CURRENT NEWS SPECIAL

Curated articles from around the web of specific interest to travelers. Covering recent news on travel restrictions, security, air travel, cruising along with travel industry headlines.

What We Know Now About The Spread Of COVID-19

In the United States and around the world there are news reports, government official policies and health experts offering lots of advice along with outright orders on how we should act and what we should do to protect ourselves from contracting COVID-19. Often the information is contradictory, sometimes vague and even at times, unsupported by scientific evidence.

This is not suggesting that we ignore the rules and instructions being circulated, but is simply providing information on what things are the most important in providing real protection from contracting COVID-19. To highlight the differences in results from different policies consider the data that compares New York with Florida . The official requirements of these states could not be any different. Florida has moved to reduce restrictions and help business get back to normal. New York has remained mostly locked down. While Florida has a somewhat larger population than New York, the total deaths and number of cases are remarkably similar. In addition, Florida’s economy is growing rapidly while New York seems to be frozen.

To begin it is important to recognize that COVID-19 is a very contagious disease and in certain segments of the population it’s deadly. Another thing that needs to be recognized is that while medical care has greatly improved in treating COVID-19 patients, cutting mortality by two-thirds in six months, it has not been very good at slowing the spread. Looking at policies around the world and inside countries the major data suggests that differences in infection rates dependsmore on cultural differences than policies. Locations with large families living in close contact has a faster spread rate. In some cases, countries with more strict government control of their population shows better rates.

What the above indicates is that this disease spreads, regardless of government policies and the best we can do is to focus on those things that demonstrate positive results.

Masks – A number of studies suggests that the most important reason for wearing a mask seems to be to demonstrate that you care about your community. Masks are not a reliable way of preventing the COVID-19 spread. The majority of the types of masks worn are actually particularly ineffective at preventing catching or spreading the virus. Typical surgical and cloth masks aren’t very effective while the medical N95 is probably the best. Two basic masks have tested to be the best that class provides; Airism Face Mask from Uniqlo. Uniqlo Airism Face Mask and the Classic Fitted Mask from Herschel.

Best Prevention and Protection – Keep your hands off your face and wash hands often. While there is some evidence that air-born spread does occur, a vast majority of cases are acquired by picking up the virus from a surface and infecting yourself by touching mucus membranes on your face (eyes, nose and mouth). Study after study has found that this is the number one process that offers you real protection.

Most Likely Places To Catch COVID-19 – The number one contact tracing hot spot is in your home. After that several studies have discovered that the three most likely locations for COVID-19 spread are the work place (mostly production environments), bars, and food processing areas (not sure how that is defined). Reasonably low spread environments include gyms, schools (daycare and primary), outdoor recreation, religious services, all retail locations, restaurants, and oddly enough on ships and boats. In short, avoid large crowds in tight contact with each other and try and maintain reasonable space around yourself while out in public (not sure where the six feet distance came from). If you must spend time around people outside your family, wash your hands often, use sanitizer and KEEP YOUR HANDS OFF YOUR FACE.

Notes & Sources

Research published in the Annals of Internal Medicine in December found that both surgical and cloth masks proved ineffective in preventing the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. MORE HERE and HERE

In the first few months of the pandemic, there was scientific uncertainty about the usefulness of public masking. Conflicting guidance was given by several official sources from the CDC to the Department of Health. MORE HERE

Nov 17, 2020 · Studies have shown that although surgical masks are three times better at blocking microorganisms, like a virus, than homemade masks, the latter do have some limited efficacy. Of course, this efficacy varies quite a bit depending on what the homemade mask is made of and how it’s worn.

Researchers tested many of the most popular styles including woven nylon masks, multi-layer cotton masks, surgical masks, and tied bandana-style masks. It turns out, many of us are still walking around in masks that block the least amount of particles. A study published by the journal JAMA Internal Medicine in December, they set out to find the most and least effective masks, and found that one of the most popular and prevalent styles is ranked at the bottom of the list for efficacy being less than 10% effective

Contact Spreading – What we have learned so far.

A study of more than a half-million people in India who were exposed to the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 suggests that the virus’ continued spread is driven by only a small percentage of those who become infected.

In the United States contact tracing has been mostly ineffective as well over half of the people contacted by tracers refuse to cooperate making efforts virtually futile.

One New York study discovered that in July 67% of cases were spread within a household environment. Apparently staying inside with family members is the worst environment for spreading the virus. A followup report suggested that actual contact with surfaces and touching of ones face accounts for a majority of infections in the home and elsewhere.

Another U.S. study found that the spread of the virus can be traced back to three primary environments

35% of cases were spread from an identifiable close contact

31% of cases originated inside household

24% were associated with a localized community outbreak

MORE HERE

Two good reference web sites are now available for up-to-date travel information on COVID-19 requirements by country and for CDC travel recommendations.

The first is the Internatinal Air Transport Association – IATA offers an up-to-date COVID-19 Travel Regulations Map HERE.

Additional information from the The American CDC – For international travelers the American CDC now provides a list of countries and the COVID-19 threat level for each HERE.

DAILY BRIEFS

Recent News

January 23rd

Tourism Industry Scrambles Amid New CDC Guidelines – An impending new executive order and a new Center for Disease Control and Prevention policy mandating a negative Covid-19 test for Americans returning to the United States is sending foreign governments, tourism agencies, and resort properties scrambling to arrange necessary resources.

US travel industry pushes back on potential quarantine – The US air transport and travel industries are pushing back on a potential quarantine requirement for international travellers arriving in the US, currently being weighed by the administration of President Joe Biden, in order to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

World Tourism Organization Calls For Vaccine Passport – The Global Tourism Crisis Committee, at a meeting in Madrid last week organized by the United Nations’ World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), is calling for a vaccine passport, saying it must become an essential travel document to help restart international tourism.

Qatar Airways to add latest United States destination – Qatar Airways will add its 12th gateway in the United States with the resumption of four-weekly Atlanta flights starting June 1st.

Entertainment Industry Jobs No Longer Qualify for Travel Exemptions to Enter U.K. – Most entertainment industry jobs were exempt from U.K. COVID-19 rules such as the need to self-isolate for 10 days. As of this week the industry no longer qualifies for those exemptions.

Princess Cruises shrinks fleet with sale of Pacific Princess – The sale of the cruise ship is in line with parent company Carnival Corporation’s plan to accelerate the removal of less efficient ships from its fleet.

Atlantis Paradise Island Offers Free Onsite COVID-19 Testing – Atlantis Paradise Island in the Bahamas joins a number of other resorts in the Caribbean in offering free, onsite COVID-19 testing. The resort is offering the Rapid Antigen testing for up to two guests returning to the U.S.

January 19th

CDC refutes report of new highly contagious COVID strain in US – The CDC has refuted a report indicating that a new highly contagious COVID-19 strain is circulating.

Royal Caribbean sells Azamara in $201m private equity deal – The cruise line said the all cash deal with Sycamore Partners would allow it to focus on core operations after almost a year out of the water following the Covid-19 pandemic.

Disneyland Resort COVID-19 Vaccine Super Site Opens; 3K Doses Administered – Hundreds of cars lined up for the opening of Orange County’s first coronavirus vaccination super site at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim.

Etihad partners with IATA for Covid-19 Travel Pass – The mobile app is designed to help passengers easily and securely manage their travel in line with government requirements for Covid-19 tests or vaccines.

Royal Caribbean To Operate Homeport in Barbados for First Time – The Grandeur of the Seas will operate three seven- and 14-night Southern Caribbean itineraries from Bridgetown. The program includes three new ports of call for the line to Tobago, Trinidad and St. Vincent.

Singapore Airlines rolls-out Covid-19 vaccine to crew – Singapore Airlines has launched a bid to vaccinate all its crew against Covid-19. Once vaccinated, crew members will be subject to less scrutiny and fewer coronavirus-related security measures.

Costa Cruises Celebrates Float-Out of Costa Toscana at Finland

Disneyland Paris delays reopening until April – Disneyland Paris has pushed back its reopening date to April 2nd as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to sweep France. The theme park had been due to reopen on February 13th.

St Lucia to offer visitors Covid-19 tests on departure – Visitors can obtain a Covid-19 test conveniently at select hotels or at local testing facilities, with test results returned within the 72-hour time frame.

January 14th

Norwegian to abandon long-haul flights – Economy air carrier Norwegian has outlined a simplified business structure and dedicated short haul route network as it plans a return from the Covid-19 shutdown.

Royal Caribbean Group pushes back return into April – Royal Caribbean International will see the majority of its ships docked until at least April 30th, with only Spectrum of the Seas expected to return earlier, at the end of February.

The US will require all arriving passengers to get COVID 19 test – Anyone flying to the US will soon need to show proof of a negative test for COVID-19, health officials announced Tuesday. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention requirement expands on a similar one announced late last month for passengers coming from the United Kingdom. The new order takes effect in two weeks.

Flying With Pets? – What to know if you want to claim your pet is a service animal, an emotional support animal, or fits under another category in travel.

VietJet eyes aircraft purchases as it relies on vaccine rollouts to revive air travel – Vietnamese budget carrier VietJet Aviation plans to expand its investment in new aircraft and technical facilities this year after reporting a small profit in 2020 despite the coronavirus pandemic.

January 11th Update

American Re-Hires 17,000 Workers – As per the terms of accepting money from the federal government’s most recent COVID-19 relief aid package, American Airlines has re-hired 17,500 workers who were furloughed back in October.

Travel body rejects compulsory COVID-19 shots, experts say herd immunity distant – “We should never require the vaccination to get a job or to travel,” Guevara, whose organisation represents a sector accounting for as much as 10% of global employment, told Reuters.

Disney World Eliminating Free Magical Express Airport Transport in 2022 and Other WDW News – New and existing bookings in 2021 will have the option to reserve transportation via Magical Express up until Dec. 31.

Canadians returning home from Jamaica this week have been exempted from producing a negative PCR test before leaving the destination as now required by the Canadian government.

Kauai, Hawaii to welcome tourists back on its own terms – The island of Kauai plans to reopen to tourists after a halt forced by the coronavirus. Starting this week, Hawaii’s “garden island,” which had opted out of the state program that allows trans-Pacific visitors if they produce a negative test before arrival, begins its own entry program.

Germany’s New Lockdown Rules Require Travelers to Present 2 Negative COVID-19 Tests – Arrivals will also have to quarantine in addition to testing.

Expedia CEO Says Mass Tourism Will Be Back Again by Summer – Its third-quarter earnings report shows a company that’s still pulling in $1.5 billion in quarterly revenue, exceeding mid-pandemic expectations, even if that it represents $221 million in losses.

January 8th Update

JetBlue Joins American, Alaska in Changing Rules for Emotional Support Animals – As of January 11, 2021, emotional support animals will no longer be recognized as service animals.

Greece extends some COVID lockdowns until Jan. 18 – The country, in lockdown since early November due to a spike in infections mainly in the north, has seen its public health system come under severe strain while infections are recede at a slow pace.

Princess Cruises latest line to delay return – Princess Cruises has become the latest line to delay its return to operation. The Carnival-owned brand will now not be welcoming guests until at least May 14th this year.

Florida Considering Bill to Reverse Key West Cruise Ship Ban – The Florida Senate is considering for a bill that would ban local communities from trying to regulate cruise ports, a move that would reverse recent restrictions on cruise ships advanced in Key West.

Cathay Pacific suspends London flights to Hong Kong – The carrier said the decision was in view of the entry restrictions put in place by the government of Hong Kong on arrivals from the UK.

The U.S. Just Got a New National Park — and It’s a Rock Climbing and Whitewater Rafting Paradise

Top Mexican Tourism Destinations Working on Plan To Restart Sector – Updated COVID-19 Protocols to help bring tourists back.

January 7th Update

The U.K. Is now officially out of the EU on Dec. 31, 2021 and included in the 1259-page trade agreement between the EU and U.K. published Christmas Eve are new terms for short-term business visitors that will require work permits and in some cases the passing of an economic needs test. Many see some of the new policies to be mostly punitive.

The Marker Key West Harbor Resort announces a $3 million renovation of the modern, waterfront property, including its new Residence One & Two Bedroom Suites with spacious open-air balconies.

Some Travel Agents hope Biden win signals an easing of Cuba travel rules – For cruise lines and airlines, hotel companies and tour operators, restrictions on travel to Cuba ordered by President Trump in 2019 crippled what had been heralded as one of the most exciting travel “openings” in the past 20 years.

Dominican Republic extends Covid-19 healthcare offer. The ministry of tourism has announced the continuation of a free health coverage plan to March 31st for tourists arriving on commercial flights and staying at a hotel.

Jamaica welcomes boom in festive travel – Preliminary statistics from the Jamaica Tourist Board show that for the period December 22nd-28th, just over 21,000 passengers arrived on the island from around the world.

Delta moves closer to goal of free and improved WiFi – Delta has finalized a partnership with the WiFi provider Viasat, to enable it to move toward its goal of creating a free and connected experience for passengers across its network.

Princess Cruises and Holland America have joined other cruise lines in continuing a cruising pause in operations into May 2021. The cruise lines are extending their pause of cruise operations for all departures through April 30, 2021, including Alaska, Mexican Riviera, Pacific Coast, Caribbean, Mediterranean and Canada/New England departures.

Canada’s Travel Industry ‘In Tailspin’ After Government Announces New COVID Test Rules – Canada isn’t alone, dozens of countries enter third phase lockdowns.

UK government offers ÂŁ4.6 billion in new lockdown grants – more help is needed everywhere to help business pandemic policies.

Which Cruise Ships Will Be Scrapped Or Taken Out of Service Because of the COVID-19 Pandemic? Cruise Critic keeps up with cruise industry news.

World Travel and Tourism Council fosters a co-ordinated response to the sector’s coronavirus fallout – An interview with the organizations director focusing on the pandemic.

Airlines urge White House to require testing for travelers instead of travel bans – Airlines for America (A4A), which represents the major U.S. airlines, called on the Trump administration to implement a global program to require testing.

How quickly can the COVID-19 vaccine make travel possible? The COVID-19 pandemic brought the global tourism industry to a screeching halt in 2020. With vaccines starting to be rolled out, there is hope international travel can resume soon.

Royal Caribbean to provide loans – Royal Caribbean Group will make $40 million available to give travel advisors interest-free loans of up to $250,000 to help keep their travel businesses afloat.

United Nations – World Travel Organization – Tourism falls to levels last seen in 1990 – Global tourism has returned to levels of 30 years ago, with one billion fewer international arrivals and a loss of about US$ 1.1 trillion in international tourism receipts.

British Airways announces deep cuts in long-haul network – British Airways has confirmed it will cancel services to more than 15 long-haul destinations next year as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to rock the aviation sector.

Carnival Cruise Line welcomes Mardi Gras to fleet – When Mardi Gras begins guest operations in April, the 180,000-gross-ton vessel will be the most innovative ship in North America as it will be the first ship to be powered by liquefied natural gas.


“We’ve been very encouraged by the response to our travel news features that we are now adding it as a regular section. Come back often and check out frequent headline updates. “

Dennis & Judi

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