U.S. airlines drop mask requirements: United, Delta and American are some of the airlines dropping mask requirements. Learn more.
The European Union will no longer require masks to be worn at airports and on planes starting May 16th.
The European Union Aviation Safety Agency said it hoped the joint decision, made with the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, would mark “a big step forward in the normalisation of air travel" for passengers and crews.
Individual airlines may still enforce mask measures if they are traveling between destinations where the rules are different.
Greece and Italy both recently lifted several COVID-19 restrictions.
Greece discarded the requirement to show proof of vaccination or recovery from COVID to enter indoor and outdoor spaces. The country also lifted nearly all COVID rules for domestic and international flights, though masks will be required for passengers.
Italy also eased restrictions, scrapping its passenger locator form and dropping its Green Pass requirement — which demonstrates proof of vaccination, recovery from COVID or a negative test result — for places such as restaurants and cinemas. The pass is still required for some settings, including hospitals.
Greece lifted its requirement that visitors fill out a passenger locator form in March.
Starting May 1, Thailand will no longer require visitors to get tested before coming or upon arrival, regardless of their vaccination status. Fully vaccinated travelers will be able to come into the country and travel freely without any quarantine restrictions or mandatory hotel stays. Rules will be slightly different for unvaccinated travelers.
Visitors who are not fully vaccinated and arrive without a negative COVID-19 test will be required to book a minimum 5-day stay in an approved hotel, quarantine, and get tested with a PCR test on day 5 of their trip. Unvaccinated travelers may skip quarantine and travel freely throughout Thailand if they arrive in the country with a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours of their trip.
All travelers to Thailand must register for a Thailand Pass online and obtain an insurance policy with a minimum coverage of $10,000.
United, Delta and American are some of the airlines dropping mask requirements. This is the first break from Covid-19 related requirements in the skies in nearly two years.
LEARN MORE and review the complete list of the US airlines dropping mask mandates.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced it was keeping its mask order in effect, and the Transportation Security Administration announced it was extending the mandate for an additional 15 days.
The CDC said it was extending the order, which was set to expire on April 18, until May 3 to allow more time to study the BA.2 omicron subvariant that is now responsible for the vast majority of cases in the U.S.
A fourth dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine seems to offer short-lived overall protection against infection, but protection against severe illness did not wane for at least several weeks, according to a new study.
The study looked at the health records of more than 1.25 million vaccinated people, 60 or older, from January through March 2022.
The rate of severe Covid-19 infection in the fourth week after a fourth dose of vaccine was lower than in people who got only three doses by a factor of 3.5. Protection against severe illness did not seem to wane in the six weeks after the fourth shot, though the study period wasn't long enough to determine exactly how long this protection lasts.
A new simplified framework allowing fully vaccinated travelers to enter Singapore quarantine-free will go into effect starting April 1. This framework replaces all existing vaccinated travel lanes (VTL) and unilateral opening arrangements.
All fully vaccinated travelers will be able to enter Singapore with just a pre-departure COVID-19 test.
All fully vaccinated travelers no longer need to apply for entry approvals or take designated VTL transport to enter Singapore quarantine-free.
All fully vaccinated travelers from any country or region will be able to enter Singapore without the need for quarantine, as long as they have not visited any countries or regions in the restricted category in the past seven days.
There are currently no countries or regions on the restricted category.
All remaining COVID travel restrictions have been lifted for passengers entering the UK. Unvaccinated arrivals no longer have to take tests or complete passenger locator forms. All have been scrapped. These rules were already lifted for vaccinated travelers.
It comes almost exactly two years after the first COVID lockdown measures were imposed in the UK. The government said contingency plans had been drawn up to respond to any future COVID variants.
Federal officials in the US are extending the requirement for masks on planes and public transportation through mid-April. The mask mandate was scheduled to expire March 18, but the Transportation Security Administration said Thursday it will extend the requirement through April 18.
The TSA said the extra month will give the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention time to develop new, more targeted policies that will consider the number of cases of COVID-19 nationally and in local communities, and the risk of new variants.
After considering the increased vaccination rates and concluding that strict travel measures no longer have a significant role when it comes to halting the spread of COVID-19, European Union and Schengen Area countries have decided to relax their entry rules.
While some EU countries decided to abolish COVID-19 measures altogether, others decided to impose less stringent rules.
Click here to find the entry rules that each EU/Schengen Area country currently applies.
The CDC offered new guidelines suggesting that 70% of Americans can now stop wearing masks and no longer need to social distance or avoid crowded indoor spaces.
The recommendations no longer rely only on the number of cases in a community to determine the need for COVID related restrictions. Instead, they direct counties to consider three measures to assess risk of the virus:
1) New COVID-related hospital admissions over the previous week
2) Percent of hospital beds occupied by COVID patients
3) New coronavirus cases per 100,000 people over the previous week
Based on these three factors counties can calculate whether the risk to their residents is low, medium or high and only areas of high risk should require everyone to wear a mask.
Australia has announced the reopening of its borders to vaccinated tourists and other visa holders for the first time in almost two years. The grand reopening begins on Feb 21 and comes with a few ground rules. Travelers entering the country must be fully vaccinated to avoid a two-week hotel quarantine and must test negative before arrival.
Unvaccinated travelers who have a medical reason for not being jabbed will still need to apply for a travel exemption and, if successful, will be required to quarantine at a hotel.
Austria is the first European country to enact a national Covid-19 vaccine mandate for adults.
Those without a vaccine certificate or an exemption could face initial fines of €600. Checks to monitor the new law begin March 15. Pregnant people, people who recently caught Covid-19 and those who cannot be vaccinated without endangering their health are exempt from the new law.
Several countries have introduced mandates for the elderly or medical staff, but this is the first nation in Europe to adopt such measures.
The Swedish government will lift most COVID restrictions next week. The move adds Sweden to the growing list of European nations, including Denmark and Norway, that are scrapping pandemic protocols even though new cases continue to soar in Europe.
Starting on Feb. 9, there will be no limit on how many people can gather at restaurants, sports stadiums, and other events. People will no longer be required to work from home. And travel restrictions on visitors from other Nordic countries will be relaxed.
61% of the world population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. 10+ billion doses have been administered globally and almost 25 million are now administered each day.
The Our World in Data project at the University of Oxford has compiled data tracking the number of people vaccinated by country. A vaccinated person refers to someone who has received at least one dose of a vaccine, and a fully vaccinated person has received all required doses of a vaccine.
Boris Johnson announced England's Plan B measures are to end next Thursday, with mandatory face coverings in public places and COVID passports both dropped.
The prime minister also said the government would immediately drop its advice for people to work from home.
The PM said England was reverting to "Plan A" due to boosters and how people had followed Plan B measures.
He said, this should not be seen as the "finish line" because the virus and future variants cannot be eradicated - instead "we must learn to live with COVID in the same way we live with flu".
He urged people to continue taking steps to keep the virus at bay, including hand washing, ventilating rooms and self-isolating if positive - and pressed those who were unvaccinated to come forward to get their jabs.
Check out our website for expanded information on governmental travel restrictions, health certifications and vaccine updates along with detailed airline, hotel and airport requirements.
Each report is updated regularly with information to keep you in the know and how best to prepare for your upcoming travel.
While the term Flurona is relatively new and rising in popularity, cases of flu and coronavirus co-infections are not. Flurona is not a distinct disease but refers to when a person has been infected with both viruses. Flurona instances have been detected in countries including the United States, Israel, Brazil, the Philippines and Hungary.
Fever, congestion, headache, change in taste or smell, cough, body aches, sore throat, runny nose, and fatigue are all symptoms commonly related to both viruses. Depending on the individual, infections can vary from mild to severe.
Israel approved a fourth vaccine dose for people most vulnerable to COVID-19, becoming one of the first countries to do so as it braces for a wave of infections fueled by the omicron variant.
Israel launched trials of the fourth dose earlier this week, administering it to some 150 medical personnel who had received a booster in August. Israel is also among the first countries to receive Pfizer’s Paxlovid, a pill that can be taken at home to ward off the most severe symptoms of the coronavirus. All the previously authorized drugs require an IV or injection.
Novavax's COVID vaccine has become the fifth vaccine authorized for use in the European Union.
Called Nuvaxovid, this new vaccine uses a more conventional technology than the other COVID 19 vaccines already in use, it is similar to the technology used in the decades-old hepatitis B and pertussis vaccines and does not need to be stored at ultra-low temperatures.
The jab is given as two injections three weeks apart.
On Tuesday Pfizer said final analysis of its antiviral Covid-19 pill still showed near 90% efficacy in preventing hospitalizations and deaths in high-risk patients, and recent lab data suggests the drug retains its effectiveness against the fast-spreading omicron variant of the coronavirus.
The U.S. drugmaker last month said the oral medicine was around 89% effective in preventing hospitalizations or deaths when compared to placebo based on interim results in around 1,200 people. The data disclosed on Tuesday includes an additional 1,000 people.
People looking for a booster shot of a Covid-19 vaccine probably don’t need to fret about what brand it is: Many combinations of shots are likely to provide strong protection, according to a large new study.
In a comparison of seven different vaccine brands, British researchers found that most of them prompted a strong immune response, with the mRNA shots from Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech eliciting the largest responses. The study was published on Thursday in The Lancet.
Scientists in South Africa have identified a new coronavirus variant prompting several countries to quickly limit travel from the region. The new variant is genetically distinct from previous variants including the beta and delta variants, but scientists do not know if these genetic changes make it any more transmissible or dangerous. So far, there is no indication the variant causes more severe disease.
The World Health Organization designated it as a “variant of concern,” naming it “omicron” after a letter in the Greek alphabet. A number of variants have emerged since the onset of the pandemic. One underlying concern about them is whether they will stymie the fight against the virus or limit the effectiveness of vaccines.
Travelers who have had a COVID19 booster shot in England can now prove their vaccination status using the NHS COVID Pass.
It enables quarantine-free travel to countries such as Israel, Croatia and Austria, which have a time limit for vaccination status to be valid.
Third doses are not being added to the domestic pass as they are not currently needed to qualify as fully vaccinated.
Japan plans to allow COVID-19 booster shots for anyone who has received two vaccination doses — a stark contrast to other countries offering them only to older people and those with pre-existing conditions.
Tokyo had initially considered giving booster shots only to front-line health workers and older people. But a health ministry panel decided that everyone who has had two shots will be eligible, given that research overseas has shown that vaccine efficacy declines to around 50% over a few months.
The world’s leaders are focusing on preventing future pandemics, but experts say rich nations are not doing enough to help the poor survive the current one.
While wealthy nations are offering people third vaccine doses and increasingly inoculating children, poor countries have administered an estimated four doses per 100 people, according to the World Health Organization.
The EU COVID-19 Vaccine Passport/Certificate is a one-piece document that can be issued to a traveller in both a paper and digital format.
Depending on the traveller’s status, there are three types of EU’s COVID-19 passport launched.
Those holding such a document are mainly eligible to travel throughout Europe without the need to quarantine or test for COVID-19. However, travellers must be aware that several Member States are imposing tighter restrictions on particular countries with a higher COVID-19 rate.
Canada is rolling out a national standard for vaccination credentials that will be required for domestic and international travel, unifying the country’s patchwork of proof-of-immunization programs, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Thursday.
The national proof of vaccination standard features a QR code and official logos from the federal government and the recipient’s province or territory. It will be available digitally and in hard copy.
In order to keep residents safe, many destinations currently require that travelers present proof of a COVID-19 vaccine or a negative test to enter. And while the United States has certain restrictions in place for international visitors, it has yet to implement any rules when it comes to domestic air travel.
A new bill aims to change that.
Today air travelers within the United States are not required to be vaccinated against covid-19. But depending on which airline you fly, there might be a mandate for employees.
While all major U.S. carriers are trying to get their workforces vaccinated, some are going further than others, with United being the first to mandate vaccinations, in August. Other airlines instead have been offering their employees incentives, mandating testing for the unvaccinated or tacking on an extra insurance charge.
READ MORE on what major U.S. airlines are requiring for employees
Beginning in November all adult foreign nationals traveling to the U.S. will be required to be fully vaccinated before boarding their flight. This is in addition to the current requirement that travelers show proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of departure to the U.S.
The CDC says the U.S. will accept full vaccination of travelers with any COVID-19 vaccine approved for emergency use by the World Health Organization, including those from Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson used in the U.S. Other vaccines are also approved by the WHO and used widely around the world, including from AstraZeneca and China's Sinovac, with varying degrees of effectiveness against COVID-19 and its more transmissible Delta variant. The WHO is reviewing Russia's Sputnik V vaccine but hasn't approved it.
Vaccines against COVID-19 are not reaching many people in the global south, despite donations from wealthy nations. Less than 1% of people in low-income countries are fully vaccinated, and just 10% are vaccinated in lower-middle-income countries, compared with more than half in high-income countries.
Drug companies and wealthy countries are facing increased pressure to partner with firms in the global south but are reluctant to relinquish control.
As the delta variant fuels a new wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, some hotels are now mandating guests show proof of their COVID19 health status.
These new—and growing—vaccination requirements from travel-related businesses add another layer of complexity to planning a trip. Travelers should bring their country’s official vaccination card or digital health pass and expect to show them in order to check in. Some hotels in Mexico, the US, Portugal and Austria are now requiring proof of vaccination to stay.
Beginning on September 4, the Netherlands says the United States will be designated a "high risk area," joining Israel, Kosovo, Lebanon, Montenegro and North Macedonia as fresh additions to this list, according to a government website.
While travelers from these and other high-risk countries will be allowed entry if fully vaccinated, they must still quarantine for 10 days. And as of September 6, they must also produce a negative COVID test.
The Hong Kong team behind celebrity humanoid robot Sophia is launching a new prototype, Grace, targeted at the healthcare market and designed to interact with the elderly and those isolated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Grace's resemblance to a healthcare professional and capacity for social interaction is aimed at relieving the burden of front-line hospital staff overwhelmed during the pandemic.
Singapore will pilot quarantine-free travel lanes for vaccinated passengers next month from Germany and Brunei and open up to visitors from Hong Kong and Macau in its first big move to lift border restrictions that have been in place since early in the pandemic.
In what are the highly anticipated first steps of the city’s reopening, travelers from Germany and Brunei can enter Singapore from Sept. 8 without the need to have a purpose for visiting and controlled itinerary or sponsor requirements, officials said during a press briefing in the city-state Thursday.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gave final approval to start administering Covid-19 booster shots to Pfizer and Moderna vaccine recipients after a key panel unanimously voted to endorse third doses for immunocompromised Americans.
The CDC’s decision and recommendation by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices followed the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of the booster shots for immunocompromised patients. With both agencies’ OK, booster doses could start being administered immediately.
Engineers at MIT and Harvard University have designed a novel face mask that can diagnose the wearer with Covid-19 within about 90 minutes. The masks are embedded with tiny, disposable sensors that can be fitted into other face masks and could also be adapted to detect other viruses. The sensor technology could also be used to create clothing that detects a variety of pathogens and other threats.
Japan’s Narita and Haneda airports started the full-scale use of facial recognition, allowing international travelers to check in baggage and pass security checkpoints without showing passports or flight tickets.
With the “Face Express” system aimed at speeding up the boarding process and providing a touchless experience for passengers, travelers need to have their photos taken at check-in when they register their passports and boarding passes upon arriving at the airports.
England will allow fully vaccinated visitors from the European Union and United States to arrive without need of quarantine starting August 2nd.
The new rule applies to England, and devolved administrations in Scotland and Wales said they would follow suit. The UK government said international cruise sailings could also restart from England.
While our suitcases have been gathering dust over the past 16 months, the travel industry has been rapidly adapting to cope with the demands of the new Covid era.
This means that if you're making your first flight for a while, things may be very different from what you've previously been used to.
It's no longer just about packing your power adapter and making sure your shampoo is in little bottles. We've put together this Covid Travel Checklist with everything you now need to think about before you set off.
With vaccinations on the rise and mortality rates related to Covid-19 going down in Europe and other parts of the world, many people are making plans to travel this summer and beyond. But experts say the quickly circulating Delta variant can be a concern, particularly for unvaccinated travelers.
If you’re wondering how the variant will affect your travel plans, here are some things you should know before booking a flight.
Taiwanese tourists can now take part in the Air Visit & Vacation (nicknamed V&V) program organized by the Guam Visitors Bureau. The program enables eligible visitors from Taiwan ages 12 and up to travel to Guam and get their first shot as soon as one day after arriving.
In order to participate, travelers must book their flights and reserve rooms at one of 11 designated hotels, then arrange private transport from the airport to the hotel and book their vaccination appointment online. The vaccines are administered on-site at the hotels.
Qatar Airways announced it will be operating Honeywell’s Ultraviolet (UV) Cabin System version 2.0, further advancing its hygiene measures on board.
The latest version of the Honeywell UV Cabin System, owned and operated by Qatar Aviation Services (QAS), has been introduced to add flexibility, improve reliability, mobility and ease of use compared to its predecessor, with extended UV wings that treat both narrow and wide areas on board, reducing the overall disinfection time.
The new version also includes a hand wand that disinfects areas like the cockpit and other smaller spaces and is non-motorized leading to less battery consumption.
New rules on the use of face masks in Spain will come into effect on Saturday, June 26. As of this date, the covering will not have to be worn outdoors if a distance of 1.5 meters can be observed. It will, however, be mandatory to carry a face mask at all times so that it can be put on in situations where social distancing cannot be maintained.
These were some of the details shared on Wednesday by Health Minister Carolina Darias following a meeting of the Inter-Territorial Council of the National Health System, which brings together central and regional health officials.
The European Union is introducing the EU Digital COVID Certificate to facilitate the safe free movement of EU citizens within the EU during the pandemic. EU Member States have already started issuing and using the certificate, although it officially launches on July 1, 2021.
It’s up to national authorities to issue the certificates to their citizens and residents, including foreign nationals. The certificates will share a common design across all EU member states. They could be issued by health authorities, through eHealth portals or by testing centers.
The digital version can be stored on a mobile device, although a paper version will also be available.
The EU Digital COVID Certificate may be issued to all EU citizens and their family members, and to non-EU nationals legally living in a Member State and who have the right to travel to other Member States.
BCD Travel is committed to making sure travelers have easy access to the information they need to travel confidently. And to deliver on that commitment we've recently added a Document Vault to TripSource®, our award winning traveler engagement mobile app. With the new Document Vault, travelers can easily take photos and upload airline attestations, vaccine cards, test results, travel insurance details and more. All the documents they may need along the way –all in one place.
When travelers log into TripSource and swipe left from the home screen, they can select 'See all documents,' view them individually, and add new documents via their files, camera or photo gallery. It's that simple!
TripSource simplifies business travel and keeps travelers organized, informed and within company guidelines.
Available for iPhone, Android and at tripsource.com.
Africa will be the priority for the 870 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine pledged by the G7 countries said a senior World Health Organization on Monday.
"You will see that Africa is one of the most vulnerable, under-served (areas), so the priority would be for doses to go... to the African continent writ large. Those numbers will be sorted out the coming weeks," Bruce Aylward, a senior WHO adviser and coordinator of the ACT (Access to COVID-19 Tools) Accelerator, told an online news briefing from Geneva.
Researchers are investigating whether so-called supertasters might have an edge against severe infections.
Henry Barham, a rhinologist at the Baton Rouge General Medical Center, in Louisiana, published a study in the medical journal JAMA Network Open that analyzed nearly 2,000 patients and found that “supertasters”—individuals who are overly sensitive to some bitter compounds—were less likely to test positive for the virus. If this association holds true, it implies, for example, that people who don’t find broccoli too bitter are in a higher risk group for severe COVID-19.
While some retailers and pharmacies have been directly involved in the rollout of coronavirus vaccinations more surprising are the number of companies offering help despite having little to do with health care.
Microsoft is opening its office campus as a vaccination center as part of their partnership with the State of Washington. Google Cloud built a dashboard solution that provides counties and tribes across Arizona with a consistent approach to managing and monitoring the vaccine administration process. And Amazon set up on-site vaccination clinics.
And it's not just the tech giants. Starbucks is assigning workers from its operations and analytics departments to help design vaccination sites, donating the labor while continuing to pay employees. McDonalds' "We can do this" campaign is designed to promote COVID-19 vaccine confidence, encourage prevention and support community efforts. Shake Shake's Stand for something good campaign has teamed up with the NYC mayor's office. And Krispy Kreme and White Castle are offering food promos to help incentivize vaccination efforts.
These are just a few, hundreds of businesses, big and small, are taking an active role to support the national vaccination effort. The pursuit of doing good is alive and well.
Delta Airlines' mandate that all new hires in the U.S. be vaccinated, unless they qualify for an accommodation, officially went into effect on May 17th. With some 91,000 full-time workers, the Atlanta-headquartered airliner became the largest U.S. employer to date that has announced a vaccine mandate for new employees.
The company said it will not be putting in place a company-wide requirement that current employees be vaccinated, but noted that more than 60% of its employees have already been vaccinated.
People fully vaccinated against Covid-19 no longer need to wear masks or practice social distancing indoors or outdoors, except under certain circumstances, the director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Thursday, May 12th.
"If you are fully vaccinated, you can start doing the things that you had stopped doing because of the pandemic," Dr. Rochelle Walensky said during a White House Covid-19 briefing. "We have all longed for this moment when we can get back to some sense of normalcy."
With less than a week before international leisure travel from England is planned to resume, the government has assured vaccinated travelers they will have certificates to prove their status by Monday 17 May.
From 17 May, English residents across the UK can already use the NHS app to refill prescriptions, arrange appointments to see their doctor and view their medical records. Now the app is being adapted to include vaccine verification.
BCD Travel has partnered with Parkway Shenton Medical Group and Raffles Medical Group for travellers requiring PCR testing prior to departing Singapore.
Shenton Medical Group offers a corporate rate of S$161.50 per test. Simply book an appointment at any of these clinics, present your BCD Travel travel receipt and receive test results within 24 hours.
Raffles Medical Group offers a corporate rate of S$152.10 per test. Test results will be emailed within 36 hours, excluding weekends and public holidays. Just book an appointment online and indicate BCDTRA in the remarks box.
Now travellers have even more options to get ready for their upcoming trip.
Face masks are now a normal part of our daily routine. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 89 million medical masks will be needed for every month of this year. And while wearing a mask helps stem the risk of infection, it's creating a secondary problem: an enormous amount of plastic pollution, already one of the biggest environmental issues facing our society.
Learn how researchers are addressing this problem with new biodegradable, moisture‐resistant, highly breathable, and high‐performance fibrous mask filters.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced an agreement with Eurofins to incorporate its worldwide COVID-19 testing network into IATA Travel Pass. Eurofins is a leader in bio-analytical testing with 800 laboratories across 50 countries. As part of the partnership, Eurofins’ dedicated COVID-19 portfolio encompassing multiple test types and hundreds of COVID-19 sampling stations globally will be made available through the IATA Travel Pass.
READ MORE ..
Airports are notorious for being germ incubators and during a pandemic, this risk rises. As people become vaccinated, widespread travel will become feasible again. But medical experts say there are ways to mitigate the risks while traveling while waiting for the country to reach herd immunity through widespread vaccination.
Although the availability of direct flights is improving, many travelers – especially those who live outside of major cities – have needed to book connecting flights to reach their final destinations during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Flight layovers are a particularly vulnerable time but it is also a time when you can enact a lot personal safety measures to reduce your risk of contracting disease,” says Dr. Alaina Brinley Rajagopal, a Southern California-based emergency medicine physician, virologist and host of the "Emergency Docs" podcast.
To support travelers getting back on the road, BCD Travel India has partnered with Metropolis Healthcare Limited for pre-departure real-time RT-PCR testing.
Simply call a BCD travel agent to make an appointment for either a lab or home visit. Test results will be emailed within 48 hours, excluding weekends and public holidays. A service fee of INR 350 plus GST applies for each test.
Tests are available in the following cities: Mumbai, Pune, Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, Cochin, Guwahati and Bangalore, with more cities being added progressively.
A pilot project using sniffer dogs to provide instant and pain-free coronavirus testing at Helsinki airport has shown promising early results and proven popular with travellers.
Preliminary experiments in the first major wave of infections earlier in the year suggested the dogs can detect the virus with close to 100 percent accuracy, up to five days earlier than a PCR test.
Feedback from arriving passengers, who take the free-of-charge test voluntarily, "has been exceptionally positive," project manager Soile Turunen said.
Around 100 travellers a day have been queuing up for the test, which involves wiping a swab onto the skin which is then put in front of the dog, who will quickly pass over a negative sample but will be attracted to a positive one.
Although sniffer dog trials have been undertaken elsewhere, such as in the UAE, France, Russia and Chile, use of canine scent-detectors to bolster coronavirus testing has not yet been widely adopted by authorities, in part because of a lack of peer-reviewed literature, some researchers believe.
Dog handling charities have previously worked with dogs to detect cancers, Parkinson's disease and bacterial infections using samples taken from humans.
Delta Air Lines announced it has joined Lyft’s nationwide program to provide rides to vaccination sites for those in need.
The carrier revealed it would award a one-time bonus of 250 miles to the first 15,000 Delta SkyMiles Members who make a ride donation of $5 or more via their linked Lyft profile, through May 31.
Two digital health pass platforms are getting new trials this week, as JetBlue has begun using the CommonPass platform on flights to Aruba and Singapore Airlines kicks off a trial program with Travel Pass.
British Airways will begin using mobile health passport tool VeriFly on flights from London to the United States starting Feb 3rd.
Travelers on British Airways flights from London can provide digital health documents, including negative Covid-19 test results, to the app and verify that they meet all entry requirements to the United States. Currently, the carrier is operating service to New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Miami, Houston, Seattle and Washington, D.C.
The TSA has sped up technology deployments since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic as it moves to reduce literal touch points at airport screening stations. The technology deployments have centered around 3-D screening systems and automated ID authentication. The former diminishes the likelihood that passenger carry-on bags will have to be manually checked, the agency said, which in turn reduces interactions between agents and flyers. The latter can reduce touch points between flyers and agents at the document check stand.
The 3-D screening systems, known formally as computerized axial tomography (CT) scanners, were first tested by TSA in summer 2017. Between then and the beginning of the pandemic in March, the agency had deployed 98 CT systems at 29 airports, TSA spokesman Carter Langston said. As of Dec. 7, deployments had surged to 267 systems in 130 airports.
Delta customers with essential travel needs can now fly from Atlanta to Amsterdam without having to quarantine after arrival, and with the knowledge that their fellow passengers and crew are COVID-19 negative after undergoing pre-flight testing protocols.
Beginning this month, American will offer customers a mobile app trial to streamline travel requirements due to COVID-19 restrictions.
The trial will launch for flights from American’s hub in Miami (MIA) to Jamaica.
American Airlines will begin offering customers a mobile app to make travel to international destinations easier. The mobile wellness wallet solution called VeriFLY, from the identity assurance leader Daon, will help travelers easily understand coronavirus (COVID-19) testing and documentation requirements for their destination and streamline airport check-in through a digital verification to ensure that customers have completed the requirements.
“Piloting this new solution is a direct response to our customers’ increasing desire to explore more international travel opportunities,” said Robert Isom, President of American Airlines. “The app will help us deliver a more seamless travel experience as we support demand return and put customers’ minds at ease that they are fully prepared for their trip.”
American is partnering with Daon to launch the VeriFLY mobile wellness wallet solution to help make testing verification more convenient. Customers traveling to Montego Bay (MBJ) and Kingston (KIN), Jamaica, from or connecting through Miami (MIA) will have the opportunity to test the new solution at no cost by creating a secure profile and confirming details for their trip beginning Nov. 18.
Hotels, and even some cruise ships, are installing state-of-the-art filtration systems that claim to tackle the coronavirus where it is believed to be the most dangerous: in the air.
When the coronavirus first hit, hotels quickly adopted enhanced cleaning polices, including germ-killing electrostatic spraying and ultraviolet light exposure in guest rooms and public areas.
But as research on virus spread has shifted focus from surface contact to airborne transmission, some hotels and cruise ships are scrubbing the very air travelers breathe with a variety of air filtration and treatment systems.
During 2018 and 2019, we published a series of reports and updates on the potential impact on business travel of the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union (EU), an event commonly referred to as Brexit.
This document provides a round-up of the latest situation, drawing largely on the most recent information and advice from the Government of the United Kingdom (U.K.).
Viking Star will offer daily PCR testing to all passengers and crew via the first floating laboratory of its kind at sea. Once considered the petri-dish of the pre-pandemic era, cruise ships, and the cruise industry in general, have been making serious strides towards a better, cleaner future. This week, those strides come to us from luxury cruise line Viking, who says they have just completed the first of its kind PCR laboratory at sea.
Capable of testing all guests and crew aboard their 930-passenger vessel Viking Star, the lab, and subsequent PCR testing, will consist of a non-invasive saliva sample, according to a statement released by Viking.
“We have been working on this for a number of months, and today is important as it moves us one step closer to operating cruises again, without compromising the safety of our guests and crew,” Matt Grimes, Vice President of Maritime Operations for Viking said in a statement this week.
The newly built lab aboard Viking Star has enough capacity for daily testing of every crew member and guest in the hopes of providing the “flexibility needed to respond to COVID-19 prevalence levels around the world.” The ship, which calls on ports all over the world, is slated for a 136-day Viking World Cruise in 2021.
News of Viking’s floating lab directly follows Friday’s announcement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who lifted its “no sail” order on U.S. cruise ships along with a slew of new health and safety protocols and quarantine measures once cruising resumes in the indeterminate future.
“The recently announced CDC guidelines are clearly aligned with our public health research, and we welcome the agency’s push toward testing, as we believe this is the only way to safely operate,” Grimes said. “In our view, continuous PCR testing, along with our extensive onboard hygiene protocols, will lead to making Viking ships a safe place to get away to and explore the world.”
Concurrent with the news of the PCR lab, Viking said their ships will also be undergoing a series of “extensive tests to ensure the procedures and protocols that have been designed are fully effective.” A demonstration of the new PCR lab, as well as the new design and operating procedures, will be made available once the Viking Star arrives in Oslo, Norway in mid-November, Viking said.
If there’s one thing we know for sure, it’s that the protocols and cleaning standards aboard cruise ships will and must be better in a post-COVID world. Viking is the first to take this step towards ensuring a safer passage. It’s only a matter of time before other’s start to do the same.
Singapore and Hong Kong have reached an in-principle agreement to set up a two-way air travel bubble, which will allow for travel between the two destinations without the need for quarantine or a controlled itinerary.
Under the travel bubble, there will be no restrictions on travel purpose. However, travelers will be subject to mutually recognized Covid-19 tests and will need to have negative test results, said the Ministry of Transport (MOT) in a press release on Thursday. Those travelling under the bubble will also be required to travel on dedicated flights, it added.
The air travel bubble can be scaled by adjusting the number of dedicated flights upwards or downwards, or even suspended, in line with the latest developments and Covid-19 situation in the two cities, said MOT.
Transport minister Ong Ye Kung said in the release: “Both our cities have low incidence of Covid-19 cases and have put in place robust mechanisms to manage and control Covid-19. This has given us the confidence to mutually and progressively open our borders to each other. It is significant that our two regional aviation hubs have decided to collaborate to establish an air travel bubble.
“It is a safe, careful but significant step forward to revive air travel, and provide a model for future collaboration with other parts of the world.”
According to the MOT, Singapore and Hong Kong will flesh out the full details of the air travel bubble “in the coming weeks”, with its launch date and other implementation details to be announced in due course.
Conrad Clifford, IATA’s regional vice president for Asia Pacific, welcomed the announcement of the Hong Kong-Singapore air travel bubble.
“Replacing quarantine measures with Covid-19 testing will help in reopening borders, restoring the connectivity that jobs and economic activity depends on, and gives passengers greater confidence to travel. In a recent 11-market survey of travelers commissioned by IATA, 83 per cent of respondents indicated that they will not travel if there is a chance of being quarantined at their destination,” he said.
Clifford also urged other governments in Asia to take a similar approach to replace quarantine with Covid-19 testing as part of their efforts to reopen their borders and start restoring their economies.
If your Thanksgiving trip includes a flight, you might be conflicted: Is sitting elbow-to-elbow with strangers in an aircraft safe during the pandemic?
It's hard not to feel conflicted about holiday flights. Airlines are offering travel deals this season, and many of us have not seen extended family members much, if at all, this year. The latest scientific evidence offers both the reassurance that flying is relatively safe as well as warnings about what can still go wrong.
First, the reassurance
A Harvard University study released Tuesday used computer models to review airflow in airliner cabins, and it says the specialized onboard ventilation systems filter out 99% of airborne viruses. It was funded by airlines, airplane manufacturers and airports, but the Harvard researchers insist this did not impact their findings.
Researchers at the university's T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that even though air is recirculated back into the cabin, it goes through high-quality filters first. And virus droplets from one passenger are unlikely to infect another because of a "downward direction" of airflow, they said.
"This ventilation effectively counters the proximity travelers are subject to during flights," their report says.
The ventilation system, however, is not effective alone. Harvard's researchers described masks as a critical part of keeping travelers healthy and credited the role of disinfection and passengers' self-screening for Covid-19 symptoms. The "layered approach, with ventilation gate-to-gate, reduces the risk of SARS-CoV-2 transmission onboard aircraft below that of other routine activities during the pandemic, such as grocery shopping or eating out," the study said.
The Harvard computer modeling was in line with another recent study by the Defense Department that used mannequins outfitted with surgical masks and particle detection equipment on Boeing 767 and 777 jets. It found little risk of transmission thanks to the masks and efficient air ventilation.
What can go wrong
On the other hand, a study released by Irish researchers shows what can go wrong onboard, even when precautions are taken.
Through contract tracing, public health officials in Dublin and other cities linked 13 cases to a single passenger on a seven-hour international flight this summer. Fewer than one in five seats were filled. None of the travelers were known to not wear a mask on the flight.
So how did that spread?
"Exposure possibilities for flight cases include inflight, during overnight transfer/pre-flight or unknown acquisition before the flight," the researchers wrote. One traveler could have picked up the virus from a family member. Two others spent multi-hour layovers in airport lounges.
But for others, "in-flight transmission was the only common exposure," they concluded, noting that "four of the flight cases were not seated next to any other positive case, had no contact in the transit lounge, wore face masks in-flight and would not be deemed close contacts."
Laboratories linked the cases as being from the same strain.
The Irish researchers recommended authorities improve contact tracing, and Harvard's scientists encouraged people to minimize mask removal -- such as when eating or drinking -- in flight.
Harvard's researchers are already turning their attention to other parts of the travel experience when people congregate without the aircraft ventilation system, such as in airport lounges and security lines.
On October 13, 2020, the EU Council approved proposals for coordinating measures restricting free movement in the EU relating to COVID-19. This will result in common criteria governing travel across the EU during the pandemic, ensuring freedom of movement for EU citizens, increase transparency and avoiding fragmentation and disruption of travel services. Rather than unilaterally closing borders, member states will now work together in a coordinated approach.
The Common Approach will include:
A single set of criteria to assess the COVID-19 infection risk in each country and region.
Notification rate - number of tests per 100,000 population over 14 days.
Test positivity rate - percentage of positive tests over past 7 days.
Testing rate - number of new cases per 100,000 population in the last 14 days
Member states must provide data to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.
Common color mapping of risk areas in the EU territory (including Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway):
Green (safe to travel to) – notification rate less than 25, test positivity rate less than 4%
Orange – notification rate less than 50 but test positivity rate 4% or more, or, if notification rate is in the 25-150 range but test positivity rate is less than 4%
Red (high risk) – notification rate is 50 or more and test positivity rate is 4% or more, or if the notification rate is above 150
Grey – countries with insufficient information or if the testing rate is 300 or less
All 27 EU member states are obliged to comply with the new approach and permit entry for all travelers from other EU countries without discrimination. Travelers from green areas will face no restrictions; those from orange and red areas could be required to undergo quarantine/self-isolation, or COVID-19 testing prior to or on arrival. It is up to individual member states to decide on the restrictions applied to travelers arriving from orange, red or grey countries.
Information on which member states apply which measures can be found in the Re-open EU website.
As travel begins to resume it’s clear preparing for a trip will be much more complicated than checking if you packed your phone charger and updated your out of office message. Health screening measures are becoming more and more important as travelers get back on the road. In some cases you can't fly without presenting negative COVID-19 test documentation.
Whether or not you need a coronavirus test to fly will depend largely on your origin and destination. But one thing is clear - verify the name on your COVID-19 test or lab results matches exactly to the name used on your travel documents. Some airlines may deny boarding if the names are not identical.
Requirements are constantly changing. Make sure all your documentation is in order so you can get to where you're going.
It’s more important than ever to make sure you understand the requirements and regulations for your destination. Both for entry and exit. And any stops in between. Be prepared. There are many reliable resources for you to gather information for your upcoming trip. This information changes frequently. Stay informed of any new restrictions that may impact your trip.
Several protective face masks as most carriers and local municipalities require both the nose and mouth to be covered in public locations. Local laws differ so be prepared with extra masks to cover your entire stay.
Verify the name used on your COVID-19 test/lab results matches exactly to the name used on your travel documents.
Your company’s emergency and medical assistance information easily available.
Confirm any COVID-19 related protocol with the onsite management of any office or location you will visit to ensure your safety and that you are prepared for any local requirements.
Consider bringing your health insurance information, vaccination records and blood type.
A pair of slippers or disposable shoes for your hotel stay.
A small packet of laundry powder.
Non perishable food items.
Time for some good news. High-tech filtration and low-tech masks are making flying safer. On many passenger planes, about 40 percent of a cabin’s air gets filtered through a HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) system; the remaining 60 percent is fresh and piped in from outside the plane. “Cabin air is completely changed every three minutes, on average, while the aircraft is cruising,” says Dr. Bjoern Becker of Lufthansa. And of course wearing masks may also help mitigate the chance that passengers will get infected (or infect other travelers) along with the use of highly effective HEPA air filters in place on most commercial planes.
(This article is shared as information only and should not be considered as medical or legal advice.)
Hong Kong International Airport is providing a glimpse into what international airport procedures might look like once travel resumes. The airport claims it's the first in the world to trial a live operation of CLeanTech, a full-body disinfection booth. The process requires the individual complete a temperature check before entering a small booth for a 40-second disinfection and sanitizing procedure. According to the airport authority, the inside of the facility contains an antimicrobial coating that can remotely kill any viruses and/or bacteria found on clothing, as well as the body, by using photocatalyst advances along with "nano needles." The individual is also sprinkled with sanitizing spray for "instant disinfection" inside the booth, which is kept under negative pressure, an isolation technique used in hospitals and medical centers, to prevent cross-contamination. This system aims to disinfect a person's clothes and skin externally and may not be effective when it comes to detecting those already infected with COVID-19 who may not be displaying symptoms.
Today CLeanTech is only being used on staff who undertake public health and quarantine duties for passenger arrivals.
Along with CLeanTech, the airport authority is testing an antimicrobial coating designed to destroy all germs, bacteria and viruses. It is being applied at all passenger facilities at the airport including handles and seats, smart check-in kiosks and check-in counters, baggage trolleys and elevator buttons.
It's unlikely to catch the coronavirus from a discarded mask, but unfortunately disposable PPE does pose a risk to the environment. As more people wear masks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, more tons of improperly discarded masks and PPE become litter around the world.
Regrettably single-use masks are not easily recycled due to health implications and because they're made up of multiple materials. But there may be recyclable options in the not so distant future. A few companies are looking at new technologies to find ways of reuse.
Since mid-July a firm in France, has been recycling thousands of masks and turning the waste into plastics. Masks are collected and “quarantined”, then ground into small pieces and subjected to ultraviolet light to ensure they are completely decontaminated before the recycling process begins. After the decontamination process they are again ground and mixed with a binding agent and turned into a material which can be molded like normal plastic. Interestingly, the new plastic is turned into products used in the fight against Covid, like plastic visors.
Another innovative approach is happening in Las Vegas. The Venetian hotel has partnered with a company that specializes in recycling materials not accepted in traditional curbside recycling programs. Single use masks are provided to all guests and workers resulting in hundreds of pounds of new trash destined for the landfill. Now special collection boxes are placed throughout the resort for easy and safe dispose of used masks. Once collected, the company shreds the masks and PPE into a crumb-like material which is used to form products such as shipping pallets, composite decking and composite lumber.
It's important to keep our current public health crisis from adding to the plastic pollution crisis. Make sure to dispose of your mask properly and securely in a trash bin and look for recyclable options as you travel and when you return home. #staysafe #stayhealthy
The travel industry is looking to harness ultraviolet C (UV-C) light, known to damage a virus’s DNA and RNA, to fight the spread of coronavirus.
Pittsburgh International Airport was already working with local startup Carnegie Robotics to test out autonomous cleaning robots that use water pressure and chemical disinfectant before the pandemic. After the virus hit, the company offered to install a UV-C component.
The four robots look like miniature Zambonis and are named for flying heroes— Amelia Orville, Wilbur, and Rose. The bots roam for eight to 10 hours a day before needing to recharge. The light, which is bright enough to damage eyes, is carefully encased to only hit the floor. The trial may be expanded to additional robots focused on cleaning the air train that moves between terminals and handrails.
Cleaning bots that use more traditional, Roomba-like techniques are on the job at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport. The Neo is made by Canada’s AvidBots and uses 3D technology and lasers to map its routes and divert around kiosks, food carts, or stray children.
COVID-19 affects different people in different ways. Infected people may have had a wide range of symptoms from mild to severe illness. Be aware of any changes in your health and call your medical provider for symptoms that are concerning to you.
You may also choose to self-quarantine yourself away from your family or anyone you share your home with for their protection.
Check your company regarding any return to work policies that may be in effect.
Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:
Fever or chills
Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
Muscle or body aches
New loss of taste or smell
Congestion or runny nose
Nausea or vomiting
Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
Inability to wake or stay awake
Bluish lips or face
Practice social distancing. Adjustments leading up to the security checkpoint include, increasing the distance between individuals as they enter the security checkpoint, placing visual reminders of appropriate spacing on checkpoint floors and staggering the use of lanes where feasible. No two airports are alike, so this could look a little different at each airport.
Keep possession of boarding passes. Instead of handing your boarding pass to security officers, expect to place your boarding pass (paper or electronic) on the boarding pass reader yourself.
Separate food for X-ray screening. You will likely need to place carry-on food items into a clear plastic bag and place that bag into a bin.
Put items in your own bag. When removing belts, wallets, keys and phones, put them directly into your carry-on bag instead of into the bins to reduce touch-points during the screening process.
Use facial protection. Security officers at checkpoints are now using facial protection and wearing gloves. You should too. Requirements will vary, but it can’t hurt to be prepared.
New procedures. Routine cleaning and disinfecting of frequently touched surfaces in the screening checkpoint area. Plastic shielding has also been installed at many travel document checking podiums, bag search and drop off locations.
It’s important to share your experience with others. You can help others navigate the new travel landscape based on your experience. Common understanding of expectations will help everyone feel safer and more informed when traveling.
Get in touch with your travel team and let them know about your experience. What was helpful and what is needed. The more information they have the better.
Evaluate your suppliers so others can benefit from your experiences. If someone is doing something more innovative or better let them know. Take those quick surveys. It’s only a few minutes of your time and can really make a difference. Feedback has never been more important.
Let your colleagues know how things went as well. Everyone is curious. If you have a company blog or social media site, use it. Your insights are probably more helpful than you know. Something simple may be a big deal. Is there a particularly good place that delivers food? Where’s the easiest place to get a mask in the airport? How do you eat on the plane? Crowd sourced information is one of the best ways to get to real time info from people you trust.