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COVID-19: US alerts consumers to rethink travel plans, prepare for disruptions

*The US Government urges Americans to put their suitcases away and rethink all plans in view of the transmission of new COVID-19 strain

*Be informed and be prepared: The State Department is committed to upholding the Joe Biden administration’s efforts to combat the pandemic through prudent, science-driven measures ─ Ian Brownlee of US State Department

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

As the far-reaching effects of the second wave of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic hit the country’s population, the rise of new virus variants yet will make it harder for consumers in the United States (US) to travel in and out of the country for now.

Whereas as Americans were getting their COVID-19 vaccinations and cranking up their wanderlust for travelling again, the US State Department is informing prospective travellers to put the suitcases away and rethink their plans.

State Department’s Ian Brownlee in a media briefing cautioned the travelling public to “seriously reconsider going overseas right now.

“If you’re overseas right now, it’s going to be harder to come home for a while.

“Everyone needs to be prepared to be potentially seriously disrupted in their trip.”

COVID-19 travel concept   Photo: Getty Images

Agency report says the rationale behind Brownlee’s warning is related to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) fresh COVID-19 testing requirements for travellers.

The new COVID-19 testing requirements went into effect after new variants of the virus were detected around the world recently, report stated.

The new rules include being tested no more than three days before travelling by air into the US and, prior to boarding aircraft, showing the airline proof of a negative test result.

It was learnt travellers may also present a letter from a healthcare provider or a public health official stating that they are cleared to travel.

Hitherto, airline operators and cruise lines in the country were anticipating a return to travel from those who got vaccinated, especially those who wanted to get away to the Caribbean.

However, the new COVID-19 variants popping up in the Caribbean also have forced the US State Department to put Jamaica, the British Virgin Islands, Trinidad and Tobago, and the Bahamas all on the new travel restriction list.

A particular hotspot is the Cancun, Mexico area, where Brownlee says there are tens of thousands of US citizens seeking to travel back to the United States, according to report.

Brownlee further disclosed that that the agency has no plans setting up testing stations. He stated: “We don’t have a health unit within 600 miles of Cancun. We do not have the capacity to provide this sort of testing overseas.”

Be informed and prepared

According to the State Department’s Chief, President Joe Biden’s administration is handling the pandemic much differently than its predecessor.

He cautioned the populace: “Be informed and be prepared. The State Department is committed to upholding the administration’s efforts to combat the pandemic through prudent, science-driven measures.

“Many countries are updating their requirements for travel, given the evolving nature of the pandemic. And today, to keep us all safe, the United States joins them.”

The State Department’s travel advisories can change day-to-day depending on the migration and transmission of the virus, stated Brownlee.

He added that the Department is taking the situation country-by-country, and that it’s almost a given that travellers will need to stay put and won’t be allowed back into the US until further notice in situations where no tests are available.

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