PM: Unvaccinated players can travel for Australian Open


FILE - In this Sept. 12, 2021, file photo, Novak Djokovic, of Serbia, returns a shot to Daniil Medvedev, of Russia, during the men's singles final of the US Open tennis championships in New York. A potential backflip on border entry requirements for the Australian Open may allow unvaccinated players to compete at the first tennis major of 2022 after undergoing 14 days in quarantine. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)

FILE – In this Sept. 12, 2021, file photo, Novak Djokovic, of Serbia, returns a shot to Daniil Medvedev, of Russia, during the men’s singles final of the US Open tennis championships in New York. A potential backflip on border entry requirements for the Australian Open may allow unvaccinated players to compete at the first tennis major of 2022 after undergoing 14 days in quarantine. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)

AP

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has indicated that unvaccinated tennis players will be allowed to enter the country for the Australian Open provided they undergo two weeks in hotel quarantine.

Morrison on Wednesday moved to clarify the border situation a week after his immigration minister suggested there’d be a no jab, no visa policy for the tournament next January.

Morrison told Australian television networks there are exemptions to the strict COVID-19 pandemic international border protection rules for those who qualify under skilled worker or economic benefit criteria.

“If there is a special exemption that is warranted for an economic reason, well, that can happen,” he said. “But you’ve got to follow the health rules in that state — and two weeks quarantine for unvaccinated people, well, that’s sensible,” Morrison told Australia’s Nine network.

He said the ultimate decision was for the state of Victoria, which hosts the Australian Open at Melbourne Park. Victoria has a mandatory vaccination policy in place for athletes competing in domestic leagues.

Australia is preparing to re-open its international borders next month for the first time since the global pandemic started last year, but it’ll be a gradual, state-by-state process and will depend on vaccination rates across the country. Fully vaccinated people will have fewer restrictions in Australia than those who are not.

Tennis stars who are fully vaccinated for COVID-19 are set to be allowed to travel to Australia from Dec. 1 and, after testing negative to the coronavirus, will not have to quarantine ahead of the Jan. 17-30 Grand Slam event.

Unvaccinated players will face similar restrictions to those in place for the 2021 edition, which included a 14-day hotel quarantine for all players, coaches and officials who arrived from overseas.

Morrison said there needed to be some flexibility to the strict rules in order for major events to go ahead in Australia.

“We’re going to have one of the highest vaccination rates in the world … one of the lowest fatality rates from COVID in the world and the strongest economy coming through COVID in the world,” he said. “We want major events in this country. A lot of jobs depend on it. We want Australia to show to the world that we’re open, we’re getting on with it.”

Morrison’s comments followed a leaked email this week from the WTA to its Players’ Council which suggested unvaccinated players would likely be granted a visa but must do two weeks in isolation.

The email said Tennis Australia was still working with the government on the details but because Victoria state was expected to hit a vaccination target of 90% of the adult population by next month, “it has been confirmed that conditions for the players at the Australian Open will improve significantly.”

Tennis Australia later said “We are optimistic that we can hold the Australian Open as close to pre-pandemic conditions as possible.”

The vaccination debate has been ongoing in tennis since international competition started re-emerging following a global shutdown last year.

Some players, including nine-time Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic, have advocated that the decision to get the vaccine should be a personal choice. Others, including Andy Murray, have said it should be mandated for the good of the majority.

At the U.S. Open, which ended Sept. 12, spectators had to show proof of at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine to attend matches, although players weren’t required to get a shot.

Both the men’s and the women’s tours are recommending all players get vaccinated but so far have not enforced it.





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Unvaccinated Montclair students who travel must quarantine


Unvaccinated Montclair public schools students who travel during the upcoming holiday season will be automatically set up with virtual learning during a quarantine period of at least seven days, Superintendent Jonathan Ponds said in an Oct. 21 message to the community. Ponds seen here at the Oct. 18 Board of Education meeting. (TALIA WIENER/STAFF)

By TALIA WIENER
wiener@montclairlocal.news

Unvaccinated Montclair public schools staff and students who travel during the upcoming holiday season will be required to undergo at least seven days of quarantine, in line with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control.

Unvaccinated students who travel domestically or internationally will “automatically be set up with virtual learning due to their need to quarantine,” schools Superintendent Jonathan Ponds said in an Oct. 21 message to the community.

“We value you as a partner and ask that you provide your children’s teachers/principals your travel plans a week in advance, which will assist us in preparing virtual learning upon your return, allowing us to best serve your children,” Ponds said in the message. 

“The Road Forward,” the state’s guidance for schools during the coronavirus pandemic, defines domestic travel as lasting 24 hours or longer to states “other than those connected to New Jersey, such as Pennsylvania, New York and Delaware.”

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“While there is no statewide travel advisory or mandate in place at this time, schools are encouraged to have a policy for exclusion for students and staff that is consistent with CDC COVID-19 travel recommendations,” the document states.

The CDC recommends travel be delayed for those who are unvaccinated, but also recommends 10 days of quarantine after travel without testing or seven days of quarantine, with a negative test taken three to five days after travel.

“The holidays are right around the corner, and we wanted you to have travel guidance with enough time to plan for the Thanksgiving and December holiday breaks,” Ponds said in the message. “We understand this is often a time when families visit relatives and gather together.”

Ponds has not yet responded to an email sent to his district address Monday with questions about the vacation policy.

Fully vaccinated students and staff are not required to quarantine, but are recommended to test three to five days after travel and monitor for symptoms. 

The district’s plan seems “a little arbitrary” parent Danielle Neff said in a Facebook comment responding to a post by Montclair Local. 

“I think it’s great and appropriate that they are offering a virtual option,” parent Danielle Neff said. “My question is this: What about those who host family/visitors from other states?”

More than 90% of Montclair school district staff have received coronavirus vaccinations, Ponds said at the Oct. 18 school board meeting. According to the district’s COVID-19 Data Dashboard, there are approximately 1,100 staff members in the district, and as of Tuesday there had been eight known cases of coronavirus among staff this school year. There had also been 16 known student cases.

Voluntary pooled testing began in Montclair schools Monday, but staffing issues with provider Concentric by Gingko, a service provided by Ginkgo Bioworks, meant only three schools — Glenfield Middle School, Nishuane School and Bradford School — underwent testing, according to an update on pooled testing on the district’s website.

“Schools that did not test [Monday], will begin their testing next week, aligned with the schedule,” the district’s update said. “As with any new program, ‘glitches’ can occur, and we are confident, moving forward, that the process will be streamlined.”





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Unvaccinated Americans will face stricter testing under Biden’s international travel rules – The Washington Post



Unvaccinated Americans will face stricter testing under Biden’s international travel rules  The Washington Post



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DHS extends non-essential travel restrictions through January 21 for unvaccinated travelers


Roll back of travel ban for fully vaccinated Mexicans still on for November 8

Commuters wait in traffic on the Paso del Norte bridge, as they enter El Paso, Texas, from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2019. Days after the attack in El Paso, community leaders in Ciudad Juarez didn’t talk of boycotting the city that depends heavily on Mexican shoppers. On the contrary, in the following days Mexicans have packed the international bridges going to jobs, stores and schools like always. (AP Photo/Christian Chavez)

EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – The U.S. government has extended non-essential travel restrictions, which were set to expire Thursday night, through Jan. 21, 2022.

However, the announcement published Thursday afternoon in the Federal Register makes it clear that the Secretary of Homeland Security intends to exempt individuals who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The notice doesn’t address the date for the fully vaccinated to be exempted, but the White House told reporters earlier it would be on Nov. 8.

“This notification announces the decision of the Secretary to continue to temporarily limit the non-essential travel of individuals from Mexico into the United States at land ports of entry along the (border)” to those who are unvaccinated, the notification states.

DHS says the changes bring land ports into alignment with policies already in place at airports.

The restrictions were implemented in March 2020 to reduce the cross-border spread of COVID-19. They included tourism and shopping but made exceptions for commerce, legitimate business travel and education, among others. Returning U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents were also able to come back into the country.

Thursday’s notification empowers U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials to continue enforcing the travel ban on people who are unvaccinated and aren’t coming to the U.S. on essential business. In January, everyone including those traveling for essential purposes must be fully vaccinated, the White House said earlier.



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Non-essential travel restrictions extended for unvaccinated travelers


Roll back of travel ban for fully vaccinated Mexicans still on for November 8

Commuters wait in traffic on the Paso del Norte bridge, as they enter El Paso, Texas, from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2019. Days after the attack in El Paso, community leaders in Ciudad Juarez didn’t talk of boycotting the city that depends heavily on Mexican shoppers. On the contrary, in the following days Mexicans have packed the international bridges going to jobs, stores and schools like always. (AP Photo/Christian Chavez)

EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – The U.S. government has extended non-essential travel restrictions, which were set to expire Thursday night, through Jan. 21, 2022.

However, the announcement published Thursday afternoon in the Federal Register makes it clear that the Secretary of Homeland Security intends to exempt individuals who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The notice doesn’t address the date for the fully vaccinated to be exempted, but the White House told reporters earlier it would be on Nov. 8.

“This notification announces the decision of the Secretary to continue to temporarily limit the non-essential travel of individuals from Mexico into the United States at land ports of entry along the (border)” to those who are unvaccinated, the notification states.

DHS says the changes bring land ports into alignment with policies already in place at airports.

The restrictions were implemented in March 2020 to reduce the cross-border spread of COVID-19. They included tourism and shopping but made exceptions for commerce, legitimate business travel and education, among others. Returning U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents were also able to come back into the country.

Thursday’s notification empowers U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials to continue enforcing the travel ban on people who are unvaccinated and aren’t coming to the U.S. on essential business. In January, everyone including those traveling for essential purposes must be fully vaccinated, the White House said earlier.



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Unvaccinated TSA screeners could create a ‘real travel mess’


A potential shortage of airport screeners triggered by a federal COVID-19 vaccine mandate could mean extra-long queues at airport security checkpoints during the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday travel week.

Only about 60% of Transportation Security Administration employees are at least partially vaccinated with about a month to go before the Nov. 22 deadline for federal employees to be fully vaccinated. Federal employees who ignore the mandate face discipline, including being fired, according to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Contingency plans: TSA Administrator David Pekoske told CNN last week that he is “very hopeful” the agency won’t have a worker shortage but said the TSA is preparing contingency plans in case it can’t be avoided.

The agency expects more TSA employees to be vaccinated in the coming weeks, with the hope that “the vast majority of TSA agents will be vaccinated,” a spokesperson said. The agency was unable to say how the vaccination rate for screeners compared with that of employees overall.

A person is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving the second shot in a two-dose series, or two weeks after a single-shot vaccine.

“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,” TSA spokesperson Lisa Farbstein said.

The risk that the TSA may be forced to fire a large segment of its workforce ahead of the holiday weekend prompted Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer to urge the TSA to develop a contingency plan and increase vaccination rates before Nov. 22. He urged the agency to make greater use of explosive-sniffing dogs to help move the screening lines faster.

“Late last week the TSA hinted at a potential real travel mess as Thanksgiving approaches,” he said during a news conference Sunday. “And that’s because they reported that 40% of their workforce remain unvaccinated from COVID-19.”

Airlines for America, the trade group that represents most of the country’s airlines, declined to speculate on what effect the vaccine mandate could have on Thanksgiving travel plans, except to say in a statement, “we remain in routine communication with our federal partners to prioritize a safe, seamless travel experience.”

Higher compliance: Other government agencies and private businesses are reporting much higher compliance with vaccine mandates.

Several major U.S. air carriers imposed vaccine mandates on their employees months before the Biden administration required all companies that contract with the federal government, including airlines, to impose such mandates.

United Airlines reported that more than 99% of its employees are vaccinated. Delta Air Lines has not imposed a mandate but told employees they face a $200 monthly surcharge if they fail to get vaccinated by Nov. 1. As of last week, 90% of Delta employees were vaccinated.

At the Los Angeles Unified School District, where employees could lose their jobs for defying its vaccine mandate, 99% of classroom teachers and 97% of all employees have complied.

The city of Los Angeles in August adopted a vaccine mandate for all city employees but this week was considering extending its deadline. As of earlier this week, more than 72% of employees reported being either fully or partially vaccinated, according to a city report.

A spokesperson for the American Federation of Government Employees, which represents TSA agents, directed all questions about the vaccination mandate to the TSA. However, the union posted a website update that makes it clear that employees who refuse to get vaccinated are unlikely to win a court challenge against the mandate.

Ready to go: Travel websites and other data suggest that Americans are ready to travel, perhaps in response to an overall decline in COVID-19 cases in many states.

Based on flight searches, the travel website Hopper.com predicted the number of travelers passing through U.S. airports will reach a daily average of 2 million passengers over the holiday weekend, which represents about 80% of 2019 passenger levels but more than double the 2020 levels.

Domestic round-trip airline ticket prices for the Thanksgiving weekend are expected to average $290, down 13% from 2019, with international flights priced at an average of $620, down 17% from 2019. However, Hopper predicts airline prices will begin to surge soon, particularly for international travel after news that the U.S. plans to reopen the country to foreign travelers starting Nov. 8.

In another analysis, the Adobe Digital Economy Index found that Thanksgiving flight bookings were 2.6% higher in the first two weeks of October than in the same period in 2019.

“The uptick indicates that we may be at the beginning of a surge in holiday bookings,” said Adobe analyst Vivek Pandya.



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Schumer Warns of Holiday Travel Mess With 40% of TSA Agents Still Unvaccinated – NBC New York


Ahead of what’s expected to be a busy holiday travel season amid the pandemic, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is raising concerns because of the number of Transportation Security Administration agents who have yet to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

The Democratic leader on Sunday called on the TSA to develop a contingency plan and increase its vaccination rate before the Nov. 22 deadline when all federal employees are expected to be fully vaccinated.

“Late last week the TSA hinted at a potential real travel mess as Thanksgiving approaches. And that’s because they reported that 40% of their workforce remain unvaccinated from Covid-19,” Sen. Schumer said.

“We can’t have people worried about the holiday season travel. We have to assure them that it’s going to be smooth,” he added.

The nation’s leading infectious disease doctor said Sunday that Americans eager to spend the holidays with loved ones can do so safely, if those eligible for the vaccine have gotten the shot.

“I believe strongly that, particularly in the vaccinated people, if you’re vaccinated and your family members are vaccinated, those who are eligible — that is obviously very young children are not yet eligible — that you can enjoy the holidays. You can enjoy Halloween, trick-or-treating and certainly Thanksgiving with your family and Christmas with your family,” Dr. Anthony Fauci told ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday.

President Joe Biden issued remarks Thursday about the administration’s coronavirus response and vaccination program.

Fauci was largely encouraged by the downward trend of coronavirus hospitalizations and deaths across the nation and suggested that vaccinated individuals could have a normal holiday season with others who have received the shot. But he said that those who have not been vaccinated should continue to avoid gatherings and should wear a mask.

While TSA agents still have more than a month to get the shot, workers across New Jersey are out of time.

Pre-K-12 teachers and staff and state employees were told in August that they must be fully vaccinated by Oct. 18 or get COVID-19 testing once or twice a week.

New Jersey has about 130,000 public school teachers, 1.3 million public school students and an estimated 70,000 state workers.



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CDC Recommends Unvaccinated Americans Avoid Domestic Travel Ahead of Holiday Season




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What we know — and don’t — about traveling with young unvaccinated children this holiday season






What we know — and don’t — about traveling with young unvaccinated children this holiday season























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JPMorgan Bans Business Travel for Unvaccinated U.S. Employees – Memo | Investing News


(Reuters) – JPMorgan Chase & Co said on Monday it will restrict business travel for U.S. employees who are unvaccinated or have not disclosed their vaccination status to the bank, according to an internal memo seen by Reuters.

The bank has also mandated such staffers to be tested twice a week, and said they would need to contribute a higher cut of their pay towards medical insurance, to account for testing expenses.

The Wall Street bank has urged its employees to get their COVID-19 shots, but not mandated vaccines, in line with peers such as Bank of America Corp and Wells Fargo & Co.

JPMorgan Chase will also require proof of vaccination from employees participating in client events in-person, effective immediately, according to the memo.

The bank also said new joiners in client-facing roles or those required to travel for business will have to get vaccinated.

(Reporting by Niket Nishant in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli)

Copyright 2021 Thomson Reuters.



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