Hawaii’s tourism industry prepares for loosened national travel restrictions for fully vaccinated visitors – Honolulu, Hawaii news, sports & weather


Friday’s announcement was welcomed news for many people in the tourism industry including here in Hawaii. Bruce Fisher, owner of Hawaii Aloha Travel, says international visitors are better for the local economy because they tend to stay longer and spend more. The industry is hopeful for a more vibrant 2022 but right now Hawaii still has travel restrictions in place for visitors from many foreign countries. 





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Covid-19 live updates: Victoria, NSW cases, lockdown, restrictions


Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has doubled down on his calls to open up Victoria, slamming one “ludicrous and unacceptable” rule in particular.

Welcome to our live coverage of Saturday’s national Covid-19 news.

Australians and their families will be to free to travel in and out of the country from November 1, a move triggered by NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet’s announcement that quarantine would come to an end in his state for fully vaccinated arrivals.

But not everyone will benefit from the lifted outbound travel ban – with Prime Minister Scott Morrison stressing that only “Australians, permanent residents and citizens and their families” will be permitted to come and go for the time being.

Meanwhile Victoria has reported 1993 new local infections and sadly, seven deaths – a slight drop after two consecutive days of cases exceeding 2000.

NSW also reported another drop in cases, with 319 new infections and two deaths.

And residents in Hobart and southern Tasmania are on the first day of a three-day lockdown, after a 31-year-old man who was Covid-positive escaped hotel quarantine and visited a supermarket earlier this week.

There were no further cases in the state overnight.

Read on for today’s updates below. Just remember to keep refreshing the page to see the latest news.

‘Ludicrous and unacceptable’: Frydenberg doubles down

Josh Frydenberg has doubled down on his op-ed about Victoria’s Covid-19 restrictions, declaring during a press conference that it is “ludicrous and unacceptable” that people in Sydney can now travel to Victoria, but Melburnians aren’t able to see their families in the regions.

“Victorians are looking at what is happening in NSW and saying ‘Why do those people get the freedoms at 70 and 80 per cent that we here in Victoria are not getting?’” the Treasurer told reporters.

“Victorians have done the right thing. They have spent so much time in lockdown. They have gone and got the jab in record numbers. It is now time that the Government gave back their freedoms and their lives.”

Asked if Victoria needed to be in lockdown for “so long”, Mr Frydenberg said it was “an indisputable fact, a very sad fact is that Victorians have spent more time in lockdown than any other state and that Melburnians have spent more time in lockdown than any other city in the world”.

“Just think about that for a moment. Melburnians have spent more time lockdown than any other city in the world,” he added.

“There are going to be more cases, particularly among the unvaccinated. This is what living with Covid means. An elimination strategy is not a viable strategy.”

It’s worth noting that Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has repeatedly said his state is no longer trying to eradicate the virus.

15-year-old Victorian ‘very sadly’ among Covid deaths

Victoria’s Covid-19 commander Jeroen Weimar has provided further detail about the seven virus deaths in his state overnight.

One of them, Mr Weimar told reporters, was a 15-year-old girl who “very sadly passed away, with a number of conditions, but she was positive”.

“That is a sad and tragic case, we won’t be making any more comments on her but we will send our best wishes to her family and the family of all those who have lost their lives with Covid, particularly in the last 24 hours.”

The other six deaths occurred in a man in his 80s from Darebin, a woman in her 70s from Whittlesea, a man in his 80s from Moonee Valley, a woman in her 60s from Casey, another woman in her 60s from Darebin, and a man in his 50s from Hume.

Queensland introduces border restrictions with Tasmania

There might have been zero new cases in Tasmania overnight, but that hasn’t stopped the Sunshine State from reimposing border restrictions with 12 local government areas.

Residents in Hobart and the state’s south will be required to enter hotel quarantine if they fly to Queensland after 1am tomorrow.

Chief health officer Jeanette Young urged anyone in her state who was in Tasmania on October 11 or 12 to get tested if they show any symptoms.

“I strongly recommend that at this point in time, anyone who is planning to go down to Tasmania, does reconsider whether it’s necessary to do so,” Dr Young told reporters.

20 new cases in the ACT

There have been 20 new cases in the ACT up to the 24 hours to 8pm yesterday.

Of these infections, 14 are linked to known cases or clusters.

There are currently 15 patients being treated with the virus in hospital, 10 of whom are in intensive care.

No new cases in Queensland 

There have been no new cases of local Covid-19 in the Sunshine State in the last 24 hours. The state reported three new overseas acquired cases, all of which were detected in hotel quarantine.

Premier’s ‘great sadness’ at snap lockdown

Tasmanian Premier Peter Gutwein has expressed his “great sadness” at the snap lockdown that Hobart and its surrounding LGAs is currently under.

The state recorded no further infections overnight.

“I want to start by thanking Tasmanians in the south for their cooperation, by staying at home at this critical time. I don’t mind saying that I walked back to my room late last night and just noted the number of people that were on the streets and there weren’t very many. In the main, they were wearing face masks,” Mr Gutwein told reporters.

“I must admit, it filled me with great sadness, walking past the closed businesses and noting those that were doing their very best to supply takeaways and to have pivoted and thank you to them for that.

“It is important the steps that we are going through at the moment, we have acted swiftly, decisively, with a view to ensuring that this doesn’t get away from us.”

While the Premier said he was “pleased” there hadn’t been any more infections, he warned that “the next 48 hours remains critical and I ask all Tasmanians in the south to work together to get on top of this as quickly as we can”.

ACT expands NSW border bubble

The ACT has expanded its border bubble with NSW – meaning Canberrans will be able to travel to the Southern Highlands and South Coast from midday today.

Residents will be allowed to travel freely to locations including Batemans Bay, Thredbo and Bowral if they are fully vaccinated, meaning they’ll no longer have to quarantine or complete an exemption form to return to the ACT.

People who live in those approved areas of NSW will also be allowed to enter the ACT, as long as they follow the public health directions.

ACT Health said the change was to “better align our travel restrictions with NSW where possible”.

NSW reports 319 new local cases

NSW’s numbers are in, with another drop in local infections – down to 319 new infections in the 24 hours up to 8pm last night.

There were also, sadly, two further deaths.

There are currently 652 people with Covid-19 being treated in hospital, 138 of who are in the ICU.

Victoria reports 1993 Covid-19 cases

Victoria has reported 1993 new local cases overnight and, sadly, seven further deaths.

It’s a slight drop in numbers for the state, after recording two consecutive days of cases exceeding 2000.

‘No time to lose’: Treasurer’s urgent plea

Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg is again calling for Daniel Andrews to roll back restrictions in Victoria to line up with those in NSW, declaring that “it’s time to put Victoria back in the fast lane”.

In an op-ed published by the Herald Sun, Mr Frydenberg wrote that “Melbourne has gone from the world’s most liveable city to the world’s most locked down city”.

“The damage done by lockdowns is clear. Our cafes are quiet; our lanes are empty; and our stadiums, normally filled with cheering fans, are deserted,” he wrote.

“Melbourne is famous for its cultural vitality; its music, museums, and its warm hospitality. But Covid has hit and hit us hard.”

Comparing the measures in Victoria to those in NSW, Mr Frydenberg said there was “no time to lose”.

“Victorians who have given up so much, are rightly asking the question; why are the people of NSW granted more freedoms at 70 and 80 per cent vaccination rates than they are?” he said.

“Victorians, like those in NSW, have done the right thing and got the jab, and in return, they deserve their lives and their freedoms back.”

Why the mandatory jab lawsuit failed

The NSW government has won a landmark Supreme Court challenge to the state’s lockdown measures to combat the Covid outbreak.

Two sets of plaintiffs – who all refused to be vaccinated – filed civil suits asking for various aspects of the public health orders to be quashed and that the government be restrained from setting any further lockdown measures.

Northern Rivers woman Natasha Henry and five other citizens asked the court to overturn rules requiring aged care workers to get the Covid-19 jab and prohibiting unvaccinated essential workers from leaving a local government area of concern for their jobs.

Another group, including construction worker Al-Munir Kassam, was asking the public health orders be declared invalid because they impugn their “personal liberty” and force them to undergo a medical procedure.

However, Robert Justice Beech-Jones ordered that both lawsuits be dismissed on Friday afternoon.

“It was contended the orders interfered with a person’s right to bodily integrity and a host of other freedoms,” Justice Beech-Jones said.

“When all is said and done, the proper analysis is the impugned order curtails freedom of movement, which in turn affects a person’s ability to work and socialise.”

– Additional reporting NCA NewsWire

Hobart enters three-day lockdown

Hobart and southern Tasmania has entered its full day of a three-day lockdown to contain the threat of a Delta outbreak, after a 31-year-old man who was Covid-positive escaped hotel quarantine and visited a supermarket earlier this week.

Announcing the shutdown on Friday afternoon, Premier Peter Gutwein said the man had been “uncooperative” with authorities about his movements.

“There is growing concern now that he has been to several touch points in the community. We can’t continue to wait another two days to find out more about what has been going on,” Mr Gutwein told reporters.

“We don’t want to be Sydney or Melbourne in this case that acted too late with Delta.”

The lockdown applies to Hobart and surrounding local government areas, where residents will only be allowed to leave their homes for essential purposes.

Mr Gutwein said he hoped the lockdown would end as scheduled at 6pm on Monday night, but that would depend on public health advice over the weekend.

Who misses out when international travel returns

Australians and their families will be to free to travel in and out of the country from November 1, a move triggered by NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet’s announcement that quarantine would come to an end in his state for fully vaccinated arrivals.

But not everyone will benefit from the lifted outbound travel ban – with Prime Minister Scott Morrison stressing that only “Australians, permanent residents and citizens and their families” will be permitted to come and go for the time being.

After being reportedly blindsided by Mr Perrottet’s declaration that the NSW border would open for everyone – including international tourists – the PM delivered a diplomatic slapdown, noting that it was the Commonwealth that controlled visas and decided who comes to Australia.

While he welcomed the decision to reopen borders and scrap quarantine, he suggested it was a “first step” and was about Australian residents returning, not tourists.

“We are not opening up to everyone coming back to Australia at the moment. I want to be clear about that,” Mr Morrison said.

“It is for the Commonwealth and Federal Government to decide when the border opens and shuts at an international level and we will do that.

“In the first instance it will be for Australian residents and their families. We will see how that goes.”

The PM said no decision had yet been made on when “visa holders, student visa holders (and) international visitors travelling” would be welcomed Down Under.

Government sources told The Australian they expect it could be “weeks” after Australia passes its 80 per cent vaccination rate in November before international students and skilled migrants are allowed a look-in.

State’s borders likely to stay shut

Western Australia’s hard border closure to NSW is likely to be extended as fully vaccinated Australians are allowed to return to the latter state from overseas without quarantining.

Vaccinated Australian citizens, residents and their families, including overseas-based parents, will be allowed to freely enter NSW from November 1.

They will need to be tested before boarding a flight and will need to prove they have had two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine.

WA Premier Mark McGowan said on Friday he was concerned an influx of travellers could lead to more coronavirus cases, flagging the border could remain shut for longer.

“I understand why they would (open their international border), because you may well be just as safe overseas as you are in Sydney,” he told reporters.

“But it may mean there’s greater spread of the virus in NSW. So that would obviously mean that we would keep our current border arrangement which is at ‘extreme risk’ with NSW for as long as it’s necessary.”

NSW residents are only allowed to enter WA in some exceptional circumstances and they must undergo a fortnight of hotel quarantine.

– Additional reporting NCA NewsWire

Glaring issue with new VaxPass

One vital detail may have been overlooked in the rollout of the VaxPass for NSW residents on Friday, according to a digital privacy expert.

The new Service NSW phone app’s additional feature, which streamlined the existing check in system with the user’s vaccination status, has attracted criticism over a seemingly obvious flaw.

The new function, while equipped with the Waratah logo hologram and rotating QR codes, doesn’t present the user’s photo identification.

Without the inclusion of photo ID, unvaccinated members of the public could easily use someone else’s phone, or even someone else’s login details, to gain access to a venue.

“Unlike the NSW driver’s licence which has your picture on it, you can take your friend’s phone and show their QR code, chief digital privacy officer at Trustrgrid, David Palmer, said.

“You need to have the picture of the individual to match who’s presenting it, and then the QR code does its work by presenting the green tick saying you’re vaccinated.”

Mr Palmer said without photo identification being built into VaxPasses, businesses employees would need to request that each person present additional documents before entering a venue.

– Brooke Rolfe

Read related topics:Josh FrydenbergMelbourne



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Covid-19 and Boosters Live News: Vaccines, Travel Restrictions and More


Video

transcript

transcript

F.D.A. Panel Endorses J.&J. Covid-19 Vaccine Boosters

A Food and Drug Administration advisory panel recommended authorizing booster shots of Johnson & Johnson’s one-dose coronavirus vaccine for people 18 years or older, at least two months after the first dose.

“Today, we are seeking authorization for use of Janssen’s Ad26 Covid vaccine as a homologous booster in those individuals who were previously vaccinated with the single dose.” “Do available data support the safety and effectiveness of Janssen’s Covid-19 vaccine for use under EUA as a booster dose in individuals 18 years of age and older, at least two months after a single dose primary vaccination?” “We do have 19 out of 19 unanimous yes votes for this question. Thank you.”

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A Food and Drug Administration advisory panel recommended authorizing booster shots of Johnson & Johnson’s one-dose coronavirus vaccine for people 18 years or older, at least two months after the first dose.CreditCredit…Robyn Beck/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The Food and Drug Administration’s vaccine advisory panel unanimously voted on Friday to recommend authorizing booster shots of Johnson & Johnson’s one-dose coronavirus vaccine for people 18 years or older, at least two months after the first dose. The F.D.A. typically follows the panel’s advice.

Before the vote, a top agency official, Dr. Peter Marks, said that the agency might consider regulatory action that would allow Johnson & Johnson recipients to receive a booster shot of Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccines. But Dr. Marks, who oversees the F.D.A.’s vaccine division, gave no timetable for any decision, saying only that authorization of a different vaccine as a booster for Johnson & Johnson recipients was “possible.”

Many panel members said that a second dose was important because the first dose did not provide strong enough protection. Unlike the other vaccines available in the United States, Johnson & Johnson chose to seek authorization for a single dose — a decision that some committee members couched as a mistake in hindsight.

“I think this frankly was always a two-dose vaccine,” said Dr. Paul Offit, an infectious disease expert at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Johnson & Johnson representatives presented their case Friday morning during a meeting of the advisory panel, arguing that a second dose given either two months or six months after the first shot increased antibody levels, part of the immune response to vaccines. They also said that the single dose remained durable.

Federal vaccine experts also walked through the company’s data, repeatedly pointing out its shortcomings. They warned that the two-month booster trial only followed up with study volunteers for a short period of time after their second shot. They also noted that a key test used by the company to measure the antibodies produced by a booster had a low sensitivity, calling the results into question — a concern raised by panel members on Friday.

Dr. Archana Chatterjee, an infectious disease expert at Rosalind Franklin University, asked the F.D.A. why it convened the panel if its own experts had not had time to verify the company’s data. Dr. Marks, the agency’s top vaccine regulator who has argued for a “harmonized” approach to booster policy, said it could have taken a month to verify all the data from the company’s largest-scale two-dose trial and several weeks to review the smaller studies.

The regulators did not see any evidence of serious safety concerns in the booster studies. But they noted they were not afforded enough time to independently review much of the data that Johnson & Johnson provided in its application for authorization, including in its large, two-dose trial that the company said made a clear case for bumping up protection with a booster.

Some federal officials appeared skeptical of the claims the company made about the efficacy of one dose, and expressed worry that those who received it are not as protected as Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech recipients.

“It was used as an outreach vaccine,” Dr. Marks said. “Many of the people who got that may not have been part of a health maintenance organization or an organized health care system.”

Dr. Amanda Cohn, a C.D.C. official, said that “the effectiveness or protection with a single dose of the J.&J. vaccine is not equivalent” to two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines.”

Some committee members argued that the vaccine should have been used in a two-dose regimen from the start.

Panel members repeatedly conveyed concern about the size of the study Johnson & Johnson used to ask for authorization of a six-month interval. “I’m not sure why you’re asking for an indication that would apply to millions of patients with a data set that includes 17 patients,” said Dr. Eric Rubin, an adjunct professor of immunology and infectious diseases at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

After voting on a Johnson & Johnson booster, the panel heard from Dr. Kirsten Lyke of the University of Maryland School of Medicine about a study in which she and her colleagues found that Johnson & Johnson recipients may benefit more from a Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech booster.

Dr. Lyke and her colleagues carried out a “mix and match” study with different combinations of the three vaccines.

Preliminary data from the study showed that those who got a Johnson & Johnson shot followed by a Moderna booster saw their antibody levels rise 76-fold within 15 days, whereas those who received a Johnson & Johnson booster saw only a fourfold rise in the same period. A Pfizer-BioNTech booster raised antibody levels in Johnson & Johnson recipients 35-fold.

Several panelists said they felt comfortable with the amount of data the N.I.H. researchers had gathered to recommend F.D.A. authorization. Dr. Ofer Levy, director of the Precision Vaccines Program at Harvard’s Boston Children’s Hospital, said that many Americans had already taken the matter into the own hands and urged the F.D.A. to step in.

“It’s a matter of some urgency for F.D.A. to help sort out what is admittedly a complicated and challenging scenario,” he said. “We can’t hide from it. And I do think we need to give guidance to the public.”

Dr. Cohn, the C.D.C. official, said that the F.D.A. could perhaps allow for general language in its authorizations of the vaccines that would allow for combinations. “From a public health perspective, there’s a clear need in some situations for individuals to receive a different vaccine,” she said, including those who do not have access to the same vaccine they received the first time, or those who now realize they might have increased risk of some side effects from the same vaccine.

The N.I.H. trial only looked at antibody levels, which on their own are an insufficient measure of how well different combinations would protect people. Dr. Lyke said that studies on immune cell responses were underway.

Credit…Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times

The Food and Drug Administration’s panel of expert advisers voted on Friday to recommend authorizing booster shots of Johnson & Johnson’s one-dose vaccine for people 18 and older, at least two months after the first dose. The committee also voted on Thursday to recommend booster shots for many recipients of the Moderna coronavirus vaccine.

While the panel’s recommendations are not binding, they are very likely to influence the F.D.A.’s decision — typically issued within a few days after the advisory committee weighs in. If the agency says yes to the boosters, the process moves to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Who are the experts on the F.D.A.’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee?

The committee now has 19 voting members who are scientific authorities from a range of fields, including immunology, vaccine safety and virology. Many are medical practitioners.

Dr. Arnold Monto, the acting chair of the committee, is a professor of epidemiology at the University of Michigan School of Public Health.

Here are the other voting members:

  • Dr. Archana Chatterjee, a pediatric infectious diseases specialist, is the dean of the Chicago Medical School and vice president for medical affairs at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science.

  • Capt. Amanda Cohn is a doctor and senior official overseeing vaccine policy at the C.D.C.’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.

  • Dr. Oveta Fuller is a trained pathologist and an associate professor of microbiology and immunology at University of Michigan Medical School.

  • Dr. Hayley Gans is a professor of pediatrics infectious diseases at Stanford University Medical Center.

  • Dr. James Hildreth is a professor of medicine and the president and chief executive officer of Meharry Medical College.

  • Dr. Randy Hawkins is a practicing physician who specializes in internal medicine and sits on the committee as a consumer representative.

  • Dr. Michael Kurilla is a senior official with expertise in infectious diseases and vaccine development at the National Institutes of Health.

  • Dr. Jeanette Lee is a professor of biostatistics at the University of Arkansas For Medical Sciences in Little Rock, Ark., and an expert on clinical trials.

  • Dr. Ofer Levy is the director of the Precision Vaccines Program at Boston Children’s Hospital, and a professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School.

  • Dr. H. Cody Meissner is professor of pediatric infectious disease at the Tufts University School of Medicine and Tufts Children’s Hospital in Boston.

  • Dr. Patrick Moore is a professor of microbiology and molecular genetics at the University of Pittsburgh.

  • Dr. Michael Nelson is a professor of medicine at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. He is also president of the American Board of Allergy and Immunology.

  • Dr. Paul Offit is a professor of pediatrics at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.

  • Dr. Steven Pergam is an expert on infectious diseases at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle and an associate professor at the University of Washington.

  • Dr. Stanley Perlman is professor of microbiology and immunology at the University of Iowa, and a pediatric infectious diseases specialist with expertise in coronaviruses.

  • Dr. Eric Rubin is the editor in chief of the New England Journal of Medicine and an expert on infectious diseases at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

  • Dr. Mark Sawyer is a professor of pediatrics and a pediatric infectious disease specialist at the University of California, San Diego, and Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego.

  • Dr. Melinda Wharton is the associate director for vaccine policy at the C.D.C.’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.

Credit…Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times

An independent panel of experts advising the Food and Drug Administration voted on Thursday to recommend a booster shot for many recipients of the Moderna coronavirus vaccine, and on Friday to recommend authorizing booster shots of Johnson & Johnson’s one-dose coronavirus vaccine for people 18 years or older, at least two months after the first dose.

So what happens now? There are further steps at the F.D.A., then steps at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the process ends with the states. Here’s how it breaks down.

  • The F.D.A., a federal agency of the Department of Health and Human Services that controls and supervises medications and other elements related to public health, takes up the advisory panel’s recommendation, which includes the question of who should be eligible. The advisory panel’s votes are not binding, but the F.D.A. typically follows them.

  • The F.D.A.’s top official — its acting commissioner, Dr. Janet Woodcock — issues the agency’s final determination on whether to authorize the boosters and for whom. Such decisions are typically issued within a few days of advisory committee meetings.

  • An advisory panel to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the United States’ public health agency, reviews the F.D.A.’s decision. On Thursday and Friday of next week, that panel is scheduled to meet and vote on its recommendations regarding boosters.

  • The C.D.C. takes up that panel’s recommendations, and the agency’s director, Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky, issues the agency’s guidance on whether boosters should be used and who should be eligible. That guidance is deeply influential for states, doctors, pharmacies and other health care institutions and the general public. As with the process at the F.D.A., the panel’s recommendations are not binding, but the C.D.C. usually follows them.

    However, there was a rare exception last month: When a C.D.C. advisory panel rejected the F.D.A.’s recommendation that frontline workers be included among those eligible for the Pfizer-BioNTech booster, Dr. Walensky overrode her own agency’s advisers and sided with the F.D.A.

Credit…Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times

State health departments generally follow the recommendations of the C.D.C. In the case of the Pfizer-BioNTech booster, the shots began being administered widely immediately after Dr. Walensky announced the C.D.C.’s guidance to allow them for people over 65, patients in nursing homes and other institutional settings, those with underlying medical conditions, and frontline workers.

Credit…Ashlee Rezin/Chicago Sun-Times, via Associated Press

A clash between Mayor Lori Lightfoot of Chicago and the head of the city’s largest police union over coronavirus vaccinations intensified on Friday as the city filed a complaint against the union, arguing that it was threatening an illegal strike.

City employees in Chicago are required to report their vaccination status by the end of Friday, but John Catanzara, the president of the Fraternal Order of Police in Chicago, has urged police officers to ignore the order and risk discipline or loss of pay. Employees who are not vaccinated will be subject to twice-weekly testing, but vaccinations are not required.

Mr. Catanzara released a video on Tuesday predicting that Chicago police officers would not report to work because of the policy. He said that if a large number of police officers refuse to submit to testing or reporting their vaccination status to the city, “it’s safe to say the city of Chicago will have a police force at 50 percent or less for this weekend coming up.”

“Whatever happens because of the manpower issue, that falls at the mayor’s doorstep,” he added.

He escalated the dispute on Thursday, releasing another video that urged officers not to comply with any direct orders from their supervisors to provide their vaccination status in an online portal.

But, on Friday, the police union said in a statement: “President John Catanzara has never engaged in, supported, or encouraged a work stoppage.” The police union also announced that it had filed its own legal request for the courts to hear the case.

Ms. Lightfoot, who has often faced resistance from Mr. Catanzara since taking office in 2019, said in a statement on Friday that his actions threatened public safety.

“As Chicago’s mayor, I cannot and will not stand idly by while the rhetoric of conspiracy theorists threatens the health and safety of Chicago’s residents and first responders,” Ms. Lightfoot said in a statement. “President Catanzara has time and again deliberately misled our police officers by lying about the requirements of the policy and falsely claiming that there will be no repercussions if officers are insubordinate and refuse to follow a city and department directive or order.”

A strike from the police union is illegal under both state law and the union’s contract with the city, Ms. Lightfoot said.

Chicago is following other cities throughout the United States in requiring city employees to be vaccinated or submit to frequent coronavirus testing. Last week, Ms. Lightfoot softened the original policy requiring vaccination, saying that public workers could opt out of the city’s mandate until the end of the year by getting tested regularly.

City officials have said that employees who fail to report their vaccination status by the Friday deadline will be placed on unpaid leave.

Law enforcement officers have died of Covid-19 in large numbers throughout the pandemic, making the virus by far the most common cause of duty-related deaths in 2020 and 2021, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page, a website that catalogs the deaths of law enforcement officers.

Police officers in many departments have been slow to get vaccinated, and several other cities have issued vaccine or testing mandates. In San Jose, Calif., city leaders decided just as a vaccine mandate was taking effect to allow unvaccinated officers to remain employed through the end of the year, with incremental discipline and testing requirements.

Credit…Tony Cenicola/The New York Times

International travelers fully vaccinated against the coronavirus who have been barred from entering the United States during the pandemic will be able to enter the country on Nov. 8, according to a White House official, marking an end to restrictions that had walled off tourists and relatives seeking to visit their families.

The specific date for when the Biden administration would lift travel restrictions for those traveling by air or hoping to cross the land border was previously unclear. The administration last month said it would be implementing a new system in which fully vaccinated foreigners who show proof of a negative coronavirus test would be able to fly to the United States in early November.

Earlier this week, administration officials said those hoping to enter from Mexico or Canada who are fully vaccinated would be able to cross at the same time. But thousands around the world eager to organize their travel plans were still left wondering what specific date they would be able to enter.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers people fully inoculated two weeks after receiving the second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or two weeks after receiving the single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Those who have received vaccines listed for emergency use by the World Health Organization, such as the AstraZeneca vaccine, would also be considered fully vaccinated, according to the C.D.C.

The new travel system also comes with stringent requirements.

Unvaccinated foreigners will be broadly barred from entering the United States, although the White House official said there will be limited exemptions, including for young children.

Those who were never banned from traveling across the land borders, including commercial drivers and students, will also need to show proof of vaccination when crossing starting in January, giving them some time to adjust to the new rules, officials said. Those crossing land borders will not need to show a coronavirus test.

Foreigners hoping to fly to the United States will need to show proof of vaccination before boarding and a negative coronavirus test within three days of entering.

Unvaccinated Americans traveling from overseas will need to test negative for the coronavirus one day before returning home and show proof that they have bought a test to take after arriving in the United States.

The U.S. Travel Association, an industry group, applauded the moves.

“The date is critically important for planning — for airlines, for travel-supported businesses, and for millions of travelers worldwide who will now advance plans to visit the United States once again,” Roger Dow, the group’s president, said in a statement. “Reopening to international visitors will provide a jolt to the economy and accelerate the return of travel-related jobs that were lost due to travel restrictions.”

A spokeswoman for Airlines for America, another industry group, noted that even before the announcement of the date, airlines had seen an uptick in ticket sales to the United States from abroad.

“The full reopening of international travel is also critical to reviving economies around the globe, reinvigorating communities and supporting millions of jobs in the U.S. and abroad,” Katherine Estep, the spokeswoman, said in a statement.

Credit…Andrew Medichini/Associated Press

ROME — Italy on Friday set a new bar for major Western democracies seeking to move beyond the pandemic by enacting a sweeping law that requires the nation’s entire work force — public and private — to have government-issued health passes, essentially forcing Italians to choose between getting a pass and earning a living.

With the step, Italy, the first democracy to quarantine towns and apply national lockdowns, is again first across a new threshold, making clear that it is willing to use the full leverage of the state to try to curb the pandemic and get the economy moving.

Italy’s measures, which require proof of vaccination, a negative rapid swab test or recent recovery from Covid-19 to go to the workplace, now stand as some of the toughest among Western democracies, which have struggled to balance public health needs with civil liberty concerns.

For many Western governments, like those of the United States and France, that has resulted in refraining from national mandates while seeking other ways to encourage, coax and even mildly coerce people to get vaccinated.

Under Italy’s new rules, those who do not have a Green Pass, as the health certificate is called, must take unpaid leave. Employers are responsible for verifying the certificates, which are for the most part shown on a cellphone app, though hard copies are also acceptable. Workers risk fines of up to 1,500 euros — or about $1,750 — for not complying.

Not everyone has been accepting of the requirements. Last weekend, a demonstration of 10,000 Green Pass opponents — a mix of vaccine skeptics, conspiracy theorists, anti-establishment types and workers livid about having to pay for frequent swabs — was hijacked by right-wing extremists and turned violent, prompting Italy to once again reckon with its fascist legacy.

But on Friday, the rollout went more or less smoothly, with only scattered protests, as the majority of citizens accepted the new pass as a fact of Italian life and a tolerable sacrifice, like wearing masks indoors, to help the country get out of the pandemic and return to normalcy.

Global Roundup

Credit…Choe Jae-Koo/Yonhap, via Associated Press

South Korea said on Friday that it was a week ahead of schedule for fully vaccinating 70 percent of its population against Covid and that it would ease social-distancing rules starting next week.

“If vaccinations continue without any setbacks and cases remain controlled in the next two weeks, a full-fledged transition to the new strategy will be possible from November,” said Lee Gi-il, a senior official in the health ministry.

In an effort to encourage more people to get vaccinated, President Moon Jae-in and the first lady, Kim Jung-sook, each received a booster shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in public on Friday.

South Korea never went into a full lockdown but has imposed stringent social-distancing rules, including a mask mandate, even outdoors. The country reached record numbers of new infections a few weeks ago after a major holiday, but daily coronavirus case numbers dropped to a seven-day average of 1,386 in the past week, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University.

The number of reported deaths has remained very low, at 0.02 per 100,000 people in the past week, according to the data. Nearly 63 percent of the country had been fully vaccinated as of Thursday, the health authorities said.

The rules are being relaxed as the pace of vaccinations outperforms earlier expectations, health officials said. Officials said they would likely reach the 70 percent target by the end of next week — about a week sooner than expected.

For the two-week period starting on Monday, the government will allow gatherings of up to four people who are not fully vaccinated, expanding the limit by two, and will permit reading rooms, performance halls and movie theaters to stay open until midnight, two hours longer than before.

People who are fully vaccinated will also be allowed to watch sports events in person again and to attend larger weddings, officials said.

Curbs on social gatherings, however, will remain tougher in and around Seoul, where cases have been more frequent.

In other Covid-related news around the world:

  • An estimated 43,000 people in Britain were mistakenly informed that they had tested negative for the coronavirus after previously testing positive, the officials said in a statement on Friday. The government suspended operations at a private laboratory after an investigation revealed that thousands of people — most of them from southwestern England — had received false negatives on P.C.R. tests from Sept. 8 to Oct. 12, after previously testing positive on lateral flow devices.

  • New South Wales will become the first state in Australia to allow fully vaccinated residents to return to the country without quarantining, starting next month, the authorities announced on Friday. Tens of thousands of Australians have been stranded abroad because of caps on the numbers of weekly returnees, and people entering the country must quarantine for 14 days in a hotel at their own expense. New South Wales is the country’s most populous state, encompassing Sydney.

  • The authorities in pandemic-stricken Thailand, seeing to revive the country’s tourism, have reopened a cave where a dozen young soccer players and their coach were trapped for 18 days in 2018, becoming the focus of a tense rescue effort that captivated the world. The cave complex had been closed to tourists in April to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.





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FDA Backs Boosters, Travel Restrictions Lift, and More Coronavirus News


The FDA backs additional doses, international travel restrictions end, and vaccine mandate rules progress. Here’s what you should know:

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Headlines

The FDA signs off on additional Moderna and Johnson & Johnson doses

Today, an FDA advisory committee signed off on a second dose of the Johnson & Johnson shot. Many fewer Americans received this vaccine than either of the mRNA shots, so there’s less data overall, but the group has recommended that a second dose be available to recipients over 18 two months after their initial vaccine. On Thursday, the same committee unanimously recommended booster shots for recipients of Moderna’s vaccine who are over 65 or are part of several other vulnerable populations. The next step in the process will be for a CDC advisory panel to discuss additional doses in meetings scheduled for next week. If they approve, distribution could start shortly thereafter.

The first boosters, third doses of Pfizer’s vaccine, were approved in the US in August, and in the time since, Biden has touted additional shots as an effective way for vulnerable Americans to protect themselves. But boosters have not been without controversy, especially because so many countries around the world are still struggling to procure initial doses.

Pandemic travel constraints lift around the world

The Biden Administration announced today that starting November 8, it will lift travel restrictions for fully vaccinated visitors from 33 different countries outside the US, including a number of European nations, China, and Iran. There will be stricter requirements for travelers coming from places other than these approved countries. Next month, the US will also lift restrictions for fully vaccinated travelers entering the country from Canada or Mexico by land. A different border policy will still apply to migrants.

Outside the US, many other countries are also lifting stringent travel requirements that have been in place for much of the pandemic. Australian officials have said that vaccinated travelers coming to Sydney will no longer need to quarantine starting next month. After 19 months, India is about to start allowing foreign tourists again. And Bali and Malaysia will also be opening to vaccinated visitors soon.

Government vaccine mandate rules are in final review despite pushback

Last month, President Biden directed the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to write rules regarding company vaccine mandates, and earlier this week the agency showed its proposal to the Office of Management and Budget for final review. A number of state attorneys general have said they’ll oppose the measures, but many businesses have already implemented their own protocols in accordance with the President’s executive order. Southwest and American Airlines, for instance, recently upheld their employee mandates even though both are based in Texas, where the governor has banned such policies. And another aerospace company, Boeing, recently joined the ranks of organizations requiring workers to get their shots.



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Border residents anxious to see relatives, shop as travel restrictions near end


U.S. business owners say rollback comes just in time for Christmas shopping season, but say they don’t expect that many Mexican shoppers

EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – Border residents let out a collective sigh of relief on Wednesday, after learning the U.S. and Mexico plan to roll back non-essential land border travel restrictions next month.

Fully COVID-19-vaccinated Mexicans will be able to come to the U.S. sometime in November. The Department of Homeland Security hasn’t specified the exact day yet. Americans with their shots can also start driving over to Mexico again, though so far few have been stopped south of the border.

The travel ban deprived downtown El Paso merchants of most of their customers from Mexico and kept families with members in Juarez separated for 19 months. Those shoppers will start trickling back soon, provided they can prove to U.S. Customs and Border Protection they are fully vaccinated. Family members will be able to see each other again as well.

“The people of Juarez are the food of Paso and vice versa,” said long-time El Paso resident Everardo Yoshida, who is fully vaccinated and was out shopping Wednesday in downtown El Paso. “We are each other’s economic well-being, but we have to take care of each other because (the pandemic) is not over.”

South El Paso merchants whose stores are within walking distance of Mexico say they lost between 50% and 90% of their clients during the pandemic. They say the rollback of restrictions comes just in time for the Christmas shopping season, although they don’t foresee their customers coming back all at once.

“November is great because you get all the shopping in November and December. Those two months are very strong for us,” said Samuel Lara, manger of a cellular telephone store on South El Paso Street.

Samuel Lara, manager of a cellular telephone store in South El Paso Street, says the end of non-essential travel restrictions comes just in time for the Christmas shopping season. (Border Report photo)

Lara said his sales went down 80% when the restrictions began in March 2020. The store has survived thanks to an increasing number of Central El Paso and Southern New Mexico residents who are keeping Downtown shops alive.

“It’s been pretty rough, not only for me but for all the businesspeople here. We’ve been waiting all year for this,” Lara said.

He and other merchants lamented the closing of many clothing, electronics, jewelry and dollar-item shops during the pandemic. The rollback of non-essential travel restrictions came too late for them, their peers said.

John, a South El Paso Street business owner who declined to give his last name, said Mexicans with valid visas and vaccination cards no doubt will cross the border to do Christmas shopping as before. But he doubts they will do so in as high a number as before.

“A lot of people’s visas expired during the pandemic and they have not renewed them,” the owner of a women’s clothing and lingerie store said. “And people in Mexico did not get stimulus checks like we did in the U.S.; they’re hurting (economically). There’s also inflation … things are going to cost more over here than the last time they came shopping.”

Elisa Baylon

Ashley Garcia, a U.S.-born resident of Juarez who is exempt from travel restrictions, said it’s been sad to see friends and acquaintances in Mexico unable to visit relatives in the United States.

“As soon as they reopen the border, people are going to come. They are anxious to see their loved ones, to shop or just get to see the other side of the border again,” she said.

Juarez resident Elisa Baylon says “the whole city” is anxious to resume its lifetime relationship with El Paso, Texas.

“We are desperate. We want to see our relatives,” Baylon said. “If they open the bridges again, yes, a lot of people will be going.”



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E.U. weighs covid travel restrictions on American tourists, U.S. says avoid Europe


The possibility of a review looms as U.S. authorities are urging Americans to avoid much of western Europe. On Monday, the State Department issued “Do Not Travel” advisories for France and Iceland, citing the virus levels in those countries, which are similar to U.S. rates. Officials had already attached that highest-level warning to Britain, Cyprus, Greece, Ireland, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain.



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Covid-19 Live Updates: Govt withdraws travel advisory that added COVID-19 related additional checks, restrictions on those arriving from the UK


Revised guidelines for UK nationals arriving in India issued on October 1, 2021, stand withdrawn, and earlier guidelines on international arrival dated February 17, 2021, shall be applicable for those arriving in India from the UK: Ministry of Health

!1 New UpdateClick here for latest updates

Wipro Q2 consolidated profit rises by 17% to Rs 2,930.6 cr, revenue up at Rs 19,667.4 cr

It’s good that Devendra Fadnavis still considers himself as CM. I congratulate him. After being CM for five years, Fadnavis still feels he is holding the post. I lacked this trait. I had served as CM (of Maharashtra) four times. But I don’t even remember

– NCP chief Sharad Pawar

Rupee rises 15 paise to close at 75.37 (provisional) against US dollar

Sensex surges 452.74 points to hit new closing high of 60,737.05; Nifty rallies 169.80 points to 18,161.75

Lakhimpur Khiri deaths case: Shekhar Bharti, staff of Ankit Das remanded to three-day police custody

Govt scraps basic customs duty on crude varieties of palm, soyabean and sunflower oil till March 31; also cuts agri cess

Farmers were crushed to death in Lakhimpur. Farmers alleged that son of MoS was present. After SC observation, he was arrested. Ruling party should take a stand. Neither UP CM nor MoS Home can escape. MoS Home should resign

– Sharad Pawar, NCP

Top Jaish-e-Mohammad terrorist commander Sham Sofi killed in encounter with security forces in Tral area of Pulwama

– IGP Kashmir

Invesco says it facilitated tie-up talks between India’s Reliance and Zee

Invesco said on Wednesday it facilitated talks between India’s Reliance Industries and Zee Entertainment earlier this year on a possible tie-up, revealing for the first time that India’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani, was interested in the television giant. But the U.S. investment firm rejected allegations from Zee that it was resorting to double standards by objecting to a potential merger with Sony Group’s India unit with terms similar to those discussed with Reliance.

Revised guidelines for UK nationals arriving in India issued on October 1, 2021, stand withdrawn, and earlier guidelines on international arrival dated February 17, 2021, shall be applicable for those arriving in India from the UK: Ministry of Health

Drugs on cruise matter | Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) has summoned filmmaker Imtiaz Khatri for questioning. He has been asked to appear before the agency on October 14: NCB

Sharad Pawar takes on NCB Zonal Director Sameer Wankhede

“I have tried to take information about Wankhede from officials as he was posted earlier in the airport. I have come to hear some stories but I don’t have the complete picture so I won’t speak about it.” “However have to point out that NCB a central agency is in Mumbai for several days but if you look at the seizures made by them in different cases then the quantity is quite small. They have made seizures of small pouches in pockets or small grams. The Anti Narcotics Cell of the state government have comparatively made bigger seizures and hence, one thing is clear that the state agencies are doing an honest and straight forward job while the NCB is doing high profile arrests just to show the Centre that it is doing some thing.”

Centre is misusing some institutions like CBI, Income Tax, ED, NCB for politics

– NCP chief Sharad Pawar

Another encounter underway in Kashmir

The encounter has started at Tilwani Mohalla in Tral area of Awantipora. Police & security forces are on the job: J&K Police

Team India gets a new look!

Odisha reports 615 fresh Covid-19 cases; 7 deaths in a day

Lakhimpur violence: Ashish Mishra’s friend Ankit Das appears before SIT

Sprinter Hima Das tests positive for COVID-19

SOPs for COVID19 protocols for Chhath Puja celebrations will remain the same as SOPs for all other festivals: ANI quoting government Sources

Drugs on cruise matter

Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) hands over copies of their reply to the concerned lawyers on bail applications of Aryan Khan and others. NCB has opposed bail for each accused.

We have two demands in the Lakhimpur injustice case – fair judicial inquiry, Immediate dismissal of the Minister of State for Home

– Rahul Gandhi

India will have a vaccine capacity of 28 crore doses this month. 22 crore Covishield and 6 crore Covaxin; 60 lakh ZyCoV-D doses are also ready: ANI quoting govt sources

NIA conducts searches at multiple locations in J&K and arrests 4 persons in J&K terrorism conspiracy case

Two sitting SC judges should probe Lakhimpur incident, those who committed murder should be punished: Rahul Gandhi to President Kovind

Congress delegation meets Prez on Lakhimpur incident

PM Modi says taxpayers’ money was insulted in past due to delays and a lethargic approach to development work

In the 5 years before 2014, only 60 panchayats could be connected with optical fiber. In the last 7 years, we have connected more than 1.5 lakh gram panchayats with optical fiber: PM

Before 2014, the metro was running on only about 250 km of track. Today the metro has been expanded up to 700 km and work is going on on one thousand km new metro route: PM

Infrastructure development has been far from the priority of most of the political parties. It was never been part of their manifesto… but it has been known that quality infrastructure is a way to sustainable development which builds economy & generates employment

– PM Modi

Earlier, we used to see ‘work in progress’ boards everywhere & people started to believe that it will never be completed. It showed distrust of people. But we changed it. We planned well & introduced ‘gati’ in development projects: PM Narendra Modi

We are laying a foundation for the next 25 years. This national master plan will give ‘gatishakti’ to development plans of the 21st century & will help in the timely completion of these plans: PM Narendra Modi

We have not only developed a work-culture of completing the projects within the stipulated time frame, but today efforts are being made to complete the projects ahead of time

– PM Modi

PM Gatishakti National Master Plan is going to take India’s self-confidence, self-confidence, to the resolve of self-reliance. This National Masterplan will give impetus to 21st century India: PM

GatiShakti will be a game changer…

– CII president TV Narendran

PM Narendra Modi inaugurates PM GatiShakti-National Master Plan for multi-modal connectivity & new exhibition complexes of ITPO

GatiShakti Highlights

  • PM GatiShakti to break departmental silos and institutionalize holistic planning for stakeholders across major infrastructure projects
  • All departments to now have visibility of each others’ projects through a centralized portal
  • Multi-modal connectivity to provide integrated and seamless connectivity for movement of people, goods and services
  • PM GatiShakti to generate multiple employment opportunities, cut down of logistics cost, improve supply chains and make local goods globally competitive

Initially we thought it’s impossible to do

– Piyush Goyal on GatiShakti scheme

PM to unveil National Infra Master plan shortly

The mortal remains of Naib Subedar Jaswinder Singh brought to his residence in Mana Talwandi village of Kapurthala district

He lost his life during a counter-terror operation in Poonch sector in J&K on Oct 11th. One JCO & 4 soldiers had lost their lives in the operation.

Over 97.79 crore COVID-19 vaccine doses provided to states, UTs: Centre

Jilted lover killed 14-year-old girl in Bibwewadi area of Pune on Tuesday, police say

“The girl died on the spot. A case has been registered and a team has been formed to nab the accused,” said DCP (Zone 5) Namrata Patil. Pune city police has arrested the main accused Rishikesh Bhagwat, aged 22 years, in this case. Three more accused who are minors are also detained.

They are presenting distorted history. If this continues, they’ll remove Mahatma Gandhi & make Savarkar the father of the nation, who was accused of the murder of Mahatma Gandhi & was pronounced complicit in the inquiry of Justice Jeevan Lal Kapu

– AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi

Rupee rises 26 paise to 75.26 against US dollar in early trade

Covid: Over 50 lakh (50,63,845) vaccinations done in India in last 24 hours taking the total to over 96 crore (96,43,79,212)

Kerala reports 7,823 cases and 106 deaths in last 24 hours

Active COVID-19 cases in India decline to 2,07,653: Union Health Ministry

India’s Covid tally rises to 3,40,01,743 with 15,823 new cases; 226 more fatalities push death toll to 4,51,189: Govt

Sensex rallies 337.41 pts to hit a fresh lifetime high of 60,621.72 in opening session; Nifty jumps 74.15 pts to 18,066.10

1 new COVID-19 case in Andamans, tally rises to 7,635

Maharashtra: Thane logs 201 new COVID-19 cases, 5 deaths

58,63,63,442 samples tested for COVID19 up to 12th October 2021. Of these, 13,25,399 samples were tested yesterday: Indian Council of Medical Research

The US will reopen its land borders for non-essential travel in November after a 19-month freeze. All international visitors will need to be vaccinated against the coronavirus: Associated Press

Mumbai Fire

Apple announces a special event for Oct 18

Apple is expected to announce its next-generation Mac computers, powered by the company’s own Apple Silicon chips, during the event

Twitter down for some users in India

Massive fire in Mumbai

A massive fire broke out in around 20 motorcycles parked at a residential society in Nehru Nagar, Kurla earlier this morning. All the motorcycles were gutted in the fire that was later doused by the fire department’s personnel. More details awaited. (ANI)

Bihar sets up Covid vaccination camps at Durga puja pandals

IMD predicts heavy rainfall in Kerala in next 5 days

IGL revises CNG, PNG prices

PNG price increased in Muzzaffarnagar, Meerut & Shamli to Rs. 38.37/- per SCM: IGL





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US to ease travel restrictions with Canada and Mexico for fully vaccinated travelers


The new rules, which are similar to those announced for international air passengers, will be rolled out in a phased approach. The first phase, kicking off in early November, will allow fully vaccinated visitors traveling for nonessential reasons, like visiting friends or for tourism, to cross US land borders. The second phase, starting in early January 2022, will apply the vaccination requirement to all inbound foreign travelers, whether traveling for essential or nonessential reasons.

“These new vaccination requirements deploy the best tool we have in our arsenal to keep people safe and prevent the spread of Covid-19 and will create a consistent, stringent protocol for all foreign nationals traveling into the United States whether by land or air,” a senior administration official told reporters.

The US has been limiting nonessential travel on the ground along its borders with Canada and Mexico since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic and extending those restrictions on a monthly basis. Air travel between the US and those countries has been possible. The restrictions don’t apply to cross-border trade, US citizens and lawful permanent residents, as well as people traveling for medical purposes or to attend school, among others.

The latest set of restrictions is due to expire on October 21. Senior administration officials said the limits on cross-border travel will remain in effect until a soon-to-be-disclosed date in November.

A Trump-era public health order that’s allowed for the swift expulsion of more than 958,000 migrants will also stay in effect. Those restrictions, while also based on public health, are necessary because of concerns over migrants in congregate settings when undergoing processing, officials said.

The travel restrictions had come under heavy scrutiny by lobbyists, lawmakers and border mayors who implored the Biden administration to adjust limits to meet the evolving landscape.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul welcomed the news Tuesday night. “I applaud our federal partners for reopening our borders to Canada, something I have called for since the beginning of the closure,” the Democratic governor said in a statement. “Canada is not only our trade partner, but more importantly, Canadians are our neighbors and our friends.”

New York Rep. Brian Higgins, a Democrat who represents a Buffalo-area district, also heralded the decision, saying that “strong vaccination rates in Canada made the continued border shutdown absurd and unjustifiable.”

“For months now we’ve heard from businesses that are suffering and families distraught over the separation imposed by the continued border shutdown. The sigh of relief coming from the Northern Border communities following this announcement is so loud it can practically be heard on either end of the Peace Bridge.”

When asked about the timeline for reopening borders, the White House has repeatedly pointed to interagency working groups that were formed over the summer. Overseen by the White House Covid-19 response team and the National Security Council, the groups included representatives from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention along with officials from the Departments of State, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, and Transportation.

American officials were also partnered with representatives from the European Union, United Kingdom, Canada and Mexico.

“We have seen increased vaccine availability obviously in Canada, which now has very high vaccination rates, as well as in Mexico. And we wanted to have a consistent approach to both land and air entry into this country and so this is the next step to bring those into alignment,” the senior administration official said.

The US previously told the Canadians that the Biden administration wanted to keep rules on both land borders symmetrical, a source familiar with discussions told CNN, despite differing situations on both borders and inconsistencies with air travel rules.

The US-Mexico border has been facing an influx of migrants that has overwhelmed resources, prompting some concern among US Customs and Border Protection officials about easing travel restrictions on the US southern border while surging personnel to assist with an uptick in migrants.

CBP will be charged with enforcing the newly announced vaccination requirement, including seeking attestations of vaccination status and spot checking travelers for verification of vaccination status via paper or digital means, according to another senior administration official. There will not be a testing requirement.

This story has been updated with reaction.



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US to ease travel restrictions with Canada and Mexico for fully vaccinated travelers


By Priscilla Alvarez, CNN

The United States plans to ease restrictions on travel for fully vaccinated visitors from Canada and Mexico starting in early November, relaxing bans that have been in place for more than 18 months, according to senior administration officials.

The new rules, which are similar to those announced for international air passengers, will be rolled out in a phased approach. The first phase, kicking off in early November, will allow fully vaccinated visitors traveling for nonessential reasons, like visiting friends or for tourism, to cross US land borders. The second phase, starting in early January 2022, will apply the vaccination requirement to all inbound foreign travelers, whether traveling for essential or nonessential reasons.

“These new vaccination requirements deploy the best tool we have in our arsenal to keep people safe and prevent the spread of Covid-19 and will create a consistent, stringent protocol for all foreign nationals traveling into the United States whether by land or air,” a senior administration official told reporters.

The US has been limiting nonessential travel on the ground along its borders with Canada and Mexico since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic and extending those restrictions on a monthly basis. Air travel between the US and those countries has been possible. The restrictions don’t apply to cross-border trade, US citizens and lawful permanent residents, as well as people traveling for medical purposes or to attend school, among others.

The latest set of restrictions is due to expire on October 21. Senior administration officials said the limits on cross-border travel will remain in effect until a soon-to-be-disclosed date in November.

A Trump-era public health order that’s allowed for the swift expulsion of more than 958,000 migrants will also stay in effect. Those restrictions, while also based on public health, are necessary because of concerns over migrants in congregate settings when undergoing processing, officials said.

The travel restrictions came under heavy scrutiny by lobbyists, lawmakers and border mayors who implored the Biden administration to adjust limits to meet the evolving landscape.

When asked about the timeline for reopening borders, the White House has repeatedly pointed to interagency working groups that were formed over the summer. Overseen by the White House Covid-19 response team and the National Security Council, the groups included representatives from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention along with officials from the Departments of State, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, and Transportation.

American officials were also partnered with representatives from the European Union, United Kingdom, Canada and Mexico.

“We have seen increased vaccine availability obviously in Canada, which now has very high vaccination rates, as well as in Mexico. And we wanted to have a consistent approach to both land and air entry into this country and so this is the next step to bring those into alignment,” the senior administration official said.

The US previously told the Canadians that the Biden administration wanted to keep rules on both land borders symmetrical, a source familiar with discussions told CNN, despite differing situations on both borders and inconsistencies with air travel rules.

The US-Mexico border has been facing an influx of migrants that has overwhelmed resources, prompting some concern among US Customs and Border Protection officials about easing travel restrictions on the US southern border while surging personnel to assist with an uptick in migrants.

CBP will be charged with enforcing the newly announced vaccination requirement, including seeking attestations of vaccination status and spot checking travelers for verification of vaccination status via paper or digital means, according to another senior administration official. There will not be a testing requirement.

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SD Chamber of Commerce Bracing for Extension of Land Border Travel Restrictions – NBC 7 San Diego


The San Diego Chamber of Commerce is bracing for what they fear is more bad news next week when they expect the White House to extend restrictions on non-essential travel at land ports of entry.

The restrictions have been in place on a monthly basis since March, 2020. They are scheduled to expire around the third week of every month, but so far during the pandemic, the restrictions have been extended for almost 19 straight months.

Business owners along the border have reported that the long wait times at the ports of entry have caused them to have staffing problems. Many of their workers either stopped showing up or had to endure four to five-hour commutes each way during the height of the pandemic. Not only has staffing been an issue, the loss of travelers and border traffic has also cost many restaurant and store owners a loss in profits.

Now, the San Diego Chamber of Commerce says they want specific metrics about what the region should be aiming for in order to get restrictions eased or lifted. Is the federal government looking for the region to have higher vaccination numbers or fewer COVID cases? They also want to be part of the dialogue with U.S. Customs and Border Protection about how they can ensure whatever new rules are put in place, like proof of vaccination or negative COVID tests, can be planned for.

“Whenever restrictions are lifted, what is the plan? You know, how are CBP officers at land ports of entry going to enforce whatever that plan is to check for negative COVID tests or proof of vaccination? Do they have the infrastructure and personnel to actually implement such restrictions?” wondered Kenia Zamarripa with the San Diego Chamber of Commerce.

In early November, the White House will allow almost all foreign nationals to fly into the United States as long as they have proof of vaccination. Zamarripa said the easing of air restrictions is frustrating to people who can’t afford to fly.

“There is a new business booming in Baja about private jets flying people from Tijuana and Ensenada into San Diego because of that and then you’re also looking at the 1% that has that ability to purchase that flight, like a 15 min flight, to come to San Diego for tourism or business. It’s up to them,” she said.

In a statement to NBC 7 a spokesperson from CBP said: “CBP will continue to work closely with international partners to determine how to resume normal travel safely and sustainably.”

To see the full interview about border restrictions and their impact on the San Diego region tune into Politically Speaking on Oct. 17 at 9 a.m.



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