canceled due to the coronavirus. To assist with the communication of these policies the Council on Governmental Relations (COGR) has initiated the following website which lists all federal agency and institutional responses to COVID-19:  

Institutional and Agency Responses to COVID-19 and Additional Resources

Please continue to follow the University Travel Policy and general cost principles described in Uniform Guidance §200.474 Travel costs unless there is specific guidance from an agency.

If you have questions please contact ORSP@ohio.edu and finance.grants@ohio.edu so the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs (ORSP) and Grants Accounting can work together to answer your questions.

I was planning to visit a lab or off-site facility to conduct work/ I was planning to meet with a collaborator/ I was planning to attend a conference, but cannot because of travel restrictions relating to COVID-19. What should I do?

Watch the University travel announcements closely at the following site:

https://www.ohio.edu/alert

Exceptions will be made on a case-by-case basis for mission critical travel only, and we are developing an approval process that will be shared in the coming days.

If a student has used their own funds to purchase airfare for travel related to a University-sponsored program but the travel is now cancelled as a result of COVID-19, can a department choose to reimburse that student for airfare?

There have been no decisions to hold students harmless with regards to airfare.  As of right now, most airlines are offering some sort of change fee waivers and from what we’ve seen financial losses/burdens have been minimal. The student should work very quickly to reach out to the airline to get their ticketing addressed. Since most of our students book airfare on their own for the majority of study away experiences, conference attendance, etc. (OHIO and non-OHIO) we have not communicated to students these fees would be covered by University resources. It will also be hard to use University sources to cover these costs because the student will maintain the rights to the airline tickets (they can’t transfer the value to Ohio University) which means they can still use the tickets for their own travel needs. 

If the airfare change is outside of a student budget or is cost-prohibitive, they should reach out to OGO for advice and guidance.

How should I process airline ticket cancellations?

For all Christopherson Business Travel (CBT) airline cancellation requests please reach out to a CBT travel agent at 866-266-8806.  For all other inquiries please submit a ticket to Finance Customer Care at financecustomercare@ohio.edu or 740-597-6446.