'Today, the University’s Executive has decided that staff and students should NOT travel overseas on university business.'
That was how a message from the Governance and Compliance office started. After this start, there were nuances; if you can convince your Dean of the necessity of your travels you can still go. But it's clear; the Coronavirus has spooked higher management so much that we are supposed to stay within the UK. And even travel within the UK is not business as usual; we have been asked to 'consider' that.
For me this is OK. I have no plans of going anywhere anytime soon! But we have lots of people who were gearing up for fieldworks in all sorts of places. And conferences. And PhD vivas. This is going to disrupt so much! And I understand; it's better to cancel your fieldwork that to die, or cause someone else to die, but blimey, imagine you are on some big grant to do conservation work on tropical coral reefs and suddenly you can't go. The ban was issued by the university, not the funding body! And even if they understand; you won't be able to do the work, so not able to publish it, or write proposals building on that work. It must be hard. And I suppose universities all around the world are making decisions like this, so I suppose lots of fieldwork-heavy disciplines are equally hit around the world, but still.
I suppose we might be among the most worried Schools. I suppose people studying law don't have to travel so much to do that. Or those studying Welsh literature. And so on! And not all research is overseas, of course; plenty of seas around. But we have quite some people studying tropical reefs and they are probably stuffed...