Lawyers Travel's weekly client e-newsletter, the Informed Traveler, keeps readers updated on travel industry news and trends.
Following is a recap of January's top 5 (most clicked by Lawyers Travel's clients) e-newsletter stories.
The UK government has announced that it is dropping its testing requirements for eligible fully vaccinated travelers and individuals under 18. Beginning Friday, February 11, those groups will no longer be required to take a COVID-19 test either before or after arrival in the UK, and will only need to complete a passenger locator form. Additionally, unvaccinated or partly vaccinated travelers will still be required to take a pre-departure test and a PCR test on or before day 2 after arrival in the UK; however, they will no longer need to quarantine unless the result of the PCR test is positive. Unvaccinated or partly vaccinated travelers will also need to complete a passenger locator form. According to the UK government website, the new rules will apply for travel to all four countries - England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the further relaxation of the travel rules was designed to show that the country was open to travelers and business.
The US Custom and Border Protection (CBP) has announced that the Mobile Passport Control (MPC) app will be the only authorized application available for mobile entry upon arrival to the US. Beginning February 1, inbound international travelers who want to use a mobile app for entry into the US will no longer be able to use other apps, including Airside Mobile and Clear MPC. The MPC app allows eligible travelers to submit their passport and customs declaration information through a free, secure app on their smartphone or other mobile device. The use of MPC streamlines the entry process into the US by reducing passport control inspection time and overall wait time. Use of MPC is free and does not require pre-approval, and travelers who successfully use the app will no longer have to complete a paper form or use an APC kiosk. As a result, travelers may experience shorter wait times, less congestion, and efficient processing. CBP’s MPC app is a free application that can be downloaded on iOS and Android devices, and is currently available for eligible travelers to use upon arrival at MPC approved sites.
Wireless carriers AT&T and Verizon have agreed to temporarily delay the launch of 5G towers near key US airports to avert a significant disruption to US flights, reports Reuters. The agreement comes after concerns that high tech radio signals could interfere with navigational systems on some aircraft. The FAA has warned that 5G wireless interference could affect sensitive airplane instruments such as radio altimeters and significantly hamper low-visibility operations. The FAA said it anticipated "there will be some impacts due to the limitations of some radio altimeters." Verizon will temporarily pause the launch of 5G on about 500 towers near airports while the carriers and the Biden administration work on a permanent solution; additional details, including the length of the pause, were not disclosed. Delta Air Lines has stated that while the wireless moves are a positive development, "some flight restrictions may remain." Additionally, despite the agreement, several international carriers including Air India, Emirates, Japan Airlines, and All Nippon Airways have canceled some US-bound flights because of possible 5G interference. Other airlines may also cancel some additional flights in the coming hours as they wait for formal guidance from the FAA on the announcements from Verizon and AT&T.
The US State Department is encouraging Americans traveling internationally to make "contingency plans" amid the current wave of the COVID-19 Omicron variant, reports Travel + Leisure. The department is advising anyone leaving the country to prepare for potential quarantine and testing requirements. "US citizens who choose to travel internationally should be aware that they may face unexpected challenges related to COVID-19 as they attempt to return to the United States or attempt to travel from one overseas location to another," the department wrote in an advisory last week. "US citizens who do choose to travel internationally should make contingency plans, as they may have to remain in a foreign country longer than originally planned, which will be at their own expense." Additionally, the State Department recommends people purchase international travel insurance that includes COVID-19-related trip cancellation and medical coverage, warning that Medicare and Medicaid do not usually cover overseas medical costs.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has announced updated travel advisories for over 40 countries and territories, reports Travel Pulse. Among the updates, 22 destinations have been added to the CDC's “Level Four: Very High” travel advisory due to a rising number of COVID-19 cases. These countries and territories include Albania, Argentina, Australia, the Bahamas, Bahrain, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Bolivia, Egypt, Israel, Panama, Saint Lucia, Suriname, Turks and Caicos Islands, and Uruguay. In total, the CDC now lists just over 100 countries and territories at “Level 4,” the agency’s highest warning level. Additionally, the CDC revealed that it has added another 20 countries to the “Level 3: High” warning level, including Costa Rica, Cuba, Jamaica, Kuwait, and Uganda. The CDC recommends that unvaccinated Americans avoid nonessential travel to those destinations.