Category: travel

Olympic test event in China called off amid travel concerns

Another test event for the 2022 Beijing Olympics was called off Saturday, when bobsled and skeleton officials canceled plans to have a training week and World Cup race on a newly built track to end this year’s sliding season.

The decision comes just days after luge officials also canceled that sport’s season-ending World Cup and training week on the track built in Yanqing.

The reason, in both cases, was the same: ongoing concerns about international travel during the coronavirus pandemic, which originated in China about a year ago.

In a letter sent to national federations Saturday, International Bobsled and Skeleton Federation secretary general Heike Groesswang said several weeks of conversations were held about how to move forward with the training week and World Cup “under the challenging circumstances the COVID-19 pandemic causes to all of us.”

The new schedule calls for a bobsled training week in early October and a skeleton training week later in October. That means many nations will likely have to choose some semblance of their 2021-22 national teams by the end of this season, since most of the world’s tracks won’t be iced and operating before those training weeks in China are held.

“A replacement for the World Cup in March 2021 will be announced next week,” Groesswang said.

USA Bobsled and Skeleton and USA Luge are sitting out the pre-Christmas portions of the World Cup schedules in those sports, as are several other nations, because of concerns about international travel and other pandemic-related issues.

In a women’s World Cup bobsled race in Latvia on Saturday, only six sleds finished the two runs. That was believed to be the smallest World Cup field since women began competing on the circuit.

It’s been tradition for at least the last five Olympic cycles for a World Cup event to be held on that track that will host the games the following winter, and those races have been critical in terms of teams collecting data and formulating an Olympic strategy.

But not having the training weeks and World Cups in China could raise the possibility of some nations, the U.S. included, not competing internationally at all this season.

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How travel has changed, even with vaccines

Halfpoint Images | Moment | Getty Images

As news of several effective Covid-19 vaccines offers some light at the end of the tunnel that is 2020, will a beleaguered travel and tourism industry — one of the hardest hit by the pandemic — soon begin to recover?

Possibly, say sources, but they caution that travel may take years to fully rebound and, no matter the timing, will likely look different than it did pre-pandemic.

“The news of a potential vaccine does hold promise for travel in 2021,” said Julie Hall, spokeswoman for AAA. “But … travelers need to be focused on knowing the risks of traveling and exposure in the here and now.”

Brian O’Connell, analyst at InsuranceQuotes.com, takes an even more measured stance. “I’m just not bullish on travel for the first half of 2021 – even if a vaccine is mass produced in that timeframe,” he said. “Caution is the watchword, as the vaccine will take months to be fully distributed in the U.S. and abroad.”

Kayak.com CEO Steve Hafner said he thinks “people are taking more a wait-and-see approach … until one of these vaccines gets out there.”

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However, the online travel agency did see a spike in searches — if not purchases — right after pharmaceutical giant Pfizer announced 95% efficacy for its Covid vaccine on Nov. 10. The next day, searches were up 27% compared to the week prior, he said, but settled into a “more modest” 6% weekly growth rate in the days that followed.

Still, Hafner said the increased searches are good sign.

“I’m very optimistic that once these vaccines get distributed, people’s perceptions around travel are going to change toward the positive,” he added.

“I’m hopeful it comes by the second quarter [of 2021], knock on wood,” Hafner said, of a rebound in travel. “If we’re really lucky, we’ll see it in the first quarter.”

A survey of 4,300 customers earlier this year by travel insurer Allianz found that 49% would travel again given a proven vaccine. Meanwhile, 42% said the go-ahead from public health officials would suffice.

“[The] promise of a highly effective vaccine is good news for the tremendous pent-up demand for travel, and should provide another reason for consumers to feel more confident booking trips for 2021,” said Daniel Durazo, director of marketing and communications at Allianz. He said he expected that luxury and experiential trips will be popular next year as consumers look to book so-called revenge travel in the wake of all of this year’s canceled plans.

Indeed, what travel expert Stella Shon at consumer finance site ValuePenguin called national “cabin fever” may spur some to book sooner rather than later, she said. “They’re ready to travel,” Shon said of vacationers. “It’s interesting that over half of Americans have still stayed in a hotel or

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Democratic leaders should practice what they preach when it comes to holiday travel

Many Democratic leaders, it would appear, are hewing to the strict guidelines they’re advocating in public when it comes to limiting the spread of the new coronavirus.



a group of people sitting at a table in front of a window: People arrive at Hobby Airport the week of Thanksgiving, Monday, Nov. 19, 2018, in Houston.


© Jon Shapley, Staff Photographer / Staff Photographer

People arrive at Hobby Airport the week of Thanksgiving, Monday, Nov. 19, 2018, in Houston.


The handful who aren’t deserve a lump of coal in their stockings for Christmas — another holiday that they would presumably like the hoi polloi to spend in near-isolation.

In recent weeks the question of whether to gather for the fall and winter holidays has become politicized, because of course it has.

Republicans led by President Donald Trump, who survived COVID-19 only to host super-spreader events at the White House, have scoffed at the suggestion that Americans should eschew their usual plans in lieu of scaled-back or virtual celebrations.

“I encourage all Americans to gather, in homes and places of worship, to offer a prayer of thanks to God for our many blessings,” Trump said in his official Thanksgiving proclamation this week. The statement acknowledged the “unprecedented challenges” faced this past year but also commended Americans for “developing groundbreaking therapeutics and life-saving vaccines on record-shattering timeframes.”

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, also a Republican, was widely razzed for cavalierly tweeting a meme of the “Come and Take It” flag from the 1835 Battle of Gonzales, with the flag’s cannon replaced by a nice plump turkey. The message was that he planned to celebrate Thanksgiving as usual, despite the pandemic and suffering it has brought.

As of Thanksgiving Day, Texas had reported some 1.2 million coronavirus cases, including 76,519 confirmed cases since the previous Thursday, and more than 21,000 deaths.

Democrats, by contrast, have been exhorting Americans to follow the guidance offered by public health officials, who are rightly worried about surging coronavirus cases across the country— and in some cases taking concrete steps to enforce their recommendations.

On Wednesday, San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg and Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff issued a partial curfew, to begin on Thanksgiving night, as cases in the city continued to rise. El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego had already issued such an order in an effort to help contain the virus in a community that’s been particularly hard-hit.

But a handful of Democrats have decided that the stringent rules they’re advocating shouldn’t apply to them.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom got things started by attending a friend’s 50th birthday party in Napa Valley earlier this month. After his attendance at the event was reported, the well-coiffed Democrat offered a public apology on camera, saying that although the dinner was technically in compliance with the rules he’s issued for the state, the crowd at the dinner was larger than he anticipated and his attendance was a mistake.

“The spirit of what I’m preaching all the time was contradicted,” he said. “I need to preach and practice, not just preach.”

Then New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, after signing an executive order limiting private indoor gatherings to no

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State-By-State Guide To Quarantining After Thanksgiving Travel

If you traveled out of state for Thanksgiving, there’s a pretty good chance that your state recommends or requires you to quarantine upon returning home.

That means staying at home, without going anywhere or seeing anyone from outside your household, for 14 days. The purpose is that, if you became infected over the holidays, you do not infect anyone else.

Notably, the states where Covid-19 is spreading the fastest are the least likely to have a quarantine order or a mask mandate in place.

Here are the states that ask returning residents to quarantine after travel:

Alaska: Returning residents must go to the Alaska Travel Portal and fill out a traveler declaration about where they’ve been in the previous two weeks. If you’ve been out of state for more than three days, you have a choice: quarantine for two weeks or take a free Covid-19 test upon your return.

California: A state travel advisory urges a 14-day quarantine after returning to California. If you spent the holiday in-state but had prolonged exposure to people outside of your household or existing pandemic pod, you should also self-quarantine.

Connecticut: If you are returning from any of the 46 states with a Covid-19 infection rate “higher than 10 per 100,000 residents or a state with a 10 percent or higher positivity rate over a seven-day rolling average,” you must self-quarantine for two weeks. Three states — New York, New Jersey and Rhode Island — are exempt.

District of Columbia: If you’ve traveled to one of the high-risk states, you should limit activities for 14 days or get tested for Covid-19. There is an exception for travel from neighboring Virginia and Maryland.

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Hawaii: Per the state’s Safe Travels program, you need proof of a negative Covid-19 test before flying back to Hawaii. That can be a paper certificate or you can upload it online. If you arrive without a negative test, you must quarantine for 14 days or the duration of their trip, whichever is shorter.

Illinois: While there are no statewide quarantine orders, residents who traveled out of state are urged to “stay home if possible after returning and monitor your health for 14 days in order to protect the health and safety of yourself, as well as others.”

Note that there is a two-week quarantine mandate for Chicago residents returning from one of the many states it considers high-risk. If you’re returning from one of the 11 Midwest states on the “red list,” you must quarantine even if you have proof of a negative Covid-19 test. If you visited a state on the “orange list,” a pre-arrival negative test can let you avoid quarantine.

Kansas: This hot-spot state’s quarantine page has no mention of Thanksgiving travel. You are asked quarantine for two weeks if you have “attended/traveled

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A short guide to quarantining after holiday travel

If you traveled over the Thanksgiving holiday, it’s time to go into quarantine.

Specifically, if you went out of state, Washington, Oregon and California issued travel advisories recommending that you quarantine for 14 days. If you had prolonged exposure to anyone outside of your household or existing pandemic pod, it’s a good idea to self-quarantine as well.

Dr. Robert Kim-Farley, a professor at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health and former director of the division of communicable disease control and prevention at the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, said people should think of quarantine as the middle position between isolation (what you do when you know you are infected) and “normal” pandemic life (where you might venture outdoors while masked and maintaining social distance).

Sometimes, when you see or hear a word a lot, it starts to lose its meaning. Such is the case with “quarantine.” Here’s a very short FAQ about what you need to be doing to appropriately self-quarantine.

What does it mean to self-quarantine? Stay at home, in your home, without going anywhere else or seeing anyone from outside your household, for 14 days.

The whole point of quarantining is to sequester yourself so that if you are infected, you do not infect anyone else. Take the phrase “stay at home” literally.

What if I need something essential, like food or medicine? If you absolutely need something, have it delivered. To avoid potentially infecting the delivery person, have them leave your package outside your closed front door, wait for them to leave, and wear a mask when you open your door to pick it up. Tip well.

What if I really need to leave the house to do something else? Kim-Farley said remaining on your property still technically counts, so you can take the dog out back for a bathroom break or take out the trash while you’re wearing your mask. Other than that, the only valid reason to leave the premises is for a doctor’s appointment, he said.

The goal here is to avoid any chance of being around other people. That means no visitors, even if they’re just stopping by for a few minutes. No outside exercise beyond your property. No going places, even if you’re just popping by the store for a couple of things or picking up takeout or running a super-quick errand.

What if I have to go to work? There is no such thing as “self-quarantining except for work.” If you are leaving the house and going to your workplace, you are potentially exposing co-workers and customers to the virus. You may be eligible for paid sick leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.

What if I take a test? Testing does not exempt you from quarantining at any point in those 14 days. A negative test is not a hall pass to do whatever you want. You can test negative for the coronavirus, still be incubating it, and then the next day be contagious. Testing

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Air Canada Launches Unique Holiday Campaign Celebrating The Gift Of Travel

Air Canada just launched the Gift of Travel, an integrated initiative that pays homage to the actions of community heroes who are making a memorable impact when helping their fellow Canadians during Covid-19. The program focuses on hope and optimism to raise funds and Aeroplan points for Canadian charitable organizations and it also offers people dreaming of travel a new flexible travel pass product.

 “Canadians from across the country have shown remarkable resilience, solidarity and generosity in the face of COVID-19 and we were inspired hearing stories of people who dedicated their time and energy to caring for others, making a memorable impact on other people’s lives. We are proud to launch this campaign with our Gift of Travel video featuring heartwarming stories of community heroes and share the gift of travel through a message of hope and optimism from our employees as we all look forward to brighter days ahead,” said Arielle Meloul-Wechsler, Executive Vice President, Chief Human Resources and Communications Officer at Air Canada. “We are also proud to continue our long-standing effort through the Air Canada Foundation in supporting communities through its inaugural Gift of Travel auction and the annual Aeroplan Matching Campaign.” 

The Gift of Travel campaign also features stories on Air Canada’s social media platforms that center on the inspirational work Air Canada employees are doing to make a difference in their own communities. 

Gift of Travel Auction

On December 1, 2020 the Air Canada Foundation will launch its first ever online Gift of Travel Auction. The auction will feature an array of more than a hundred unique aviation items, such as special travel-related experiences, including the opportunity to own pieces of aviation history and the chance to fly on an aircraft simulator. Other auction items include an incredible kids’ ride-on airplane and a private dinner with one of Air Canada’s celebrated Canadian Chefs.

One hundred percent of the proceeds from the Gift of Travel Auction will be distributed by the Air Canada Foundation to Canadian charitable organizations that are focused on the health and wellness of children and youth.

Matching Campaign Week

In addition to the Gift of Travel Auction, the annual Aeroplan Matching Campaign week supporting the Air Canada Foundation Hospital Transportation Program also returns. The campaign allows Aeroplan members to give the gift of health by connecting sick children to the medical care they need away from home.

From December 7 to December 13, 2020, members who donate Aeroplan points to the Air Canada Foundation Hospital Transportation Program will double the impact of their contribution with all donated points matched up to 500,000 points. You can read more about the Gift of Travel initiative on the Air Canada website.

The Air Canada Foundation is a

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Christmas travel tsar appointed to oversee Covid-hit networks | Transport policy

A Christmas travel tsar has been appointed in an effort to avoid transport chaos during the festive period.

Sir Peter Hendy, the chairman of Network Rail, will scrutinise whether train, air and road networks are ready for millions of people making trips over the five-day window when coronavirus restrictions are eased, the Department for Transport said.

Cheaper advance train tickets for Christmas travel only went on sale on Friday, about eight weeks later than usual, due to delays in finalising timetables during the pandemic.

Sir Peter Hendy.
Sir Peter Hendy.

Capacity on board trains is restricted to allow social distancing, with some operators preventing passengers from boarding without a pre-booked ticket.

Strain on the network will also be increased by engineering work taking place over the Christmas period.

One of the most disruptive projects will be at London King’s Cross, which will be closed for six days from Christmas Day.

London North Eastern Railway, which uses the station for its Anglo-Scottish trains on the east coast mainline, is warning that alternative routes will be “very busy and should also be avoided”.

The UK government and devolved administrations have agreed a temporary easing of coronavirus restrictions over Christmas, allowing three households to mix in a bubble from December 23 to 27.

The DfT will publish measures aimed at easing travel disruption next week, taking into account analysis of demand for advance train tickets and public surveys.

The transport secretary, Grant Shapps, said: “We recognise that people will want to be with their friends and family over Christmas. And for those that choose to form a Christmas bubble, we’re lifting travel restrictions across the UK for five days for the purposes of seeing that bubble.

“Before you travel, plan your journey very carefully, and where possible book well in advance. Everyone must also follow the clear guidance to keep you, fellow passengers and staff safe.

“As some advance tickets go on sale and people begin to plan their journeys, we are closely assessing demand on the network and have already taken actions to minimise potential disruption.

“We are currently developing a plan focused on tackling disruption, including running longer trains and relaxing rules to allow more types of coaches to run, and will publish further details next week, once demand is clearer.”

An RAC spokesman, Rod Dennis, said: “Our breakdown team is planning for the roads to be busy over ‘the five days of Christmas’. Last year drivers told us they were planning on making 31 million trips to see family and friends by car in the runup to Christmas, but it remains to be seen just what the nation’s appetite is for similar journeys this year.”

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Christian McCaffrey shoulder injury: Questionable vs Vikings

Christian McCaffrey has been officially listed as questionable for the Carolina Panthers game vs. the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday.

McCaffrey was limited in practice all week with a shoulder injury suffered on the final drive of the Panthers’ Week 9 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. He has missed the past two games with the injury.

The running back missed six games prior to the Chiefs’ matchup while on injured reserve with a high ankle sprain.

Panthers head coach Matt Rhule said Friday that he is “pessimistic” that McCaffrey will be available, but that he is expected to travel with the team to Minnesota.

“I’m pessimistic that he’ll play, but he’s practiced well enough this week to earn the right to be listed as questionable,” Rhule said. “We’re kind of in a wait-and-see mode. But I’d label myself as pessimistic about his chances of playing.”

McCaffrey has proved valuable in all three games he’s played in. He has scored two touchdowns each week, despite leaving the Tampa Bay Buccaneers game early with the ankle injury.

This season, the Panthers are 21st in rushing yards per game (106.4) and are 15th in yards per attempt (4.2).

While one offensive starter looks less likely to return, quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (knee) has been removed from the injury report and is full go for Sunday’s game. Rhule said that he looks like he did prior to the injury.

Offensive lineman Dennis Daley (concussion) is out for Sunday’s game, while cornerback Donte Jackson (toe) is doubtful.

The Panthers will have a chance to get two starting offensive linemen back after both missed last week’s game. John Miller (ankle/knee) and Russell Okung (calf) are questionable for the game. Rookie safety Sam Franklin (ankle), defensive end Marquis Haynes (shoulder), linebacker Tahir Whitehead (rib) and wide receiver Brandon Zylstra are also questionable.

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Massachusetts imposes new travel restrictions on Vermont

Vermont is no longer considered a lower-risk state for contacting COVID-19, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

Effective Saturday morning, individuals traveling to or returning from Vermont must now fill out a travel form and quarantine upon arrival in Massachusetts, unless they are able to produce a negative COVID-19 test no more than 72 hours before arriving in the state.

The news comes as Vermont’s daily coronavirus cases averaged 18 cases per 100,000 residents with a positive test rate of 24 percent, according to the COVID-19 tracking website. Metrics must stay below 10 cases per 100,000 residents with a positive test rate below 5 percent, both measure on a 7-day rolling average, in order to be considered low risk. New Hampshire and Vermont were removed from the low-risk list last week. Hawaii is the only remaining US state to be considered low-risk.

Hawaii is the only state considered low risk.
Hawaii is the only state considered low risk.Mass.gov

Exemptions to the state’s travel order include commuters who cross state lines for work, those arriving for medical treatment, military personnel, and those who are traveling for work or essential services. The state also exempts certain short, same-day trips across the border and back that are designated as “critical life activities.” Those activities can include grocery shopping, visits to pharmacies, dentist and doctors’ appointments, and required appearances at official proceedings.

Failure to comply with the travel order could result in a $500 per day fine.

Prior to this month, Vermont held the coronavirus at bay, even as infections spread at breakneck pace beyond the state’s borders. On Nov. 13, Governor Phil Scott announced new COVID-19 restrictions that are believed to be among the toughest in the nation. Restrictions include a ban on households visiting each other, both inside and outside, in public and in private, hospitals barring visitors with only a few exceptions, and strict quarantine rules. Visitors to Vermont must quarantine for 14-days, regardless of where they are arriving from. Vermont’s health department even strongly advises against non-essential travel within the state.

Positive COVID-19 cases surpassed 13 million across the US on Friday, after a Thanksgiving upended by the pandemic and amid a Black Friday hampered by virus fears and capacity limits on stores.


Brittany Bowker can be reached at [email protected] Follower her on Twitter @brittbowker.

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Massachusetts takes Vermont off ‘lower-risk’ coronavirus travel list

Massachusetts is taking Vermont off its “lower-risk” travel list after midnight on Saturday — effectively expanding the Bay State’s travel restrictions to all of New England.



a group of people walking down the street: BOSTON, MA. NOVEMBER 22: A few travelers in the open section of Terminal A Sunday, November 22, 2020, in a sparsely occupied Logan Airport in Boston. (Jim Michaud / MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)


© Provided by Boston Herald
BOSTON, MA. NOVEMBER 22: A few travelers in the open section of Terminal A Sunday, November 22, 2020, in a sparsely occupied Logan Airport in Boston. (Jim Michaud / MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

Travelers to and from Vermont — including Bay State residents — will now have to fill out the Massachusetts Travel Form and quarantine for 14 days unless they have a negative COVID-19 test result from within 72 hours of their arrival here. Those who don’t comply could face a fine of $500 per day.

Vermont was the last New England state to be exempt from Massachusetts’ travel restrictions after Maine and New Hampshire were taken off the lower-risk list last week by the state Department of Public Health.

The only state still designated as lower-risk is Hawaii.

Exemptions to the travel restrictions include people crossing state lines for work or school, those seeking or receiving medical treatment, military personnel, those providing “critical infrastructure services” and people merely passing through Massachusetts en route to other places.

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