(CNN) — The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expanding surveillance at four major international airports to keep an eye out for the Omicron variant of coronavirus in travelers, the agency’s director said Tuesday.
Dr. Rochelle Walensky told a White House Covid-19 briefing that the CDC is expanding surveillance with XpresCheck, a testing service at airport terminals, to the following four places:
— Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport — John F. Kennedy International Airport — Newark Liberty International Airport — San Francisco International Airport
She noted they are four of the busiest international airports in the country.
United Airlines also said it does not plan to scale back service between Newark and Johannesburg and will restart its route to Cape Town, also in South Africa, next week as planned.
Testing ‘closer to the time of flights’
“CDC is evaluating how to make international travel as safe as possible,” Walensky said.
That includes “critical partner testing closer to the time of flights and considerations around additional post-arrival testing and self-quarantine,” she said.
Additionally, top US government officials are currently considering requiring everyone who enters the United States to be tested the day before their flight and having all travelers — including US citizens and permanent residents — test again after returning home, regardless of vaccination status, sources familiar with the thinking tell CNN.
Officials were deliberating Tuesday night and no final decisions have been made, but they could be announced as soon as this week. Currently, vaccinated travelers are required to test three days before their departure. This move under consideration would shorten that timeline to one day.
Regarding the expanded surveillance, “this program allows for increased Covid testing for specific international arrivals,” Walensky said, “increasing our capacity to identify those with Covid-19 on arrival to the United States and enhancing our surveillance for the Omicron variant.”
She said the CDC is also working with the airlines “to collect passenger information that can be used by CDC and local public health jurisdictions to enhance contact tracing and post-arrival follow-up should a case be identified in a traveler.”
Coordinating locally and globally
The CDC is keeping in close touch with state and local health officials, she said.
“We are holding regular, even daily calls, with local county and state health officials and our public health partners. These calls include state, county and city health officials, state epidemiologists, laboratory directors and partners from public health organizations,” Walensky said.
“And we are continuously working closely with our public health partners, both here in America and around the world.”
Top image: Travelers arrive for flights at Newark Liberty International Airport on November 30, 2021 in Newark, New Jersey. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
CNN’s Maggie Fox, Kaitlan Collins and Forrest Brown contributed to this report.
Award-winning host agency Avoya Travel Network today announced some major news that will have a profound, positive impact on the family-run company’s future trajectory. With 57 years as one of the world’s most innovative travel marketing and technology companies under its belt, Avoya has just gained a new shareholder and investment partner in Certares.
Jeff Anderson, a third-generation Avoya travel agent and current co-president, broke the news to the company’s network of independent travel agencies and advisors today during a Zoom meeting. He described this latest development as a game-changer and predicted that this would prove to be a pivotal moment in Avoya’s history.
MORE Host Agency & Consortia
“I’m really, really excited to announce today that, in our efforts to collaborate with the best and the most brilliant…we’re bringing in a new partner, a new shareholder into the business,” he said.
Certares is a private equity firm with offices in New York, Luxembourg and Dubai. Its name may be unfamiliar, but its investments include such well-known brands as AmaWaterways, American Express Global Business Travel, G Adventures, Hertz, Internova Travel Group and TripAdvisor.
“They focus their investments in privately held companies in the travel and tourism, hospitality business and consumer services sector,” Anderson explained. “We are very, very excited about the opportunities to work alongside the brilliant people over there,” he said.
Since 2018, the company has been committed following to a five-phase initiative, dubbed ‘Avoya 2025’, which is designed to reach the organization’s goal of becoming the world’s number one vacation platform.
“Here we are, now, towards the end of 2021 and the plan continues,” Anderson reflected. “Certainly, there were a lot of distractions, no one expected this unimaginable disruption, but we never lost sight of our ambitions and we’re still heading in the right direction.
Anderson said that Centares’ core values, “so tightly align with the way that the Andersons have operated for so very long. And, it’s been a privilege, we’ve known about this wonderful team for many, many years.” He continued, “I think what’s so exciting about this is, partnered with Certares, is going to let us achieve those wildest dreams that, maybe as a family business, we didn’t have that same opportunity to accomplish.”
Anderson said to expect to see a lot of changes and rapid growth within the company. Co-founder Van Anderson will be retiring almost immediately. His brother, co-founder Brad Anderson will be transitioning into the role of senior advisor for the organization. Day-to-day operations will continue to be overseen by Jeff and Michael Anderson, who currently hold the titles of co-presidents, but who’ll now be moving into the roles of co-CEOs.
“We already have a very, very good thing going on here. Certares has been very deep into understanding our business and we’re really proud of the fact that they’ve decided to put money behind what they see here,” he said. And that’s a huge testimony to every single person who’s contributed to Avoya. We’re really just humbled at this.”
Anderson said that Centares’, “investment in the Avoya platform means tremendous growth for the future. I’m so excited about the confidence they have in what we’re doing here…The growth [trajectory] that we’re going to be on is going to be a wild, exciting adventure.”
As the November 22 deadline for all federal employees to be vaccinated quickly approaches, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) may have trouble keeping up with the influx of holiday travelers due to low worker vaccination rates.
Thanksgiving is one of the busiest holidays for travel in the United States and is just 3 days after the federal deadline for vaccinations. According to a report from the Los Angeles Times, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management says that employees who do not get the vaccine can face disciplinary action, including termination. With only about 60 percent of TSA employees partially vaccinated, this means that airport security — which already faces a great deal of stress during busy seasons — could slow down considerably.
In an interview with CNN, TSA Administrator David Pekoske mentioned that he is “very hopeful” that employee vaccination rates will increase before November 22 so the organization can avoid possible staffing issues as people travel to be near friends and family for Thanksgiving.
Lisa Farbstein, a spokesperson for the TSA, commented that the organization expects many workers to get the vaccine in time for the deadline and that the TSA hopes rates will increase before the holiday. She provided more information on steps that the TSA is taking to make the process easier for employees: “At TSA, we are hosting employee town halls, sending broadcast emails, and posting details on the requirement in break rooms on how and where to upload documents for proof of vaccination status.”
According to Pekoske, the TSA is working on contingency plans in case the numbers do not increase. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer helped encourage these plans, pushing for the use of bomb-sniffing dogs to streamline security checkpoint efficiency. “Late last week, the TSA hinted at a potential real travel mess as Thanksgiving approaches,” Schumer stated at a news conference over the weekend. “And that’s because they reported that 40 percent of their workforce remain unvaccinated from COVID-19.”
The trade association that represents many airlines based out of the U.S., Airlines 4 America (A4A), declined to comment on specific predictions for the outcome of the holiday travel season, but did provide the following statement: “We remain in routine communication with our federal partners to prioritize a safe, seamless travel experience.”
Time will tell how smoothly the holiday travel season will go, but fliers will certainly want to make their plans carefully.
As the world goes back to normal and cruise ships return to the oceans, we’re finally beginning to understand the vaccine requirements from cruise ships.
Canadian travelers were worried about mixed vaccines and how that would affect their ability to travel going forward. Many Canadians received mixed vaccine doses, and some countries aren’t accepting mixed vaccine doses yet.
The CDC’s position on mixed vaccines was unclear until recent weeks. The CDC now recognizes somemixed vaccine doses as fully vaccinated.
But thankfully, most cruise ships accept mixed vaccines, and we have the complete list of entry requirements here.
Royal Caribbean Cruises
Royal Caribbean Cruises currently accepts guests with mixed vaccine doses as fully vaccinated.
However, Royal Caribbean Cruises states, “We understand some guests may have been vaccinated with doses from two different vaccine manufacturers.
“Whether these are accepted depends on where you are sailing from and the mix of manufacturers. In addition, mixed vaccines may not be accepted at all ports of call.”
Royal Caribbean Cruises are following the CDC’s guidelines.
Cruises departing from ports inside the U.S.
Mixed mRNA Vaccines – For sailings departing the U.S, the CDC recognizes a mixed series of mRNA vaccines as fully vaccines. For example, 1 shot of Pfizer with 1 shot of Moderna. However, the doses must be administered 28 days apart. Royal Caribbean cruises will consider guests fully vaccinated 14 days after the final dose.
Mixed mRNA with AstraZeneca Vaccine – Royal Caribbean cruises will not consider guests fully vaccinated if their two shots consist of only 1 mRNA dose with 1 AstraZeneca dose. Royal Caribbean states they’re going to “continue to encourage the CDC and other U.S. government officials to re-evaluate this policy.”
Cruises departing from ports outside of the U.S.
Royal Caribbean cruises will accept mixed doses of Pfizer and Moderna, or AstraZeneca with Moderna or Pfizer if they’re departing from outside of the United States.
The doses must be separated by at least 4 weeks and not more than 12 weeks for combinations of AstraZeneca with Pfizer or Moderna.
Royal Caribbean accepts straight doses of vaccines approved by the World Health Organization and the U.S. FDA. The company considers guests fully vaccinated 14 days after the final dose of vaccines.
For example, Royal Caribbean accepts 1 shot of Johnson & Johnson, 2 shots of Pfizer, 2 of Moderna, and 2 of AstraZeneca.
Carnival Cruises, which own Princess, Seabourn, Holland, and Costa, currently accept guests with mixed vaccine doses as fully vaccinated.
However, Carnival Cruises currently acceptsmixing mRNA vaccines only, such as Pfizer and Moderna. However, Carnival Cruises doesn’t accept guests as fully vaccinated with any other vaccine combination.
They state, “Canadian or other international guests who received a combination of AstraZeneca and Pfizer are considered unvaccinated by the CDC.”
Guests considered unvaccinated by Carnival Cruises will need to follow the applicable vaccination exemption requirements.
These include a 72-hour negative PCR test at check-in, an additional antigen test at embarkation, and another test within 24 hours of debarkation on all cruises exceeding 4 days in length.
Norwegian Cruise Lines
Norweigan Cruise Lines currently accepts guests with mixed vaccine doses as fully vaccinated.
However, the cruise accepts a mixed protocol of AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BioNTech, or Moderna combinations with a minimum interval of 28 days.
The cruise accepts straight doses of all vaccines approved by the FDA, EMA, and the World Health Organization.
They also state guests who’ve received a Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine before another COVID-19 vaccine are still considered fully vaccinated by the company two weeks after the single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling. Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories
“Reaching the 80 per cent milestone is a significant achievement,” ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said.
“Canberrans should be really proud of how our community has worked together and given us the best opportunity to manage the expected increase in cases as the nation starts to reopen.
“We are now well on our way to having close to 99 per cent of the eligible population fully vaccinated by the end of November.”
The major changes will also see capacity limits increased for venues and major events, outdoor masks scrapped and food courts to reopen earlier than planned.
Non-essential retail returns
Over the weekend, local businesses complained that they were losing local customers across the border to New South Wales, where retail settings were more lenient.
Today, Mr Barr said non-essential retailers in the ACT could open their doors to customers from Friday, October 22.
“As a result of reaching this [80 per cent double-dose vaccination], the ACT Government is in a position to bring forward the recommencement of non-essential retail to 11:59pm on Thursday 21, under a 1 person per 4 square metres (1 per 4 sqm) rule,” Mr Barr said.
Mr Barr said these restrictions would be eased further by the end of the month.
“With high vaccination rates and stable average case numbers over the last couple of weeks, the government will further ease restrictions from 29 October,” he said.
“This includes the relaxation of capacity limits across a number of different industries, including hospitality and major events.
“From 29 October, food courts in the ACT will also be able to reopen under a 1 per 4 sqm model.”
“Subject to the public health risk at the time, the ACT will remove the COVID-Affected Area declaration across NSW from 1 November,” Mr Barr said.
“This aligns with the decision from the NSW Government to allow travel from Greater Sydney into their regional areas from 1 November.”
Mr Barr said health authorities will assess individual local government areas (LGAs) within the state if they pose a significant risk to public health.
“Similar to the arrangements the ACT had in place throughout most of this year, the ACT will move to an individual LGA assessment of public health risk from 1 November,” Mr Barr said.
“This will allow the ACT Chief Health Officer to declare high-risk LGAs as COVID-affected areas with relevant stay at home or quarantine requirements, should a hotspot emerge.”
However, ACT Chief Health Officer Kerryn Coleman said it was unlikely travel restrictions between the ACT and Victoria would change before November 1.
“We’re watching Victoria very closely, they are in a completely different position to NSW,” Dr Coleman said.
“I don’t think the COVID-affected declaration will be removed before November 1, but we are also working very closely with NSW, recognising that a block approach in how we deal with Victoria is preferred as well.”
Outdoor mask wearing to go, hotel quarantine no longer required
Mr Barr also announced that masks would no longer be required outdoors from October 29, but would remain mandatory indoors to “help slow the spread of the virus”.
How hurricanes form, why they are getting more dangerous
There were 14 hurricanes in 2020, the busiest season since 2005. Here’s how they form and why climate change is making them more intense.
Just the FAQs, USA TODAY
The storm will bring a life-threatening storm surge, flash flooding and dangerous winds.
The latest forecast track shows that Pamela will hit near Mazatlán sometime on Wednesday.
Pamela is the 16th named storm of the 2021 eastern Pacific hurricane season.
Hurricane season isn’t over yet: What’s now Tropical Storm Pamela is forecast to smash into the west coast of Mexico as a Category 3 hurricane by midweek, forecasters from the National Hurricane Center said Monday.
The storm will bring a life-threatening storm surge, flash flooding and dangerous winds, the hurricane center said.
As of 2 p.m. EDT Monday, Pamela had winds of 70 mph and was located about 455 miles south-southwest of Mazatlán, Mexico. It was tracking northwest at 6 mph. Hurricane watches and tropical storm watches were in effect for parts of Mexico’s southwestern coast as well as parts of extreme southern Baja California Sur, according to the hurricane center.
Pamela was forecast to take a turn toward the north and northeast, passing close to the southern tip of the Baja California peninsula late Tuesday or early Wednesday at hurricane strength.
The latest forecast track shows Pamela will hit near Mazatln late Wednesday with winds estimated at near 120 mph.
“The combination of warm ocean waters and light wind shear will allow Pamela to intensify over the next couple of days,” said AccuWeather senior meteorologist Rob Miller.
“Mudslides are likely to occur along the steeply sloped higher terrain and, when combined with the flash flooding potential, will pose a significant threat to lives and property. Travel will undoubtedly be impacted with major delays likely,” Miller said.
Though it’s expected to weaken as it moves across Mexico, what’s left of Pamela could cause flooding problems in Texas by the end of the week, forecasters said.
“Large portions of both central and eastern Texas are set for a soaking later this week as Pamela crosses through the state, likely as a tropical rainstorm,” AccuWeather meteorologist Mary Gilbert said.
Some locations could record rainfall totals as high as 4-8 inches, spanning from central to northeastern Texas into Friday.
Pamela became the 16th named storm of the 2021 eastern Pacific hurricane season when it developed south of Mexico on Sunday evening.
The big sale on airline tickets to Europe is back on, with a vengeance.
Right now, all three mega-airlines — American, Delta and United — are offering good fares from both Anchorage and Fairbanks to Europe.
United’s deals drop off from Fairbanks next month, but Delta flies year-round from Fairbanks and Anchorage. American partners with Alaska Airlines on many of the trans-Atlantic flights. United offers year-round service from Anchorage via its daily Anchorage-Denver nonstop.
Some of these entry-level bargains to Europe are compelling: Anchorage-Madrid for $294 round trip, for example. Or Anchorage-Athens for $303 round trip. Both of these low-end bargains are offered by American Airlines. But there’s more to the story.
Remember: Airlines these days lure you in with a low base price, then tack on the extras. If you want a pre-assigned seat, it will cost you. If you want to check a bag, it will cost you. If you want a seat with extra legroom like an exit row, that will cost you.
Still, those add-ons will cost you no matter the base fare. So, a lower base fare is good.
Right now, American Airlines has the cheapest fares to Europe. The lowest of the low fares are for travel next month, in October.
Here are some of my favorite rates:
• Anchorage-Dublin: $287 round trip on Alaska and American Airlines. Travel Oct. 16-23. If you don’t want to travel on these dates, other dates are available for $319-$355 round trip. Book at American’s website. Fly from Fairbanks to Dublin for $289 round trip between Oct. 3 and Oct. 12.
• Anchorage/Fairbanks-Madrid: $294 round trip on Alaska and American Air. Travel between Oct. 5 and Oct. 29. Other dates are available between now and Feb. 26 for $350 round trip.
• Anchorage/Fairbanks-Athens for $303-$305 round trip. The best rates are available between Oct. 3 and Oct. 29 on American. After that, the prices go up a little bit, to around $366 round trip.
It makes a difference where you book the tickets. In my research, Google Flights offers a good overview of the flights, with a link to a website where you can purchase the tickets. A link to the American Airlines website doesn’t mean all the flights are on American. They could be on Alaska Airlines, British Airways, Finnair or any other oneworld partner.
If you’re headed to Spain, there are many other destinations besides Madrid that are on sale: Barcelona (from $343 round trip) and Malaga (from $354 round trip) also are on sale. Nearby Lisbon, Portugal, is on sale for as little as $361 round trip (for October travel).
The airlines are mum on why the prices are so low. It’s not unusual to see fares to Europe drop to the $400-$500 level once or twice a year. But to see prices drop below $300 round trip is remarkable. It also underscores how soft the demand is for air travel this fall. Most airlines have reduced their predictions of how many people will travel this fall during a resurgence of COVID-19.
Most frequent travelers will not pay the lowest available fare. For example, from Anchorage to Rome, the cheapest fare displayed by American Airlines is $311 round trip. Pre-assigned seats cost extra, though. And your first checked bag is $150. However, if you choose “main cabin” for an extra $150, you get to pre-select your tiny coach seat. And you get one checked bag free. And if you’re an Alaska Airlines elite (MVP or MVP Gold), you can access the “Main Cabin Extra” seats with extra legroom.
If you want to take a quick trip to Europe, remember that entry requirements are changing. You may need to prove you’ve received your COVID-19 vaccination. You probably will need to get tested prior to departure. And you’ll need to make arrangements to get tested once again before returning to the U.S. Check American’s website for a country-by-country breakdown of entry requirements.
If you don’t want to use your passport, there are plenty of good deals available stateside.
One of my favorites is Anchorage-Fort Myers, Florida. Fly from Anchorage to Fort Myers for $101 right away on Delta. There’s no advance purchase. You could get on the plane tomorrow morning. Travel between now and May. From Fairbanks, the price is a little more: $118 one-way.
Flights from Anchorage to New York are really cheap. Fly right away for $116 one-way on American or Alaska Airlines. If you can wait a couple of weeks, the price goes down to $106 one-way. The prices stay low until Feb. 16. Fares are cheaper from Fairbanks. Fly to New York for as little as $98 one-way on Delta.
From Anchorage to Kansas City, the price is really low: $112 one-way on Alaska or Delta, starting in October. It’s a little more if you want to fly right away: $140 one-way. That’s still a nice price.
Don’t forget about Seattle. It’s $89 one-way with either Alaska or Delta, starting Sept. 25. The cheap fare is available through Feb. 28.
When I started checking the Europe fares early in the week, United had the lowest rates. The next day, Delta jumped on board with the lowest rates. Then American dropped the rates again on Thursday, So, after checking the rates on Thursday evening, I won’t be surprised if they changed again.
All fares are subject to change without notice. If you see a fare you like, buy it. You have 24 hours to change your mind. You’ll get a full refund, as mandated by federal regulations.
“Uninvited: Canadian Women Artists in the Modern Moment,” the latest exhibition at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection, spotlights more than 200 works by Canadian women in the interwar period, a century ago. Described as a “cross-country snapshot of female creativity,” the major new show includes pieces by settler and Indigenous artists, and will run until Jan. 16, 2022. After that, the exhibition will travel onward to Calgary’s Glenbow (Feb. 19 to May 8, 2022).
It’s (almost) time for fall foliage in Ontario, though pinpointing the fleeting peak season of fiery leaves in any given area typically takes some guesswork. Unless, of course, you’ve bookmarked the regularly updated fall colour reportsby Ontario Parks (ontarioparks.com/fallcolour), which come with intel on the best viewing spots, too.
This year’s Mondial de la bière de Montréal(Oct. 7 to 10) will be an in-person festival, held outdoors in the Rio Tinto Courtyard at Windsor Station. The event will include more than 100 brews from across Quebec and beyond, with tickets available for three-hour sessions.
On Oct. 1, Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., will kick off celebrations for their 50th anniversary. New attractions will include Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure at Epcot (opening that same day), while a forthcoming Cirque du Soleil show called “Drawn to Life“ will combine acrobatics with animation (premiering Nov. 18). For those not venturing down south soon, the anniversary events will roll out over 18 months.
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