Travel picking up ahead of winter holidays


After about a year and a half at home, many people are catching the travel bug. Whether you want to get away this holiday season or sometime next year, the time to book is now. With the pandemic still a concern, there are a lot of things to consider before doing so.

The most popular international destinations right now include Caribbean islands, like the Dominican Republic and Mexico, according to AAA.

A travel agent can help coordinate your travel and pay attention to changing regulations.

Resorts, hotels and cruises are filling up fast, according to Geri Van Alstine, an international travel consultant with AAA. Prices are better if you book far in advance and travelers guarantee themselves a room, she said.

“If they’re booking at 50% capacity and people are saying, ‘Oh, we’re going. We’re getting married next year and we’re going on a honeymoon,’ so they’re booking it because they know that they’re definitely going to do that,” said Van Alstine. “So it’s always better at least get the land part. Airline tickets you can’t do that far out.”

Tour operators are less flexible about canceling or rebooking than they were earlier in the pandemic, so protect yourself in case of last-minute changes, Van Alstine said. There are a variety of insurance types you can purchase for your trip, but do your research before buying. The options vary by state and trip provider.

“You really have to be careful, look it over, decide which insurance is the best for you to cover you while you’re traveling as well,” said Van Alstine. “If you cancel for any reason, a lot of time, it’s just a future travel credit, not money back.”

Cancel-for-any-reason insurance is not available in New York State. There is a chance, however, that if your travel provider is out of state, they may provide it, according to Van Alstine.



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Coronavirus latest: ‘Winter could come early’ if viruses spread in Britain as Americans urged not to travel to UK


Winter could come early” if viruses are allowed to spread in the UK, a leading professor has said.

“I’m not sure about this thing about let’s get the epidemic over with before winter – I don’t buy it,” he told Times Radio.

“If you’re doing little to stop it and the spread of other respiratory viruses, cases of which have been very low because we’ve been in lockdown, then our winter could come early, if you like. Winter is a long way off and we might have new treatments by then. And I’d rather keep incidents as low as we can for as long as we can.”

It comes as the US State Department and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention both issued on Monday their highest warnings against travel to the United Kingdom because of a rising number of Covid cases.

Each raised the UK to Level Four, telling Americans they should avoid travel there. In May, the US government had lowered the UK to a Level 3 advisory rating.

Live updates

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More than one million children in England were out of school last week due toCovid-19 related reasons, Government figures show.

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Shadow health minister Justin Madders: ‘The Government making it up as they go along’

Shadow health minister Justin Madders said: “The Government [are] making it up as they go along.

“Ministers mix messages, change approach and water down proposals when the public and businesses need clarity and certainty.

“If this is a true change in approach on the app, why didn’t the Prime Minister set this out last night?

“Yet again there is more confusion and incompetence from the heart of government at the expense of public health. They need to get a grip.”

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Downing Street doubles down on self-isolation rule

Downing Street slapped down business minister Paul Scully after he suggested that self-isolating, when pinged by the Covid-19 app should be a matter for individuals and employers to decide.

It was “crucial” to self-isolate when told and business should be supporting employees to do so, Downing Street said.

A No 10 spokeswoman said: “Isolation remains the most important action people can take to stop the spread of the virus.

“Given the risk of having and spreading the virus when people have been in contact with someone with Covid it is crucial people isolate when they are told to do so, either by NHS Test and Trace or by the NHS covid app.

“Businesses should be supporting employees to isolate, they should not be encouraging them to break isolation”

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Professor Ian Young: ‘I am very concerned about the uptake of vaccination’

Professor Ian Young said he was “very concerned” about stalling vaccination rates in Northern Ireland, with almost 20 per cent of the adult population still to come forward for a first dose.

“I am very concerned about the uptake of vaccination, there’s still around 18% of adults who have not come forward for the first dose of their vaccine,” he said.

“And that means 18 per cent of people who are just as susceptible to the most severe effects of Covid as they were earlier in the epidemic and at just the same risk of severe illness, long-term illness in the form of long Covid, hospital admission and death.”

He urged those who have yet to come forward for their jab to “think really hard” about taking up the opportunity.

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NI’s chief scientific adviser expresses concern at ‘rapid’ rise in Covid-19 cases

Northern Ireland’s chief scientific adviser Professor Ian Young has expressed concern at the “rapid” rise in Covid-19 cases in the country, warning of an “inevitable” increase in death rates as a result.

“We’re very concerned by the numbers of cases which are increasing rapidly, they’ve doubled in around the last eight days, as indeed have the number of patients in hospital,” he told BBC Radio Ulster.

“And this is following the same pattern or trajectory that we saw earlier in the epidemic, albeit that the proportion of individuals who are getting more severe illness and going into hospitals is less.

“So, I think we’re going to see a lot more cases before this situation improves and we’re going to see significantly more pressures in our hospitals as a result of those cases. This is not over, there’s still a lot of work to be done.”

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154,334 Covid-19 deaths have now occurred in the UK – ONS

A total of 154,334 deaths have now occurred in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate, the ONS said.

The highest number of deaths to occur on a single day was 1,483 on January 19.

During the first wave of the virus, the daily toll peaked at 1,461 deaths on April 8 2020.

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Some 20 Covid-19 related care home deaths in England and Wales

Some 20 care home resident deaths involving Covid-19 in England and Wales were registered in the week to July 9, up from 11 deaths in the previous week.

In total, 42,587 care home residents in England and Wales have had Covid-19 recorded on their death certificate since the pandemic began.

The ONS figures cover deaths of care home residents in all settings, not just in care homes.



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business trip

United Boosts Winter Schedule | Business Travel News


United Airlines plans to operate services above 2019 levels to leisure-oriented destinations this winter, the carrier announced.

The carrier reported that passenger volume over the Fourth of July holiday period was five times what it was last year, and it has expanded its winter schedule as it expects that trend to continue throughout the rest of this year. From November through March, United plans to fly 137 more flights than it did in 2019 to warm-weather U.S. destinations including Florida, California, Arizona, Georgia and Nevada.

United also will operate service to beach destinations in Latin America that is 30 percent higher than 2019 levels. That will include 12 new routes from its hubs in Denver, Los Angeles, Newark, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.



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United bets big on winter travel in 39-route boost to the mountains






United bets big on winter travel in 39-route boost to the mountains – The Points Guy






















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MnDOT automates winter travel alerts


It’s a fairly good bet that Minnesota won’t see a blizzard or snow squall the rest of this spring, but should a freak storm arise, the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) is ready to alert drivers quickly.

The agency has automated the process in which it takes warnings from the National Weather Service and relays them to motorists by posting messages on electronic sign boards across the state.

For the past couple of winters, MnDOT has used its 400 digital signs to broadcast blizzard warnings. And until this year, that job of updating signs fell primarily to Garrett Schreiner, a freeway operations engineer. Each time a blizzard struck, Schreiner headed to his computer to determine which areas of the state were being impacted and which signs were in the affected areas. Then he crafted and posted a message.

“I have to monitor every winter storm,” he said. “Thankfully there are not a ton of blizzards, so it’s doable.”

But all those steps take time and manpower, which ultimately delays how quickly messages get out to the public. Schreiner and others wondered if they could automate the process.

MnDOT collaborated with SRF Consulting to develop traffic management software capable of parsing feeds from the weather service. When the software comes across a blizzard warning, it determines the location and time of the warning and composes the appropriate message. A MnDOT staff member in the Regional Transportation Management Center in Roseville can review and manually post the message to signs in the impacted area, or turn on a feature that allows the software to do it automatically. The software can also update messages as weather conditions change, Schreiner said.

“We cut the time it takes to get messages out to travelers,” he said.

MnDOT tested the software during an early January blizzard that socked much of the state and found that it worked well. The plan is to use it statewide this winter, Schreiner said.

MnDOT generally uses the signs only to announce real-time information about crashes, closures, road hazards or how long it will take drivers to reach a specific destination. Agency officials wondered if drivers would take weather messages seriously if it posted too many of them.

A survey to determine how effective digital messages were during blizzards drew 406 responses from drivers from the Twin Cities, across Minnesota and other states. More than half of respondents said they had seen a blizzard warning on a digital sign and reported seeing it two to three times. Three-quarters of those who were not aware of a blizzard before they set out said they found the messages to be “helpful” or “very helpful.” Half of those who knew about a blizzard before traveling reported messages were helpful or very helpful. Most respondents said the messages were more effective than alerts broadcast by other media, a MnDOT report said.

“The survey results helped MnDOT determine the best way to display winter weather conditions … and that messages are displayed accurately and on time,” said Brian Kary, director of traffic operations.

Schreiner said winter driving hazards such as freezing rain, fog and winter storms “having a big impact” on travel may be considered for automation.

The system “opens up the door for displaying summer warnings,” he said, “but we don’t think we’d use it for that.”

Follow news about traffic and commuting at The Drive on startribune.com. Got traffic or transportation questions, or story ideas? E-mail drive@startribune.com, tweet @stribdrive or call Tim Harlow at 612-673-7768.

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Winter Camping Tips For Non-Campers


Elena, 32, just moved back to her hometown of Austin after a decade in New York City. Before leaving the northeast, her and her boyfriend did one last camping trip to Clarence Fahnestock State Park in upstate New York in November.

“There aren’t usually a lot of people around, which is nice,” Elena tells Bustle of cold weather-camping. “It’s super quiet.”

Another benefit? She says there also weren’t any mosquitoes or bugs around. “We just took a really nice, leisurely nature walk with our whiskey.” She only saw one other group nearby, which made the trip even more relaxing. “When there’s more people around, it doesn’t feel as secluded.”

Campgrounds and national parks like Joshua Tree National Park in California, New York’s Catskills Mountains, and the North Carolina mountain town of Asheville and its surrounding parks and campgrounds, were all popular destinations for novice and routine campers alike in 2020 as space is one of the greatest benefits for travel destinations during the pandemic. While camping may not automatically come to mind when you’re dreaming of winter vacations — especially if you’ve never been before — there are tons of safe options to consider, whether you’re seeking warmer weather or your own shower. And, during these colder months during the off-season there’s fewer people on campgrounds that stay open, meaning there’s even more space for you and your quarantine crew.

Camping In Your Car

Provided you have the right-sized vehicle, car camping is an option if you’re more into a road trip vacation — or want to get to a warmer part of the country. After being out of work as a result of the pandemic, 26-year-old Stephanie and her boyfriend planned a long road trip from their home in San Francisco, CA.

“We drove to L.A. first, then made our way to Joshua Tree National Park. Our goal was to see the Grand Canyon,” she tells Bustle. “In between, we saw Sedona, Arizona, Lake Havasu — which was like a pit stop — and took Route 66 to see all the different crazy stores and restaurants there.”

They stayed on campsites through the Bureau of Land Management, which offers a variety of camping options on public lands ranging from free to a small fee, and managed to find sites that cost them nothing.

“This was our first time winter camping,” she says. They had an air mattress for small-sized SUVs that she says was surprisingly comfortable and a two-person sleeping bag meant for 30-degree weather. “Our learning there was to maybe do separate sleeping bags for less warmth to escape and the zero-degree rating would be best.”

She also recommends covers for the windows that not only keep light out and allow you sleep past sunrise, but also keep more heat inside the car. While they didn’t use them on their trip, she says they will be using them on the next one.

“I think the best thing about a road trip and sleeping in your car is the ability to stop anywhere, she says. “We stuck to a general plan but just knowing we could drive anywhere to check out something we’ll never probably see ever again is my favorite part.”

Cold-Weather Camping

Natasha, 31, who lives in Madison, Wisconsin, decided to try cold-weather camping with her husband after backpacking with a group of women in October. “He went out and bought all the camping stuff after my trip, and we wanted to try it out at least once before the season was over,” she tells Bustle.

“We went to Blue Mound State Park, like 30 minutes away from us, just to try out our equipment, but it was an extremely cold night,” she says. “By around 1 a.m., we just decided to throw into the towel and drive home.”

While they had a three season tent, an inflatable sleeping pad, sleeping bags rated for 15- and 20-degree weather and layers to sleep in, Natasha knows exactly what she’d do differently for their next winter trip.

“I think we needed another thin foam sleeping pad layer to help to keep our warmth from going into the ground,” she says. She’s since purchased one, although they will probably wait until spring to head back out.

Other Winter Camping Options

If heat and a roof is a non-negotiable, but you’d still like to immerse yourself in the outdoors and feel as remote as possible, options like Upstate New York’s Gather Greene in Hudson Valley can be that. Their 17 cabins are a tiny bit wider than the king-sized bed within them, have a bathroom, shower, and mini fridge with one entire wall of glass overlooking the Berkshire Mountains.

Joshua Tree Acres has a fleet of airstreams to rent, and in Asheville, NC, there’s a variety of glamping options — yurt or deluxe dome tents to treehouses — that offer the space and scenery without building your own accommodations.

Packing For Your Camping Trip

No matter what type of camping you decide works best for you, the nature of winter camping requires a thorough plan. You’ll also want to make sure to check on the rules, restrictions and impact of the pandemic before heading out.

Elena recommends splitting up your list among your camping crew to make sure all of your bases are covered. “Whenever we go camping, I’m always in charge of the cooking aspect,” she says. Her her cast iron skillet is a necessity. “It works for everything! I’ve done Dutch babies for breakfast with some sort of fruit also cooked in the skillet. I usually do steaks for dinner with caramelized onions, and I always take foil which is perfect for wrapping veggies and throwing straight onto the coals.”

And, her campsite cooking pro tip: “If you’re making s’mores on a stick, you’re missing out on smoked s’mores. Wrap everything in foil and throw on the coals — so delicious!”

Stephanie says there’s one thing that may not be deemed absolutely necessary by others but offered her the most comfort — her skincare routine. “I would just feel icky when I woke up.” She carried a tiny Sephora brand cleansing pad to wash her face and exfoliate. Additionally, the women say moisturizer, lip balm, and SPF are absolutely necessary for your travel, whether you’re going out in cold weather or you’re camping in the desert.

Winter Camping Essentials

No matter what your camping trip involves, being responsible and respectful for the grounds you’re staying on, packing efficiently, and staying warm are the way to go. Here’s what to bring, for whichever type of camping trip you decide to embark on.

We only include products that have been independently selected by Bustle’s editorial team. However, we may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.



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Newsroom – Travel Alert: Winter Storm To Hit Colorado Stations


American is closely monitoring the winter storm currently expected to bring heavy snow and strong winds through several Colorado cities. The safety of our customers and team members is the airline’s No. 1 priority, and the team will remain in contact with those impacted by this harsh winter storm.

Earlier this week, American issued a travel alert for nine stations in Colorado, allowing customers whose travel plans are impacted by this storm to rebook without change fees. Customers can reschedule their travel on aa.com or by contacting Reservations at 800-433-7300 in the U.S. or Canada. If a customer chooses not to fly to/from an airport covered by the current waiver, American will waive change fees for future travel. Customers are also encouraged to check the status of their flight on aa.com.

If an American flight has been canceled or excessively delayed, customers may cancel their itinerary and request a refund by visiting our website. Customers who booked through a travel agent should contact their travel agency directly.

About American Airlines Group
American’s purpose is to care for people on life’s journey. Shares of American Airlines Group Inc. trade on Nasdaq under the ticker symbol AAL and the company’s stock is included in the S&P 500. Learn more about what’s happening at American by visiting news.aa.com and connect with American on Twitter @AmericanAir and at Facebook.com/AmericanAirlines.





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Caltrans issues winter travel advisory from tonight until early Thursday


Caltrans District 2 released the following information this afternoon, March 8. District 2 includes Plumas and Sierra counties.

The National Weather Service is forecasting a series of winter storm systems this week for the Northern California area, starting tonight and lingering into early Thursday. Snow levels are anticipated to be between 2,000 feet – 3,500 feet during these storms. Motorists should plan for chain controls in higher elevations and are advised to check weather and roadway conditions prior to travel.

Higher elevation travel is discouraged during winter weather systems. Motorists that must travel into higher elevations are advised to carry chains, be prepared for winter driving conditions, expect delays and possible closures, and follow instructions of Caltrans personnel and law enforcement.

Updated highway conditions are available via QuickMap (also available by free app for smartphones) or through the Caltrans Highway Information Network via website or by calling 1-800-427-7623. Motorists can also follow Caltrans District 2 on its Twitter and Facebook pages for important traffic updates.



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10 of the best beaches for a winter walk: readers’ tips | Walking holidays


Winning tip: Seabirds, shipwreck and sorcery, Anglesey

Llanddona beach is a long sandy beach stretching to Red Wharf Bay, on the eastern side of Anglesey. Deserted in winter, it’s a wonderful place for adults, children and dogs to stretch their legs, watch the seabirds or gather unusual shells. Discover the medieval fish trap, the shipwreck buried in the sands and wonder where the witches of legend landed centuries ago. Set against a backdrop of green wooded hills, the beach is on the coastal footpath, so you can walk or drive here and if you’re lucky you might catch sight of dolphins or porpoises playing in the bay.
Sue

Unswamped Cornwall

two people on Perranuthnoe beach in winter
Photograph: Ian Woolcock/Alamy

February is a great month for getting out and watching the sea, but finding a beach that isn’t swamped by massive Atlantic waves can be a challenge here in Cornwall. As a family we often venture out to Perranuthnoe on the south coast, between Porthleven and Mount’s Bay. In winter the white-sand beach is often busy with surfers braving the cold, and families with dogs. At the end of the beach you can climb up to an elevated position where you can see St Michael’s Mount, watch gannets diving and, if you’re really lucky, humpbacks breaching. Best of all, when it reopens, there is a fabulous cafe that offer takeaway teas and delicious breakfasts to warm you up.
Layla Astley

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Readers’ tips: send a tip for a chance to win a £200 voucher for a Canopy & Stars stay

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Guardian Travel readers’ tips

Every week we ask our readers for recommendations from their travels. A selection of tips will be featured online and may appear in print. To enter the latest competition visit the readers’ tips homepage

Sandy vantage, north Devon

Crow Point north Devon
Photograph: Alex

Crow Point is the coastal version of a crow’s nest: a sandy vantage point at the confluence of the Rivers Taw and Torridge, just before they join the sea west of Barnstaple. The low winter light sweeps down the Taw at dawn and creeps across the dunes at dusk: whichever it is, we love the broad arc of beach both sides of the Crow Point lighthouse, the tufty marram grass the gives life to the land, the estuary sea birds watching over the tides, and the fact that you can pivot to admire a different view in every direction.
Alex

Prehistoric Merseyside

Sefton coast dunes, marram grass and beach beyond
Photograph: Jennifer Jones

The Sefton coast is a west-facing land of dunes, strandlines, seabirds and history, only 20km north of Liverpool. Our winter walks often encounter surging high tides, bracing winds and sands that scour your face. Birds skitter at the shoreline, muffled-up beachcombers search for trophies, children shriek up and down dunes while adults just wander. Particularly violent tides erode sand and uncover silt. Footprints of an adult and child are exposed – relics from thousands of years ago. What did they see? The same as us? We have walked with these prehistoric beachcombers along the inspirational Sefton coast.
Jennifer Jones

Mini archipelago, Dee estuary

Hilbre Island, in the Dee estuary
Hilbre island, in the Dee estuary. Photograph: Steve Bridge/Alamy

A bracing walk across corrugated sands to a miniature archipelago at the mouth of the Dee makes for a wow-factor winter walk. The only inhabitants are wintering wildfowl such as purple sandpipers, which roost on the red sandstone of Hilbre island, but if you’re lucky you’ll spot a grey seal against the magnificent backdrop of the rolling Welsh hills or West Kirby marina. When setting off from the latter at low tide, allow enough time to get there and back: the four-mile round trip to the third island, after negotiating rockpools between Little and Middle Eye, takes two hours.
Lee Ruddin

Wide sky and golden sand, Kent

Person on a sandbank in Sandwich bay
Photograph: Alexandra McLanaghan

Winter is the perfect time to soak up the wide skies and golden sands of Sandwich Bay. While you’re unlikely to see many people, inquisitive seals from a nearby colony are regular visitors. This section of beach is used as a bridle path, and watching the horses gallop across the sand and through the shallow sea is always exhilarating. As the coastline ahead of you turns sharply to the right, you can see a great expanse of chalky cliffs and the red brick arches of Ramsgate harbour. Turn to your right, and on a clear day, you might spot Deal Pier reaching out into the English Channel.
Alexandra McLanaghan

Going down a storm, Pembrokeshire

Newgale beach, Pembrokeshire, in winter sunshine
Photograph: John Birdsall/Alamy

Nobody who claims to love the beach has the right to say so until they have spent time on Newgale beach (eight miles east of St Davids) in winter. The balmy summer breeze becomes a roaring gale that makes you whoop with the sheer invigoration of it. The gentle lapping waves of August magically transform into crashing, foaming mini mountains hitting the sand with all their might and slurping the pebbles back into their foothills. Wrap up warm, stride along the sands and let the winter storms take your breath away.
Jo Barton

Last pre-Covid jaunt, Northumberland

Sean Henry’s Couple sculpture in the water at Newbiggin-by-the-Sea
Sean Henry’s Couple sculpture in the water at Newbiggin-by-the-Sea. Photograph: Jess Barrett

Northumberland’s Newbiggin-by-the-Sea captured my heart last February. Our (unbeknownst) last holiday before Covid, we stayed a few streets back from the beach and walked the whole length of it every morning with our dog. I loved the sweep of the promenade, the different buildings that curve around the bay, the huge expanse of sand and the Couple sculpture standing out at sea. The winter weather brought howling winds and driving rain some days, and crisp sunny starts to others but whatever it was like there were always others out enjoying the sea air – a beach truly loved by its town.
Jess Barrett

Cleansing winds, North Yorkshire

Saltwick bay, from the cliffs on a cloudy day
Photograph: Matthew Walsh

Across the river from Whitby’s four-mile West Cliff Beach, a secret reveals itself at low tide: Saltwick Bay. I walk the small cove chiselled into prehistoric cliffs by eons. Bounding the west end is Saltwick Nab, stretching out into frigid waters. To the east, Black Nab stands tall next to the mysterious wreck of the Admiral Von Tromp. To my surprise, the winter rains transform this place. They trickle over the cliffside as a delicate waterfall, roll over autumn-coloured boulders, and wash out into the cold arms of the North Sea. The cleansing winds of a winter’s day are thrown at me by the waves as I marvel.
Matthew Walsh

Skye views, Wester Ross

Horses on Redpoint beach, Wester Ross
Photograph: Khrizmo/Getty Images

The pink sands and dunes of Redpoint beach near Gairloch in Wester Ross are usually deserted in winter. Most people head for the dunes, but a wee trip through the gate, past Redpoint Farm, leads you down to the most perfect stretch of beach looking over to the Isle of Skye. The remains of a nearby abandoned salmon fishing station defiantly await their fate. If time allows, continue south to the old Craig bothy. Once the most isolated youth hostel in the UK, it has some beautiful fading Celtic knotwork painted by a former hostel warden a couple of lifetimes ago.
Calum MacLeod



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Inslee announces proclamations on COVID-19 and winter weather, updates air travel proclamation


Story 

Gov. Jay Inslee today updated proclamation 20-83 regarding quarantine requirements for air travel. Inslee also released new proclamations related to winter weather and the COVID-19 pandemic. 

COVID-19 – Restrictions on Travelers (20-83.1)

Amends Proclamation 20-83, which required air passengers to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival from countries in which COVID-19 variants were detected. The amended order requires all air passengers to comply with the requirements ordered by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention when traveling from outside the U.S. to Washington. The CDC currently requires all such air passengers to obtain a negative viral COVID-19 test within 3 days of travel or to present proof of recovery from COVID-19. For other types of travel, the Governor’s travel advisory remains in place. This proclamation will remain in effect through the state of emergency established in Proclamation 20-05.

Read the full proclamation here

COVID-19 – Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council (EFSEC) Informational Public Hearings (21-04)

This proclamation allows EFSEC to remotely conduct its required informational public hearings regarding new energy project siting proposals, under RCW 80.50.090(1). Though allowing for remote informational public hearings, the order requires EFSEC to provide robust public participation options so that the public may observe the hearing in real time and offer public comment. This order goes into effect March 12, 2021, and expires on April 11, 2021, unless further extended.

Read the full proclamation here

Winter Weather (21-03)

This proclamation establishes a winter weather state of emergency in response to a series of severe winter storms beginning on December 17, 2020. By implementing the plans and procedures in the Washington State Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan state agencies and departments are directed to assist with winter storm response and recovery. 

Read the full proclamation here

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