Tag: open

Countries open to US travelers during COVID-19 and how to get there

  • While many countries are not allowing US travelers during the coronavirus crisis, some nations are open to Americans.
  • The United Kingdom, Caribbean countries, and select international locales are allowing tourists from the US.
  • Many countries require you to show a negative COVID-19 test and airline schedules are severely reduced, limiting options on how to get to the newly-opened destinations.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The world is re-opening, and Americans have more travel options for travel destinations than they’ve had since March. 

The problem is that the American passport has significantly lost its power since the coronavirus pandemic outbreak.  

Rising cases of the virus and the US government’s ongoing travel restrictions barring entry for non-citizens into the country have turned the world against hosting American visitors, despite the economic benefit they bring. As a result, US passport holders can visit just a fraction of the world’s countries, and are largely bound to North America for travel.

Central American and Caribbean countries were the most receptive to Americans over the summer, while most of Europe, Africa, the Middle East, South America, Asia, and Oceania remain closed off. Every continent has a handful of countries willing to accept US visitors, but most require mandatory quarantine upon arrival, or a negative COVID-19 test for entry. 

Another problem: getting to some of the countries that are letting in Americans isn’t as easy as hopping on the first flight. Even those who can show a recent negative COVID-19 test must deal with the fact that airlines have greatly scaled back their schedules, with some countries not allowing US citizens to transfer through their airports at all. 

Travelers seeking to journey to these countries should opt for non-stop flights to minimize potential disruptions. If connecting through a third country is required, Americans should check with their airline and the local US embassy to ensure they’ll be granted passage. 

Here’s where Americans can travel in the age of coronavirus and how to get there.

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empty hotel rooms all over Hong Kong, but two new properties prepare to open amid Covid-19 gloom



a man sitting on a chair in a room: Aron Harilela is confident Hong Kong will bounce back. Photo: Xiaomei Chen


© SCMP
Aron Harilela is confident Hong Kong will bounce back. Photo: Xiaomei Chen

Two hotels are going ahead with plans to open next month despite the damage done by the Covid-19 pandemic to Hong Kong’s tourism and hospitality sectors.

The Sheraton Hong Kong Tung Chung Hotel, near the city’s airport, will have its official opening on December 1, after a year’s delay, while The Hari Hotel in Wan Chai opens on December 12, on schedule.

They are opening at a time when the number of visitors has plunged 93 per cent to just 3.56 million in the first 10 months of the year, according to provisional figures from the city’s tourism board.

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Hong Kong has ‘probably entered’ fourth Covid-19 wave: health minister

Hotel rooms across the city have been left empty for much of this year, too, with occupancy rates falling to 43 per cent between January and September, compared with 84 per cent last year.

For a start, both new hotels are counting on Hong Kong residents to take up their staycation offers, especially over the Christmas season.



a bedroom with a bed and desk in a hotel room: Executive Ocean View Suite of Sheraton Hong Kong Tung Hotel. Photo: Sheraton Hong Kong Tung Chung Hotel


© Provided by South China Morning Post
Executive Ocean View Suite of Sheraton Hong Kong Tung Hotel. Photo: Sheraton Hong Kong Tung Chung Hotel

“It’s not the easiest of times for them to open, the situation will have an impact on their profitability in the short term,” said Brian King, associate dean at the school of hospitality and tourism management at Polytechnic University.

A recent Covid-19 cluster linked to staycations in Mui Wo has raised concern, with the government planning to limit the number of people allowed in a hotel room to four.

Deliveries a lifeline for Hong Kong restaurants as Covid-19 keeps patrons away

A new rule that took effect on Wednesday bans visits to those under quarantine in hotels. Couriers delivering food and other items are not allowed face-to-face contact with guests during their quarantine period.

Despite all that, the new hotels are putting up a brave front as they prepare to welcome guests.

“We open hotels for the long term, so we’re still very positive about that,” said veteran Dutch hotelier Sander Looijen, who has spent the past year getting the five-star Sheraton Tung Chung ready to open.

Located just 10 minutes from the airport and the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge, the 218-room hotel was planned to cater to business travellers and aircrew.



a man wearing a suit and tie standing in front of a building: Sander Looijen has spent the past year getting the Sheraton Tung Chung ready to open. Photo: Xiaomei Chen


© Provided by South China Morning Post
Sander Looijen has spent the past year getting the Sheraton Tung Chung ready to open. Photo: Xiaomei Chen

With air travel at a standstill because of the pandemic, Looijen said it was now positioning itself as part of the Tung Chung community, offering staycation packages for families and nature-lovers over the Christmas season.

Five years in the making, the hotel will have four restaurants and is close to Lantau Island’s hiking trails. Most of its guest rooms have sea views.

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Where’s Newly Open? And Why It’s Looking Up For A Return To Europe

Many parts of the world are opening up their borders to American (and other foreign national) visitors. In November, African safari countries opened their borders and south American countries are doing the same, partly because of a fear of missing out on peak tourist season in the southern hemisphere.

Some countries have no travel restrictions for arrivals by foreign nationals (Tanzania, Brazil) whilst others require a negative PCR test within 48, 72 or 96 hours of arrival (Kenya, Belize, Chile). Others require quarantine (Rwanda is asking for 5 days) but access is open.

The EU, however, is still closing its borders further to try to curb the second wave of Covid-19 and many foreign nationals are still banned, except those on the approved EU travel list. This currently includes 9 countries outside the EU/Schengen area, of which, one is in the southern hemisphere–Rwanda, which has done well in keeping its Covid-19 infection rates low.

However, there is optimism this week with the commencement of trials of Covid-19-free planes between the U.S. and the U.K. There are two trials in operation–both of which are quite different, as reported by CNBC. There are also trials underway of a new health application to aid screening processes across borders.

Trial 1: United Airlines–Newark to London Heathrow

This trial is mandatory (all passengers who don’t want to participate in testing will be rebooked onto other flights).

Passengers, aged above 2 years old, are tested pre-flight at the airport before departures in a rapid Abbott ID Now test, which accurately diagnoses Covid-19 with people who have symptoms but is known to miss as many as one-third of asymptomatic infections. Testing is by appointment, 3 hours before the plane leaves and people receive the results 30 minutes later. If the results are negative, customers are rebooked on a flight at least 10 days later or refunded.

The trial will end after one month.

United Airlines has reported that there has been a positive response to the tests in that there has been a significant increase in revenue when testing has been available.

Trial 2: American Airlines and British Airways–Dallas, JFK, LA to Heathrow Airport

This trial is voluntary for passengers on these flights to Heathrow from 25 November onwards and involve three tests:

  • Test 1: A self-administered RT-PCR (nasal) test taken at home via a virtual consultation with a medical professional 72 hours prior to departure.
  • Test 2: A LAMP (nasal) test taken upon landing at Heathrow Airport.
  • Test 3: A self-administered saliva test taken at home three days after arriving in the U.K. 

The reason for the three tests is that they all offer differing levels of results at different times. The PCR test is the most reliable but needs to be processed in a lab. The LAMP test is quick, with a turnaround of 30 minutes so good for an airport setting but crucially, can corroborate

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Marriott, Tacoma, jewelry store, apartments, open

The long-awaited Marriott Tacoma Downtown opened Wednesday.

Located at 1538 Commerce St., the hotel is next door to the Greater Tacoma Convention Center.

The News Tribune reported that the hotel has 22 floors and 304 guest rooms.

BIRD UP AT NEW JEWELRY STORE

The Purple Peacock has opened a permanent location in Point Ruston at 5103 N. Main St.

According to its website, the business offers jewelry, furniture, home décor and gifts.

It will be open Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

MORE APARTMENTS OPEN AT POINT RUSTON

The Village on Main apartments have opened their doors at Point Ruston.

Located at 5020 Main St. in Tacoma, the apartments are advertised as being pet friendly and with underground parking availability.

In post on social media, the locations are listed as actively leasing and available for tours.

Chase Hutchinson is the reporter for The Peninsula Gateway. He previously covered art and culture for The News Tribune as well as writing film reviews. He got his start in journalism at The Puget Sound Trail, the college paper of the University of Puget Sound from where he graduated.

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Charlotte travelers can get Bojangles fix as restaurants open at Love’s Travel Stops

Carolina residents can now get a taste of home while traveling with the opening of new Bojangles restaurants at Love’s Travel Stops.

On Thursday, Bojangles opened at the new Love’s Travel Stops in Marion, Illinois, according to a statement from Bojangles.

Another Bojangles opened in Blyethville, Arkansas, at Love’s earlier this month.

It’s the first location in both states for the iconic Southern chain, according to Bojangles.

“We’re honored to commemorate the first of many locations with Love’s,” said Brian Unger, chief operating officer for Bojangles.

The Charlotte-based chicken chain known for its scratch-made biscuits and the national leader in 24-hour truck stop and convenience stores announced in December an agreement to open 40 locations in the next decade.

Other Bojangles also will debut at Love’s in Oklahoma and Mississippi.

According to Love’s, a Bojangles also opened with the new truck stop that opened Thursday at Cordele, Georgia.

The new Bojangles stores will serve breakfast all day with hours from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Eventually, the restaurants will be open 24 hours a day, according to the company. The restaurants will offer a full menu, drive-thru and dine-in.

Founded in 1977 in Charlotte, Bojangles has about 750 restaurants in 11 states. Bojangles plans to hire more than 30,000 people over the next year, the Observer previously reported.

Love’s Travel Stops, founded in 1964 and based in Oklahoma City, has more than 530 locations in 41 states and employs more than 27,000 people.

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©2020 The Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, N.C.)

Visit The Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, N.C.) at www.charlotteobserver.com

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Disney’s Swan Reserve hotel looks to open summer 2021

ORLANDO, Fla. — The Walt Disney World Swan Reserve, the newest hotel planned for the Swan and Dolphin Resort complex, is scheduled to open in summer 2021, according to a recent news release offering a first look from the top floor.



Walt Disney World Dolphin over a body of water: The Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort.


© Walt Disney World Swan And Dolph/Walt Disney World Swan And Dolph/TNS
The Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort.

The 14-story hotel is planned to have 349 guest rooms, including 149 suites and two presidential suites. The top floor will be an event space with views of the resort and Disney theme parks.

The hotel will also feature its own signature bar and restaurant as well as a health club and a pool.

The news of the Swan Reserve’s scheduled opening comes as Orlando hotels are battered by a tourism crisis brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and thousands of hotel employees have been laid off.

Data analysts STR put occupancy in Central Florida hotels at 31.9% for the week of Nov. 7, a drop of more than 60% from last year. STR doesn’t predict full capacity to return until 2024.

The space is already taking reservations for group events and weddings.

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©2020 The Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Fla.)

Visit The Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Fla.) at www.OrlandoSentinel.com

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This Time, Washington Recreation Lands Remain Open Despite Rocketing COVID-19 Rates | Community

As cases of COVID-19 surge across Washington and the country, business are closing yet again, hospital beds again are filling and health officials are urging people to avoid holiday travel (at least that’s new).

It all feels familiar, except for one major difference: Washington land managers and recreation czars aren’t urging folks to avoid the outdoors, nor are they closing lands to public access.

In the spring, roughly 7 million acres of state-owned land closed in hopes of preventing travel. Beloved local gems like Mount Spokane and Riverside State Park were suddenly off limits. Those lucky enough to live near green space were urged to take a walk in a local park.

This time it’s different.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, for instance, is not making any new changes due to the viral surge. The Washington State Parks system is closing indoor activities, but parklands remain open. It’s a similar story at the Washington Department of Natural Resources.

“We understand the physical and mental benefits of being able to get outside to fish, hunt, hike, wildlife watch and do other activities at this time,” said WDFW spokeswoman Staci Lehman in an email. “We are reminding people to please be responsible and respectful of others they encounter while outside and do their best to social distance from those not in their immediate party and to wear masks when that isn’t possible and where appropriate.”

That difference in approach reflects a greater understanding of the virus and the fact that it’s fall, not spring, said Jon Snyder, the recreation policy advisor for Gov. Jay Inslee.

“We can see that we can’t tie many cases to outdoor recreation cases,” he said.

In particular, the spring closures were aimed at preventing travel. With several popular hunting and fishing seasons opening — lowland trout and coastal fishing in particular — officials worried the surge of travel would spread the virus to rural communities.

“We do not have anything going on right now that gets thousands of people crossing the state for fishing,” Snyder said.

In 2018 and 2019 WDFW sold about 160,000 annual fishing licenses prior to opening day. The agency does not track where people fish, according to Peter Vernie, the licensing department manager. Vernie doesn’t believe people travel far for the opener because WDFW stocks so many lakes.

The bigger concern for WDFW was reports of “shoulder-to-shoulder” fishing at popular lakes, said Lehman.

Although the spring closures were deeply unpopular, leading to “Let Us Fish” protests and vocal dissension among some Fish and Wildlife commissioners, Snyder defends them as necessary.

“Find any state that didn’t close and compare us to them,” he said. “At the time we just really needed to crush mobility.”

Brock Millern, a recreation and conservation manager for DNR, echoed Snyder. The mental and physical health benefits of going outside, combined with the increase in knowledge and decrease in good weather, has prompted a much different response.

Still, he cautioned that closures could happen.

“I think it’s possible

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Washington recreation lands remain open despite rocketing COVID-19 rates

As cases of COVID-19 surge across Washington and the country, business are closing yet again – as hospital beds again are filling – and health officials are urging people to avoid holiday travel (at least that’s new).

It all feels familiar, except for one major difference: Washington land managers and recreation czars aren’t urging folks to avoid the outdoors, nor are they closing lands to public access.

In the spring, roughly 7 million acres of state-owned land closed in hopes of preventing travel. Beloved local gems like Mount Spokane and Riverside State Park were suddenly off limits. Those lucky enough to live near green space were urged to talk a walk in a local park.

This time it’s different.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, for instance, is not making any new changes due to the viral surge. The Washington State Parks system is closing indoor activities, but parklands remain open. It’s a similar story at the Washington Department of Natural Resources.

“We understand the physical and mental benefits of being able to get outside to fish, hunt, hike, wildlife watch and do other activities at this time,” said WDFW spokeswoman Staci Lehman in an email. “We are reminding people to please be responsible and respectful of others they encounter while outside and do their best to social distance from those not in their immediate party and to wear masks when that isn’t possible and where appropriate.”

That difference in approach reflects a greater understanding of the virus and the fact that it’s fall, not spring, said Jon Snyder, the recreation policy advisor for Gov. Jay Inslee.

“We can see that we can’t tie many cases to outdoor recreation cases,” he said.

In particular, the spring closures were aimed at preventing travel. With several popular hunting and fishing seasons opening – lowland trout and coastal fishing in particular – officials worried the surge of travel would spread the virus to rural communities.

“We do not have anything going on right now that gets thousands of people crossing the state for fishing,” Snyder said.

In 2018 and 2019 WDFW sold about 160,000 annual fishing licenses prior to opening day. The agency does not track where people fish, according to Peter Vernie, the licensing department manager. Vernie doesn’t believe people travel far for the opener because WDFW stocks so many lakes.

The bigger concern for WDFW was reports of “shoulder-to-shoulder” fishing at popular lakes, said Lehman.

Although the spring closures were deeply unpopular, leading to ”Let Us Fish” protests and vocal dissension among some Fish and Wildlife commissioners, Snyder defends them as necessary.

“Find any state that didn’t close and compare us to them,” he said. “At the time we just really needed to crush mobility.”

Brock Millern, a recreation and conservation manager for DNR, echoed Snyder. The mental and physical health benefits of going outside, combined with the increase in knowledge and decrease in good weather, has prompted a much different response.

Still, he cautioned that closures could happen.

“I

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A door may be cracking open for Americans to travel to Europe again

Two new Covid-19 testing programs may be the key to unlocking travel between the United States and Europe.



a large clock tower towering over the city of london


© Provided by CNBC


Select passengers flying on American Airlines, British Airways and United Airlines flights are eligible to participate in testing programs that are evaluating whether preflight Covid-19 tests can be used to relax travel restrictions imposed by both countries.

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The two programs, however, are quite different. Here is what to know about each.

American Airlines and British Airways

On Nov. 17, American Airlines and British Airways announced the launch of an optional Covid-19 testing trial on flights from the U.S. to London.

The testing program will begin on Nov. 25 on flights to Heathrow Airport departing from Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (Flight AA50), New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (BA114) and Los Angeles International Airport (BA268). A second flight originating from JFK (AA106) will be added to the program at a future date, according to an American Airlines’ press release.

Passengers who volunteer for the program will undergo three free Covid-19 tests as follows:

  • Test 1: A self-administered RT-PCR (nasal) test taken at home via a virtual consultation with a medical professional 72 hours prior to departure
  • Test 2: A LAMP (nasal) test taken upon landing at Heathrow Airport
  • Test 3: A self-administered saliva test taken at home three days after arriving in the U.K. 

The three-test approach is specific to the trial, said David Evans, joint CEO at Collinson, a global travel company that began operating two Covid-19 testing facilities at Heathrow for outbound travelers in mid-October.

The goal “is to capture data to demonstrate the effectiveness of the different tests used at different stages,” he said.



a person standing in front of a building: Results of the pilot program by American Airlines and British Airways will be shared with the U.S. and U.K. governments in hopes of relaxing travel restrictions between the two countries.


© Provided by CNBC
Results of the pilot program by American Airlines and British Airways will be shared with the U.S. and U.K. governments in hopes of relaxing travel restrictions between the two countries.

“RT-PCR tests are the ‘gold standard’ … because they are even more sensitive than LAMP tests, but they also take anywhere between six to 24 hours to process,” Evans said. “RT-LAMP tests — which are both highly effective and can be processed in around 60 minutes — are ideal for an airport environment as they can be processed on-site.”

Even if all tests are negative, passengers will still need to self-isolate in the U.K.

The trial will end after 500 customers have been tested under the three-test approach, said Janine Brown, an American Airlines’ communications manager.  

“The trial is being conducted with the aim of showing that testing can play a role in reducing the need for quarantine,” Brown told CNBC’s Global Traveler. “The U.K. government has also said recently it is evaluating testing as a means to reduce the self-isolation period.”



a man holding a sign: Heathrow Airport is said to be exploring preflight testing trials on additional routes from the U.S.


© Provided by CNBC
Heathrow Airport is said to be exploring preflight testing trials on additional routes from the U.S.

Evans said research shows the U.K. alone is losing 32 million British pounds ($42.3 million) every day due to lack of flight

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After years of planning, new 304-room downtown Tacoma hotel is open for business

Wednesday morning marked a landmark launch in downtown Tacoma with the opening of the new Marriott Tacoma Downtown hotel next to the Greater Tacoma Convention Center.

“We’re officially open,” said Ben Osgood, general manager of the hotel. “We’ve signed all the documents and the doors are open.”

Osgood spoke to The News Tribune not long after the official 9 a.m. opening.

There was no pomp and circumstance with a large crowd of officials to mark the start, given that Pierce County is now awash in its third surge of COVID-19 cases in the pandemic.

“It’s a little quiet, to say the least,” Osgood said. “But …. we are receiving reservations as we speak.”

For tourism officials, that’s good news.

“This is a big day for Pierce County, and we’re excited to officially welcome Marriott Tacoma Downtown into the Tacoma hotel community,” said Dean Burke, president and CEO of Travel Tacoma – Mt. Rainier Tourism and Sports, via email Wednesday.

Adapting to change

The hotel, with 22 floors and 304 guest rooms, has been a goal for the city since the convention center’s completion in 2004.

The site’s groundbreaking on Aug. 8, 2017, was arranged with the help of a feng shui expert, focused on every celebratory detail down to the date itself to instill good luck on the project.

Fast forward to 2020: Attention to detail now is focused on providing safe service in a pandemic.

Opening plans called for what Osgood describes as a “big pivot” following Gov. Jay Inslee’s new orders to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

“Really, the biggest change that we had to pivot on just in the last three, four days is we are unfortunately unable to open our restaurant,” Osgood said.

Staff had trained for weeks planning for a thriving indoor dining scene.

Instead, guests now can experience a revamped room service with quick turnaround time.

“Our interim dining program … it’s not the traditional room service that you would expect where you get to your room and, an hour and a half after you order, your food shows up on the big metal plate (with) all the fancy dinnerware,” Osgood said.

“This is more on demand, a la carte experience that will be delivered to your room or available for grab and go in the lobby within 15 minutes of your order. So it’s hot and fresh. It competes with your fast casual restaurants. Everything’s in compostable packaging. It’s a really good program, and it keeps it actually very affordable for the guest.”

Other amenities for now are either scaled down or temporarily off-limits, such as the pool, spa and fitness center.

Cleaning, air filtration

Cleaning, another big issue top of mind with guests trying to avoid COVID-19, follows a pandemic protocol.

“Basically, anything that can’t be sanitized in the guest room is removed.,” Osgood said, “and available by request only. We’re going pretty much paperless. So QR codes, compendiums on the TV.”

On-screen “compendiums” are best described as a digital concierge,

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