Category: travel

Ohio, Kentucky restrictions after visits to these states

Ohio has been added to its own travel advisory list due to a high positivity rate. 

People entering Ohio or Kentucky after travel to states reporting positive testing rates of 15% or higher for COVID-19 are advised to self-quarantine for 14 days. On Wednesday, Ohio was added to its own list.

According to Ohio officials, the positivity rate is an indicator of how much COVID-19 there is in a community, and the Ohio Department of Health is recommending against travel to those states with high positivity.

“This is the first week since April where Ohio’s positivity for COVID-19 has increased above 15%. The state has seen record levels of cases, deaths, and hospitalizations in the past week, and all Ohioans can help to limit the spread and impact of this virus,” Ohio officials said in a travel advisory update. “This includes recommendations to stay at home except for necessary trips for supplies, consistent mask-wearing when around others, and frequent hand washing. Together we can help stop the spread of COVID-19.”

Ohio is on the list for both the Buckeye State and for Kentucky. Both states draw from the same Johns Hopkins University dashboard so their lists often match up. 

The self-quarantine should be heeded by residents of both states and out-of-state travelers. It is intended as guidance and is not a mandate, officials said. 

The following states have a rolling seven-day average above 15%, according to Johns Hopkins University as of 7 a.m. Thursday: 

  1. Idaho: 49.00%
  2. Iowa: 43.42%
  3. South Dakota: 41.07%
  4. Oregon: 40.90%
  5. Kansas: 39.87%
  6. Alabama: 32.74%
  7. Pennsylvania: 28.95%
  8. Arizona: 22.95%
  9. Mississippi: 21.93%
  10. Utah: 19.60%
  11. Missouri: 18.69%
  12. Oklahoma: 16.86%
  13. Nevada: 16.58%
  14. Ohio: 15.37%

Ohio officials said Oklahoma, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming have all experienced reporting irregularities this past week.

“Given recent trends, Oregon and Wyoming is likely to have a positivity of over 15%, while Washington and Oklahoma appear to be approaching that threshold,” officials said. 

Dr. Steven Stack, Kentucky’s Public Health Commissioner, also stressed that it was recommendation and not a mandate when the advisory was announced in July.

“Avoid going to these areas, if you are able,” Stack said. “If plans can’t be changed, self-quarantine after getting back to Kentucky.”

The travel advisories in Ohio and Kentucky currently apply to most of the same states. Kentucky numbers are updated daily. Ohio’s advisory is updated once a week on Wednesdays, using data from that Tuesday. 

More: Ohio and Kentucky have new coronavirus restrictions; here are the differences

What to do during self-quarantine, according to health officials

  • Remain at home and avoid all in-person activities. This includes work, grocery stores and pharmacies, public events, and public places.
  • Do not have visitors in your home.
  • If you live in a home with other people who did not travel with you, stay in a separate room. If this is not possible, wear a face mask when you are in the same room and stay at least six feet away from others.
  • Do not leave home except to seek medical care. If you
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Banks, Real Estate, and Travel: Where Are The Best Opportunities Now?

The S&P 500 is up by nearly 15% in 2020, but some sectors haven’t performed quite so well. Banks, real estate, and travel are three areas that have had a particularly rough year. 

However, with the release of positive vaccine data, now could be an excellent time to shop for long-term investments at a discount. In this Nov. 25 Fool Live video clip, Fool.com contributors Matt Frankel, CFP, and Brian Feroldi share their thoughts on these three industries and some of their favorite companies to thrive in a post-pandemic world, as well as some to avoid.

Matthew Frankel: On the other side, there’s a baseball stadium, but the lighting wouldn’t be right. If I turned it around, there’s actually a baseball field right on the other side of this. Anyway, so over the past couple of weeks, there’s been a theme. Every Monday we get some good news about COVID vaccine. If you look back to Monday the 9th, Pfizer (NYSE: PFE) released its vaccine data, the following Monday, the 16th, Moderna (NASDAQ: MRNA) release theirs, and just a few days ago, we heard from AstraZeneca (NASDAQ: AZN) about how their vaccine is doing. The lesson here might be to just buy the stock market on Mondays, but we’re seeing that this vaccine data was much better than expected and it’s really led to a shift in the stock market. We’ve seen a lot of the reopening the stay-at-home stocks rather like Zoom (NASDAQ: ZM) and Teladoc (NYSE: TDOC) have really taken a downward turn in the past few weeks. Reopening stocks, particularly in banks, real estate, and travel really explode. So we’re going to talk about all three of those. I’m going to start off just with banks just because they are actually the least high-performing of the three that we’re going to talk about. Just look at some of these numbers since Pfizer announced their vaccine data, Wells Fargo‘s (NYSE:WFC) up by 30 percent, Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) is up by 28 percent. So these are some pretty big moves in the past couple of weeks. With banks, the simple explanation is that high unemployment has the potential to be devastating for banks. High unemployment could lead to people not being able to pay their bills, which leads to low losses for banks. Not only that, but right now the interest rates are at record lows, if anyone has refinanced their mortgage, you know that. Not exactly a great profit environment for a business who profits off loaning people money at interest. So banks have been getting hammered, a lot of them are still down for the COVID pandemic. But it’s really been a great few weeks to be a bank investor. You’ve seen all the commercial focus banks like Wells Fargo have been the big outperformers, whereas the banks that have investment banking divisions have held up really well during the pandemic, but haven’t seen the explosive moves we’ve seen over the past few weeks. I’m

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Skyscanner expert explains how to use flexible travel to book with confidence for 2021

LONDON, Dec. 3, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Skyscanner’s US travel expert Mark Crossey today shared expert advice on how keen vacationers can use flexible travel to book future trips with confidence.

“As news of vaccines nearing readiness has broken, we’ve seen travelers turn their attention to next year. American travelers have been very engaged with the changing restrictions on travel in 2020 and are keen to get away safely within official guidance.

“Many airlines have scrapped domestic fare change fees indefinitely and extended the removal of international change fees until 2021. The emergence of truly flexible travel fares has not gone unnoticed and US travelers are taking advantage. Skyscanner has responded to these trends with a series of safer, smarter travel features to help US travelers book with confidence that they’re getting the right price, with the right added extras.

What is a flexible flight ticket?
“Generally speaking, a flexible flight ticket is one that allows for changes or cancellations without a fee, with a smaller-than-usual fee, or another condition that makes it easier for the traveler to change their plans. Many airlines have agreed to eliminate change fees altogether in response to the uncertainty the pandemic has created.

“When searching with Skyscanner’s “Flexible Ticket” option, this feature shows which airlines have changed their booking terms. The filter will only display airlines that offer flexible tickets, or hotels and car hire with free cancellation. And if you like to dot your i’s and cross your t’s, we also link directly to the airline’s booking policy so you can review all of the fine print.

“While Skyscanner will always do its best to show you the most up-to-date prices and policies, it’s important to check the terms and conditions of your specific ticket at the time of booking to ensure you’re fully briefed on the details of its change policy.”

Can I buy a plane ticket without a set date?
“You need to set a date when you book most flights. However, if you buy a flexible ticket, you can move the flight date and time until the ticket’s validity period (which is usually, but not always, one year from the date of purchase) ends.”

Which airlines are offering flexible flight tickets?
“There are several airlines offering flexible flights through the end of this year and beyond, some have even expanded their change fees and cancellation policies.

“During 2020 we have made some changes to our site and app to make it extra easy to find flexible airline tickets. Simply select the ‘Flexible tickets only’ box or toggle to show only those covered by flexible policies.”

American Airlines: “As of October 2020, American currently offers free changes and cancellation on all tickets, including Basic Economy fares booked through December 31, 2020.”

Delta Airlines: “Like American, Delta allows its customers to change, and, if necessary, refund all trips booked through the end of 2020. Additionally, Delta has extended the validity of all tickets until the end of 2022.”

United Airlines: “On their website,

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WHO looks at possible ‘e-vaccination certificates’ for travel

ZURICH/GENEVA (Reuters) – The World Health Organization (WHO) does not recommend countries issuing “immunity passports” for those who have recovered from COVID-19, but is looking at prospects of deploying e-vaccination certificates like those it is developing with Estonia.

FILE PHOTO: A passenger walks past a testing centre sign in the terminal building of Manchester Airport amid the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Manchester, Britain, December 3, 2020. REUTERS/Phil Noble/File Photo

Estonia and the United Nations health agency in October started a pilot project for a digital vaccine certificate – a “smart yellow card” – for eventual use in interoperable healthcare data tracking and to strengthen the WHO-backed COVAX initiative to boost vaccinations in developing countries.

The reality of vaccinations is growing, since Britain on Wednesday approved a COVID-19 shot from Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech, while other companies Moderna and AstraZeneca have delivered positive trial data amid their push for approval.

“We are looking very closely into the use of technology in this COVID-19 response, one of them how we can work with member states toward an e-vaccination certificate,” said Siddhartha Datta, Europe’s WHO programme manager for vaccine-preventable diseases, told reporters on a call from Copenhagen.

He cautioned that any technology initiative must not overwhelm countries in the midst of pandemic responses, must conform to varying laws and ensure seamless border-crossing service.

For instance, some national COVID-19 tracing apps do not function abroad.

Estonia earlier this year separately began testing a “digital immunity passport”, potentially to track those recovered from COVID-19 with some immunity, though questions remain over whether, or for how long, someone might by protected.

But another WHO official, Catherine Smallwood, the WHO’s Senior Emergency Officer for Europe, on Thursday said the agency is sticking to guidance against using immunity passports as part of bids to resume some cross-border travel normalcy.

“We do not recommend immunity passports, nor do we recommend testing as a means to prevent transmission across borders,” Smallwood said, urging countries instead to base travel guidance on COVID-19 transmission data.

Smallwood also said rapid antigen tests, in use by some airlines to test passengers boarding or getting off flights, may be “less appropriate” for enabling international travel. The antigen tests are less accurate than molecular PCR tests, so some people might slip through the cracks.

Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay and John Miller; Editing by Alex Richardson and Nick Macfie

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Ex-Hong Kong lawmaker goes into exile, plans to travel to UK

COPENHAGEN (AP) — A Hong Kong pro-democracy activist and former lawmaker who is visiting Denmark said Thursday he is going into exile and will soon move to Britain.

“I hereby announce that I will go into exile and will withdraw my membership in the Democratic Party of Hong Kong to leave Hong Kong,” Ted Hui said in a statement to The Associated Press. “There is no word to explain my pain and it’s hard to hold back tears.”

It was not clear when he would travel to Britain which, in response to a crackdown on opposition in Hong Kong, has extended residency rights for up to 3 million Hong Kongers eligible for British National Overseas passports, allowing them to live and work there for five years.

“My personal determination is that my exile will not be a migration. My only home is Hong Kong which is why I will not apply for asylum in any country,” Hui said. “I will wait for the day that I can go home with the bells of freedom ringing in a free Hong Kong. Until my last breath I will fight to the end. Revive Hong Kong, revolution now!”

In July, another democracy activist, Nathan Law, left Hong Kong after testifying in a U.S. congressional hearing about a tough new security law imposed by mainland China on the semi-autonomous territory. At first, he declined to disclose his whereabouts for safety but later appeared in London.

“I will continue to fight on aboard and will make it my life mission to widen Hong Kong’s international battle front with people like Nathan Law in the U.K.,” Hui said.

Hui was arrested in Hong Kong in May over an incident in the Legislative Council in which he dropped a rotten plant and attempted to kick it at the body’s president. He was able to get his passport back from the government and a visa after receiving an invitation from Danish lawmakers to travel to Denmark, where he arrived Tuesday.

Since the start of anti-government protests in June 2019, Hong Kong police have made more than 10,000 arrests.

Prominent pro-democracy figures who have been arrested include activists Joshua Wong and Agnes Chow, as well as media tycoon Jimmy Lai, an outspoken advocate for democracy.

Hui’s parents, wife and two young children left Hong Kong on a flight on Wednesday, Hong Kong online news portal HK01 reported. It did not mention their destination.

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Covid: Travel allowed between Wales and parts of the UK

Image copyright

Getty Images

Image caption

Wales’ Covid rules previously banned all but “essential” travel between Wales and England

People will be able to travel from Wales to tier one and two areas in England and Scotland from Friday.

The new regulations prohibit travel into tier three zones in England, tiers three and four in Scotland and the whole of Northern Ireland.

Previously people could
only travel out of Wales if it was “essential”.

But the Welsh Government said it still strongly advised people against travelling to other parts of the UK to help control the spread of the virus.

England’s lockdown ended on 2 December and it now has a
three-tiered system.

The Scottish government has a
five-level alert system
of Covid-19 restrictions.

It means for people in Wales, travel to London will be possible, but not Birmingham or Bristol.

Large parts of the Midlands, North East and North West, including Manchester, as well as Kent,
are in tier three.

A majority of England is in the second highest level – tier two – including London and Liverpool city region.

Image caption

Wales has different coronavirus rules to England

The new regulations were announced after the cabinet met on Wednesday to decide on the latest travel restrictions as England’s lockdown came to an end.

It comes as Welsh pubs, restaurants and cafes face a
ban on serving alcohol on their premises
from Friday and will be unable to open to customers beyond 18:00 GMT.

‘A mockery’

Image copyright

The Boat Inn / Facebook

Image caption

The owner of The Boat Inn in Chepstow says she feels like everything is stacked against Wales’ pubs

Mandy Symonds has owned The Boat Inn in the border town of Chepstow in Monmouthshire for 18 months.

She said she was “gutted” when she realised the new regulations meant her customers could go into England – “a 20 second walk away” – to drink alcohol in a pub when she could not serve them any.

“I’m closing… everything’s stacked against you,” she said.

“It’s a mockery. I feel like he [First Minister Mark Drakeford] is deliberately trying to drive us out of business.

“The rules should be the same all over the country…

“I’ve spent so much money here, invested in a marquee and put heating in there, lost half our tables, put screens up, staff are wearing masks, there’s track and trace… I feel beaten down over it all now.”

She said she did not know when she would reopen but it would depend on restrictions.

‘So confusing’

Image caption

Clare Davenport says the lifting of the travel rules will make little difference to her

Boundary Lane in Saltney is the border between Wales and England.

Claire Davenport lives in Flintshire but works on the English side of the border. She said the lifting of travel restrictions would not affect her too much.

“My family tend to keep within Wales and don’t go into England really because we’ve got Broughton shopping park. But it

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Road and rail works curtailed to aid UK Christmas travel plans

Some Christmas rail engineering works will start later and hundreds of miles of roadworks will be paused to minimise possible disruption during the UK’s 23-27 December travel window, the government has announced.



a group of people on a train track at a train station: Photograph: Steve Parsons/PA


© Provided by The Guardian
Photograph: Steve Parsons/PA

However, ministers have decided not to cancel long-planned works, with advance bookings and polling suggesting that festive travel will remain subdued on rail and road.

Announcing the measures, transport secretary Grant Shapps said the government was “working with transport operators to help people see their loved ones safely.”

The biggest work, the closure of the East Coast main line between London and Scotland, will start later to allow for some train services in and out of Kings Cross on Christmas Eve. But it will remain closed for the remainder of the five days when the government and devolved administrations are easing Covid-19 restrictions to allow up to three households to mix.



a group of people on a train track at a train station: Transport secretary, Grant Shapps, said the government was ‘working with transport operators to help people see their loved ones safely.’


© Photograph: Steve Parsons/PA
Transport secretary, Grant Shapps, said the government was ‘working with transport operators to help people see their loved ones safely.’

Work is now planned to end slightly earlier on the West Coast main line, allowing more trains between cities on the London-Glasgow route from 10am on 27 December.

Passengers have been urged to plan ahead and book early. Longer trains will run on some services and rail passengers who had already booked tickets before the Christmas rules were announced can amend them without the normal administration fees, Shapps said.

Shapps said: “With many people carefully considering whether to travel to see loved ones this Christmas, we’re taking steps to try to ease journeys.

He added: “We ask everyone to closely consider their journey, plan and book ahead, be patient, and be considerate of fellow passengers – and particularly staff who have worked so hard all year – by following the guidance carefully, including keeping space and wearing a face covering on public transport.”

Rail sources indicated that bookings to date did not indicate any rush to travel in the Christmas period, with trains far below capacity even with social-distancing requirements. Passenger numbers were about 22% of pre-Covid times in the November lockdown, and about a third of normal in October.

Highways England has agreed to lift around 50% more roadworks than originally planned, with about 778 miles of works now to be completed or paused during the window on motorways and A-roads.

An AA survey found comparatively few people were expecting to drive to see relatives this Christmas, despite the flexibility in lockdown rules. The motoring organisation’s research suggested that there would be just 7.9m cars on the road, fewer than half the 17m in the same period in 2019.

Labour said the plan left “many unanswered questions”.

Jim McMahon, shadow transport secretary, said the government should ensure engineering works did not clash with the window and that all peak fares were suspended during the travelling period. He added: “We must not lose sight of the fact that Covid has not gone away. Ministers must

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Coronavirus live news: Iran passes 1m Covid-19 cases; WHO looks at possible ‘e-vaccination certificates’ for travel | World news

The information technology company said in a blog post published on Thursday that it had uncovered “a global phishing campaign” focused on organisations associated with the Covid-19 vaccine “cold chain” – the process needed to keep vaccine doses at extremely cold temperatures as they travel from manufacturers to people’s arms.

The US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency reposted the report, warning members of Operation Warp Speed – the US government’s national vaccine mission – to be on the lookout.

Understanding how to build a secure cold chain is fundamental to distributing vaccines developed by the likes of Pfizer Inc and BioNTech SE because the shots need to be stored at minus 70 degrees Celsius (-94 F) or below to avoid spoiling.

IBM’s cybersecurity unit said it had detected an advanced group of hackers working to gather information about different aspects of the cold chain, using meticulously crafted booby-trapped emails sent in the name of an executive with Haier Biomedical, a Chinese cold chain provider that specializes in vaccine transport and biological sample storage.

The hackers went through “an exceptional amount of effort,” said IBM analyst Claire Zaboeva, who helped draft the report. Hackers researched the correct make, model, and pricing of various Haier refrigeration units, Zaboeva said.

“Whoever put together this campaign was intimately aware of whatever products were involved in the supply chain to deliver a vaccine for a global pandemic,” she said.

Haier Medical did not return messages seeking comment. Messages sent to the email addresses used by the hackers were not returned.

IBM said the bogus Haier emails were sent to around 10 different organizations but only identified one target by name: the European commission’s directorate-general for taxation and customs union, which handles tax and customs issues across the EU and has helped set rules on the import of vaccines.

Representatives for the directorate-general could not immediately be reached for comment.

IBM said other targets included companies involved in the manufacture of solar panels, which are used to power vaccine refrigerators in warm countries, and petrochemical products that could be used to derive dry ice.

Who is behind the vaccine supply chain espionage campaign isn’t clear. IBM’s Zaboeva said there was no shortage of potential suspects. Figuring out how to swiftly distribute an economy-saving vaccine “should be topping the lists of nation states across the world,” she said.

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Avoid Holiday Travel Or Get Tested Twice For Covid-19, CDC Says

Topline

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is advising Americans to stay home for the holidays, or else take multiple Covid-19 tests and additional precautions, the agency said Wednesday, as coronavirus cases spike nationwide and are expected to climb even higher due to Thanksgiving gatherings.

Key Facts

While the CDC recommends that people don’t travel at all, those who do should be tested for Covid-19 one to three days before traveling, the agency said, and then tested again three to five days after they return.

Those who travel for the holidays should also avoid nonessential public activities for seven days after they return, or 10 days if the traveler does not get tested.

“Testing does not eliminate all risk” and is not as safe as staying home entirely, the CDC emphasized, but can make travel less dangerous when combined with other social distancing measures like self-isolating and mask wearing.

Crucial Quote

“Cases are rising, and the safest thing to do is to postpone holiday travel and stay home,” Cindy Friedman, who leads the CDC’s Travelers’ Health Branch, told reporters on a press call Wednesday. “Travel volume was high over Thanksgiving, and even if only a small percentage of those travelers were asymptomatically infected, this can translate into hundreds of thousands of additional infections moving from one community to another.”

Key Background

The CDC’s holiday guidance is in line with the agency’s recommendations over Thanksgiving, which similarly encouraged Americans to spend the holiday only with people from their household or keep gatherings as small as possible. Many Americans appeared to ignore the agency’s recommendations, however, with a pre-Thanksgiving survey finding at least a quarter of Americans planned to travel and gather with other people despite the CDC guidelines. Data from the U.S. Transportation Security Administration also showed that air travel reached its highest levels since the pandemic began over the Thanksgiving holiday. 

What To Watch For

Health experts project that Thanksgiving travel and gatherings will lead to a perilous surge in Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations nationwide, which are already at their highest levels since the pandemic began. Given Covid-19’s incubation period, infections that took place over Thanksgiving will likely take up to a few weeks to be reflected in the case counts, which health experts fear could give Americans a false sense of security when it comes to holiday travel. “People may think if Thanksgiving didn’t change how much spread there was, I’m safe to do Christmas,” Boston University epidemiologist Ellie Murray told the Guardian. “That’s almost certainly the wrong thing to think, but it may be really hard to convince people based on the data just because of the short time between Thanksgiving and Christmas.”

Further Reading

Holiday Celebrations and Small Gatherings (CDC)

CDC recommends postponing holiday travel as Covid surges (Politico)

CDC Advises Americans Not To Travel

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Trump administration issues travel curbs for Chinese Communist Party members: report

The Trump administration on Wednesday issued new rules to restrict travel by Chinese Communist Party (CCP) members and their families, according to a report. 

The policy shift immediately limits the maximum validity of travel visas for the party members and families to one month and a single entry, sources told the New York Times. Previously, party members, like Chinese citizens, could obtain U.S. visitor visas for up to 10 years. 

China has about 92 million Communist Party members. The new guidelines will let U.S. officials determine someone’s party status based on their visa application, interview, and understanding of the party, which the Times asserted will likely affect China’s top government and business leaders rather than the millions of other lower-level members. 

CONSULTING FIRM LINKED TO BIDEN’S CABINET SCRUBS CHINA WORK FROM WEBSITE

A protester holds a U.S. flag outside the Chinese consulate in Houston, July 24, 2020, after the U.S. State Department ordered China to close the consulate. (Getty Images)

A protester holds a U.S. flag outside the Chinese consulate in Houston, July 24, 2020, after the U.S. State Department ordered China to close the consulate. (Getty Images)

A State Department spokesman told the paper the decision was a part of “ongoing policy, regulatory, and law-enforcement action across the U.S. government to protect our nation from the C.C.P.’s malign influence.”

“For decades we allowed the C.C.P. free and unfettered access to U.S. institutions and businesses while these same privileges were never extended freely to U.S. citizens in China,” the statement said. 

The move is likely to increase tensions between the U.S. and China, which had seen the diplomatic goodwill between the two countries stretched thin over coronavirus, military maneuvers in the South China Sea, and the presidential election.

Since signing a phase one trade deal with China in January, the two countries have been busy slapping sanctions on one another. The U.S. shuttered a Chinese consulate in Texas earlier this year while China has moved to expel U.S. journalists from the country.

Earlier this year, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo unveiled a set of restrictions on Chinese diplomats operating inside the U.S., a move he said was payback for similar situations facing American diplomats in China. The Trump administration also imposed sanctions and visa restrictions on multiple Chinese Communist Party officials believed to be responsible for human rights abuses in the Xinjiang province.

HONG KONG ACTIVISTS JOSHUA WONG, AGNES CHOW JAILED

In June, Pompeo announced restrictions against members of the CCP, declaring that the U.S. has banned visas for members affiliated with the obstruction of Hong Kong’s autonomy.

“President Trump promised to punish the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) officials who were responsible for eviscerating Hong Kong’s freedoms,” Pompeo said in a statement, at the time. 

The new restrictions will likely result in some form of retaliation from Beijing, although travel between China and the United States has already been hugely impacted by the pandemic. It’s yet to be seen how the move will impact tensions between China and the upcoming administration of President-elect Joe Biden.

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Nearly three million Chinese citizens traveled to the U.S., in 2018, according to the Times. 

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