Traveling has always come with complications: missed flights, lost luggage, mysteriously canceled reservations. But the coronavirus pandemic upped the ante on travelers’ anxieties, introducing the predicament of how to travel as safely as possible or whether to travel at all. By The Way wants to help you navigate the chaos with expert-backed advice.
Reporter Natalie B. Compton will take your questions to the right professionals to get answers travelers need as you negotiate the new normal. Whether you are debating a family visit out-of-state, wondering how to do a work trip remote, or curious about the etiquette of masking on your journey, we’re here to help. Submit your questions to us here, and stay tuned for advice.
Traveling during the pandemic:
Tips: Safe holiday travel | Coronavirus testing | Sanitizing your hotel | Using Uber and Airbnb
Flying: Pandemic packing | Airport protocol | Staying healthy on plane | Fly or drive | Best days to fly
Road trips: Tips | Rental cars | Best snacks | Long-haul trains | Foliage finder | Art road trips
Camping: First-time | Camping alone | Meal planning | Glamping | National parks
Places: Hawaii | Machu Picchu | New York | Private islands | Caribbean | Mexico | Europe
The outlook for U.S. hotels at the end of 2020 is slightly better than previously thought, but the industry isn’t likely to return to pre-pandemic levels for years, according to data recently released at the NYU International Hospitality Industry Investment Conference.
Data analysts STR and Tourism Economics suggest U.S. hotel occupancy will close the year with an average of 42.2%, or 2.5% higher than the agencies’ last prediction, made in August. The upgrade came courtesy of stronger-than-expected performances by hotels in the fall.
However, the forecast for 2021 remains unchanged. STR predicts hotels will capture 80% of pre-pandemic demand by the end of next year, and full recovery is not expected until 2024.
“Even with the encouraging vaccine news of this week, this pandemic and the subsequent economic impact will continue to limit hotel demand generators into the second half of next year,” said STR president Amanda Hite.
Orlando hotel performance remains below the national average. Occupancy in Orlando area hotels was 31.9% for the week ending Nov. 7, according to STR.
Loss of demand has hit tourism-heavy Orlando especially hard. Thousands of people have been laid off or indefinitely furloughed from hotels. As of Oct. 14, the Orange County Convention Center had canceled or rescheduled more than 90 conferences and events, estimating the economic impact to the region to be $1.8 billion.
In STR’s recovery timeline, essential meeting travel and regional events could begin to return next year, with international events starting to come back in the third quarter. But the rebound is based on “[a]ssuming substantial progress is made against the virus in the first half of 2021,” according to Tourism Economics president Adam Sacks.
The patchwork of restrictions between regions highlights the ability of states to take different approaches while dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.
While all of the Northeast and most of the mid-Atlantic states have implemented statewide travel restrictions, more than half the states, including two of the biggest, California and Texas, have no such restrictions.
States hit the hardest when the epidemic began in the United States last spring, such as New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, have the toughest travel restrictions.
As of Nov. 13, any traveler from the more than 40 states and territories currently on the tri-state’s advisory list must self-quarantine for 14 days. States will appear on the advisory list if they have new daily positive test rates higher than 10 per 100,000 residents or are states with a 10 percent or higher positivity rate over a seven-day rolling average.
Instead of opting for statewide restrictions, some local officials have imposed restrictions on travel to the most populous cities.
Check the interactive map below to see the latest guidance on travel and possible travel restrictions. This map will be updated weekly.
See NBC News’ coverage of the coronavirus, and see a map of coronavirus cases around the world or charts showing the day-by-day number of infections in the U.S. and worldwide.
The exciting news from Pfizer PFE about their successful Covid vaccine is encouraging for the return of gathering and travel. But this, or any other vaccine, is far from a silver bullet as travel demand recovery needs more than this to fully rebound. The issues with a vaccine extend beyond just access, but also acceptance. Is it clear that, properly vaccinated, one cannot still spread the virus, for example? How many people will take the vaccine? Taking this down to a single travel decision or a government policy on quarantines makes it difficult to think that an effective vaccine helps push this far enough.
What travel really needs is a five minute or less test that is low cost, easy to administer and gives accurate results. There are companies working on this now.
Let’s start with an airplane. A quick test would allow everyone to test at the airport or earlier, and know that everyone boarding the plane has tested negatively. Obviously, a well distributed vaccine will help this as it will increase the likelihood of more people testing negative. You may miss having that seat next to you empty for comfort purposes, but wouldn’t have to think that you were compromising safety as a result.
Now consider a theme park. These are mostly outdoor, and make it easier with masks and distancing to participate even today. But if you knew that everyone in the park had tested negatively, wouldn’t that make the day less stressful and easier to navigate? Again, vaccines help but don’t give this level of confidence. Consider how you might answer this simple question:
When considering going out to eat at a restaurant, would you prefer:
A. To know that you are vaccinated and therefore not likely to get the virus during this visit, or
B. Know that everyone eating in that restaurant while you are there has just tested negative for the virus
I would expect a huge percentage of people would answer B, and while this makes sense individually it also is why accurate and fast testing would likely push regulators and governments to relax quarantines and limits. It would be hard for NY, for example, to easily reduce their quarantine and testing protocols, and now 10pm curfews, just from knowing that a vaccine is available but without any mandate for everyone to actually take it. Also, even at a terrific 90% effectiveness, that’s not 100% so policymakers would have to consider that too. Compare that to saying “if everyone is tested before entering the bar, stay open as long as you want as long as you don’t let in anyone who tests positively” is easier to justify and police.
Vaccines are great and the sooner the better for everyone, with good encouragement
Colorado’s outdoor recreation economy made up 3.1% of the state’s total economy last year, according to data released by the federal government.
Outdoor recreation contributed $12.2 billion in total to the state’s economy and employed 149,140 people in 2019, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), which released the data this week.
Colorado’s largest conventional activity was snow sports, like skiing and snowboarding, which contributed $1.7 billion, while other outdoor recreation activities contributed almost $1.75 billion.
Colorado is one of 11 states where outdoor recreation made up 3.1% or more of a state’s economy. The states where outdoor recreation added the highest percentage of gross domestic product (GDP) include Hawaii (5.8%), Vermont (5.2%), Montana (4.7%), Florida (4.4%), Wyoming (4.2%), and Maine (4.2%).
Nationally, outdoor recreation made up 2.1% of the country’s GDP in 2019, contributing $459.8 billion, according to the BEA.
The Boulder-based Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) said the industry plays a key role in the country’s economic recovery as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.
“The industry is a vital component of national, state and local economies, as well as an important catalyst to America’s economic recovery,” OIA Executive Director Lise Aangeenbrug said in a statement.
OIA said it anticipates the industry’s figures will increase in 2020, “given the rise in outdoor participation during COVID-19.”
Activities on federal lands in Colorado contributed $7.4 billion to the state’s gross domestic product (GDP) and supported over 62,400 jobs last year, according to data released last month by the U.S. Department of Interior, which manages over 9 million acres of federal land in the state.
Those activities include energy and mineral development, which contributed $5.5 billion in added value, and recreation, which added $1.2 billion to GDP.
The founder of Hays Travel, the family business that saved thousands of jobs when it bought Thomas Cook’s shops, has died.
John Hays, who founded the UK’s largest independent travel agent and expanded it with his wife Irene, collapsed at the company’s Sunderland headquarters on Friday. He was 71 years old.
“It is with the deepest sadness and regret that we have to announce that John Hays, the founder and managing director of Hays Travel died today, while doing the job he loved,” the company said. “He was held in immense respect by his staff, colleagues, family and friends.”
Hays Travel bought the majority of Thomas Cook’s retail estate last year after the world’s oldest travel company fell into liquidation, saving more than 2,000 jobs.
In August, however, it was forced to cut just under 900 jobs, or almost 20 per cent of its workforce, after the government declared that tourists returning from Spain would have to quarantine, derailing the company’s path to recovery from the pandemic.
Mr and Mrs Hays at the time said they were “devastated” about the job losses.
Hays Travel launched in 1980, at the back of Mr Hays’ mother’s shop in Seaham. Two years later, the business opened its first travel agent shop in Sunderland, where the company would later be based.
Sunderland council leader Graeme Miller paid tribute to Mr Hays, who was a former vice-chairman of Sunderland football club and a freeman of the city, saying he “remained very true to his roots and his community responsibilities”.
The group had 650 shops in the UK and employed roughly 4,500 people before the redundancies announced in August. It made a pre-tax profit of £3.4m in the year ending October 2019, on gross sales of more than £1bn.
Mr Hays was an Oxford mathematics graduate, who later gained an MBA from Manchester Business School.
Mark Tanzer, chief executive of Abta, the travel association, said: “We were shocked and saddened to hear that John Hays has passed away.
“John was a major figure in the travel industry over many years, and created one of the industry’s most successful companies. Our thoughts and sympathies are with his wife Irene and his family, colleagues and friends at this very sad time.”
Irfan Peer Mohamed, director of food and beverage at the Argonaut Hotel in San Francisco, watched his staff shrink from 80 to about 10 during the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic.
He knew he would soon be unemployed, but he kept his team informed and prepared for being out of work as best he could.
“I wanted to make sure everybody would be okay,” Mohamed told Newsweek. “I knew it was going to be bad, and it’s been rough.”
A total of 7.653 million leisure and hospitality workers, or about 47% of the industry’s workforce, lost their jobs in April—the largest one-month net decline during the pandemic, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported.
Mohamed was one of them.
Pete Hillan, spokesman for the California Hotel & Lodging Association, said there are about 6,000 hotels in the state employing an estimated 235,000 workers. “The coronavirus pandemic has decimated travel and tourism throughout the state,” he told Newsweek. “The impact is going to be felt for years, and the industry won’t return to pre-pandemic levels until 2024.”
Hillan said the hotel industry follows guidelines established by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to limit the spread of COVID-19 to protect guests and staff. Nevertheless, occupancy rates remain low. Demand for conventions, business meetings, bar mitzvahs and weddings has collapsed as most leisure travel vanished.
And that means hard times for hotel employees.
“We’re now in the eighth month of the pandemic,” Hillan said. “Many employees are running out of benefits that help them survive.”
Hotel occupancy rates have recovered from record lows, but still remain well below average. Bookings on Oahu in the Hawaiian Islands were down 82.4% in September compared with a year ago, while occupancy in New York was off 77.5%, New York investment bank Goldman Sachs said in a research report.
Economy and mid-priced hotels have rebounded faster than other market sectors, but still remain significantly below average. High-end hotels recently reported a slight uptick, but remain near record lows, the New York investment bank said.
Construction of new rooms has all but stopped, and low occupancy rates force hotels to cut prices to compete for fewer business and leisure travelers, further straining profit.
The COVID-19 pandemic has whacked hotel stocks. Hyatt Hotels recently fetched $64.88 a share, down 31.69% from its 52-week high of $94.98. Marriott International recently changed hands at $115.26 a share, down 24.86% from its 52-week high of $153.39. At $12.41 a share, Extended Stay America is down 18.84% from its 52-week high of $15.29.
In New York, some hotels are providing temporary housing for the homeless as a stopgap measure to generate revenue. Residents of Manhattan’s posh Upper West Side objected when homeless people were lodged in the Lucerne Hotel. Similar objections were voiced in Brooklyn and other parts of the city where other
The town of Norwell is updating its Open Space and Recreation Plan and will seek the continued participation of residents in the final OSRP virtual public forum from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Nov. 19.
The 2020 OSRP update will set the goals and priorities that will guide the town’s actions in maintaining, protecting and improving its open spaces, parks and recreational resources and make the town eligible for state funds to acquire and improve conservation and recreation land.
Hundreds of residents have made contributions to the 2020 OSRP update by completing the town wide survey and attending the first virtual public forum in October. A working draft of the 2020 Open Space and Recreation Plan will be posted on the project website at https://bit.ly/3eSETfj.
The forum will consist of a presentation, interactive exercises and small group discussions. Live virtual attendance and participation through Zoom is strongly encouraged. Participants must RSVP in advance at https://bit.ly/36hhbFn. Participants will receive a link that they can use to join the forum.
Participants that are unable to attend the meeting with a computer, tablet or smartphone through Zoom can also call in to the forum with the number 646 876 9923. The ID number is 955 3114 5040. The passcode is 024147.
To learn more about the Open Space and Recreation Plan process, visit https://bit.ly/301E51f or contact Marynel Wahl, conservation commission chair, at 617-592-5632.
The OSRP Committee is also seeking photographs that highlight the town of Norwell’s existing open space, conservation and recreation areas. These photographs will be considered for inclusion in the final 2020 Open Space and Recreation Plan. To submit any high-resolution photos, email Marynel Wahl at [email protected] Submitters should include their name, contact information and additional details regarding the photo.
Victor Ballestas and 6060 Indian Creek Drive, Miami Beach (Credit: Google Maps)
Integra intends to buy all 82 units of a Miami Beach condo-hotel that was once the subject of a fierce foreclosure battle, already spending $15 million for about 80 units.
Miami-based Integra has partnered with Sagar Desai, principal of Miami-based Activate Hospitality, to put together a business plan for the Sixty Sixty hotel at 6060 Indian Creek Drive, principal Victor Ballestas told The Real Deal.
The partnership is still deciding if the hotel will partner with a brand to make improvements to the building, Ballestas said. He hopes to complete improvements in the next nine months for a relaunch next season.
Among its purchases, Integra just closed on an $11.5 million purchase of 65 units from companies affiliated with Port Orange-based The Schecher Group, records show. Integra also paid $50,000, each, for three units owned by Setter LLC, managed by Alan Lieberman. It also bought a unit from Oded Tabachnik of Encino, California, for $70,000.
Schecher Group is led by Richard Schecher Sr. and Jr. In 2018, Schecher prevailed in a foreclosure lawsuit against dozens of unit owners in the Sixty Sixty. Schecher had alleged the owners failed to pay about $9.4 million in assessments. Unit owners accused Schecher of a hostile takeover of the condo-hotel.
Richard Schecher Sr. appears to have stepped away from the business, becoming an ordained minister in the Universal Life Church in May, according to his website.
Integra has been busy in South Florida. The company recently secured approval from Monroe County for a 280-unit development on Stock Island near Key West. Integra and a partner also plan to invest $58 million to develop a 13-story, 271-unit affordable senior housing project in Miami’s Allapattah neighborhood.
Texas senator suggests it’s too soon to declare Biden the winner because Puerto Rico is still counting votes
The Senate Republicans who have not conceded publicly that President-elect Joe Biden won the 2020 election argue that President Trump has the right to challenge the results in court, or point out that the vote totals haven’t been certified yet, or admit they need his voters to show up in Georgia’s special Senate elections, or privately acknowledge that they would pay a political price for not humoring Trump’s baseless fraud claims. Some say it’s best to let the courts swat down the fraud allegations so people who voted for Trump will feel assured the system worked.But this reason for letting “process run its course” posted by Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) on Thursday is new.> Another example of why it is prudent to let the process run its course: Thousands of Uncounted Votes Found a Week After Election in Puerto Rico https://t.co/YYxMhNSAdi> > — Senator John Cornyn (@JohnCornyn) November 12, 2020Puerto Rico, of course, doesn’t get to vote for president (or send members of Congress to Washington), so it wasn’t clear why Cornyn would bring up its uncounted votes. After getting needled for hours on Twitter, he said he wasn’t necessarily referring to the presidential race — though he did not explain what other “process” he had in mind. All other major races have been called and the losers conceded.> Neither the story or my comments are limited to presidential elections. fail https://t.co/RTQNk51ZIt> > — Senator John Cornyn (@JohnCornyn) November 13, 2020Cornyn, who won re-election last week, did send more subtle signals that he accepts the results of the election, retweeting two recaps of the Homeland Security Department’s cybersecurity agency affirming that “the Nov. 3 election was the most secure in American history” and “there is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised.”More stories from theweek.com 7 scathingly funny cartoons about Trump’s refusal to concede Trump is reportedly ‘very aware’ he lost the election but is putting up a fight as ‘theater’ Obama says he is ‘troubled’ by GOP senators enabling Trump and his false election claims