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How COVID-19 is affecting travel


Here is the latest instalment in our blog series on the effects of COVID-19. We sat down with Richard-Baillie-Gray, Contractor Care Manager at WRS, to find out how the WRS Global Mobility Team are supporting our clients. He also sheds further light on how the virus is affecting travel.

Q. How have you seen travel change since this pandemic started?

There has been a massive change in the travel situation since the Covid-19 pandemic started. Due to the pandemic, most countries and regions have enforced stricter travel restrictions in order to reduce the risk of spreading the disease within their borders. For example, the UK has stopped external flights and Singapore has restricted travel into the country along with many other countries. This has meant many clients have had to hire locally, eliminating the need to obtain visas, cross borders or fly during this time. A number of our clients found that flights were suddenly cancelled, or airports shut and internal travel within country is restricted too, especially where lockdown rules are in place like Europe.

Q. What have you seen to be the biggest impacts of COVID-19?

From what I see in my role at WRS, the main impacts are around travel and what it means for our clients. All of this is preventing the movement of workers and significantly affecting client operations. A lot of our clients are truly global and the people who work for them come from around the world. The people are the most important part of any business and, for some, it’s just not possible to carry out their work remotely. This also has economic implications, for example the fall in the oil price.

Q. What do you anticipate will happen next?

I anticipate that restrictions in place will last for a while yet but, as the virus starts to pass, we will see some positive changes. I imagine that the borders will open for workers at some point before leisure travel resumes. Slowly, working life will return to normal. However, we need to see the virus under control before that happens. Good news is coming out of Europe, but we have a while to go yet.

Q. Which parts of the world are most/least affected?

Most of the world is affected, however we are seeing positive signs from China where the number of cases has now significantly decreased. Some parts of the world are still in the middle of the crisis, while some are starting to show signs of coming through it. Some of the worst affected are places where people live tightly packed together or there is an elderly population. Testing is quickly becoming an important tool to fight the disease but some countries simply can’t afford it and, of course, in poorer countries governments aren’t able to offer financial assistance to its population, which means the economic effects of the COVID-19 will be felt more strongly. Currently, WRS has large-scale recruitment drives ongoing in the UK, Malaysia, Mexico, UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, alongside gap fill hires ongoing in Asia Pacific, Africa and the Americas. All of these have been affected to varying degrees.

Q. What does all this mean for our client and candidates?

For our contractors, they’re not able to travel to their usual place of work. Some can work remotely, but not all. I’m sure they are very hopeful that normality will resume soon. WRS’s clients have been affected as some of them are not able to continue operations when workers have had to demobilise. Most operations and projects can still be continued via working from home or remotely, however drilling operations have been significantly affected.

Q. How is WRS helping?

WRS is helping our clients by finding alternative travel arrangements for our contractors so that crew changes can still occur, where alternative travel arrangements are possible. WRS is working closely with its customers to ensure essential projects stay on track during this difficult time. Even with the challenges of COVID-19, recruitment is still happening. Right now, the Energy, Marine and Mining divisions at WRS are busy with multiple new vacancies, all received in the last two weeks. The best thing we can do is assist to find viable candidates to fill these urgent requirements so that our clients can continue to operate. If we can’t get contractors into a specific country, then WRS has the capability to source candidates from within the country. This allows our clients to get the same quality of staff but without the headache of travel in the current climate. 

If you have staffing requirements or require advice on hiring within the current Coronavirus pandemic, we can help. Call us today on +44 161 926 2525 or email: Our services, your solutions.

About WRS

WRS is a global workforce solutions and mobilisation company, specialising in the mining, maritime, construction, commodities, IT and energy industries. If you are considering your next move, register your details, send us your CV or you can simply take a look at our latest vacancies.

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