Tag: caution

D.C. eases travel restrictions ahead of Thanksgiving while urging caution during holidays

A policy change in D.C. will make it less burdensome for residents to travel or host guests from afar, a reversal in messaging even as Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) has encouraged residents to spend Thanksgiving only with members of their household.

The rules announced Thursday largely do away with the city’s mandatory two-week quarantine for travelers, which has been in place since July. The change came as the greater Washington region set a record for its average number of new daily infections, fueled by increases in Virginia and Maryland.

D.C.’s rules previously said anyone who has been in a “high-risk” state — those with an average of more than 10 new daily coronavirus cases per 100,000 residents — must stay home for two weeks upon entering or returning to D.C.

As case rates rose nationwide, the quarantine order came to apply to visitors from 42 states, which include about 90 percent of the U.S. population.

Bowser said Thursday that visitors from outside the city won’t need to quarantine if they get a negative coronavirus test before traveling and get tested again in the city within three to five days of arriving. The city will provide free tests to visitors at public testing sites.

[Coronavirus caseload sets record in Virginia as infections jump across D.C. region]

The testing requirement generally won’t be enforced — there will be no checks at points of entry — although Bowser said places such as hotels, universities and employers could lawfully require visitors to provide proof of a negative test.

Bowser said she is continuing to urge families not to host Thanksgiving visitors, but she added, “We also know that people are going to come here.”

The city essentially decided to give up on its quarantine mandate out of a belief that it wasn’t being followed, Bowser said.

D.C. residents who visit a high-risk state will be required to quarantine upon their return home until they get a negative test, but the city is abandoning its two-week quarantine requirement.

The rule change is timed to make Thanksgiving travel easier, even though Bowser late last month strongly discouraged visiting family or hosting out-of-town relatives for the holiday.

“Make sure what should be a fun holiday gathering doesn’t turn into a tragedy for your family,” she said.

[Coronavirus cases and metrics in D.C., Maryland and Virginia]

The seven-day rolling average of new coronavirus infections Thursday in D.C., Maryland and Virginia stood at 2,315 — a record high for the region since the start of the pandemic. While D.C. and Maryland remain below their peak, Virginia has registered record numbers in recent days, with the largest increase coming in rural Southwest Virginia.

Julian Walker, a spokesman for the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association in Glen Allen, which includes many large hospitals and health-care providers as members, said the state has about 7,000 beds available for covid patients if Virginia sees a surge in cases.

“We had a spike in Virginia’s hospitalizations in late April and early May

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Vacation abroad, but with lots of caution

WITH nonessential outbound travel now allowed, Filipinos will be able to go on vacation in seven countries that have no travel restrictions against them. According to the Department of Foreign Affairs’ travel advisory, as of October 11, 2020, these countries are Haiti, Mexico,  Andorra, Montenegro, New Macedonia, Serbia, and Zambia.

Countries like the United States, Azerbaijan, and Somalia allow Filipinos to enter their countries, “subject to flight availability and other special arrangements/commercial flights.” The Philippines’s nearest neighbors and usual vacation destinations like Hong Kong and Japan for instance, allow the entry of Filipinos subject to Covid-19 screening, and government visa regulations in the case of Japan. (https://bit.ly/3j9bb67)

Ritchie Tuaño, president of the Philippine Travel Agencies Association (PTAA), told the BusinessMirror, “We don’t expect an immediate spike in international outbound travel since most of the international borders, our neighboring countries in particular, have not opened up yet.” In the case of Singapore, noncitizens are subject to a 14-day quarantine at a facility of the government’s choosing.

He added, “There is a significant amount of interest but the willingness to immediately travel is still wrapped with anxiety or fear of being infected. It will likely take a while for traveler confidence to get back but this is still good to start it.”

Under the Inter-Agency Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) conditions, nonessential outbound travel is allowed starting October 21, with only a negative antigen test 24 hours before departure to be presented. In contrast, an RT-PCR test is needed when traveling to domestic destinations.

Also, outbound travelers need to have confirmed roundtrip tickets, travel and health insurance, and sign a declaration before departure that they know of the risks involved in traveling abroad.

“Allowing it [nonessential outbound travel] throws the blame of frustration on the Filipino-banning country,” said Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro L. Locsin Jr. in a Viber message. “That also means, Pinoys must get RT-PCR just in case the destination is strict. I have told foreign countries to accept only Red Cross testing.”

He added partly in jest, “The initiative [to allow nonessential outbound travel] is mine because I am a sucker for romance and letting nurses go where they are appreciated.” The DFA chief was referring to the #LoveNotTourism appeals by foreigners and their Filipino fiancees to allow inbound travel so they could get married. The DFA, however, does not issue fiancee visas. With the lifting of nonessential outbound travel, the fiancees here can leave to reunite with their beaus abroad.

Otherwise, they can “get married online or have a kid with acknowledgement of dad’s paternity with inheritance rights, then Constitution on family unity kicks in,” he explained, and only then can the foreigner be allowed to travel to the Philippines. Locsin had also championed early on the move to allow Filipino nurses to leave and work abroad.

Meanwhile, travel agencies also expressed wariness over the IATF-EID decision last week to allow travel agencies to reopen at 50 percent capacity, after travel and tourism-related companies were moved to

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