Hawaii launches new remote work program
Hawaii has just launched a new "travel" program focused on remote work from the Hawaiian Islands. The state/private-supported program, "Movers & Shakas” will initially provide 50 FREE roundtrip flights to Oahu to pre-employed people who must stay a minimum of one month. In exchange, they need to give a few hours/week to a nonprofit that fits their skillset. So there is a great volunteer component for those looking to give back while traveling. Additional incentives include discounted rates with hotels, restaurants, etc. Deadline to apply is Dec. 15.
The goal of the program is to help boost Hawaii's economy outside of traditional tourism - especially with how dependent/impacted Hawaii is on air travel and recent/new mainland state travel restrictions. Hawaii has one of the lowest COVID-19 rates, so working in a safe environment is another positive.
“Working from Hawaii can provide a much needed respite from the isolation and burnout caused by remote work,” said Jason Higa, CEO of FCH Enterprises, parent company of Zippy's and one of the driving forces behind Movers & Shakas. “With the lowest rate per capita of COVID infections in the country, and an abundance of social distancing activities and dining experiences, Hawaii is ideal for those seeking a safe place to work and play.”
TSA reports over 2 million travelers the weekend before Thanksgiving
TSA data indicates that over 2 million people passed through security checkpoints the weekend before Thanksgiving. It was only the second time since March that domestic flight travel had over 1 million flyers in a day. While this is a high number for 2020, it is still only 45% of the total traffic reported through security a year ago.The surge in travel comes at a time when COVID-19 cases are surging across the country. The Center for Disease Control issued a warning last week urging people to avoid travel for Thanksgiving and encouraging them to stay home. “As we're seeing exponential growth in cases, and the opportunity to translocate disease or infection from one part of the country to another, leads to our recommendation to avoid travel at this time,” Henry Walke, COVID-19 incident manager at the CDC, said in a press call Thursday. The CDC recommends that people spend the Thanksgiving holiday only with the people in their immediate household. “If people have not been actively living with you for the 14 days before you're celebrating, they are not considered a member of your household, and therefore you need to take those extra precautions," said Erin Sauber-Schatz, the head of the CDC's community intervention and critical population task force.Despite these warnings, AAA estimates that over 50 million Americans are expecting to travel for Thanksgiving. 95% of these trips are expected to be in the car. Budget Travel readers are encouraged to stay home for Thanksgiving. If you must travel, try to limit indoor exposure and wear a mask when not eating or drinking.
Smithsonian museums announce indefinite closures due to COVID-19
The museums are mostly in the Washington DC area. The Smithsonian announced the closures on Thursday, Tweeting: "Due to rising regional and national cases related to the COVID-19 pandemic, all Smithsonian museums, including the National Zoo, will temporarily close to the public starting Monday, Nov. 23. We are not announcing a reopening date at this time." These closures affect the 8 Smithsonian museums in DC that had reopened to the public after the first wave of COVID was flattened. This includes the museums located on the National Mall, as well as the National Zoo.
Anguilla, Curaçao, and St. Kitts and Nevis have reopened safely to tourism
Whether islands closed their borders back in March or remained open to a certain extent throughout, they’ve got some things in common: strict rules regarding Covid-19 testing and contract tracing, social distancing and mask-wearing in public places, and in most cases, quarantine, all measures put in place to prevent the spread of the virus and help keep locals and visitors as safe and healthy as possible. We’ve already covered how Caribbean countries have been reopening to tourism all summer, though there have been a few updates. Starting this month, Jamaica’s new initiative, Jamaica Cares, will require all visitors to pay a mandatory health insurance fee of $40. As of November 1, new entry protocols in The Bahamas mean visitors will be able to skip 14 days of quarantine if they can show negative test results from a Covid-19 PCR test taken within five days of their flight, sign up for a Bahamas Health Travel Visa online, fill out a daily health questionnaire, take a Covid-19 rapid antigen test on the fifth day, and wear a mask and maintain social distancing whenever they’re in public. Other islands, like Curaçao, Anguilla and Saint Kitts and Nevis have chosen other methods, like only reopening to certain U.S. states, coming up with new ways for visitors to enjoy the island outside the typical resort bubble and using contract tracing apps for the first 14 days. Here’s what you need to know if you’ll be visiting anytime soon. Willemstad, Curacao. ©SirimasB/Shutterstock Curaçao While the Dutch Caribbean island of Curaçao will be reopening to American travelers this weekend, only residents of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Florida will be allowed to skip the mandatory 14-day quarantine. While residents of other states are still allowed to visit, they must request a permit ahead of time online and quarantine for 14 days immediately upon arrival. All visitors must fill out a digital immigration card through the online portal, as well as a Passenger Locator Card (PLC) within 48 hours of your flight—be sure to print this out and carry it around with you while you’re there. You’ll also need to provide printed proof of negative results from a Covid-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours of your departure and have your temperature checked at the airport. Those with positive test results will not be allowed to enter the country, and anyone who contracts Covid-19 during their trip must quarantine immediately at their own expense. Once in Curaçao, visitors are expected to maintain a distance of at least six feet from anyone outside your group and wear a mask whenever this isn’t possible. Bars, restaurants and other attractions are currently operating under new safety protocols, and reservations must be made ahead of time. Tourists can rent cars and are encouraged to download the Dushi Stay App, available in The App Store and Google Play, for the latest updates. Anguilla While Anguilla has been open to certain travelers since August 21, Phase Two began November 1, allowing more hotels, restaurants and attractions to reopen. You’ll still need to apply to enter the country, show negative results from a Covid-19 PCR test taken within three to five days of your trip, provide proof of health insurance that will cover Covid-related medical costs while you’re there and complete a health questionnaire. You’ll also have to wear a mask, have your temperature taken and get a Covid-19 PCR test at the airport, then have another Covid-19 PCR test on the 10th day of your trip. The biggest Phase Two change concerns quarantine: You’ll still be transported to your approved property of choice by a government-certified taxi or shuttle, but instead of being confined to your resort for 14 days, guests who receive negative test results at the airport can now participate in certain off-property activities like golf, scuba diving, snorkeling, yoga and glass-bottom boat rides as long as they’re arranged by the hotel through an approved vendor. Think of it as an expansion of the resort bubble, where visitors are still able to enjoy their property’s golf courses and other amenities while in quarantine. Once guests receive negative results from their Covid-19 test on the 10th day, they’re free to rent a car and explore the rest of the island. Anguilla also has a fee system in place to cover two Covid-19 PCR tests per person and any contract tracing or temperature checking services provided by healthcare personnel. Solo travelers visiting for five days or less pay $300, couples pay $500 and families pay $500 for the first two people and $250 for each additional person. Solo travelers staying between five days and three months must pay $400, couples pay $600 and families pay $600 for the first two people and $250 for each additional person. Anguilla also lets you stay up to a year, but it’ll cost you: digital nomads can pay $2,000 per person for the privilege, while the costs are $3,000 per family of four. Stunning Pinney's beach with Coconut Palms, and the Volcano in the distance, at Nevis. Caribbean. ©Peter Phipp/Getty Images Saint Kitts and Nevis As of October 31, Americans can visit Saint Kitts and Nevis during Phase One of its reopening process. For starters, you’ll need to fill out a travel health form through the government’s website and provide proof of negative results from a Covid-19 PCR test taken by an accredited lab within 72 hours of your flight. At the airport, you’ll need to get your temperature checked, fill out a questionnaire and download the SKN Covid-19 contact tracing app, which must be used during the first 14 days of your trip. You’re free to enjoy all on-property amenities for the first seven days, and following a mandatory Covid-19 PCR test on day seven, you’ll also be allowed to book approved off-property tours and excursions. If you’re staying longer than 14 days, you’ll need to take another Covid-19 PCR test on your 14th day before you can venture out and see the rest of the country. Note that all Covid-19 tests in Saint Kitts and Nevis must be done at your own expense, and there are only six approved hotels for U.S. travelers to stay in at this time: St. Kitts Marriott Resort & The Royal Beach Casino, Royal St. Kitts Hotel, Park Hyatt St. Kitts Christophe Harbour, Oualie Beach Resort, Koi Resort Saint Kitts and the Four Seasons Resort Nevis.
Amtrak unveils new high-speed, low-carbon trains with sleek extras
Comfortable, low carbon transport is the name of the game over at Amtrak. At least in the Acela line. The rail company recently unveiled its new-look, high-speed Acela train for passengers living along the northeast corridor and it comes with sleek new extras including 25% more seats, more legroom, as well as more spacious restrooms and larger storage compartments for luggage. Passengers will have more legroom on board ©Amtrak Its upgraded cafe car will have more dining and beverage options, including a greater selection of meals and craft beers, and will come with more eco-friendly packaging. Those who need to get some work done on the road will be able to plug their laptops and phones into personal outlets and USB ports at every seat, while taking advantage of the complimentary Wi-Fi on board. There are also adjustable reading lights at every seat. The upgraded cafe car will come with more food and drink options ©Amtrak Accessibility has been improved too for passengers with disabilities, allowing them to move more easily throughout the trains. There's also built-in technology that will inform passengers of their location, travel speed and any announcements from the conductor. What's more, the trains will speed up northeast travel by running at 160 miles per hour – that's 10 miles per hour faster than current models. And thanks to their lightweight design, they'll reduce carbon output by about 40% per customer. The upgraded Acela will start service in 2021 ©Marc Glucksman/Amtrak Set to hit the tracks in 2021, the new fleet will travel along the current Acela line between Boston and Washington, DC.