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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 June's Top 5 (most clicked by Lawyers Travel's clients) e-newsletter stories.
The governors of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut announced today that travelers from states with high coronavirus infection rates must self-quarantine for 14 days on arrival, reports CNBC. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said travelers coming from states with a high infection rate will be subject to the quarantine. The infection rate is based on the number of infections per 100,000 residents on a seven-day rolling average. People who don’t voluntarily quarantine for 14 days will be subject to fines and a mandatory quarantine. He said the fines will be $2,000 for the first violation, $5,000 for the second and up to $10,000 if they cause harm. “As of today, the states that are above that level are Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Washington, Utah, Texas,” he said. “That’s as of today. The states themselves can change as the infection rate changes and we will update daily what states are above that infection rate.”
Two US airlines are adding another health safety measure by including pre-flight health questionnaires to their check-in process, reports USA Today. United Airlines and Alaska Airlines said this week that they will require travelers to fill out a pre-flight health checklist during check-in. United's policy took effect June 16th, while Alaska's will begin June 30th. Alaska's questionnaire says travelers must verify they haven't had any COVID-19 symptoms in the past 72 hours or come into contact with someone who is symptomatic. United's "Ready to Fly'' checklist asks travelers to confirm, among other things, that they have not had COVID-19-related symptoms in the past 14 days; been diagnosed with the virus in the past 21 days or had close contact with someone who has COVID-19 in the past 14 days. Travelers who don't meet the requirement can reschedule their flight.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has released an interactive map created by detailing information about travel restrictions around the world put in place amid COVID-19. IATA says the information is only provided during COVID-19 pandemic as a service to the industry, and the information is correct to the best of its knowledge at the time of publication. It is being reviewed and updated on an ongoing basis by IATA staff, given the rapidly evolving nature of the international response to COVID-19.
As travel restrictions gradually begin lifting, several of the Trusted Traveler Programs are beginning to reopen offices after months of being suspended, reports Travel Pulse. Here’s a look at the current status of a few of those official processing operations:
COVID-19 has prompted some TSA PreCheck enrollment centers to discontinue or modify their service hours, but most of them remain open. Applicants whose interviews have to be canceled are notified and given the opportunity to rebook. TSA officials said that the PreCheck program has not suffered from processing delays or acquired a backlog of applications due to COVID-19 and that the approval process typically takes between two and three weeks. Officials do, however, recommend that applicants make an appointment instead of going to an enrollment center as a walk-in so that they can know what to expect in terms of possible service disruptions and to help the centers observe limited-capacity and social-distancing guidelines.
Operations at all Enrollment Centers have been suspended through at least July 6, 2020. Applicants can still submit for conditional Global Entry approval via the Trusted Traveler website but won’t be able to schedule an interview until offices reopen. Officials say the fastest way to obtain Global Entry is by applying for conditional approval on their website and then completing the process at a participating airport upon returning from abroad. Through this approach, a pre-booked interview is not required. In addition, existing members who submit renewal applications prior to their enrollment’s expiration will be given an eighteen-month extension of their benefits, rather than the usual six months. New Yorkers are still ineligible to renew or apply for Trusted Traveler Programs because of a state-specific ban imposed by the Trump administration back in February.
On June 15, fourteen passport processing centers nationwide reopened with limited service as part of a first-phase operational restart. A few employees are returning to work to process pending applications on a first-in-first-out basis, starting with some applications that were received as far back as February. Officials said they hope to work their way through the backlog at a rate of about 200,000 applications per week, but that it may take up to eight weeks before they are even able to start in on newly-submitted applications. Anyone submitting a new application can expect processing to be delayed by two, three, or even, four months. Expedited services will remain available only to those needing to travel to address life-or-death circumstances.
European Union (EU) countries planning to reopen their borders after months of COVID-19 restrictions are prepared to block Americans from entering because the United States has failed to control the virus, reports The New York Times. European nations are currently haggling over two potential lists of acceptable visitors based on how countries are faring with COVID-19. Both lists exclude the United States and other countries that were deemed too risky because of the spread of the virus. Travelers from the United States and the rest of the world already had been excluded from visiting the EU — with few exceptions mostly for repatriations or “essential travel” — since mid-March. But a final decision on reopening the borders is expected early next week, before the bloc reopens on July 1st.