A new airport has been named the very best in the world. New Zealand says it will start to reopen its borders next year. And dolphins have returned to Lisbon waters.
Here’s what we learned in pandemic travel this week.
1. The US has added more destinations to its ‘do not travel’ list
LUIS ACOSTA/AFP/Getty Images
Hold it right there, Beach Boys. Wait one Koko-moment.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) doesn’t care if you get there fast or take it slow: Aruba has been added to its highest-risk travel category, Level 4, along with six other new destinations.
This means that it’s seeing more than 500 new cases per 100,000 people in the past 28 days and neither elderly Californians, nor anyone else, should be traveling there, the CDC says.
Elsewhere on the Beach Boys itinerary, Jamaica and the Bahamas remain at Level 3 (unvaccinated travelers should avoid unnecessary travel), while Bermuda is down at Level 1 (low risk for vaccinated travelers).
And the state of Florida — including Key Largo and the Florida Keys — has hit a record high of 134,751 new cases in the past week. (Florida isn’t assessed for travel risk by the CDC.)
See the full list of CDC travel recommendations here.
2. New Zealand will slowly reopen its borders next year
Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images
It’s lonely at the top.
New Zealand has recorded one of the lowest rates of Covid-19 infections in the world, with just 3,000 cases in a population of almost 5 million people.
That’s due in part to the government’s decision to close New Zealand’s borders to all non-residents in March 2020, a move which has kept citizens safe but also kept them comparatively isolated from the rest of the world.
“We cannot keep border restrictions on forever, and to be absolutely clear, we don’t want to,” said Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern Thursday, announcing that New Zealand will open its doors to vaccinated travelers from low-risk countries from early 2022.
The government has not yet confirmed which countries which be classified as low, medium or high risk.
3. Canada has reopened to US tourists
Geoff Robins/AFP/Getty Images
North America just got a whole lot more neighborly.
Canada reopened its border to the US on Monday for people who are fully vaccinated.
Americans were barred from making nonessential visits since the beginning of the pandemic, but leisure travel is now allowed once more.
Here’s CNN Travel’s guide to crossing the border.
4. Qatar has the new world’s best airport
Hamad International Airport: Opened in 2014, Qatar’s airport has quickly established itself as the best in the Middle East and has challenged other global aviation hubs.
Courtesy Hamad International Airport
For the first time in nearly a decade, Singapore’s Changi Airport has lost its place at the top of Skytrax’s annual ranking of the world’s best airports at the World Airport Awards.
Doha’s Hamad International Airport, which has been climbing the ranks for years, has been awarded with the number one spot for 2021. The Qatari hub opened in 2014 and was designed by global architecture firm HOK, which also worked on the shiny new Terminal B at New York’s much-maligned LaGuardia Airport.
5. France and Italy have rolled out health passes
From Monday, Covid health passes — which require proof of vaccination or a recent negative test — have been needed to enter public spaces in France, including trains, restaurants and bars. Foreign tourists are also allowed access to the scheme.
Thousands have protested the move, with Reuters reporting that more than 20 vaccination centers and health facilities have been vandalized.
On August 6, Italy also rolled out a “green pass,” a digital Covid-19 certificate with QR code which is mandatory to enter some of Italy’s public spaces, such as gyms and restaurants.
7. Three US airlines will skip vaccine mandates
Kamil Krzaczynski/AFP/Getty Images
Last week in the US, United Airlines announced that it would be mandating Covid-19 vaccines for all its US employees, but this week three major US airlines declared that they would not be requiring their workers to get the jab.
Southwest Airlines, American Airlines and Delta Air Lines are all strongly encouraging their staff to get vaccinated, but have not changed their stance on mandates at this time.
United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby also said this week that he doesn’t anticipate a vaccination requirement for passengers traveling within the United States, but that it might be possible for some international travel.
8. Two Hawaii visitors were arrested for falsifying vaccination cards
Kat Wade/Getty Images
Two visitors to Hawaii from the United States mainland were arrested last weekend for falsifying vaccination cards, the governor posted on social media Wednesday afternoon.
Governor David Ige said that the two had falsified vaccination cards in order to avoid taking a Covid test or quarantining upon arrival to the islands.
The governor said the two had been arraigned and could face a fine of up to $5,000 and/or up to one year in prison.
9. Nearly 30 Covid cases were reported on board a Carnival cruise ship
Daniel Slim/AFP/Getty Images
One passenger and 26 crew members tested positive for Covid-19 aboard a Carnival cruise ship calling into port in Belize, the Belize Tourism Board said in a news release.
All 27 infected individuals are vaccinated and most are asymptomatic. Belize tourism officials met virtually with Carnival Vista officials on Tuesday to discuss the situation before passengers disembarked in Belize City.
10. Dolphins have returned to Lisbon
PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA/AFP via Getty Images
This summer’s disastrous extreme weather conditions have put paid to the lie of all those “nature is healing” memes, but there is some positive news out of Lisbon, Portugal.
Dolphins have been spotted in the Tagus River since Roman times, but were rarely seen in recent years. However, the pandemic led to a drop in maritime traffic, a reduction in pollution and an increase in fish — prompting dolphins to return.
The phenomenon was first reported on last summer and this year they’re once again delighting locals and visitors to the city.