Pandemic Travel News: U.S. borders open as more of Europe has a “very high” risk.

(CNN) – After nearly 20 months of closed borders, the United States finally opened to vaccinated international visitors on Monday, November 8th.

But transatlantic travel remains a constantly changing landscape, and this week more European destinations have also been added to the CDC’s highest-risk travel category.

And as Covid’s European cases continue to rise, a Central European country is considering a blockade for its unvaccinated population.

Here’s what you need to know about pandemic travel this week:

1. The U.S. opened up to vaccinated international travelers

The United States opened its borders to vaccinated international travelers after nearly 20 months. CNN spent the day at three U.S. airports talking to travelers and their families about what it’s like to be able to see each other again.

It has taken a long time to get there. Nearly 20 months since the U.S. banned many international visitors in March 2020, fully vaccinated travelers from around the world can finally return to the U.S.

This includes travelers from previously banned countries, including the UK, as well as EU destinations.

To commemorate the occasion, Monday morning, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic joined forces to coordinate a historic double-plane takeoff.

Rival transatlantic airlines scheduled two A350s to leave London Heathrow at the same time, with BA naming its flight BA001, a number usually reserved for the historic Concorde.

Check out our guide to the new US travel rules here.

2. Thanksgiving trips are expected to pick up

Many families gather these holidays for the first time in a long time. Dr. CNN’s Sanjay Gupta shares these tips on how to protect your loved ones from contracting Covid-19.

For many, the return of international travel to the U.S. means long-awaited family reunions, and some travelers will schedule their trip with Thanksgiving on November 25th.

While Thanksgiving 2020 involved staying home, the American Automobile Association (AAA) predicts that 2021 travel will recover to near pre-pandemic levels. About 53.4 million Americans are expected to travel for the holidays, 13% more than last year.

Kathleen Bangs, a former airline pilot and spokeswoman for the aircraft tracking company Flight Aware, shared her tips for ensuring that vacation trips run smoothly, including booking flights departing early. to avoid a cascading effect of delays and cancellations, and even book a return. -Fly up for more peace of mind.

3. The Netherlands has moved into the highest risk category of the CDC

The Netherlands landed in the CDC’s highest risk category for travel this week.

While transatlantic travel may once again be on the table, it is not without its complications.

This week, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention added two countries from northwestern Europe to its list of “very high” risk travel destinations.

Countries are designated Level 4 if they have had more than 500 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in the last 28 days. The CDC recommends that people avoid traveling to level 4 countries and advises that anyone who has to travel first should be completely vaccinated.

Recently, there has been an increase in cases across Europe, which a WHO official said is “of great concern”.

4. Austria considers implementing a blockade for unvaccinated people

Austria is on the verge of ordering millions of unvaccinated people to stay at home, its chancellor said, in a strange move that underscores the growing exasperation of European leaders towards those who have not yet been vaccinated against Covid-19 . CNN’s Scott McLean reports.

Unvaccinated people in Austria are already banned from accessing certain public places, including entertainment venues, restaurants and hairdressers.

According to data from Johns Hopkins, 64.3% of the Austrian population is fully vaccinated. On Thursday 11 November, Austrian Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg described the vaccination rate as “embarrassingly low”.

“A confinement for the unvaccinated means you can’t leave home if you’re not going to work, buy essentials, stretch your legs, which is exactly what we all had to suffer in 2020,” he said.

Schallenberg is pushing for this measure to be implemented as soon as possible.

5. The disturbing image of coastal erosion wins the 2021 Environmental Photographer of the Year

This week, the winners of this year’s Environmental Photographer Awards have been announced at the COP26 Climate Summit in Glasgow.

“I’m very happy. It’s a great honor to win such an important award,” Aragon told CNN. “Especially one related to the environment, which is an issue that I have been working on for several years and that worries me a lot.”

6. Myanmar plans to reopen to tourists, which raises a big question

Myanmar is facing a pandemic and the aftermath of a coup.

The Southeast Asian country of Myanmar plans to host international tourists from early 2022, amid a complex domestic situation.

In addition to navigating the pandemic, Myanmar is also facing the aftermath of a February 2021 coup in which a military junta overthrew the government of the democratically elected country.

“We are planning to reopen tourism for vaccinated tourists if plans are well prepared to travel safely and comfortably,” Zeyar Htun, deputy director of the military-administered Ministry of Hotels and Tourism’s Department of Public Relations and Information, confirmed to CNN Travel. .

Currently, the U.S. Department of State has two Level Four “do not visit” alerts for Burma, as it refers to Myanmar: one for its high number of Covid cases, and another for the political situation in course.

7. Some travelers are turning their backs on planes

Anna Hughes is the director of Flight Free UK, a campaign group that promotes alternative forms of travel beyond aviation.

As the group begins to encourage people to sign a commitment to stay free of flight in 2022, there are “two different camps” of travelers, according to Hughes.

CNN’s Marnie Hunter, Joseph Ataman, Chris Liakos, Anna Cooban, Chris Isidore, Geneva Sands, Julia Buckley, Forrest Brown, Rob Picheta, Sharon Braithwaite, Tara John, Nadine Schmidt, Lilit Marcus and Jeevan Ravindran contributed to the reports.

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