Lawyers Travel's weekly client e-newsletter, the Informed Traveler, keeps readers updated on travel industry news and trends.
Following is a recap of May's top 5 (most clicked by Lawyers Travel's clients) e-newsletter stories.
The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) have announced that face masks will no longer need to be mandatory in airports and on flights in Europe starting on May 16, 2022, reports Travel Market Report. While the agencies said that wearing a mask “is still one of the best protections against the transmission of COVID-19,” it will no longer push for the practice to be a requirement during travel. “From next week, face masks will no longer need to be mandatory in air travel in all cases, broadly aligning with the changing requirements of national authorities across Europe for public transport,” said EASA Executive Director Patrick Ky. Rules for wearing masks are expected to vary after the mandatory requirement is lifted, with airlines told to encourage travelers to use masks on flights to or from destinations where wearing a mask on public transport is still required. The move by the EU matches the recent change by the US last month when its requirement to wear masks in airports and on flights was dropped after a ruling from a federal judge. However, in other countries, such as Canada, masking is still required for the entire duration of a flight arriving at or leaving from a local airport.
US airlines are pressing the Biden administration to lift a rule requiring nearly all international air passengers to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test before entering the country reports Skift. Airline executives say many Americans are not traveling abroad due to concerns they will test positive in a foreign country and become stranded. Last Friday, industry group Airlines for America, noted a survey of its carriers estimated that dropping COVID-19 testing requirements would bring in an additional 4.3 million international passengers and $1.7 billion in incremental revenue. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg stated that while he did not think the testing rule would “be there forever,” lifting it would require the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to be confident “relaxing it would not harm the progress that we’ve made against the virus.” After a meeting with Buttigieg in Washington DC last Thursday, British Transport Secretary Grant Shapps noted, “My sense is that it’s moving towards endgame […] My sense is that by the summer.”
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has added five countries to its ‘Level 3: High’ COVID-19 risk category warning list for travelers, reports Travel Pulse. As of Monday, the Bahamas, Montserrat, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines in the Caribbean; the Central American nation of Belize; and the southern African nation of Eswatini are categorized as having over 100 new cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 people over the past 28 days. In April, the CDC overhauled its Travel Health Notice system for foreign destinations. In terms of generalized risk of contracting COVID-19, Level 3 is now the highest label outside of special circumstances. Previously, Level 4 represented ‘Very High Risk’ for COVID-19; that label is now reserved for ‘Special Circumstances/Do Not Travel’ warnings. There are now approximately 115 of the world’s nations included under the CDC’s ‘Level 3: High’ warning, which recommends that individuals are up to date on COVID-19 vaccinations before travel to the destination.
Miami International Airport (MIA) will begin offering biometric boarding via facial recognition on all international flights sometime in 2023, reports Travel Weekly. According to MIA officials and technology partner SITA, the installation will cover all of MIA’s 130-plus gates and will be the largest implementation of biometric exit technology at a US airport. At biometric gates, departing international travelers are not required to show a passport or boarding pass. Instead, a biometric facial-recognition system takes a photo, which is then matched to passport photos that the Department of Homeland Security keeps on file. This week, MIA released a video from biometric testing trials, showing that the process takes only a few seconds per passenger. Since 2020, MIA has used this technology to document checks for arriving international passengers.