The Southeast Asian country is keen to welcome back international travelers, including Globe Aware volunteers, after nearly 18 months of strict entry policies. Reducing the quarantine and adding tests would also be required and those without vaccination proof would be isolated for 10 days if arriving by air.
Covid Travel Update: Thailand Keen to Reduce Quarantine Period For International Travellers
Thailand is keen to welcome back foreign visitors, after nearly 18 months of strict entry policies, due to Covid-19, that caused a collapse in tourism.
September 24, 2021
International Travel News: Here is a piece of great news for international travellers! As countries have started to open their borders for foreign visitors, Thailand’s disease control committee has recently proposed halving of a two-week hotel isolation requirement for vaccinated arrivals, amid delays in plans to waive quarantine and reopen Bangkok and tourist destinations from next month.Also Read - UK Further Relaxes Travel Guidelines, Allows Cheaper COVID Tests For Fully Vaccinated Tourists Including From India
The Southeast Asian country is keen to welcome back international travellers, after nearly 18 months of strict entry policies caused a collapse in tourism, a key sector that drew 40 million visitors in 2019. Also Read - International Flights: US to Allow Fully Vaccinated Foreign Passengers From THIS Date
“Reducing the quarantine is not only about tourism, but will help business travel and foreign students,” senior health official Opas Karnkawinpong told a news conference, adding tests would also be required. Also Read - 2021 Covid Outbreak in Delhi Shows Herd Immunity Against Delta Variant Difficult: Study
Under the proposal, to be presented to government on Monday, those without vaccination proof would be isolated for 10 days if arriving by air, and 14 days if by land.
Only Phuket and Samui islands currently waive quarantine for vaccinated tourists, as part of a pilot scheme, according to Reuters report.
Less than a quarter of the estimated 72 million people living in Thailand have been fully inoculated.
Thailand, one of the most preferred tourist destinations in the world, is still fighting its most severe wave of coronavirus infections, which has accounted for about 99% of its 1.5 million cases and 15,884 deaths.
Globe Aware volunteers can soon start planning their volunteer vacations in India and Vietnam. India will begin granting tourist visas for the first time in 18 months and Vietnam plans to reopen tourist destinations from December to vaccinated visitors from countries deemed "low risk."
Travel news: India, Bali and Vietnam announce opening plans
October 9, 2021
(CNN) — This was a pretty good week for the world's wannabe jetsetters. The UK and Israel both cleared out their travel "red lists," while India, Bali and Vietnam all announced reopening plans.
Here are 10 things we learned in pandemic travel this week.
1. The UK cut its 'red list' to just seven countries...
The UK introduced a new system for international travel, relaxing testing requirements for many fully vaccinated travelers and designating destinations either "red" or "green."
From October 11, England is set to remove 47 countries from its red list, leaving only seven red destinations: Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Haiti, Panama, Peru and Venezuela.
The rules vary in the rest of the UK (that's Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.) Here's the CNN Travel lowdown on what travelers need to know.
2. ...But there was anger over its quarantine rules
There were accusations of discrimination at the start of October when the UK relaxed its inbound travel rules but fully vaccinated visitors from India and many African countries still faced mandatory quarantine in the UK.
The UK has now changed its restrictions so that from October 11, vaccine certificates will be accepted from close to 40 countries that were previously ineligible, including India, Brazil, Chile, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Ghana and Kenya.
The UK's recognized vaccines are Oxford/AstraZeneca, Pfizer BioNTech, Moderna and Janssen (Johnson & Johnson), or formulations of these.
3. The CDC lowered the risk category for France, Portugal and South Africa
There was good news for Argentina, France, Iceland, Lesotho, Morocco, Nepal, Portugal and South Africa, and for Americans keen to travel there.
All eight were moved from Level 4 -- the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)'s highest risk category -- down to Level 3 (which is still "High," FYI). This means the US travel advisory is to be fully vaccinated before traveling there, and to avoid nonessential travel if you're unvaccinated.
Meanwhile, six destinations have moved from Level 3 to Level 4 ("Very High") which means nonessential travel should be avoided by US citizens.
Those destinations are Armenia, Austria, Barbados, Croatia, Latvia and New Caledonia.
4. India will start letting tourists in this month...
India will begin granting tourist visas for foreign visitors for the first time in 18 months, the country's government announced Thursday.
Tourists arriving by chartered flight will be able to do so from October 15, according to a press release from India's Ministry of Home Affairs. Other arrivals will be permitted from November 15, it said.
5. ...And Bali will gradually reopen too
The Indonesian island of Bali will reopen its airport to international arrivals on October 14, officials have announced.
Bali Ngurah Rai Airport in Denpasar will begin welcoming arrivals from a select number of countries, according to Luhut Binsar Panjaitan, Indonesia's minister of maritime affairs and investment.
However, he didn't clarify whether foreign tourists would be permitted. Here's what we know so far.
6. Vietnam plans to fully reopen by June 2022
Vietnam plans to reopen key tourist destinations from December to vaccinated visitors from countries deemed "low risk," Reuters reports, ahead of a full reopening targeted for June 2022.
The country announced in September that it would reopen the popular resort island of Phu Quoc to vaccinated foreign tourists this month, but that reopening has been postponed until November.
Vietnam still has a way to go when it comes it vaccinating its population: Just over 13% are fully vaccinated, making it one of the lowest rates in Asia.
7. Soon New Zealand will only let foreign nationals enter if they're vaccinated
New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announces the country is moving from eliminating Covid-19, amid a persistent outbreak of the Delta variant, and will instead transition to a strategy of 'living with the virus.'
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced in press conferences this week that the country is transitioning away from its Covid-19 elimination strategy and will start using vaccine certificates as early as next month.
From November 1, all foreign nationals entering New Zealand will need to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19.
Air New Zealand, the country's flag carrier airline, has also announced that passengers on its international flights will need to be fully vaccinated from February 2022. Get the full details in our Covid travel guide to New Zealand.
8. Canada has issued a vaccine mandate for trains and planes
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced a nationwide Covid-19 vaccine mandate for rail and air travelers aged 12 and over, as well as for staff.
The mandate will start to be enforced by the end of October, with a short month-long grace period in which negative Covid-19 tests will be accepted. (More details here).
Over in South Asia, from the start of this month Pakistan has been requiring all air passengers aged 17 and over to be fully vaccinated.
9. Israel now lets its citizens travel anywhere
Venturing into the fairy chimneys begins a journey of discovery in this unusual place.
Israel has emptied out its "red" travel list, meaning Israeli citizens and residents can now travel anywhere in the world.
Until October 4, Israelis were still barred from traveling to Turkey, Bulgaria and Brazil because of high Covid rates.
Under current guidelines, travelers returning to Israel who have been vaccinated three times, or twice within the past six months, are only required to quarantine for 24 hours, or upon receipt of a negative PCR test -- whichever comes sooner.
Unvaccinated individuals or those whose second dose was more than six months ago are still required to quarantine for a full week or receive two negative PCR tests.
The Israel Ministry of Tourism has also announced that it's working on plans to allow individual vaccinated tourists to visit the country from November. Currently it's only open to small groups of tourists or individuals visiting family members.
10. The airline industry is set to lose nearly $52 billion in 2021
Airlines will lose $51.8 billion in 2021, more than previously forecast, according to an updated outlook from the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
Net losses for 2020 were also revised higher, to $137.7 billion. More woes are expected next year too -- a $11.6 billion dollar loss is projected. The group expects the industry to return to profitability in 2023, IATA Director General Willie Walsh said October 4 at the group's annual meeting in Boston.
The other big news out of Boston is that the global group of 290 airlines agreed to a resolution committing them to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
CNN's Melissa Alonso, Pamela Boykoff, Matt Friedman, Hadas Gold, Swati Gupta, Marnie Hunter, Masrur Jamaluddin, Lilit Marcus, Francesca Street and Nimi Princewill contributed to this report.
Globe Aware volunteers flying within the United States may soon need to prove they're likely COVID-free if a proposed bill becomes law. This is in hopes of reducing a potential surge this coming winter.
Domestic flyers may need to show proof of vaccination if Senate bill passes
BAILEY SCHULZ AND DAWN GILBERTSON
September 30, 2021
Domestic flyers within the United States may soon need to prove they're likely COVID-free if a proposed bill Wednesday becomes law.
The U.S. Air Travel Public Safety Act, introduced by California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, would require all U.S. passengers to be fully vaccinated, fully recovered or test negative for the coronavirus before boarding a domestic flight.
"We know that air travel during the 2020 holiday season contributed to last winter’s devastating COVID-19 surge," Feinstein said in a Wednesday news release. "We simply cannot allow that to happen again."
While testing and or showing proof of vaccination is common for international air travel, domestic U.S. air passengers do not go through the same level of scrutiny.
The bill builds upon the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's current air travel requirement, which has passengers traveling to the U.S. from a foreign country show proof of a negative COVID-19 test result or proof of recovery from COVID-19.
The Infectious Diseases Society of America and the American Public Health Association support the additional requirements for domestic air travel, according to the release.
"Vaccination is a critical strategy to end the COVID-19 pandemic, and vaccination requirements in multiple settings are an important mechanism to boost vaccination rates, prevent infections and hospitalizations and save lives," Barbara Alexander, president of the Infectious Diseases Society of America and professor of medicine and pathology at Duke University School of Medicine, said in the release.
Various health experts have expressed support for vaccine mandates on flights. Dr. Anthony Fauci, Biden's chief medical adviser and the nation's top infectious disease expert, said in an interview with The Skimm in September that passengers should also be subject to a vaccine mandate in order to fly.
When asked about travel restrictions in a COVID-19 briefing in September, Jeff Zients, the White House COVID-19 response team coordinator, said nothing is off the table. He pointed to the government's move to double the fines for passengers who refuse to follow the federal mask mandate on planes and other public transportation.
But airlines say vaccine mandates could pose logistical issues, with airlines tasked with figuring out the vaccination status for millions of passengers. Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian said it would "bottleneck the domestic travel system" in an interview with "CBS This Morning" in late August.
The U.S. Travel Association, which promotes travel to the United States, released a statement against vaccine mandates for domestic flights on Sept. 13.
"U.S. Travel has long maintained that there should be no mandatory vaccination requirement for domestic travel," Tori Emerson Barnes, the group's executive president said in a statement. "Such a policy would have an unfair, negative impact on families with young children who are not yet eligible to get the vaccine."
The bill would also let the Secretary of Health and Human Services develop national COVID-19 vaccination standards and procedures for domestic air travel to prevent future outbreaks and have the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices make recommendations for vaccine use in health care settings.
Follow USA TODAY reporter Bailey Schulz on Twitter: @bailey_schulz.
Globe Aware volunteers can be excited to learn that Machu Picchu has become the first international destination to obtain the carbon neutral certificate. This means the historical site is an environmentally friendly tourism spot.
Machu Picchu is now the world's first carbon neutral tourist destination!
|TRAVEL NEWS, PERU
Sep 30, 2021
Machu Picchu has become the first international destination to obtain the carbon neutral certificate. The certification was awarded to the Historic and Natural Sanctuary of Machu Picchu by the Green Initiative, which is an institution that seeks to promote green and environmentally friendly tourism. The Green Initiative positioned Machu Picchu as a global reference in terms of sustainability.
As per the certification, it seeks to drastically reduce carbon dioxide emissions of the Inca citadel, with the intention of reducing 45 percent of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in 2030 and reaching neutrality in 2050.
To achieve this certification, this popular tourist hotspot adopted several methods. Among all the other actions, Machu Picchu got the certification for installing the only organic waste treatment plant that exists in Peru, to transform garbage into natural coal as well as for having the transformation plant of oil that produces biodiesel and glycerin from vegetable oils, discarded from homes and restaurants in the area.
Apart from this, a reforestation process, led by the National Service of Protected Natural Areas (SERNANP), of one million trees in the spot will be in place to help mitigate climate change.
Another method to compensate for the impact of these emissions will be to purchase carbon credits, which incentivise entities to find solutions to reduce their emissions, thereby reducing the number of credits purchased over time. As per the reports, this mechanism will be overseen by the UN’s Climate Change model.
SEPTEMBER 23, 2021
Today we’d like to introduce you to Kimberly Haley-Coleman.
Hi Kimberly, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
My career has been circuitous, to say the least! From training on-air CNBC staff in financial tools, putting dead people into space with Space Services, working at museums and start-ups! But I found my true calling when I founded Globe Aware a couple of decades ago, organizing experiences that allowed people to have fun helping people. These short-term experiences in 26 countries are designed to give back, show participants a side of the culture they are visiting in a way they never would, but also to make a huge social impact in a short amount of time. Prior to Globe Aware, such experiences were primarily the domain of high school and college students or of churches or meant a 2.5 years Peace Corps commitment. Since then, the organization has grown in ways we could never have anticipated. For example, now corporations send their staff through us, using contribution matching, paid Volunteer Days Off, allowing tax deductions for portions the staff member pays for, etc. BUT THEN the pandemic. Borders closed, travel safety called into question, the world stopped, and I decided to temporarily pivot. And THAT is what led to my creating The Tickle Bar, America’s newest and most unique affordable luxury.
Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
As conditions around covid 19 have rolled up and down, so too have both my businesses. We have instituted new protocols and have had to keep up with changing requirements. We are doing things we never anticipated. The border situation and pandemic safety conditions change frequently, and we have been lucky to flourish in an uncertain market. Having rapid covid tests administered at our program locations prior to participants returning to the US or transferring program locations from one country to the next, it has NOT been a smooth road, but it has been enormously interesting and gratifying. It is such a privilege that I get to run businesses that provide joy to people at a time when people especially need it.
Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
As the mother of two teenagers going to the same high school, I did back when I lived in Lakewood, I feel lucky that my daughters get to bear witness to a business person learning how to adapt quickly to changing conditions. This generation, despite the setbacks and struggles, will be stronger than previous generations because of this. When the President declared the Travel Emergency in March of 2020, we did not wait to react. We had closed our Asia programs in January, then immediately started finding creative ways to cut costs. I went unpaid for quite a while, we applied for and received PPP rounds of funding, we created virtual programing to bring services to folks the world over as an alternative to our core businesses, and then we figured out how to fill a niche that people suddenly urgently needed. After months of severely limited human interaction, we created an affordable business to get safe, human, healing, nurturing touch. As a parent, as strange as it sounds, I am glad this all happened while they were still under my wing.
What makes you happy?
Like most people, my greatest source of joy is service. That can be providing the specialty homemade vegan dinners my eldest likes or planning and building a school in Laos. How could anything else compare to that? I think it’s a given, universal thing for which we all yearn.
- Globe Aware programs run from $1000 t0 $1600 per week
- Tickle Bar sessions (think of light back tracing your mom did on your back when you were growing up) from $25 and up
- Email: email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org
- Website: www.globeaware.org and www.ticklebar.com
- Instagram: @globeaware and @tickle.bar
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/globeaware and https://www.facebook.com/Tickle.bar
- Twitter: @GlobeAware and @TheTickleBar
- Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/lylejenish and https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCwgF2Oy0Nf94OayQJeHj8RA
- Yelp: https://www.yelp.com/biz/the-tickle-bar-dallas
After being battered by the pandemic, South Africa is slowly loosening its restrictions, the country is also considering a vaccine passport. Those interested in our South Africa volunteer vacation, can begin planning for 2022.
Chile, Fiji and South Africa are ready for travelers to come back
September 18, 2021
(CNN) — There have been mixed fortunes for the world's island communities this week, as some have restricted entry due to Covid surges while others are making plans for reopening.
Here's our latest roundup of the biggest news in pandemic travel.
1. More island getaways have been added to the US 'do not travel' list
The popular island destinations of Grenada and Saint Kitts and Nevis in the Caribbean and Mauritius in the Indian Ocean have been added to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)'s "very high" Covid-19 travel risk list.
This means that US citizens are advised to avoid travel there, and to only do so if they're fully vaccinated.
This highest-category risk list is now brimming with some of the world's most-loved tourist destinations, including France, Spain, Turkey, Thailand and the UK.
2. Lithuania will pay to extend your stay
If Lithuania has been on your to-visit list, you're in luck: the Baltic nation is giving out more than 10,000 free hotel stays to travelers visiting this fall.
Independent travelers can sign up online for the "Lithuania. Take your time" program, which will provide a free third night's accommodation after booking two.
That means that the expanses of Trakai Historical National Park and the UNESCO-recognized old city of Vilnius are now easier to visit than ever. The promotion runs until November 8.
Two people on bicycles drive through an empty street in the Old Town of Vilnius, Lithuania, on March 29, 2020
Vilnius' well-preserved old city is home to Medieval buildings.
3. Miami has a team of Covid-sniffing dogs
Good boy and girl alert! Two dogs, Cobra and One Betta, can literally sniff out the coronavirus.
The two pups started working at Miami International Airport (MIA) this week and are tasked with sniffing the face masks of all airport employees when they arrive at work. Both dogs have an accuracy rate of more than 98%.
Miami is the first airport in the U.S. to have trained covid-sniffing dogs, but similar pup programs exist in Finland and the United Arab Emirates.
4. Australia is testing out vaccine passports ...
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced that travel can restart once the country hits the mark of 80% of the population being fully vaccinated.
While Aussies are getting excited and dreaming of foreign getaways, the government is working out exactly what the reopening could look like. First step: a vaccine "passport" in the form of a QR code.
5. ... while the UK is divided on the matter
Although the government floated a proposal that would require "vaccine passports" to enter nightclubs, movie theaters and other public places in the UK, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to shelve the plan as well as the mandatory mask wearing regulations.
Instead, his administration will continue to push vaccinations, with booster shots encouraged for front-line health care workers, people over 50 and other at-risk groups.
However, there will be one exception to this: Scotland. The Scottish government has voted to enact a measure where people attending large events will have to show proof of vaccination in order to get in. It goes into effect on October 1.
So, like the Meryl Streep and Steve Martin movie, it's complicated.
6. England green lights the scrapping of traffic lights
Staying with the UK, where months of headscratching over complicated "traffic light" travel restrictions have contributed to the demise of a once world-leading tourism industry, things are about to get a whole lot simpler.
As of October 4, arrivals in England will no longer be governed by constantly changing red-amber-green lists of which countries are deemed safe. Instead there will just be a red no-go list, beyond which everywhere is open.
Stringent PCR testing requirements are also being eased for vaccinated travelers, meaning that journeys to and from the UK are now a lot cheaper as well as easier.
7. Chile is ready to greet guests again
The South American nation of Chile will welcome international travelers starting October 1.
Visitors must present a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours prior to boarding, travel medical insurance with a minimum coverage of $30,000, register on the national C19 website and get a "mobility pass," Chile's version of a vaccine passport where you can upload your information.
All visitors who get the mobility pass have to isolate for five days upon arrival in the country, while those who are unvaccinated or don't get the pass will have to isolate for seven.
But let's get to the fun stuff. Travelers to Chile can enjoy the colorful street art of Valparaiso, the beauty of the world's driest place (the Atacama desert) and the country's newest UNESCO site, the mummies of Chinchorro.
8. Jamaica wants to vaccinate all its tourism employees
What's one way to make tourists feel at ease when they come to stay at hotels and dine at restaurants? Jamaica is hoping that getting 100% of its hospitality workers fully vaccinated will do the trick.
The Tourism Vaccination Task Force's ambitious goal is to vaccinate the 170,000 Jamaicans who work across all sectors of the industry, from airport ground staff to tour operators to craft market vendors.
9. More beautiful islands are re-opening their doors
Fiji has announced that it will begin reopening to tourists from around the world when it hits an 80% vaccination rate, which means either November or December of 2021. (Either way, it's not too early to start planning New Year's Eve in the South Pacific).
Also reopening is Montserrat, the underrated Caribbean island and overseas British territory. To get there, you'll need to fly to a neighboring island like Antigua or Guadeloupe and catch a ferry or a short commuter flight.
Bonus: if you fall in love with it, Montserrat is offering a remote-worker program amid the pandemic.
The Langkawi islands in Malaysia started a gradual reopening on September 16. For now, these scenic islands will only be open to domestic tourists, but keep your fingers crossed, because this is a dry run for eventually allowing international travelers to join them.
10. New York City vaccine passport rules have kicked in
The Big Apple's "Key to NYC" vaccine passport program is now in effect.
CNN's Eric Levenson explains the logistics: "Businesses are now required to check the vaccination status of all staff and customers 12 and older, or they will be subject to fines. Residents can show proof of vaccination in the form of a CDC vaccination card, NYC vaccination record, the New York state Excelsior Pass or the NYC Covid Safe App."
One sweetener for travelers is the opportunity to visit Summit One Vanderbilt, New York's latest observation deck, which opens on October 21.
The Midtown attraction has an all-glass elevator that soars 1,200 feet over the city and an immersive art installation entitled "Air."
11. South African Airways returning this month
After being battered by the pandemic, South Africa is slowly loosening its restrictions.
Gathering sizes can increase from 250 to 500, and the national curfew has moved from 11 p.m. to 4 a.m.
The country is considering a vaccine passport, but the move strikes many as too similar to the old apartheid-era passes that Black South Africans were forced to carry.
Meanwhile, national carrier South African Airways will resume flights on September 23 after a 16-month shutdown.
Globe Aware volunteers who want a digital option of always whipping out their vaccine card, can choose from plenty of apps. Here's a breakdown of which one is right for you.
Which Vaccine Passport App Should I Use?
For those who want a digital option instead of always whipping out their vaccine card, there are plenty to choose from.
BY SHANNON MCMAHON
September 2, 2021
Planning travel abroad might have you wondering what kind of vaccine passport app you’ll need to download on your phone to confirm your vaccination or proof of a negative test upon entry. But with the highly contagious Delta variant causing a rise in cases in the U.S., you don’t need to leave the country anymore to run into coronavirus vaccination requirements.
While you might have first heard of coronavirus vaccination apps for international travel, like the European Union’s Green Pass or airline-favorite VeriFly, the United States has not designated any one technological standard for proof of vaccination. It’s up to states (and often individual businesses, like performance venues) to decide if they’ll require proof of vaccination, and which digital service they might employ to avoid counterfeit vaccination cards and streamline the process. Since New York City, San Francisco, and the State of Hawaii have begun requiring proof of vaccination to participate in activities like indoor dining, several digital vaccine passport apps are becoming more popular for travel and entertainment. From government-created options to private technology creating their own health passes, here are several vaccine apps travelers are likely to encounter.
Apps that simply store your vaccine card: Clear, VaxYes, and Airside
While many destinations and businesses are accepting Centers for Disease Control (CDC) vaccination cards as proof of vaccination, it can be unnerving to walk around with your original coronavirus vaccine certificate. While some places may accept a smartphone photo of your white CDC card, it’s far from a reliable approach: Enter the vaccine card app, which allows you to upload proof of vaccination and a form of identification to create a vaccine-status QR code. This allows you to give businesses only the information they need from you—your vaccine status, and none of your other sensitive personal information—and provides peace of mind that you won’t lose your vaccine card.
Perhaps the most familiar app to travelers that will digitize your vaccine card is Clear, the biometric service that existed pre-pandemic as a way to skip identity screening lines at airport security (and is often paired with TSA Precheck, a separate service, to breeze through security). Amid the pandemic Clear saw an opportunity to create a secure COVID-19 vaccine passport, called Clear Health Pass: The service, which lives in the free Clear app, requires users to upload (via smartphone camera) a photo ID, your CDC-issued vaccination card, and a selfie, as well as answer some questions about when and where you were vaccinated. Similar services include Airside and VaxYes, however Clear is widely considered more secure for its photo ID requirement; the city of San Francisco, for example, requires businesses to crosscheck a photo ID against apps like Airside and VaxYes’s level-one version, but does not require this for Clear.
State-designated health passes: Excelsior, Hawaii Safe Travels
While the U.S. did not designate any one proof-of-vaccine app for optional use, some U.S. states have. New York State became the nation’s first state to do so this spring with its Excelsior Pass; the app, which is for those vaccinated in New York State, cross checks state vaccine records to verify a vaccine card. An app called NYC COVID Safe is also permitted in New York City for those who were vaccinated outside of the state (although it does not cross-check out-of-state vaccination records, and for that reason functions more similarly to Clear, VaxYes, and Airside).
The state of Hawaii’s Safe Travels Program functions similarly to the NYC COVID Safe app by requiring visitors to upload their CDC card, although the program is a website login portal and not an app; it still requires visitors to have their original vaccination card on them. The state has also designated Clear as acceptable supplemental proof of vaccination (again, in addition to your original CDC card) that travelers can link to the Safe Travels program to speed up their verification on arrival.
International health-record apps: CommonPass, VeriFly
There are also some multi-use coronavirus record apps out there that can serve as proof of both vaccination and test results to satisfy entry requirements in other countries. CommonPass and VeriFly, which started as apps offering coronavirus test results for travel, both now serve as proof of vaccination for certain airlines. American Airlines, Aer Lingus, British Airways, Iberia, and Japan Airlines use VeriFly, which was created by biometrics company Daon, where testing and proof of vaccination are required. United, Hawaiian Airlines, Lufthansa, and JetBlue use CommonPass—an app developed by the nonprofit Commons Project and the World Economic Forum.
Foreign national health passes
Outside the U.S., many nations have opted for a single national health pass to avoid this patchwork of apps and services, and to standardize digital proof of vaccination. Canada’s migration app, for example, is ArriveCAN; France’s Pass Sanitaire ("health pass") app is required of all French who want to dine indoors, and is an option for Americans who get a health provider like a pharmacist to enter their CDC vaccine card into the French national system; Germany has tapped private app CovPass for digital proof of vaccination among its residents. There is also Europe's broader Green Health Pass, which is for use by Europeans but officials have said will become available to foreign travelers with approved vaccinations.
All nations have differing requirements and exceptions for these apps, however, so it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the system before planning any travel abroad, and to always carry your original vaccine card on you, somewhere secure. The benefit of having a digital vaccine pass to back it up is that you won’t always have to have it on you, the same way we travel with our actual passport, but typically avoid toting one around on the ground so we don’t lose it.
While traveling abroad is returning for Globe Aware volunteers, movement in and out of Hong Kong -- once Asia's biggest international hub -- remains at a near-total halt. Dream Cruises has come up with a fitting alternative vacation option -- a voyage with no destination, taking passengers from and to Hong Kong by sailing in a big loop. Would you try this if you couldn't travel?
What it's like to sail on a 'cruise to nowhere'
September 12, 2021
A "cruise to nowhere" feels like a fitting metaphor for Covid-era Hong Kong.
As with the city's previous failed attempts to re-establish international travel, it offers a facsimile of forward movement that ends up taking you right back to where you started.
While the possibility of traveling abroad is slowly returning to the US and Europe, movement in and out of Hong Kong -- once Asia's biggest international hub -- remains at a near-total halt.
As the semi-autonomous region pursues a zero-Covid policy, repeated attempts to establish travel corridors with neighboring countries have been abandoned, and most incoming travelers face up to three weeks of self-funded hotel quarantine. Before the pandemic, Hong Kongers were among the world's most well-traveled people; now, many would-be holidaymakers favor staycations, as their passports gather dust at home.
Dream Cruises has come up with a fitting alternative vacation option -- a voyage with no destination, taking passengers from and to Hong Kong by sailing in a big loop. Journeys last for either two or three nights, with cheaper sailing options midweek, and rooms range from a HK$1,688 balcony cabin (about $217 US) to a HK$23,838 suite (about $3,065 US) with access to a private deck and pool. Cruising may not be for everyone, but at a time when any other option would require quarantine, it seems a lot more attractive.
Boarding the Genting Dream -- a 335-meter-long vessel (almost 1,100 feet) that can normally hold more than 3,000 people -- was reminiscent of getting back on a plane, but with the additional health measures of much other travel in 2021. Ticket sales are capped at half-capacity; inside the cavernous Kai Tak cruise terminal, passengers were almost outnumbered by staff checking and re-checking travel documents and medical forms.
Life on board
While the cruise industry hasn't necessarily had the best coronavirus track record, safety precautions on the Genting Dream ship are strict. All passengers must be fully vaccinated and produce a negative PCR test taken within 48 hours before departure, as well as undergoing pre-boarding checks and health declarations. And everyone on board gets a tracking device (cutely named Tracey) to monitor their whereabouts in the event of an infection.
But that formality subsided when embarking passengers were greeted by bubbly staff handing out balloon animals and posing for selfies.
Face masks were mandatory in public spaces, as they are in the rest of Hong Kong; but aside from that, guests cheerfully disregarded suggested social distancing measures while milling around by the swimming pool and exploring the labyrinthine corridors of the 18 decks, as dusk fell and the ship glided slowly out of Victoria Harbor.
I traveled with three friends, sharing two of the cheapest available cabins -- fairly spacious twin rooms with pull-out sofas, comfortable beds, an en suite shower and bathroom, and a private balcony overlooking the sea. At around 20 square meters, they weren't that much smaller than a lot of hotel rooms on dry land, and felt much more secluded, with the only noise being the sound of the waves outside.
For a vessel that's usually a vehicle to a different destination, rather than being the destination itself, the Genting Dream did a decent job of offering enough activities to keep its temporary residents -- mostly older adults, with a few families and children -- occupied throughout the cruise.
Booking for pool access was only casually enforced, and while the hot tubs were closed, sun loungers and sofas by the deck bars were freely available. For the more adventurous on board, there was a basketball court, a mini-golf course, a play area with activities for children and an arcade for teenagers, lethally fast water slides twisting down to the main deck, and a hair-raising ropes course with a zip wire jutting out over the open sea. But the most packed attraction was the below-deck casino, which offered slot machines, blackjack, giant bingo, and cabaret singers crooning love songs in Mandarin and Cantonese.
Not all of these facilities were open throughout the cruise -- but staff were attentive, helpful and pleasant, ready to open a closed-off rock climbing wall or pour drinks at one of the many bars that sat empty as guests packed out the dining rooms.
Two buffet-style restaurants were included in the ticket price, serving a mix of Asian and Western dishes. While paid-for restaurants were available, most people on board got their money's worth by piling their school dinner-style trays high with a mishmash of meals. Attempts at creating a party atmosphere were enthusiastic, but fruitless -- inside the ship's sole club, a DJ playing early '00s hip-hop gamely pumped dry ice onto an empty dance floor, while passengers had more fun at the adjoining neon bowling alley.
Broadly, the cruise atmosphere was one of decompression, and relief at experiencing something -- anything -- a bit different from regular life, where maintaining relative normality inside Hong Kong's borders has come at the expense of being able to easily move outside them.
Coming from one of the most densely populated cities in the world, it was oddly freeing to look out over the open water and see nothing but distant container ships, or watch the sun set below a skyscraper-free horizon. With no phone signal, and no particular need to do anything beyond sit on a balcony and stare at the stars, it was tempting to lean into the comfort of this sealed-off idyll. Far away beyond the skyline was disease, stress and uncertainty; on this unusual cruise, drinks flowed, people had fun, and life was good in a brief bubble of normality, floating in the endless blue of the South China Sea.