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Bedlam on US airlines and more vaccine and mask mandates: What's new in Covid travel this week

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(CNN) — There have been cancellations and chaos on US airlines, Canada and Japan have been cracking down on Covid rule-breakers, but the UK is opening up to more and more vaccinated visitors.

Here’s what we learned in pandemic travel this week.

1. The US ‘do not travel’ list has got even bigger

ATHENS, GREECE - AUGUST 04: Parthenon temple on Acropolis hill is seen through smoke from a wildfire north of the Greek capital,on August 4, 2021 in Athens, Greece. People were evacuated from their homes after a wildfire reached residential areas of northern Athens as fires broke out at the foot of Mount Parnes. Athens recored temperatures of 42 degrees Celsius (107.6 Fahrenheit). (Photo by Milos Bicanski/Getty Images)

Greece, including Athens, pictured, has been hit by a extreme heatwave and wildfires have broke out across the country.

Milos Bicanski/Getty Images

US citizens have already been advised against travel to countries with more than 500 Covid cases per 100,000 residents in the past 28 days, which includes popular tourist spots such as the UK, Spain and Maldives.

Now the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has given 16 new destinations its top risk designation of “Level 4: Covid-19 Very High.”

They are (deep breath): Andorra, Curaçao, Gibraltar, Greece, Guadeloupe, Iran, Ireland, Isle of Man, Kazakhstan, Lesotho, Libya, Malta, Martinique, Saint Barthelemy, Saint Martin and the US Virgin Islands.

That means US citizens should avoid travel to these places and, if they really must travel, they should be fully vaccinated. Check out the CDC’s full recommendations list here.

2. The UK is opening up inbound and outbound travel

UK case numbers have fallen tremendously since England dropped nearly all Covid restrictions on July 19, but there were still close to 183,000 new cases in the past week.

However, the country has had a very successful vaccine rollout, with more than 58% of the population now fully vaccinated.

Wales is set to drop most restrictions on August 7 while Scotland will do the same on August 9. Northern Ireland — across the Irish Sea — has its own region-specific measures.

Fully jabbed travelers from the United States and EU are now allowed to travel into the UK quarantine-free — although of course the CDC warns US citizens against doing just this.

In terms of outbound travel, the UK updated its “green list” on Thursday, adding Austria, Germany, Latvia, Norway, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia to the list for quarantine-free travel. You can read more about that here.

3. US airlines — and their passengers and crew — have had a rough week

At the time of writing on Friday, Florida-based ultra-low-cost carrier Spirit Airlines had entered its fifth day of mass cancellations. It’s been canceling hundreds of flights each day since Sunday, which the airline blames on weather challenges, system outages and staffing shortages. American Airlines was also in a cancellation frenzy.

Frontier Airlines now says it “supports” and will pay the crew of flight attendants it had earlier said were suspended after using tape to restrain a passenger charged with groping and punching them.

Denver-based ultra-low-cost carrier Frontier had problems of a different kind.

A passenger on a weekend flight from Philadelphia to Miami was restrained by cabin crew after he allegedly sexually assaulted two staff members and was verbally and physically abusive. The airline was criticized for initially suspending the flight attendants, before later voicing support for the crew.

4. Israelis have been told not to hug

Elderly Israelis wait to receive their third shot of the Pfizer vaccine at a nursing home in Netanya in August.

Elderly Israelis wait to receive their third shot of the Pfizer vaccine at a nursing home in Netanya in August.

Oded Balilty/AP

Israel is facing a new wave of infections, with more than 21,000 new cases recorded in the past week. A government statement has told citizens to “stop shaking hands, stop embracing and kissing and avoid any gathering in a closed space that is not necessary.”

Last month, Israel completely prohibited people from coming there from Argentina, Belarus, Brazil, Cyprus, Georgia, Great Britain, India, Kyrgyzstan, Mexico, Russia, Spain, South Africa, Turkey and Uzbekistan unless they get special permission from Israeli authorities.

5. Canada fined two travelers nearly $20K over false Covid info

Toronto Pearson International Airport pictured in April 2020.

Toronto Pearson International Airport pictured in April 2020.

Cole Burston/Getty Images

Two travelers who arrived into Toronto from the United States in July were fined close to $20,000 each for noncompliance with entry requirements, according to the country’s Public Health Agency.

The visitors provided false information related to proof of vaccination and pre-departure tests and didn’t comply with requirements related to on-arrival testing and staying at government-approved accommodation, the agency said.

From August 9, fully vaccinated Americans will be allowed into the country for nonessential travel — but only if they comply with all government requirements.

6. Japan is naming and shaming rule-breakers

The Japanese government is also getting tough on those who contravene the rules.

On Monday, Japan publicly named three Japanese nationals who broke quarantine rules after returning from overseas, reported Reuters.

Japan requires all travelers from overseas, including Japanese citizens, to self-quarantine for two weeks.

7. A Dallas firefighter ‘faked Covid results then went to a resort’

William Jordan Carter is accused of lying about testing positive for Covid-19 to take time off.

William Jordan Carter is accused of lying about testing positive for Covid-19 to take time off.

Dallas County Sheriff’s Office

Bank records show Carter made several purchases during his time off, including nearly $1,400 at Kalahari Resort, a large indoor water park and resort in Round Rock, Texas.

8. A Carnival cruise ship reported Covid cases

After a “small number of positive cases” of Covid-19 were detected aboard a Carnival Cruise Line ship, a new fleetwide mask policy requiring all guests to wear masks in some indoor areas was implemented on Wednesday night, the cruise line said — two days ahead of schedule.

Carnival did not immediately say exactly how many positive cases had been detected aboard Carnival Vista, which departed out of Galveston, Texas.

9. More vaccine mandates have been introduced in the US and beyond

In the coming weeks, New York City will be rolling out a new policy requiring proof of vaccination to enter all restaurants, fitness centers and indoor entertainment venues.

“If you’re unvaccinated, unfortunately, you will not be able to participate in many things,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio on Tuesday.

United Airlines is mandating Covid-19 vaccines for all employees, while Grant Shapps, the UK’s transport minister, said this week in an interview with the BBC that he thinks “full vaccination is going to be a feature for evermore, and probably all countries will require full vaccination for you to enter.”
Finally, a White House official confirmed to CNN on Wednesday that the Biden Administration is developing a plan to mandate vaccinations for almost all foreign visitors to the US.

Officials are still in the early phases of developing the plan and an announcement is not imminent.

CNN’s Alexis Benveniste, Sarah Dean, Hadas Gold, Marnie Hunter, Tara John, Lauren Kent, Ashley Killough, Virginia Langmaid, Pete Muntean, Dominic Rech, Francesca Street, Amir Vera and Gregory Wallace contributed to this story.

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