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By Tara Law
Staff Writer
Tuesday, November 9, 2021
BY JEFFREY KLUGER

As of Yesterday, the U.S. Travel Ban Has Been (Mostly) Lifted. Here's How That Will Affect Individuals, Families and Businesses

Some 18 months ago, the skies went strangely quiet after the U.S. announced a ban on travelers from 33 countries in an effort to control the COVID-19 pandemic. Flight routes to the U.S. from Europe, China, Brazil, India, South Africa and more suddenly shut down, as did land crossings from Canada and Mexico. But all of that changed yesterday, as the White House fulfilled a September promise, lifting the ban and throwing open the gates to incoming travel.

“On behalf of the U.S. travel industry: Welcome,” read a tweet from the U.S. Travel Association. “Today marks a monumental and long-awaited day.”

Indeed it does. Families separated since the spring of 2020 will be able to reunite for the holidays; stores on either side of the U.S.-Mexico and U.S.-Canada borders will be able to resume welcoming international shoppers; Broadway shows, which just reopened and rely on international tourists for nearly 20% of their audiences, as the New York Times reports, will be able to resume profitability.

The move could serve as a tonic for the U.S. economy at large. Overall, the year-and-a-half ban cost an estimated $300 billion in tourist spending and 1 million jobs, according to the U.S. Travel Association. As the Washington Post reports, as of last night, Delta Airlines alone saw a 450% increase in international bookings since the Biden Administration announced the plan to lift the ban.

The change comes with certain rules. Travelers will have to be fully vaccinated and present a negative COVID-19 test to be allowed entry. One significant exception is for visitors from Canada and Mexico, who are required to present only proof of vaccination. Another is that children under 18, from any country, are not required to be vaccinated—however, they must present results of a negative COVID test taken no more than 24 hours before departure. And people who have received vaccines that are not approved by the World Health Organization—including Russia’s Sputnik V—are still banned from U.S. travel.

Airlines must verify that travelers’ vaccine card or other proof of vaccination matches their official ID. Carriers that fail to comply face a $35,000 fine per violation.

The air-travel industry might not be prepared for the sudden influx of customers. Pandemic-related staffing shortages forced American Airlines to cancel nearly 2,000 flights earlier this month. Southwest Airlines similarly canceled more than 2,000 in October.

Henry Harteveldt, an industry analyst, is sanguine that airlines will be able to handle the crush. “They do have the pilots and flight attendants trained and ready, though granted, they may need to bring more back,” he told the Washington Post.

Such challenges notwithstanding, the resumption of travel is a decidedly good thing for a pandemic-weary world. “I think a lot of people have been waiting for this day,” Eileen Bigelow, area port director for Vermont for Customs and Border Protection, told the Associated Press. “They look at it as a light at the end of the tunnel for some return of normalcy.”

Read more here.


TODAY'S CORONAVIRUS OUTLOOK

More than 534 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been shipped to various U.S. states as of yesterday afternoon, of which more than 432 million doses have been administered, according to TIME's vaccine tracker. About 58.4% of Americans have been completely vaccinated.

More than 250.3 million people around the world had been diagnosed with COVID-19 as of 1 a.m. E.T. today, and more than 5 million people have died. On Nov. 8, there were 479,556 new cases and 6,339 new deaths confirmed globally.

Here's how the world as a whole is currently trending:

Here's where daily cases have risen or fallen over the last 14 days, shown in confirmed cases per 100,000 residents:

And here's every country that has reported over 4.5 million cases:

The U.S. had recorded more than 46.6 million coronavirus cases as of 1 a.m. E.T. today. More than 755,600 people have died. On Nov. 8, there were 125,350 new cases and 1,207 new deaths confirmed in the U.S.

Here's how the country as a whole is currently trending:

Here's where daily cases have risen or fallen over the last 14 days, shown in confirmed cases per 100,000 residents:

All numbers unless otherwise specified are from the Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering, and are accurate as of Nov. 9, 1:30 a.m. E.T. To see larger, interactive versions of these maps and charts, click here.


WHAT ELSE YOU SHOULD KNOW

Yesterday, the Biden Administration petitioned the 5th Circuit Court of appeals—representing Louisiana, Texas and Missouri—to reverse a stay on a presidential executive order mandating vaccines for workers of U.S. businesses with 100 or more employees.. The Biden Administration’s suit argues that halting the mandate—set to begin next Jan. 4—would “cost dozens or even hundreds of lives per day.”

Elsewhere in the U.S., vaccine mandates got a boost when a federal District Court judge in Fort Worth, Texas ruled that United Airlines can place unvaccinated workers on unpaid leave, even if the worker had previously received a medical or religious exemption from the company, reports the Washington Post. The ruling affects about 2,000 United employees. United will first offer those affected employees non-customer-facing jobs; those who decline will have to go on leave. The judge ruled that human-resources decisions are up to the company, not the courts.

Health authorities in France have advised people under 30 not to get the Moderna vaccine and to take the Pfizer-BioNTech shot instead, citing a higher risk of heart complications from Moderna, reports Reuters. The officials conceded that myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle associated with the Moderna vaccine, is “very rare,” but nonetheless warned it is five times greater than the risk associated with the Pfizer jab. The French board that issued the warning, the Haute Autorite de Sante (HAS), is an advisory body only and does not have the power to enforce its recommendation.

Life expectancy rates have dipped around the world as a result of the pandemic, Bloomberg reports, citing a British Medical Journal study. A survey of 31 nations showed a loss of 28.1 million years of cumulative longevity attributable to COVID-19. Among the countries surveyed were such hard-hit places as the U.S., Russia, Chile and England. Four nations sampled—New Zealand, Taiwan, South Korea and Norway—actually showed an increase in life expectancy, likely due to their relative success at controlling the pandemic.

Big Bird has been drawn into the U.S. debate over COVID-19 vaccines. As NPR reports, the Sesame Street character’s Twitter feed posted the news that the usually apolitical Muppet had been vaccinated. “My wing is feeling a little sore, but it'll give my body an extra protective boost that keeps me and others healthy,” the tweet read. That didn’t go down well with some conservative figures. Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz called the tweet “government propaganda.” Fox News contributor Lisa Boothe charged Sesame Street with “brainwashing children.” President Joe Biden and CDC director Dr. Rochele Walensky both applauded the announcement, with the president tweeting back, “Good on ya’, @Big Bird.”


Thanks for reading. We hope you find the Coronavirus Brief newsletter to be a helpful tool to navigate this very complex situation, and welcome feedback at coronavirus.brief@time.com. If you have specific questions you'd like us to answer, please send them to covidquestions@time.com.

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Today's newsletter was written by Jeffrey Kluger and edited by Elijah Wolfson.

 
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