The US Government shutdown on Friday came on the first anniversary of Trump’s inauguration as POTUS. A closure signifies that due to insufficient funds all non-essential federal employees will be put on unpaid leave (commonly known as furlough) until a funding agreement is reached. The last shutdown, which happened in 2013 under Obama, lasted 16 days and had 800,000 federal employees go on a leave of absence without their own choice.
If you are travelling to the US over the next few days here is how a government shutdown could disrupt your travel plans.
Aviation & Border Control
Air Traffic Control (ATC), Transport Security Administration (TSA) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP), all of which are responsible for air navigation, airport security screenings and immigration services are classified as essential services. Therefore they will continue to work uninterrupted during the shutdown. The positive news is that airlines will continue to fly without any disruption due to the closure.
This is much better than the earlier instance of the shutdown, where CBP frontline agents were put on unpaid leave, leading to chaos at airports across the USA. Ajay personally stood in a queue for 2.5 hours at New York JFK to be admitted to the USA in May 2013.
Passport Issuance & Visa Processing
Passport issuance services will continue to function normally until the money runs out. However, foreign travellers, who are awaiting a US Visa for their upcoming travel are likely to face delays as consulate offices abroad that issue visas will remain closed. For instance, this is the notice issued by the US Consulate in Mumbai on Twitter.
Due to the US government shutdown, #DostiHouse will be closed to the public until further notice. Any inconvenience is regretted. Please watch our Twitter and Facebook feeds for any updates.
— US Consulate Mumbai (@USAndMumbai) January 20, 2018
Parks, Museums and Public Places
During the last shutdown, national parks and museums were closed affecting almost 750,000 daily visitors. This time around, the government is trying to keep some parks and public sights open. If you are planning a trip to any national park, monument or museums, you should carefully watch the situation. Even if the park is accessible, full-service restrooms and other facilities that require staffing won’t be open for use.
For instance, the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island started turning away people on Saturday because of a lapse in appropriations.
Closures will affect the local economy that depends on tourist spendings such as restaurants and stores. The 2013 shutdown resulted in a loss of 500 million US Dollars in spending in areas surrounding parks and the Smithsonian museums in Washington D.C.
One of the most significant consequences of a government shutdown is the economic impact it will have. If this lasts long, the tourism industry will be among the first ones to bear the brunt of this closure. And that is not good news for the US which has already seen a drop of about 17% in the number of people visiting the country last year due to various measures that were taken by the USA. Closure of parks, anticipated delays at passport controls and inability to get visas for travel to the US will only deter people from visiting the US. The 16-day shutdown in 2013 cost the American taxpayer a 24 billion US dollars. Let’s hope this time it’s different
Do you have plans to travel to the US in the coming days? Do share if your plans seem affected due to this event?