Day: November 13, 2020

Travel industry pays tribute after death of John Hays | Hays

The founder of Hays Travel, the family-owned business that rescued thousands of jobs at Thomas Cook, has died.

John Hays, who started the travel firm in 1980, collapsed on Friday while working at its head office in Sunderland. The 71-year-old was married to the co-owner, Irene Hays.

The pair were praised in October 2019 when they purchased all 555 of Thomas Cook’s high street shops after the tour firm failed, with a pledge to rescue 2,500 jobs.

Hays Travel said in a statement: “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. John, who with his wife and co-owner, Irene Hays, bought the Thomas Cook retail estate a year ago, was at work in the company’s Sunderland head office when he collapsed.

“John built Hays Travel into the UK’s largest independent travel agent providing jobs and careers for thousands of young people over 40 years. Throughout this past difficult year he did everything in his power to save jobs and protect the travel industry.”

More than 7,000 people are employed by the firm, which had a turnover in excess of £1bn in 2018. Hays was a former vice-chairman of Sunderland football club and was awarded the freedom of the city in 2016.

In an interview with the Guardian in April, he said the timing of the Thomas Cook deal had not been perfect, as the coronavirus pandemic devastated the travel industry. “Yes, it’s unfortunate,” he said. “Two months ago things were going fantastically but it’s not anybody’s fault and in these circumstances, all you can do is make the best of it. We’ll do what we can to protect our staff, protect the business and protect our customers. We’ve just got a positive attitude on life.”

Sunderland AFC said: “John was a champion of the north-east and the city of Sunderland. Our thoughts are with his wife, Irene, his family and his friends at this time.”

Mark Tanzer, the chief executive of travel trade organisation Abta, said: “We were shocked and saddened to hear this afternoon’s news 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.”

Derek Jones, the chief executive of the travel company Kuoni, said: “John was an inspiration and a true legend of the industry, but more importantly he was a great friend.”

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A mistress, home gym and hotel stay: How feds uncovered the casino bribery scandal involving Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe Chair Cedric Cromwell

The chair of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, indicted this week in a bribery scheme involving a multi-million-dollar casino project, is accused of using tens of thousands of dollars from the conspiracy on his mistress, a home gym and a stay at an expensive Boston hotel, authorities said.

Cedric Cromwell, a 55-year-old Attleboro resident, was arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation over claims he used his position as tribe chair to enrich himself and engaged in a bribery conspiracy with David DeQuattro.

DeQuattro, a Warwick, Rhode Island resident, is the owner of an architecture-and-design company that was contracted as part of the tribe’s effort to build a casino and resort in Taunton, according to a statement from U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling’s office.

The governing body of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, which has roughly 3,000 total members, elected Cromwell as chair in 2009. He was reelected to serve in the 4-year position again in 2013 and 2017 as well, court records showed.

His responsibilities in the position consisted of presiding over all meetings of the tribal council and performing “the usual duties of a chairperson,” including acting as the tribe’s official spokesperson, engaging in public relations, serving as the coordinator over all tribal government activities and exercising any other authority delegated to him by the tribal council.

However, authorities alleged Cromwell, as chair of the tribe and head of the Wampanoag Tribe Gaming Authority, used his position and influence to solicit and accept payments and “other things of value” from DeQuattro’s architecture firm in exchange for “favorable action.”

The indictment claimed the gaming authority’s contract with DeQuattro’s company did not have a termination date. It just stated either party could terminate the contract for cause with seven days’ notice or “for convenience” with one month’s notice.

From July 2014 to May 2017, DeQuattro is accused of providing Cromwell with a stream of payments and in-kind benefits valued at $57,549 in exchange for the architecture firm being paid nearly $5 million under its contract, Lelling’s office said.

The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe’s plan to build and operate the casino-resort in Taunton, which they were going to call the First Light Resort and Casino, aimed to generate revenue for the tribe, according to the 23-page indictment against Cromwell and DeQuattro.

The Tribal Council tried to remove Cromwell from power earlier this week, sources told MassLive, but the measure was narrowly defeated.

“The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe is deeply concerned about Chairman Cedric Cromwell being indicted on several charges,” the tribe said in a statement. “Tribal Council will hold an emergency meeting this afternoon and will be taking immediate action.”

The payments to Cromwell allegedly included $44,000 in personal checks written by DeQuattro to CM International Consulting LLC, an entity owned by one of the tribe chair’s friends, according to officials.

The tribe chair is accused of telling his friend to deposit DeQuattro’s checks and use the funds to buy treasurer’s checks to pay either Cromwell or a shell entity he had incorporated called One Nation

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The Drake Hotel Introduces Princess Diana Package Inspired By Her Stay There

As the next season of Netflix’s “The Crown” introduces Princess Diana, The Drake Hotel is offering a royal package that gives a glimpse into the late royal’s time there.

In particular, the package at this hotel includes two overnight stays in the exact same suite the princess slept in almost 25 years ago.

“We felt it was a timely alignment to bring forth our unique history with the royal family and Princess Diana’s stay with us during her visit to Chicago in 1996,” said General Manager Damien McArdle, in a media statement.

The Drake’s “Crowning a Lady” package is based upon not only where Princess Diana rested, but also some of her favorite things.

With a required minimum two-night stay, with upgrades available, guests will get to experience what the beloved People’s Princess enjoyed during her stay within this 1,500-square-foot opulent suite.

They will include: 

– A stationary bicycle and mineral water;

– Fresh forget-me-nots, which were Princess Diana’s favorite flowers, that are placed throughout the suite and sourced from the hotel’s Mangel Florist;

– A copy of “ABBA: The Official Photo Book,” as a nod to Princess Diana’s favorite band;

– An in-room set-up to binge watch “The Crown”;

– Princess Diana’s favorite perfume, Quelques Fleurs by Houbigant Paris.

The Drake’s “Crowning a Lady” package treats guests to other hotel services that Princess Diana also partook in. In particular, they involve dining.

An exclusive afternoon tea service at the hotel’s Palm Court will incorporate Princess Diana’s favorite tea, Rose Pouchong. In the evening, a once-in-a-lifetime dinner will revive the same three-course menu served to Diana, plus her cocktail of choice, a Peach Bellini.

Guests will also have access to an incredible piece of The Drake’s history with Diana. Via a white glove service, they will view her original and authentic signature documented in the hotel’s Official Drake Autograph Book.

“We really strived to bring to fruition a caliber of delightful service and royal treatment to inspire travel with this limited time package offering, especially while so many people across the globe are dreaming of their next jaunt,” said McArdle.

Princess Diana stayed at The Drake for three days during June 1996. She was in Chicago to raise money for cancer research at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

She occupied what was known then as the hotel’s Presidential Suite. Since that time, the suite has been named after the princess, and its interiors remains largely unchanged in her honor. A 360-degree tour of the Princess Diana suite can be seen here.

This prestigious experience

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Homeless Men Moved Into a Tourist Hotel. What Followed Was Unexpected.

An opera singer who also studied public relations is struggling to find work. His new roommate, released from prison a year ago, is trying to find his footing, too. A neighbor is focused on his sobriety.

All three men live at the Lucerne Hotel, which used to offer spa services and valet parking to tourists on the Upper West Side.

The Lucerne is now one of 63 hotels the city has turned into homeless shelters since the beginning of the pandemic to help prevent the spread of coronavirus inside dormitory-style shelters where single men and women cannot safely distance.

The conversion of hotels into shelters has sparked the threat of lawsuits, an actual lawsuit, a dozen protests, news conferences and the formation of several neighborhood groups — some opposed to shelters and others in favor. But caught in the middle of the political push-and-pull are displaced men and women, a group whose lives have often been upended by evictions, unemployment and other traumatic events.

“I don’t want to leave because of the love that we experienced,” said a resident of the Lucerne who goes by Shams DaBaron.

For some men living at the Lucerne, the debate has had an unexpected effect: a sense of belonging that eluded them at other shelters. Hundreds of people banded together to pressure Mayor Bill de Blasio and his administration to move the men. But other residents, community activists and advocacy groups rallied around the men, and in October a judge delayed a plan to relocate them.

That pause could end on Monday if a Manhattan Supreme Court justice decides to move the men to a Radisson Hotel in the Financial District instead of allowing them to stay for now.

Mr. DaBaron, 51, has become the de facto representative of the men at the hotel, a role that has kept him busy as he clings to sobriety.

He and some of the other men were flabbergasted when people welcomed them with kind messages in sidewalk chalk and donated clothes.

Putting their babies in our arms, their babies, I don’t know these women!” said Mr. DaBaron. “Bringing their dogs and saying, ‘Hey, hold my dog,’ and ‘Hey, he loves you,’ and I’m saying, ‘This is crazy, I’ve never experienced this in my life.’”

The Lucerne became the focus for the debate on homeless hotels this summer after more than 200 men moved there in July. Some residents complained about increased loitering, drug use and public urination. A private Facebook group that now has more than 15,000 members became a forum that sometimes veered into racist, degrading language. A group of residents hired Randy Mastro, a powerful lawyer and former deputy mayor for Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani who has represented Mr. de Blasio in the past, to threaten a lawsuit against the city.

Supporters of the men saw the complaints and efforts to move them as pure NIMBYism.

The debate has been so volatile that people on both sides said they have been doxxed. Mr. Mastro’s

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Sacramento got state funding to turn a hotel into homeless housing. The project was nixed

A controversial plan to convert a River District hotel into housing for the homeless has been nixed.

Sacramento had scored funding from a competitive state program called Project Homekey to convert the Hawthorn Suites into 100 units of homeless housing in a part of the city where the homeless crisis is dire.

Since the location was announced, the city has been hit with two lawsuits trying to block the project – one by the developer of luxury apartments across the street and one from an organization that represents businesses in the area.

But the lawsuits did not kill the project, said Jeree Glasser, Jamboree Housing’s vice president of Northern California.

“This was purely an appraisal issue,” Glasser said.

Jamboree, an affordable housing developer, had signed a purchase agreement for the property, Glasser said. But then the state required an appraisal, which came back at a lower amount than one that was done prior to the coronavirus pandemic. The seller wanted to sell for the higher price, but the state’s rules prohibited Jamboree from paying more than the appraised value, Glasser said.

The hotel owner, Calabasas-based the Ezralow Co., did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

The news will mean at least one of the two lawsuits will be dropped.

“I don’t think there would be any other reason to continue the lawsuit from my perspective,” said Anthony Scotch, a representative for the 500 Bercut LLC group, which sued the city in September. The lawsuit claimed that with the project, the city was going back out on its promise to stop placing homeless services in the River District, hurting the area’s revitalization efforts.

The homeless project would have stalled efforts to attract investors for a 250-unit high-end apartment complex planned to be built next to the American River levee on Bercut Drive, just east of Interstate 5 on the former Rusty Duck and Hungry Hunter restaurant sites, Scotch has said. The Hawthorn Suites sits across the street from that site.

It’s unclear if the news will cause the River District to drop its lawsuit, which it filed earlier this month against the city, Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency, Jamboree Housing and several state agencies.

River District board executive director Jenna Abbott did not immediately respond to a request seeking comment.

That lawsuit claims local officials were planning to improperly use federal coronavirus stimulus funds to help fund the project, which would have provided permanent homeless housing for about 55 years.

The city and SHRA declined comment on the River District lawsuit because they have not yet been served with it, spokespeople said.

The city was planning to use about $9 million in CARES funds for the project, which can now be used for other items before the end of the year, said Mary Lynne Vellinga, Mayor Darrell Steinberg’s spokeswoman. Reallocation of those funds would need City Council approval.

Bob Erlenbusch of the Sacramento Regional Coalition to End Homelessness called the news “a tragedy for our unhoused neighbors.”

“To have

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Atlanta principal drowns in Puerto Rico while trying to save his wife

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A well-respected Atlanta-area high school principal has drowned on a Puerto Rican beach while trying to rescue his wife, who also perished in the ocean during a weekend getaway. 

Jamar Robinson, the principal of Westlake High School in South Fulton, and his wife AnnMari Robinson, an assistant professor at Georgia State University, have been identified as the tourists who died last Sunday in San Juan, Puerto Rico. 

The couple leave behind their two sons, ages 14 and 15, including a boy with special needs, who are now staying with relatives. 

Steven Nelson standing next to a body of water: Tragedy; Georgia high school principal Jamar Robinson and his college professor wife, AnnMari (pictured), both drowned in Puerto Rico last week

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Tragedy; Georgia high school principal Jamar Robinson and his college professor wife, AnnMari (pictured), both drowned in Puerto Rico last week

a group of people on a beach: The Robinsons were on the beach behind the La Concha hotel in San Juan (pictured) on Sunday when a rip current pulled them under

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The Robinsons were on the beach behind the La Concha hotel in San Juan (pictured) on Sunday when a rip current pulled them under

According to a local news outlet, the Robinsons had traveled to Puerto Rico last weekend and were staying at the Conrad hotel.

At around 3pm on Sunday, Jamar and AnnMari were swimming behind the La Concha hotel when a strong rip current dragged the woman out to sea.

Her husband went after her, trying to get his wife to safety, but they both ended up being pulled under.

Several people who were on the scene attempted to rescue the Robinsons, but to no avail.

Westlake’s head football coach Booby May later confirmed Robinsons’ passing on Twitter.

‘Our hearts are broken for the family of Mr. Robinson and Mrs. Robinson and the entire Westlake community,’ May wrote. ‘We will always remember Mr. Robinson as the principal who worked tirelessly, was always upbeat, passionate, never missed a game or event and LOVED his students with a heart that was unmatched.’

a large building: Jamar Robinson served as the principal at Westlake High School in South Fulton, Georgia

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Jamar Robinson served as the principal at Westlake High School in South Fulton, Georgia

The Fulton County school system released an official statement addressing the tragic deaths of the principal and his wife, reported Atlanta Journal Constitution.

‘Robinson was an inspirational leader who brought joy with his passion for education and his students,’ officials stated. ‘We join the community in remembering him and expressing our condolences to his family.’

According to his biography posted on the Westlake High School’s website, Robinson was an Atlanta native and received his Bachelor’s degree in psychology from Florida A&M University, where he served as a drum major in the marching band. 

He then went on to earn advanced degrees from Georgia State and Georgia Southern universities.

Robinson has been repeatedly recognized for his work as an educator, including in 2014, when he was named an ‘Outstanding Georgia Citizen’ by then Secretary of State Brian Kemp.

a man wearing a blue uniform: Robinson was named an 'Outstanding Georgia Citizen' in 2014 by then Secretary of State Brian Kemp

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Robinson was named an ‘Outstanding Georgia Citizen’ in 2014 by then Secretary of State Brian Kemp

Robinson met his wife, AnnMari, at Florida A&M University, where graduated with degrees in criminal justice and public administration. At the time of

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More than 130 Secret Service officers are said to be infected with coronavirus or quarantining in wake of Trump’s campaign travel

The spread of the coronavirus — which has sidelined roughly 10 percent of the agency’s core security team — is believed to be partly linked to a series of campaign rallies that President Trump held in the weeks before the Nov. 3 election, according to the people, who, like others interviewed for this report, spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the situation.

The outbreak comes as coronavirus cases have been rapidly rising across the nation, with more than 152,000 new cases reported Thursday.

The virus is having a dramatic impact on the Secret Service’s presidential security unit at the same time that growing numbers of prominent Trump campaign allies and White House officials have fallen ill in the wake of campaign events, where many attendees did not wear masks.

Among those who are infected are White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and outside political advisers Corey Lewandowski and David Bossie.

In addition, at least eight staffers at the Republican National Committee, including Chief of Staff Richard Walters, have the virus, according to officials at the organization. Some of those infected are in field offices across the country, including Pennsylvania, where some believe they were exposed in large staff gatherings, an official said.

White House spokesman Judd Deere said the administration takes “every case seriously.” He referred questions about the Secret Service outbreak to agency officials. A spokeswoman for the Secret Service declined to comment.

Trump went on a travel blitz in the final stretch of the campaign, making five campaign stops on each of the last two days. On Nov. 2, Trump’s campaign schedule required five separate groups of Secret Service officers — each numbering 20 to several dozen — to travel to Fayetteville, N.C.; Scranton, Pa.; Traverse City, Mich.; and Kenosha and Grand Rapids, Wis.; to screen spectators and secure the perimeter around the president’s events. President-elect Joe Biden made two campaign stops that day that also required Secret Service protection, but in smaller numbers.

The agency is also examining whether some portion of the current infections are not travel-related, one government official said, but instead trace back to the site where many Secret Service officers report for duty each day: the White House.

White House staff largely eschew wearing masks, despite public health guidelines that they help contain the spread of the virus, and some Secret Service officers on duty at the complex have also been seen without them.

The Secret Service employs roughly 1,300 officers in its Uniformed Division to guard the White House and the vice president’s residence. The officers are also the backbone of security for presidential trips out of town and other official events.

Earlier this week, agency supervisors told other staff about the large number of officers who have contracted the virus and said there has been expanded testing to help limit the spread, according to the people familiar with the situation.

The number of officers who have been pulled off duty creates a major stress on an already overworked

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CDC guidelines for holiday gatherings amid COVID-19

The world is full of uncertainty these days. But if your family is thinking about gathering for the holidays with friends or relatives, these answers to common questions might help you stay safe.

They’re from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but we’ve paraphrased them in plainer English.

  • What is the COVID-19 level in your community? The infection level will shape the overall risk level of your gathering.

  • Where are you gathering? Indoors is riskier than outdoors; indoors with poor air circulation is worst of all.

  • What’s the duration of your gathering? Long ones are riskier than short ones.

  • How many guests are you expecting? The fewer the people, the safer the event. Many jurisdictions have limits on how many people may gather in public.
  • Where are your guests from? “Gatherings with attendees who are traveling from different places pose a higher risk than gatherings with attendees who live in the same area,” the CDC says.

  • How has this group behaved in the past? The less people tend to wash their hands, wear masks and keep distance, the greater the risk.

  • How do you expect your guests to behave now? Do you want them to quarantine for 14 days before your holiday get-together? Do you want them to get COVID-tested beforehand? If you ask them to skip the hugs and wear a mask when they’re not eating or drinking, will they?

As you face these questions, don’t forget a simpler underlying concern: Is everyone healthy enough for this?

The CDC says the following people shouldn’t join any in-person holiday celebrations: those suffering symptoms of COVID-19; those who have been diagnosed with the virus and have not met criteria for when it is safe to gather with others; people awaiting COVID-19 viral test results; people who may have been exposed to someone with the virus in the last 14 days; and people at increased risk of severe illness from the disease.

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Celebrate The Holidays With These Hotel Suite Experiences

While the holidays may need to be more intimate in the year of COVID-19, they don’t have to be less festive. Hotels all over the globe are curating inspired in-suite offerings for Thanksgiving, Christmas and other special occasions. These experiences go beyond anything you could find in ordinary room service — they include having a chef prepare an extraordinary seven-course dinner and having a philharmonic performance just for you, all within the confines of your own suite.

Whether you travel or take a staycation, avoid the crowds all while still having a one-of-a-kind celebration —without any of the work or cleanup — at these Forbes Travel Guide-approved hotels:

Shangri-La Hotel, At The Shard, London

The skyscraper is closed through December 2 for London’s lockdown. But before the shutdown, it introduced Dining in the Sky, dinner and dazzling city views from a specially reconfigured guest room with floor-to-ceiling windows. It includes glasses of champagne upon arrival, three courses from British-Asian TÎNG Restaurant and beverages.

The Ritz-Carlton, Denver

Take over the 12th floor of the elegant Denver hotel with family and friends during the holidays. You’ll get a Luxury Suite, a One Bedroom Suite and 12 Deluxe Guest Rooms along with the 2,700-square-foot Club Lounge, which boasts three big-screen TVs, a powder room and lounge spaces. Gather in the Club Lounge for Thanksgiving dinner, partake in the open bar and receive breakfast the next day.

Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok

A stay in the Chao Phraya Suite grants exclusive access to one of the city’s top French restaurants. Le Normandie will set up a seven-course meal, including caviar and sea urchin floating in potato foam, in your river-facing accommodations. Fans of Lord Jim’s grill can get a similar experience in the one-bedroom suite, or partake in the Bangkok hotel’s famed afternoon tea in the Royal or Ambassador suites.

The Milestone Hotel & Residences, London

Despite London’s second quarantine, this boutique hotel remains open. And you will want to visit for a unique in-suite experience: a live (and socially distanced) private recital from the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. RPO’s solo harpists or string trio will come to your accommodations and play your favorite songs.

The Venetian Resort Las Vegas

The all-suite hotel debuted family-style room service meals for four. Order Party Time for Caesar salad, pizza, buffalo wings, vegetables, potato chips and dip, or the Rotisserie Chicken with baba ghanoush and Italian sausage crumble spreads, grilled bread, roasted vegetables, buttery mashed potatoes and bibb lettuce salad. Both options come with a decadent 16-layer chocolate fudge cake for dessert.

The William Vale, Brooklyn

The Vale Garden Residence — the hotel’s

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What’s Open? The Latest November 2020 Travel Restrictions

It’s mid-November, and Thanksgiving is almost here. Before you hit the road, it’s a good idea to check the weather and the latest coronavirus travel restrictions. States across the country are clamping down, but escaping to a warmer climate is still possible.

New York Travel Restrictions

New York State continues to have some of the strictest restrictions in the mainland United States. In addition to completing a Traveler Health Form upon arrival, incoming travelers will need to take a mandatory test or quarantine for 14 days.

If traveling from a noncontiguous state, you must complete these steps:

  • Obtain a negative PCR test three days before arrival to New York State
  • Quarantine for three days upon arrival
  • On day 4 of quarantine, obtain a follow-up negative PCR test to end the quarantine

If you don’t have valid proof of a negative test upon arrival, you must quarantine for the full 14-day period. Previously, all incoming travelers had to quarantine for a fortnight.

Travelers who only leave New York for less than 24 hours don’t have to quarantine but must take a test on day 4. New York is the first U.S. state to require mandatory testing.

You won’t have to get a test if you’re passing through New York to reach a final destination and are only staying in the Empire State for less than 24 hours.

New Jersey And Connecticut Travel Restrictions

New Jersey and Connecticut, the other two-thirds of the Tri-States quarantine, are not copying New York’s mandatory testing policy—yet. But these two states continue to require a 14-day quarantine for most incoming travelers.

As of November 12, 2020, New Jersey and Connecticut require a quarantine for 45 states and U.S. jurisdictions. Essentially, any state that doesn’t border New Jersey or Connecticut is subject to quarantine. Bordering states won’t quarantine to protect local commerce.

Affected states can leave the required quarantine list once their infection rates drop below one of these thresholds:

  • A positive case rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents
  • Higher than 10% positivity rate over a 7-day rolling average

Visitors coming from a country with a CDC Level 3 Travel Health Notice will need to self-isolate too.

New England Travel Restrictions

The New England states (Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine) have a regional travel bubble. Each state has a 14-day self-quarantine order, but with different policies and exemptions.

Massachusetts has the strictest measures as only those coming from “lower-risk” states don’t have to quarantine for 14 days or produce a negative test result. Exempt states include:

  • District of Columbia
  • Hawaii
  • Maine
  • New Hampshire
  • New York
  • Vermont
  • Washington


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