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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.

Start-Up Company Planning Network Of ‘Hotel Sleeper Trains’ Throughout Europe

Midnight Trains is a new French start-up that has recently announced plans to build a network of overnight train services throughout Europe in the near future. The goal is to get the network up and running by 2024; ideally when the Covid-19 pandemic will be a thing of the past and travel has resumed. 

Maui Set To Impose New Hotel Tax Due To Influx Of Tourists 

The Hawaiian island of Maui has announced that they will now be collecting a hotel tax from all tourists staying there in order to help them deal with the influx of tourists while recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The new 3% tax will be collected from all individuals staying at a hotel or short-term rental on the island. According to the Associated Press, this tax comes after lawmakers in the state passed a bill that would change how Hawaii allocated tax revenue to the different counties. 

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Before this new tax was implemented, the state would collect a 10% hotel tax to be distributed to each county. According to Hawaii News Now, the bill is also cutting Hawaii Tourism Authority’s budget by 24%. Maui County Council Chair Alice Lee told the media outlet that this change would help the tourism industry in Hawaii thrive overall as the world begins to reopen more. 

“This tax will help tremendously. Instead of $23 million, we’ll probably receive in the neighborhood of $50 to $70 million,” she explained. 

The push for Hawaii’s tourism sector to find new ways to gain more revenue comes as a major increase in travel, and travel plans, have emerged, especially in Maui. Maui’s Mayor Michael Victorino has reached out to certain airlines to start bringing fewer tourists to the island, as they are starting to become overwhelmed with wealthy travelers who want to escape. 

“We don’t have the authority to say stop, but we are asking the powers to be to help us,” Victorino said to the AP.

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In May 2021, more than 630,000 visitors flew to Maui. In May 2019, before the pandemic, Maui received about 847,000 tourists, so the state is currently witnessing almost pre-pandemic levels of travel while the US is still very much battling this virus and its variants. 

Maui is also one of the easiest places to travel to currently, especially for American citizens. Last week the state removed their requirement for travelers to be tested for Covid-19 before coming to the island; this stipulation only exists for fully vaccinated domestic travelers. 

Those who are not vaccinated still have to provide proof of a negative test from a “trusted medical partner site” in order to skip the mandatory quarantine period once they get to the island itself. 

Hawaii has also recently expanded their partnership with the company Clear’s Health Pass, which offers vaccinated individuals with an easy and digital way of proving their vaccination status to make travel easy. 

Governor David Ige also announced that the state plans to lift all of its Covid-19 restrictions once Hawaii reaches a 70% vaccination rate. Currently 65% of all residents have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, and 58% are fully vaccinated. 

Summer Vacation

The Most Popular Vacations People Are Booking For 2022 

As more individuals receive their Covid-19 vaccinations throughout the world, many are planning their first big trips for when the world really begins to return to a sense of normalcy. 2022 is already seeing an influx in flight bookings under the assumption that by that point, more of the world will be vaccinated and Covid will be more obsolete. 

Here’s a list of some of the most popular destinations individuals are booking trips to for next year:

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Napa Valley, California: Many individuals are looking to book trips that will give them an experience, not just a simple resort vacation. After struggling throughout the pandemic and one of the deadliest wildfire seasons of the past decade, California in general is ready to open its doors for tourists again. Napa Valley is specifically offering a ton of different wine tasting resort packages that will give individuals the opportunity to plan their perfect vacation in wine country. By 2022, the Four Season Napa Valley will also be open and running, marking the first time a Four Seasons winery will be in Northern California. 

Paterson, South Africa: Speaking of experiences, the safari expedition’s offered at the Kruger National Park in South Africa is unlike any other safari experience out there. The Shamwari Private Game Reserve, in Paterson, South Africa, offers two daily game drives which allow individuals to digitally and safely search for wildlife native to the area. A majority of the wild animals in the game have left the actual reservation area due to colonization and poaching, however, this new experience will allow the reserve to rebuild what was lost while continuing to educate the world about the magic of wildlife. 

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Loire Valley, France: The Hotel Château du Grand Lucé is an hour away from Paris and has been open to the public since 2019, however, the property has existed since 1760. This French chateau that formerly housed royalty can now become your own personal vacation palace while you endure unforgettable experiences like biking through the village and picnicking in the flower-filled exotic gardens. 

Perez Zeledon, Costa Rica: For those looking for more of the beachside resort vibe without all the crowds, look no further than Perez Zeldon, Costa Rica. This 150 acre landscape includes a coffee farm, tribal village, lush rainforest, and plenty of white sandy beaches to rest and recharge on. 

Sardinia, Italy: This is one of the most popular beach destinations in Italy to date. Sardinia is known for its white sand beaches and captivating turquoise waters. There are a multitude of hotel options that offer complete serenity and privacy. All restaurants and shops are also within a walking distance depending on where you stay. 

Kyoto, Japan: Kyoto has become one of the most iconic Asian city destinations for tourists. They’re known for their luxury hotels that are bustling with Japanese culture. Visitors can hike to take a dip in some hot springs, enjoy all the local cuisine, and take in all of the culture with a multitude of historical sights to see. 

TSA Provides Safety Guidelines For Fourth Of July Travelers 

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has issued out some safety guidelines ahead of the fourth of July weekend, where airports are expected to see pre-pandemic crowds. 

This past Sunday, TSA screened over 2.1 million passengers going through airport security checkpoints. This marks the highest checkpoint volume the agency has seen since the beginning of the pandemic. 

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TSA is expecting that number to be outpaced exponentially this holiday weekend, and is advising passengers to arrive at the airport with plenty of time for ticket checking, bag checking, and security screenings. Some airports throughout the country have already been reporting 2019 travel volumes. 

“It’s heartening to see the country taking to travel again and travelling to enjoy the weekend and celebrate our nation’s independence,” said TSA Administrator David Pekoske. 

“We continue to remind passengers to pack their patience and remain calm through the security checkpoint and onboard aircraft. TSA will not tolerate aggressive actions toward our officers; please help us make travel safe, secure and pleasant on this holiday weekend.”

The federal face mask mandate is still in effect on all planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation within the United States. Face masks are not currently required in outdoor areas of conveyance. 

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TSA recently released a set of all their recommended tips on how to remain the safest while getting through your travel experience as easily as possible. 

“Arrive early. TSA expects to see the increasing summer travel volumes to continue to rise into the holiday weekend. Although nationally our travel volume remains around 75% of pre-pandemic levels, some airports around the country have already surpassed volumes from 2019. Please arrive at the airport in plenty of time for ticketing, checking baggage, security screening, etc.”

The agency also recommends you enroll in TSA precheck to make your trip through security as quick as possible. 

“Consider other ways that might help avoid physical contact at the checkpoint. Prior to entering the line for the TSA checkpoint, take a few minutes to prepare. Place jewelry, keys and other pocketed items into your carry-on bag so they might be scanned with need for fewer bins at the conveyor belt. Have a valid ID card readily available and follow the liquids rule of 3.4 ounces or less, with the exception of hand sanitizer, which has a temporary 12-ounce limit in carry-on baggage.”

TSA has posted a full list of their guidelines and recommended travel tips for the holiday weekend on their website, you can read them here!

South Africa

Meet The Black Mambas, A Women-Only Ranger Team Working To Preserve African Wildlife

June 23rd is known as World Female Ranger Day as a means of raising awareness and funding to support the women within the industry who are working hard to preserve the Earth. Only 11% of the world’s global ranger population is made up of women, so the campaign, co-founded by adventurers Holly Budge and Margot Dempsey, works to shed light on the inequalities that exist within the industry. 

The Black Mambas are a women-only team of rangers who work in Africa to preserve the dwindling wildlife population throughout the continent. The group was founded in 2013 when rhino poaching was reaching an unprecedented high in South Africa. 

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The group itself is made up of 36 women all from local tribes who are armed only with pepper spray. They work everyday to patrol the Kruger National Park’s fence lines for unwelcome intruders, as well as checking camera traps and finding snare traps. The group was founded out of this particular national park, which is why they spend a majority of their time there. 

 Nkateko Mzimba joined the team back in 2014 when they began more community outreach efforts as well. Mzimba claimed that the group began connecting with local schools to teach kids about the importance of protecting the Earth and its many inhabitants. 

“We ask our community to change, to protect wildlife for their kids, trying our best to show we love and support them, and we give them food.” 

The Black Mambas have to date reduced bushmeat poaching by 89% and virtually eliminated the use of snare traps. While they themselves are not armed beyond pepper spray, should they come across packers with weapons, they can easily call for armed backup from local authorities. 

“The Black Mambas support me. I am here because of them, and I want to empower them. Women were always undermined. Now, they see the importance of us in the bush. When people offer bribes, we say no – we don’t share information. Some say this is a man’s job, but we’ve proved that we can do this,” Mzimba explained. 

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In Zimbabwe, the first all-female anti-poaching unit was recently established in 2017. Akashinga and the Black Mamba’s amazing efforts in Africa is actually the reason Budge and Dempsey established World Female Ranger Day in the first place. 

“I wanted to bring their stories to the world. Some are AIDS orphans, some come from abusive marriages. Now, they’re breadwinners and their kids go to school. But other women don’t have this success, and World Female Ranger Day will bring their challenges to light.”

“I felt privileged to see their work firsthand. It was like a war zone – the Akashingas all carried AK47s, with wild animals and signs of poachers around us. It made me appreciate how dangerous their work is. They’re not playing rangers. This is real, very real,” Budge explained. 

World Female Ranger Day works to provide an international forum for rangers everywhere to share advice and offer support. 

“We offer grants for improved facilities and equipment, along with annual awards. These rangers are fantastic role models, inspiring and empowering women with a strong message that anything can be overcome with training, self-belief, determination, and resilience,” says Budge.

“On World Female Ranger Day, we’re role models to ladies out there who feel underrated. We need a day to celebrate us. And they need to see us, to be inspired.”

New York Lifts A Majority Of Covid-19 Restrictions As Vaccination Rates Continue To Rise 

New York officially has 70% of its population inoculated with at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, meaning the state is now fulfilling its promise of lifting nearly all pandemic restrictions as a result of having such a large vaccinated population. 

All New York City restaurants, bars, and museums will no longer be required to have a limited capacity, enforce social distancing, conduct health screenings, or collect information for contact tracing purposes. 

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All private businesses, however, do hold the right to continue to enforce all of these policies. 

“Not only do we have the lowest COVID positivity rate in the United States of America, we have hit 70% vaccination ahead of schedule. We’re no longer just surviving – we’re thriving.”

Vermont, California, Florida, and Illinois are a few of the other states New York is joining in terms of lifting most of their pandemic restrictions. The US in total has administered about 309 million Covid-19 vaccinations, driving down a lot of the daily reports of new cases throughout the nation. 

In New York City specifically about 60% of all adults are fully vaccinated while 65% have received at least one dose of either of the two-dose vaccine options (Pfizer or Moderna). Statewide about 70% of the population has received at least one Covid-19 vaccine ever since Pfizer announced individuals aged 12 and up can receive their vaccine. 

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In healthcare settings all pandemic restrictions obviously will remain in place. Public transportation systems and large indoor event venues that can hold up to 5,000 people or more will also be required to enforce restrictions.

 The venues will likely include places like Madison Square Garden or other large stadiums where social distancing would be easy. 

Large event venues, however, have already started allowing vaccinated individuals to attend certain events without a facial covering as long as they remain in designated areas for vaccinated individuals.

 Some venues have even split up their space for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals to keep everyone separated. 

Vaccinated individuals have been able to use their proof of vaccine to attend sports games without social distancing or wearing a mask of any kind while unvaccinated fans are required to be in specified sections that allow for distanced seating; facial coverings are also still required as well. 

Cruise Line on Water

Two Passengers Test Positive For Covid On First Major Sea Cruise Hosting Americans 

Two guests aboard the first major sea cruise to host American passengers since the Covid-19 pandemic first began have tested positive for Covid-19 in what the cruise line is calling a required end-of-cruise testing. 

The two guests shared a stateroom on the seven-day Celebrity Millennium cruise from St. Maarten. The two are reportedly asymptomatic, in isolation, and being closely monitored by an on board medical team, the cruise line said in a news release this week. 

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“We are conducting contact tracing, expediting testing for all close contacts and closely monitoring the situation.” 

“The ship set sail Ssturday with fully vaccinated crew and guests and following comprehensive protocols that align with our destination partners and exceed CDC guidelines to protect the health and safety of our guests,” the release said.

It’s not completely shocking that two individuals still tested positive for Covid despite the fact that the cruise was strictly for vaccinated individual, as the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a study this week that claimed “breakthrough coronavirus cases,” or cases that appear in vaccinated individuals, aren’t uncommon, and as expected the cases that did appear were completely mild. 

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Fully vaccinated individuals are more than 90% protected against infection while partially vaccinated people are 81% less likely to become infected than those who are completely unvaccinated. 

According to an ongoing study of essential workers who got Pfizer/BioNTech’s or Moderna’s vaccine, “those who got breakthrough infections after one or two doses had 40% less virus in their bodies and were 58% less likely to have fever. They spent two fewer days in bed than unvaccinated Covid-19 patients.”

The release claimed that every individual on the cruise was required to show proof of vaccination as well as a negative Covid-19 test that was taken within 72 hours of the cruise’s initial departure. 500 passengers were on board. 

“This situation demonstrates that our rigorous health and safety protocols work to protect our crew, guests and the communities we visit,” the news release said.

The Royal Caribbean Group, the parent company of Celebrity Cruise Lines, focused more on the fact that returning to Barbados “for the first time in over a year is truly special. Every measured step was taken to ensure that we protect the health and safety of our guests, crew and the residents of this treasured destination and we are thankful,” its post said.

US Airline Companies Want Government Leaders To Lift Covid-19 Travel Restrictions 

Major airline companies are urging the United States government to move quicker when it comes to lifting travel restrictions between the US and Europe. Many countries within the European Union have opened up their borders for international travel, causing many US airline leaders to urge our nation to do the same. 

This week, the heads of several major airline companies held a virtual news conference to discuss the easiest way to ease and fully remove travel restrictions, specifically between the United States and United Kingdom, where Covid-19 has been prominent. 

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The call included chief executives of Heathrow Airport, group leaders in the US Travel Association, as well as the CEOs of American Airlines, IAG unit British Airways, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, and JetBlue. 

The US has barred nearly all non-US citizens who have been to the UK from coming back to the country since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020. Airline officials have claims that no change is expected to occur, so they’re taking matters into their own hands by calling on government leaders. 

This past Friday France announced, however, that vaccinated Americans will be able to travel to the country starting June 9th. American Airlines President Robert Isom said: 

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“We know there is tremendous pent-up demand for service. We have a lot of capacity to be ready to go for European travel, so we’re going to take it whenever it comes.”

Many airline officials believed that May 2021 was going to be the month in which international travel would really be able to resume with many individuals getting vaccinated, however, the government has yet to make any major changes to the current restrictions and requirements. 

The White House is mainly focused on bringing US vaccination rates to where President Joe Biden initially planned for it to be by the 4th of July; 70% of Americans having at least one vaccine. Additionally, the Biden administration is focusing on getting younger Americans vaccinated, as adolescents currently account for 25% of all Covid-19 cases in America. 

“We certainly understand the desire of many Europeans to come to travel the United States and vice versa. We can’t respond to public pressure or even emotion. We have to rely on the guidance of our health and medical experts,”  White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.