Lawyers Travel's weekly client e-newsletter, the Informed Traveler, keeps readers updated on travel industry news and trends.
Following is a recap of October's Top 5 (most clicked by Lawyers Travel's clients) e-newsletter stories.
The White House has released details of its new international air travel system for foreign nationals traveling to the United States, which is scheduled to take effect on November 8. The upcoming policy change was first announced back on September 20, though no specific details were given at that time. Starting on November 8, non-citizen, non-immigrant air travelers to the United States will be required to be fully vaccinated and to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination status prior to boarding an airplane to fly to the US, with only limited exceptions. These include children under the age of 18, those arriving from countries with less than a 10 percent vaccination rate due to lack of availability, and those with medical conditions that prevent them from receiving vaccines.
To prove vaccination status, travelers must provide evidence from an official source (e.g., public health agency, government agency) in the country where the vaccine was given, with receipt of the last dose at least two weeks prior to departure; this includes any vaccines approved by US health regulators. Vaccinated travelers will also be required to have a negative COVID-19 test result within three days of departure. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has said the test must be a "viral test that could be either an antigen test or a nucleic acid amplification test," such as a PCR or LAMP test.
Additionally, returning US residents who are unvaccinated or only partially vaccinated will be subject to stricter requirements recommended by the CDC, and will need to produce a negative test taken no more than 24 hours before boarding their flight. The CDC also announced that it’s introducing new contact-tracing practices and will rely on airlines to collect inbound international travelers’ basic contact information before they board their US-bound flights. Click the link above for additional details from the White House's press release.
Hawaiian Governor David Ige has announced the state will reopen to fully vaccinated domestic travelers for non-essential travel beginning on November 1, reports Travel Pulse. Governor Ige previously advised against travel to Hawaii through October, as confirmed cases of COVID-19 surged during the summer. State officials said COVID-19 numbers have declined, while vaccination rates have climbed. “I think we are all encouraged by what we’ve seen over the last several weeks with the continuing trend of lower case counts,” Governor Ige said. “Our hospitals are doing better, and we have fewer COVID patients in them.” Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association CEO Mufi Hannemann said officials from tourism, restaurants, retail, ground and air transportation, labor unions, and chambers of commerce all worked together to advocate for and develop a reopening plan.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) has begun the final construction phases of the new Terminal A at Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR), reports Airport Technology. As part of the Terminal A Redevelopment Program, the gates in the A1 Concourse have been shut down, as parts of the existing gates need to be demolished. Accordingly, there has been a shift in flight operations, which could lead to an increase in wait times during peak hours. In a statement, PANYNJ said, “As a result, Terminal A travelers are urged to arrive no later than two hours prior to scheduled departure times, in view of the temporary, six-month reduction in Terminal A gates.” The two airlines experiencing the direct impact due to the closures are Air Canada and JetBlue. Both these airlines are shifting flights to the other two gate areas of Terminal A. In addition, JetBlue is moving some flights to Terminal B in response to the shutdown. Meanwhile, American, Alaska, and United Express will continue their operations as usual in the Terminal A2 and A3 concourses.
The US will lift travel restrictions at the borders with Canada and Mexico starting in November, allowing fully vaccinated foreign nationals to cross its land borders for non-essential purposes such as tourism or visiting friends and family, reports USA Today. The change would allow foreign travelers to enter the US through land or ferry ports for the first time since March 2020. Government officials have not yet announced a date for the policy change but said it will take place in "early November," in tandem with its new procedures to ease travel restrictions for fully vaccinated international travelers. The new land border procedures will be broken into two phases, both of which introduce vaccine mandates:
- Phase 1: The first phase will go into effect in "early November" and allows fully vaccinated travelers to enter the US for nonessential reasons. Unvaccinated travelers can only travel to the US for essential purposes in this phase.
- Phase 2: The second phase will begin in "early January" and will only allow travelers to cross the land border for both essential and nonessential reasons if they have been fully vaccinated. There will be no testing requirements in either phase.
"This phased approach will provide ample time for essential travelers such as truckers and others to get vaccinated, enabling a smooth transition to this new system," senior administration officials said. The current travel restrictions, which are set to end on October 21, will be extended until the new policy goes into effect. Currently, US land borders are only open to "essential travel" such as work and trade.
A bill approved by the House of Representatives would allow Americans flying home from an international destination to be screened just once without having to go through additional rescreening before continuing from their airport of entry to a connecting destination, reports Travel Weekly. The One-Stop Pilot Program Act (H.R. 4094) won House approval by a voice vote on September 29 and has now been received in the Senate, where it will be heard by the transportation committee. The bill would authorize the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), in coordination with Customs and Border Protection (CBP), to conduct the trial at up to six foreign airports. As a safeguard, participating airports would have to conduct their screenings using standards that are deemed by TSA to be comparable to US procedures. In addition, travelers arriving in the US would not be allowed to access their checked baggage until arriving at their final destinations.