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Lawyers Travel's weekly client e-newsletter, the Informed Traveler, keeps readers updated on travel industry news and trends.
Following is a recap of April's Top 5 (most clicked by Lawyers Travel's clients) e-newsletter stories.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has announced that it is extending the REAL ID deadline by 19 months, from October 1, 2021, to May 3, 2023, due to circumstances resulting from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. According to the DHS, COVID-19 has impacted states’ ability to issue REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses and identification cards, with many driver’s licensing agencies still operating at limited capacity.
Beginning May 3, 2023, every air traveler 18 years of age and older will need a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license or identification card, state-issued enhanced driver’s license, or another TSA-acceptable form of identification at airport security checkpoints for domestic air travel. All 50 US states, the District of Columbia, and four of five US territories covered by the REAL ID Act and related regulations are now compliant with REAL ID security standards and are issuing REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses and identification cards. However, many state licensing agencies have extended the deadline for renewing expiring licenses due to a widespread shift to appointment-only scheduling protocols during the pandemic that has significantly limited states’ capacity to issue REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses and identification cards. As a result, only 43 percent of all state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards are currently REAL ID-compliant.
The US State Department has said it is raising the travel alert level for a significant number of countries this week as it factors the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) COVID-19 data more heavily into its rating system, reports USA Today. The agency said about 80% of countries will now be listed as Level 4: Do Not Travel. The State Department said the pandemic continues to pose "unprecedented risks'' to travelers and strongly recommends US citizens "reconsider all travel abroad.'' The increased alert level comes as the number of vaccinated Americans is increasing and COVID-19 restrictions are being lifted in many states and in some countries. Croatia, Greece, Iceland, and Israel are among the countries welcoming or about to welcome vaccinated Americans.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has announced new updates to its domestic travel guidance for fully vaccinated people, lifting certain testing and self-quarantine requirements and recommending precautions like wearing a mask and avoiding crowds. According to the CDC's website, fully vaccinated individuals can resume domestic travel and do not need to get tested before or after travel or self-quarantine after travel. Additionally, fully vaccinated individuals do not need to get tested before leaving the United States (unless required by the destination) or self-quarantine after arriving back in the US. The CDC considers someone fully vaccinated two weeks after they receive the last dose of vaccine. The CDC also recommends that fully vaccinated individuals continue such precautions as wearing face coverings, social distancing, and frequent hand washing while traveling, and the recommendation to avoid medium- and large-sized gatherings remains as well. It also recommends that those who are not fully vaccinated postpone both domestic and international travel until fully vaccinated.
New York has lifted its COVID-19 quarantine and testing requirements for international travelers, reports USA Today. The move follows New York's recent decision to end its quarantine on travelers coming from another state or US territory. "Asymptomatic travelers entering New York from another country, US state, or territory are no longer required to test or quarantine as of April 10, 2021," the state Department of Health announced on its website. The state said that a quarantine, consistent with guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is still recommended for all travelers who are not fully vaccinated or have not recovered from laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 during the previous three months.
Americans who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 will be able to visit the European Union (EU) over the summer, reports The New York Times. In a recent interview, Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, said the bloc would switch policy, under certain conditions, after more than a year of mostly banning nonessential travel. “The Americans, as far as I can see, use European Medicines Agency-approved vaccines,” she said. “This will enable free movement and the travel to the European Union." Ms. von der Leyen noted that the United States was “on track” and making “huge progress” with its campaign to reach so-called herd immunity, or the vaccination of 70 percent of adults, by mid-June. She added that resumption of travel would depend “on the epidemiological situation, but the situation is improving in the US, as it is, hopefully, also improving in the European Union.” Technical discussions have been going on for several weeks between EU and US officials on how to practically and technologically make vaccine certificates from each place broadly readable so that citizens can use them to travel without restrictions. These discussions are continuing, and it is possible that a low-tech solution would be used in the near future to enable people to travel freely on the basis of vaccination. Ms. von der Leyen did not offer a timeline on when exactly tourist travel might open up or details on how it would occur.