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US To Ease Travel Restrictions For Fully Vaccinated International Visitors

Jeff Zients, White House Covid-19 response coordinator, said the new rules will take effect in November to give agencies and airlines enough time to prepare for the influx of travel that will likely come from these new standards.

England, Scotland, And Northern Ireland Loosen Travel Restrictions For Vaccinated Americans 

Fully vaccinated Americans can now visit England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland without quarantining beginning next week. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps made the announcement on Twitter this week. 

“We’re helping reunite people living in the US and European countries with their family and friends in the UK.” 

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Initially the updated requirements were just for individuals in the US and UK, but Scotland and Northern Ireland said they would also be joining England in waiving their 10-day isolation requirement for fully vaccinated individuals from the European Union and US. 

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, however, announced this week that they recommend all US citizens remain in the country and don’t travel to the UK specifically due to rising Covid case numbers in both nations. 

Visitors to England, Northern Ireland, and Scotland will still be subject to Covid testing upon their arrival. Pre-departure testing as well as testing upon arrival will still be enforced, and vaccinated Americans must provide proof of US residency as well as proof of vaccination. 

American travelers must also fill out a patient-tracker form so that authorities are able to contact them should someone they traveled with test positive. Travelers returning to the US must also show a negative Covid result in order to board a US-bound international flight. 

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“Given where we are today … with the delta variant, we will maintain existing travel restrictions at this point for a few reasons. The more transmissible delta variant is spreading both here and around the world.”

“Driven by the delta variant, cases are rising here at home, particularly among those who are unvaccinated and appear likely to continue in the weeks ahead,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said at a press briefing Monday. 

United Airlines announced that it would have six daily flights between the US and London starting in August. The airline plans to resume additional flights in the coming months as well. 

“Today’s announcement is yet another major milestone in recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic with the opening of one of the most important markets from the U.S.” said Patrick Quayle, United’s vice president of international network and alliances, in a news release.

Tori Emerson Barnes, the executive vice president of public affairs for the U.S. Travel Association trade group, urged U.S. leaders to “follow the U.K.’s lead and set a timeline to reopen its borders to travelers. We encourage them to start with vaccinated travelers from the U.K., E.U. and Canada. The reality is there’s no difference between a vaccinated American and those vaccinated in the U.K., the E.U. and Canada.”

US Will Not Lift Covid-19 Travel Restrictions Amid Spreading Of Delta-Variant

The United States has no plans to lift any of the existing travel restrictions put in place to protect from the spreading of Covid-19 and its much more contagious Delta variant. 

White House Officials told the media this week that this means the long-running travel restrictions that have barred a lot of the world’s populations from coming into the US will not be lifted anytime soon. 

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“Given where we are today with the Delta variant, the United States will maintain existing travel restrictions at this point. Driven by the Delta variant, cases are rising here, particularly among unvaccinated citizens.”

US airlines and the tourism industry in general has been hoping that this summer could help rebuild what was lost last year when everyone was forced to stay home. Airlines have been lobbying with the White House for the past few months in order to find new and safe ways to get Americans to travel more this summer. 

Currently the US bars any non-US citizen from coming into the country if they have been to the United Kingdom, 26 Schengen nations in Europe without border controls, Ireland, China, India, South Africa, Iran or Brazil within the past 14 days. 

Last week, the US Homeland Security Department claimed that US land borders with Canada and Mexico will also remain closed to non-essential travel until at least August 21st. Canada has said that it would begin allowing fully vaccinated Americans into the country after August 9th. 

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U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) director Rochelle Walensky said Thursday the “seven-day average of new cases in the United States was up 53% over the previous week. The Delta variant, which was first found in India, now comprises more than 80% of new cases nationwide and has been detected in more than 90 countries.”

“The administration understands the importance of international travel and is united in wanting to reopen international travel in a safe and sustainable manner.”

White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki on Friday said international travel is “something we would all like to see — not just for tourism, but for families to be reunited. However, we rely on public health and medical advice on when we’re going to determine changes to be made.”

The Biden Administration has been in talks with US airlines in recent weeks about how to establish an international contact tracing program for passengers before they lift any restrictions. As of right now the CDC has imposed a mandatory Covid-19 testing rule for nearly all international air travelers.

Europe Facing Another Easter Full Of Covid Restrictions

Despite the rollout of multiple vaccines, European nations are about to endure another holiday weekend full of restrictions to combat the spreading of Covid-19 and its variants.

Santa on Video Call

Santa Claus Is Staying Safe By Video Chatting Nice Boys And Girls For Christmas This Year

Santa’s opting for a more “work from home” approach to speak to all the boys and girls who made it to the nice list this year. 

Young Boy Playing Sports with Mask

How California Is Continuing Youth Sports During A Statewide Shutdown 

Popular high school sports such as football, volleyball, basketball, etc. are indefinitely on hold until at least January 25th as Covid-19 cases reach record-highs in California, prompting another statewide shutdown. According to new guidelines released by the California Department of Public Health, the state’s four-tier coronavirus tracking system is being used to determine when certain youth and recreational adult sports can resume. 

Sports that are considered to be “high-contact” in an outdoor setting are able to be played in counties that are in the orange tier; this includes sports such as football, soccer, or basketball. The orange tier is known as the “moderate tier” and as of right now one county is on that low level. The next level up from that is the red tier, or “substantial tier,” which currently has three counties included in it. Next up is the purple tier, also known as the “widespread tier”, which currently has 54 counties included in it; all nine counties that make up the Bay Area are in the purple tier. 

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These guidelines define all high-contact sports as “team sports with frequent or sustained close contact between participants and high probability that respiratory particles will be transmitted between participants; moderate-contact sports as team sports that can be played with only incidental or intermittent close contact between participants; and low-contact sports as individual or small group sports where contact within six feet of other participants can be avoided.”

All inter-team sport competitions are on hold until at least January 25th, and that date is pending based on how much worse the pandemic gets in California. Justin Alumbaugh is the head football coach at De La Salle High School, who recently spoke with the press about how he wasn’t surprised by the new guidelines at all because “a lot of it makes sense.” 

“It’s going to be a challenge, but at least it’s doable. Now we’re given something we can work with, that was something that we really really needed.” 

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Indoor sports such as basketball face an obvious challenge when it comes to resuming activity. Basketball as a sport is placed in the yellow, or minimal, tier, as the guidance states that all indoor sports are much higher risk than outdoor sports because of the reduced ventilation. Sports in the purple tier that are able to be played throughout California currently are golf, diving/swimming, tennis, cross country, and track and field. 

The guidelines also have strict requirements for wearing facial coverings, remaining six feet apart as much as possible, and consistent sanitation for all sports equipment between every use. Preliminary sports practices such as physical conditioning, general practicing, skill building, and training are all still allowed to occur in outdoor settings in a socially distanced manner. David Grissmom is the commissioner for the Central Coast sector of California’s Interscholastic Federation who recently spoke with the press about these new, highly-anticipated, guidelines.

“I’m glad we have them, that’s a positive step. We need to keep wearing masks and socially distancing and doing the right things so our kids can have their sports back.” 

When California’s Interscholastic Federation announced their initial high school sports guidelines in the summer, many were delayed until at least December; which has held true. Those guidelines, however, remained in place even though the pandemic worsened and a multitude of other systemic policies were being adjusted to cope. Now, youth sports leaders across the state have a much clearer picture as to when they may be able to return to the field.

California Quarantine

California Reinstates Covid-19 Restrictions As Cases Continue To Spike Throughout State

California was one of the many states that began to transition towards less restrictive measures for its residents as Covid-19 cases showed signs of slowing down some five months ago.

Mid-Autumn Festival

Rising Covid-19 Concerns Appear In China As Nation Gears Up For Mid-Autumn Festival

With the arrival of the month of October comes the widely celebrated Mid-Autumn festival in Asia. On October 1st, hundreds of millions of individuals are expected to flood public transportation in what’s known as one of the busiest travel times in the world’s most populated country. The eight-day festival marks China’s first major holiday celebration since the coronavirus pandemic began. 

While life in China has almost completely returned to normalcy in terms of the pandemic, this week will be a true test to how successful they were at taming the virus/will continue to keep case numbers down. The festival, however, is projected to bring in a lot of money, as it does every year, which would be a great boost for China’s dwindling economy. 

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Last year 782 million domestic trips were made during the festival week in China, which generated around $95 billion in tourism revenue. This year, the ministry of culture and tourism in China is projecting 550 million domestic trips, while China’s largest online travel agency, Ctrip, is predicting the number to be more around 600 million. 

The thought of that many individuals moving within such a short time period seems unfathomable for most citizens across the world also still battling this virus. But in China, the virus is less of a concern for the holiday week, as the nation has had close to zero local transmissions and has continued to implement some of the world’s strictest border control measures for international travelers. 

While Wuhan, China acted as the initial epicenter for Covid-19, the country has since been able to contain the virus and has only dealt with smaller-scaled outbreaks that occasionally would flare up. There haven’t been any locally transmitted symptomatic cases since mid-August, and any individuals coming into China from overseas have to go through a vigorous screening process.

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China’s overall restrictions on domestic movement have for the most part been able to lift. Some cities are requiring their citizens to show a green health code on their smartphones at certain public transportation facilities, but the implementation of that policy has been relatively relaxed as of late. International leaders view this week’s festivities as a sign of China’s confidence, especially considering they’ve been one of the countries most on top of enforcing their health and safety measures. 

The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention released a statement last week in which they claimed all domestic travel for the country can be arranged as normal for the upcoming holiday week, as long as all cities in mainland China maintain their low risk status. Travelers are still encouraged to protect themselves with facial coverings and social distancing.

China’s Culture and Tourism Ministry has also ordered prominent tourist sites to restrict capacity to 75% during the festival week, and to better facilitate potential contact tracing efforts in the future, all visitors are required to register which sites they’re going to visit online before being granted entry. 

While the Mid-Autumn Festival typically sees a massive spike in international travel among various celebrating Asian countries, this year all overseas trips will likely be impossible due to border restrictions heavily being enforced within most Asian countries. On major Chinese highways it’s expected that massive traffic jams will be occurring as they do every year, as it’s predicted that an average of 51 million highway trips happen per day during the week-long festival.