TSA reports over 2 million travelers the weekend before Thanksgiving

By Laura Brown
November 23, 2020
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©Thaspol Sangsee/Shutterstock
The CDC warned against traveling for the holidays as COVID-19 cases surge.

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. 

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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.


What countries can US travelers visit right now?

Editor's Note: This list was updated on October 20, 2020. Please check specific country sites for the most updated information before booking travel. In August, the department returned to its previous system of "country-specific levels of travel advice", which means it's back to rating individual countries from levels 1-4 based on their current health and security situations. The decision was made in line with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and advisories are updated regularly as situations evolve quickly. But despite the removal of the sweeping travel ban, the department warns: "we continue to recommend U.S. citizens exercise caution when traveling abroad due to the unpredictable nature of the pandemic." Canada and much of Europe, Asia and Oceania are pretty much off-limits to US travelers. But in recent weeks some countries have begun to relax their border restrictions and are now allowing US citizens to enter provided they follow the public health guidelines of the local authorities. Travelers are also encouraged to download the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive travel and emergency alerts. If you do plan to travel, below is a list of where you can go now. But it's important to note this is not a complete list and rules are quickly changing. Albania US travelers can visit Albania without the need to quarantine or prevent a negative COVID-19 test result, but they will be required to submit to health screening at the airport. "Travelers should be prepared for travel restrictions to be put into effect with little or no advance notice," the state department warns. Anguilla Travelers must pre-register their visit on the country's tourism board website and present proof of a negative COVID-19 test, taken no more than five days before travel. The British Overseas Territory is currently accepting online applications for visitors who would like to work remotely with new visa programs. See more here. Antigua and Barbuda US travelers must "present a negative Covid-19-RT-PCR (real time polymerase chain reaction) test result, taken within seven days of their flight." See more here. Armenia Armenia is open to US travelers who take a COVID-19 PCR test upon arrival or self-isolate for 14 days. Aruba Aruba is open to US travelers but they must be tested at the airport and provide requisite insurance coverage. Starting from September 24, travelers from Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Pennsylvania and Virginia, states deemed high-risk, will be required to present a negative COVID-19 result from a test taken between 12 and 72 hours before flying. The list of states who have to undergo enhanced testing is updated regularly. Aruba has also introduced the "One Happy Workation" program, which allows visitors to stay for a maximum of 90 days, and offers a series of deals and discounted rates at local accommodations. The Bahamas US visitors must quarantine for 14 days upon arrival. They also must adhere to the country's safety protocols which include presenting a "COVID-19-PCR Negative (Swab) Test" taken no more than 10 days prior to the date of arrival. See more here. Bangladesh Bangladesh is open to US travelers but they must present a negative COVID-19 test result taken no more than 72 hours before travel and self-isolate for 14 days, even with a negative test result. Coast of the Carribean Sea in Bridgetown ©Anton_Ivanov/Shutterstock Barbados See Barbados' requirements here. Belarus Despite widespread mass demonstrations, US citizens can visit Belarus without any restrictions. Health screenings are in place at airports. Bermuda See Bermuda's requirements here. Cambodia Cambodia is open to visitors provided they pay a $3000 deposit by cash or credit card for “COVID-19 service charges” at the airport upon arrival, and have $50,000 of travel insurance cover. Colombia International flights between Colombia and the US resumed on Monday with incoming passengers required to present a negative COVID-19 test result. Costa Rica Costa Rica initially opened to residents from just eight US states in September but will increase that to all US residents by Novmber. Tourists must present a negative PCR COVID-19 test result, taken no more than 72 hours before their trip. See full requirements here. Croatia is one of the few countries in Europe that is open to US travelers ©Marcin Krzyzak/Shutterstock Croatia US travelers can visit Croatia, provided they they hold evidence of paid accommodation in the country. Travelers must provide evidence of a negative COVID-19 test result taken within 48 hours of arriving in Croatia. If they don't have that, they must undergo a mandatory quarantine/self-isolation period of 14 days upon arrival in the country. Curaçao Th Dutch Caribbean island will open to residents of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut from November, with more states to follow. Tourists from these states must present their driver's licence or state ID at the borders as proof of residence and present a negative PCR COVID-19 test result. See full requirements here. Dominica See Dominica's requirements here. Dominican Republic In August, the Dominican Republic introduced free COVID-19 insurance for travelers, including US citizens, and dropped mass testing at the borders. See more here. Ecuador US travelers must present proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken no more than 10 days ahead of travel, or get tested upon arrival and quarantine while awaiting results. If traveling on to the The Galápagos Islands, travelers must take another COVID-19 test taken within 96 hours of arriving into Ecuador. Egypt Travelers must present proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken no later than 72 hours before arrival. Travelers must present paper copies of the test result, digital copies will not be accepted. Temples, archaeological sites, and museums are open to tourists. Ethiopia All visitors must present a negative COVID-19 test result before boarding their flight in addition to completing a 14-day quarantine upon their arrival. French Polynesia Travellers must have a COVID-19 test 72 hours before the departure to French Polynesia, and international travel insurance is compulsory for every non-resident visitor Ghana US citizens must present a negative COVID-19 test result from a test conducted no more than 72 hours before travel. Health screenings are in place in airports, and travelers must also undergo a second COVID-19 test upon arrival at a cost of $150 per person. The fee must be paid online and passengers must present proof of payment prior to boarding, according to the US Embassy. Grenada The Spice Island is open to US tourists but has some requirements: visitors must present a recent negative COVID-19 test result; book a minimum of four-day reservation at approved accommodation for observation and quarantine, and undergo a second test after quarantine to travel the island. See more here. Great Sphinx of Giza with the Great Pyramid of Giza. ©Anton Belo/Shutterstock Haiti All international visitors to the country must declare their COVID-19 status via an incoming flight form, will get temperature screened upon arrival and are required to quarantine for 14 days. Honduras Incoming travelers must present a negative COVID-19 PCR test result. Ireland US travelers can visit the country but nonessential travelers are asked to quarantine for 14 days and fill in a form indicating where they will stay for the duration of that time. The US Embassy in Ireland notes travelers should "restrict their movements" and "be prepared for travel restrictions to be put into effect with little or no advance notice." Due to a surge in coronavirus cases, Dublin is on Level Three of the country's five-level COVID-19 plan until October 9: restaurants and pubs are closed except for takeaway and outdoor service; museums, galleries and libraries are closed and nonessential travel is banned in the capital. The full details of the additional restrictions are available here Jamaica See Jamaica's requirements here. Kenya Travelers must present proof of a negative COVID-19 test result taken no later than 96 hours before arrival and undergo health screening. A nightly curfew is in place from 9pm until 4am and there are restrictions on interstate travel. Water bungalows at Maldives ©haveseen/Shutterstock Maldives Incoming travelers present a with a negative COVID-19 test result taken within 72 hours of arrival. Montenegro US citizens must present a negative PCR test result no older than 72 hours on arrival, or a positive antibody test result and undergo health screening at the airport. According to the US Embassy in Montenegro, travelers must not have stopped, nor transited through, countries that are not permitted to enter Montenegro within the previous 15 days. Morocco Morocco is open to travelers who have confirmed hotel reservations. Visitors are required to present a negative COVID-19 test that’s no more than 48 hours old upon arrival. Heavily touristed cities, including Marrakesh, Fez, Casablanca and Tangier, are still under a strict lockdown that started at the end of July and is in place until further notice. Mexico Land crossings between the US and Mexico are closed until October 21 but visitors can arrive by plane. However, the CDC currently recommends travelers avoid all nonessential international travel to Mexico as the COVID-19 risk there remains high in places such as Colima, Nuevo León, Nayarit, Mexico City and Baja California Sur. Tourists may be subject to health screenings at airports. Namibia Namibia requires visitors to present a recent negative COVID-19 test result upon arrival, and undergo a second test five days later. Safari parks are open in Rwanda ©Goran Bogicevic/Shutterstock Rwanda Travelers must present a negative PCR COVID-19 test certificate for a test taken no more than 120 hours before their initial flight. The US Embassy recommends that travelers carry a printed copy of their negative test results "during all legs of their flights to Rwanda." They must also take a second test and quarantine in a designated hotel for approximately 24 hours while awaiting their results. St Bart's See St Bart's requirements here. St Lucia See St Lucia's requirements here. St Maarten See St Maarten's requirements here. Serbia Serbia is open to US citizens but they must fill out on online health assessment before traveling and a second assessment 10 days into their trip. St Vincent and the Grenadines Travelers who arrive in the country must sign a Pre-Arrival Form. All travelers must present a negative COVID-19 test result taken within five days prior to travel. They will also need to quarantine in an approved hotel for five days and undergo a second test on the fifth day. South Korea US citizens must complete a mandatory 14-day quarantine when entering South Korea. The US Embassy advises that travelers will also experience "some combination of temperature screening, health questionnaires, and/or COVID-tests." All arriving passengers are required to download and respond to daily questions through the Self-Diagnosis Mobile App for 14 days. Tanzania Travelers must provide a negative test result for COVID-19 upon arrival and may be subject to health screening. View of Galata Tower, Galata Bridge in Karakoy quarter of Istanbul ©vovik_mar/Getty Images Turkey Travelers arriving in Turkey will be required to complete an information form and will be checked for symptoms. Anyone suspected of having COVID-19 will be transported to a hospital for examination. Curfews remain in place in some areas but these do not apply to foreign tourists though the US Embassy warns "local authorities may put in place additional COVID-19 restrictions, including curfews, with little or no advance notice." Turks and Caicos See Turks and Caicos' requirements here. Uganda Passengers must arrive with a negative PCR COVID-19 test certificate for a test conducted within 72 hours prior to arrival in Uganda, and undergo a health screening upon arrival, including a temperature check and assessment for other signs or symptoms. In its commitment to keep people safe, Uganda has received the World Travel and Tourism Council’s Safe Travels Global Safety & Hygiene Stamp for complying with enhanced health and safety rules. See full requirements here. United Arab Emirates In Dubai, visitors are required to present a negative COVID-19 test result, taken within 96 hours of arrival, and have medical travel insurance to cover any illness-related expenses. While in Abu Dhabi the rules are more strict; visitors are required to quarantine for 14 days and wear an electronic wristband to ensure quarantine adherence, in addition to providing a negative test result. United Kingdom US citizens arriving into the UK are required to self-isolate for 14 days. There are fears that a second wave is incoming due to a recent surge in new daily coronavirus infections. As a result, new regional lockdown measures have been applied across the country. This article was first published on September 22 and updated on October 20, 2020.