State Department lifts international travel advisory
On August 6, the US State Department announced it was lifting its blanket advisory warning against all foreign travel. The advisory was lifted with coordination from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
What does it mean for travelers?
The State Department traditionally has 4 advisory levels, from 1 to 4. Level 1 countries are consider low risk for American travelers, while Level 4 advisories are reserved for the most dangerous (such as Syria or North Korea).
In March, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the State Department issued a blanket Level 4 advisory for all countries, warning Americans against all international travel and recommending Americans abroad make their way home to the United States.
The August 6 announcement means that the State Department is going back to individual advisory recommendations based on each country's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, which you can view here: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/traveladvisories.html/
Despite the lifting of the blanket advisory, the majority of countries across the world are still at a Level 3 or higher, meaning American travelers should reconsider any plans to visit those countries.
Other borders are still closed to Americans
Regardless of the advisory levels of the American State Department, countries around the world are still closed to Americans. The vast majority of countries around the world have issued a ban on American travelers, stating the seriousness of our COVID-19 outbreak. The European Union and Canada are among popular destinations that are closed to Americans.
Great American Outdoors Act becomes law
Today, President Trump signed into law the bipartisan Great American Outdoors Act, which provides $900 million annually and an additional $9.5 billion over the next five years to cover the maintenance backlog in America's public lands. The bill is expected to create at least 100,000 jobs across America restoring public lands. Arizona Rep. Paul Grijalva, the chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, called the GAOA "one of the biggest wins for conservation in decades." He called the bill a "generational opportunity to ensure America's crown jewels are protected." Each year, over 300 million people visit America's public lands. The park service estimates that it has over $11 billion of deferred maintenance needed to update buildings, roads, bridges, tunnels and other infrastructure. It will also address infrastructure updates that will address climate change. The Great American Outdoors Act is a huge step in addressing this backlog and ensuring that America's public lands are available for future generations to enjoy.
This airline is promising to pay for COVID-19 medical and funeral costs
Emirates, an airline based out of Dubai, has announced it will be the first airline to offer full COVID-19 insurance for all passengers, regardless of what class they fly. The insurance will cover medical, quarantine and funeral costs for any passenger that catches COVID-19 during their travel. According to the press release, "Emirates customers can travel with confidence, as the airline will cover medical expenses of up to EUR 150,000 and quarantine costs of EUR 100 per day for 14 days, should they be diagnosed with COVID-19 during their travel, while they are away from home. This cover is provided by the airline, free of cost to its customers."The airline has also put forth stringent standards to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 for passengers while they are en route. The coverage is immediately in effect for any travel through October 31, 2020. The hotline number, and details of what COVID-19 related expenses are covered, is available on www.emirates.com/COVID19assistance.
Puerto Rico to keep its borders closed to non-essential travel indefinitely
It looks like The Bahamas won’t be the only popular Caribbean destination stopping U.S. travelers from visiting this summer. Puerto Rico, which reopened briefly on July 15, will remain closed to domestic and international tourism indefinitely following a recent spike in Covid-19 cases. No new reopening date has been released yet and Discover Puerto Rico’s travel advisory states that until further notice, only essential travel will be allowed to the island, while “a continuous assessment of the situation in Puerto Rico and in the United States will influence Island-wide orders that prioritize health and safety.” In other words, you probably won’t be able to visit Puerto Rico this summer, and if you’re already there, it’s definitely not going to be your typical carefree vacation. Last week, Governor Wanda Vázquez Garced announced the latest round of health and safety measures being taken to better protect residents. For starters, face masks must be worn at all times—over your nose and mouth whether you’re inside or outside—or you could face fines, and you’ll need to practice social distancing by staying at least six feet from anyone outside your group whenever you’re in a public space. As of July 17, all bars, clubs, gyms, casinos, theaters and other attractions are closed until further notice, and you won’t be able to buy alcohol anywhere after 7 p.m. Restaurants and museums can stay open as long as they’re running at 50% capacity and everyone is social distancing. Hotels are still open but guests must maintain proper distancing measures and wear masks in all public areas. Malls, hair salons and spas are open by appointment only, while hotels and restaurants are conducting temperature checks to ensure guests have temps under 100.3 degrees before they’re allowed to enter. Public transportation is also suspended and there’s an Island-wide curfew in place between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. through July 31. Additionally, you’re only allowed to go to the beach between the hours of 5 a.m. and 7 p.m. if you’ll be jogging, swimming or surfing—no strolling on the beach or sun tanning here—and any recreational activities involving boats are off the table right now. All marinas, tourist attractions and tours are closed for the foreseeable future, as are hotel pools and fitness facilities. You can, however, go to the golf course Monday through Saturday. Tourists also aren’t allowed to take the ferry to Vieques or Culebra, as that privilege is reserved for residents only. Things are even more strict on Sundays, when alcohol sales are prohibited and all non-essential services—except gas stations, supermarkets, pharmacies and restaurants providing pick-up or delivery—are closed. Beyond that, if you are planning any essential travel to Puerto Rico or want to visit whenever it officially reopens, be aware that arrival procedures have changed due to the pandemic. Mask-wearing and social distancing are mandatory as soon as you enter the airport, and thermographic cameras are there to monitor your temperature as you proceed through customs. You’ll need to fill out a Travel Declaration Form ahead of time online through the Puerto Rico Health Department’s website, and upon landing in San Juan, present negative test results from a molecular Covid-19 test taken within the last 72 hours. If you’re unable to show a negative test result, you might be able to do a Covid-19 test locally, but you’ll have to self-isolate until you can prove you have one. In some cases, especially if you are showing symptoms at the airport, a rapid COVID-19 test may be conducted and a 14-day quarantine may be ordered. In all situations, you’re expected to pay for any associated medical or accommodation expenses. Puerto Rico has done a decent job keeping Covid-19 under control, thanks to a series of health and safety guidelines aimed at keeping both visitors and residents from spreading the virus. As of this writing, The New York Times reports there have been 12,940 cases in Puerto Rico since the start of the pandemic, compared to the rest of the U.S., which has now surpassed 3.9 million cases.
Delta turns flight around because passengers refused to wear a mask
Last week, a Delta Airlines flight out of Detroit had to return to the gate after two passengers aboard refused to wear a mask. A spokesperson for Delta stated that the "customers in question were removed due to non-compliance with Delta’s mask requirement." Delta's website states the current mask policy as this:Delta customers and employees are required to wear a face mask, or appropriate cloth face covering over their nose and mouth throughout their travel, aligning with best practice guidelines from the CDC, opens in a new window. Plastic face shields may be used in addition to a mask but are not approved mask replacements. Any mask with an exhaust valve is not approved as an acceptable face mask for customers traveling on any Delta operated flight. Face coverings will be required across all Delta touchpoints: Lobby Check-in Delta Sky Clubs Boarding Gate Areas Jet Bridges On board the aircraft for the duration of the flight – except during meal service Usage is strongly encouraged in high-traffic areas, including security lines and restrooms.