GEORGE TOWN: Only those who have been fully vaccinated, including those from states under Phase One of the National Recovery Plan (NRP), will be allowed to visit Langkawi, says Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri.

However, the Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister said those who come from enhanced movement control order (MCO) areas would not be entitled to the pioneer travel bubble project relaxation, which starts on Sept 16.

“Local tourists have options to visit Langkawi – either via flight or land routes.

“Those who are travelling by road to visit Langkawi must use the services of a tourist agency, or at least use transportation services from the start of their journey to the Langkawi ferry jetty.

“However, those who travel by air or come from Kedah and Perlis are not required to use the services of travel agencies,” she said during a virtual press conference on Thursday (Sept 9).

Nancy said visitors should also show proof of purchase of tourism products such as ferry tickets or hotel receipts when applying for police permission to travel.

She said the types of vacations allowed in the travel bubble project are a day visit, overnight stay, vacation with accommodation booking made in advance and travel packages through a travel company licensed and registered with the ministry.

She said the number of passengers per vehicle allowed while travelling to Langkawi was subject to the vehicle capacity.

She said among the tourism activities allowed are staying at hotels and homestays, including the usage of facilities such as surau, swimming pools, gymnasium, lounge, hall and business events.

She said beach activities, water sports, snorkelling, scuba diving, fishing tours, edutainment centres, recreation parks, extreme/adventure/nature parks, farms, aquariums, zoos and other leisure, recreational and social activities would also be allowed.

“They will also be allowed to play golf, cycle, angling, yachting and others while vacationing on the island,” she said, adding that geo-travel activities such as bird watching, caving, hiking and jungle trekking were also allowed.

She said there was no age limit to visit Langkawi but those below 18 must travel with their parents who are fully vaccinated.

She added that insurance coverage and Covid-19 screening is not compulsory.

To get better control over the stubborn COVID-19 outbreak in Sydney strict new rules have been imposed on workers in three areas where the majority of infections are emerging.

People who live in the local government areas (LGAs) of Fairfield, Canterbury-Bankstown and Liverpool are now not allowed to leave their area for work unless they are what’s called an “authorised worker”.

Initially, it seemed only emergency services and health care workers would classify as “authorised workers” but overnight NSW Health issued an extensive list of people who are authorised to travel outside their LGA for work that could not be conducted at home.

Any authorised workers who reside in Fairfield must get a COVID-19 test every three days if they are going to work in another LGA, as per previously announced rules.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the NSW government tried to keep an “open mind” when it came to deciding which workers could leave, given how much of Sydney depended on workers in these LGAs.

“We know that a large part of the [freight and logistics] workforces do come from those three local government areas,” she said.

“But most [businesses] have been really constructive and positive in considering rostering arrangements and considering what they can do to limit movement from people coming from those areas.”

Ms Berejiklian also said she couldn’t rule out further tweaks to the exemptions over the coming days.

“Dr Chant’s advice might become different as well depending on the scenarios and situations of workers.”

People who reside in all other Sydney LGAs face no restrictions on leaving their area for work, but everyone must work from home if possible.

But for those in the Fairfield, Liverpool and Canterbury-Bankstown LGAs, here’s who the “authorised worker” exemption applies to:

Retail

Anyone who works in:

  • supermarkets and neighbourhood shops
  • shops that predominantly sell food or drinks
  • chemists and pharmacies
  • kiosks
  • shops that predominately sell:
    • office supplies
    • pet supplies
    • newspapers, magazines and stationery
    • alcohol
    • maternity and baby supplies
    • medical or pharmaceutical supplies
  • food and drink premises
  • cellar door premises
  • hardware and building supplies
  • landscaping material supplies
  • rural supplies
  • timber yards
  • garden centres and plant nurseries,
  • vehicle hire premises, not including the premises at which vehicles are sold
  • industrial or commercial food retailing

And anyone who conducts ‘click and collect’ services.

Public administration and safety

A female NSW firefighter battles a fire.
All emergency services personnel can leave the LGAs.(

FRNSW

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Members of:

  • the NSW Police Force
  • Fire and Rescue NSW
  • the NSW State Emergency Service
  • the NSW Rural Fire Service 
  • the Ambulance Service of NSW
  • any other emergency services worker

As well as those who work for:

  • defence, national security and law enforcement
  • the administration of justice, including in relation to the operation of courts and tribunals, correctional centres and community corrections

Unvaccinated passengers sailing out of Florida will soon have to buy a travel insurance policy before they can board a ship in the Carnival Cruise line.

Carnival’s new COVID policy requiring unvaccinated travelers to show proof of travel insurance goes into effect for trips that set sail from Florida starting July 31. The cruise line has ports in Miami, Orlando, Tampa and Jacksonville.

The insurance policy must cover a minimum of $10,000 in medical expenses and include a “$30,000 coverage for emergency medical evacuation and without COVID-19 exclusions,” Carnival says in their policy.

Carnival isn’t the only cruise line to institute a policy specifically for Florida ports. The state has issued a ban on companies requiring customers or employees to be vaccinated, which means that even if a cruise company has decided to require all travelers to be vaccinated before they get on a boat, they have to make exceptions for cruises leaving from Florida.

Florida’s ban has also prompted a new policy for unvaccinated passengers departing on cruises there from Royal Caribbean, and Norwegian Cruise Lines filed a lawsuit this week against Florida’s surgeon general over the ban, saying in a statement that the ban prevents cruise lines from “safely and soundly resuming passenger cruise operations.” Norwegian is scheduled to resume cruises from Florida on Aug. 15.

Adobe

Royal Caribbean announced in June that they’d made travel insurance mandatory for unvaccinated passengers 12 and older sailing out of Florida. The policy change came after unvaccinated teenagers tested positive for COVID on a “fully vaccinated” Royal Caribbean cruise aboard the Adventure of the Seas. Passengers 16 and older were required to prove vaccination, but the two teens who tested positive during routine testing aboard the boat were under 16, Insider reported.

Royal Caribbean’s new policy for unvaccinated passengers 12 and older departing from Florida requires unvaccinated travelers to show proof of insurance covering $25,000 in medical expenses and “$50,000 coverage for emergency medical evacuation and no COVID-19 exclusions.” The policy begins for cruises departing Aug. 1 and applies to trips through the end of the year.

Adobe

Since the FDA has not cleared any of the available COVID-19 vaccines for anyone under the age of 12 yet, Carnival is not requiring insurance for passengers who are children under 12, CBS reported.

So, how much extra will this cost an unvaccinated traveler? Travel insurance policy prices vary because the policies themselves vary, but an analysis from Lending Tree in 2020 found that the average cost of travel insurance is $148.

If you’re planning a trip — especially a trip with kids — read the policies before you book. Cruise Critic reports that while many cruise lines are requiring vaccination, the requirements surrounding age, embarkation and even the vaccines themselves differ. Their handy guide gives an overview of what cruise lines around the world are requiring in 2021.

This story originally appeared on Don’t Waste Your Money. Checkout Don’t Waste Your Money for product reviews and

It’s one thing to require unvaccinated travelers to quarantine or undergo extra Covid tests.

It’s another to bar them altogether.

A small but growing list of travel destinations is either closing its doors to unvaccinated travelers or reopening only to vaccinated ones. Either way, the unvaccinated are seeing their travel options start to dwindle as tourism-dependent nations prioritize safety and simplified entrance requirements over open-door policies for all.   

Unvaccinated people no longer welcome

When Anguilla reopened last November, travelers to the small Caribbean island needed to test negative for Covid-19 before and after arriving. A rash of new cases then occurred in April, and Anguilla reclosed its borders to tourists for a month.

Starting next week, unvaccinated travelers will not be allowed to enter Anguilla.

Michael Runkel | Collection Mix: Subjects | Getty Images

Now, the British overseas territory is switching tactics. Starting July 1, visitors must be vaccinated at least three weeks before arriving. This applies to “all visitors … who are eligible to be vaccinated,” according to the Anguilla Tourist Board’s website, which says children are exempt from the requirement.  

Vaccinated travelers will no longer need to quarantine, take a Covid test upon arrival or pay entrance fees. Earlier this year, vaccinated travelers were charged $300 to enter, while unvaccinated visitors were charged $600.

Cases rise, tolerance falls

Anguilla isn’t the only Caribbean island closing the doors to unvaccinated travelers. The dual island nation of St. Kitts and Nevis instituted a similar policy last month.  

As of May 29, St. Kitts accepts only travelers who have been vaccinated with U.S. or European vaccines. The new rule was part of several initiatives announced by Prime Minister Timothy Harris in response to a cluster of 16 Covid cases detected on the islands last month, according to St. Kitts Tourism Authority.

A cluster of 16 new Covid cases in May resulted in St. Kitts and Nevis closing its borders to unvaccinated travelers.

Walter Bibikow | DigitalVision | Getty Images

“The previously announced travel requirements for non-vaccinated travelers are null and void,” according to a statement announcing the policy change.

The islands are under a 6 p.m. daily curfew, and tourist sites are closed until June 26. A timeframe for reopening to unvaccinated tourists has not yet been indicated.

Unvaccinated children traveling with vaccinated parents can also enter, though they must “vacation in place” for 14 days, rather than the nine days required for vaccinated tourists.   

Anguilla and St. Kitts and Nevis are deemed Level 1 low Covid destinations by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Both were highlighted by CNBC in March as being among only a handful of tourist destinations that opened while maintaining low Covid infection rates. 

A ‘compelling reason’ to travel

Other locations require unvaccinated visitors to show they are traveling for reasons beyond simply needing a vacation.

When French Polynesia, which includes the islands of Tahiti and Bora Bora, reopened on May 1, it singled out Americans as the only nationality that could

Warmer weather and low coronavirus case numbers are raising hope in some countries in Europe that vaccine rollouts could usher in a more normal summer after an erratic year of lockdowns.

France announced on Wednesday, sooner than expected, that it was ending a mandate on mask-wearing outdoors and lifting a nighttime curfew that has lasted for months — an increasingly unpopular measure as days grew longer and cafes reopened.

“The health situation in our country is improving, and it is improving even faster than what we had hoped,” Jean Castex, the French prime minister, said in making the announcement, which some political opponents noted came a few days before regional elections.

In addition, tourists from the United States may be allowed back into European Union countries as early as Friday — a move crucial for lifting Europe’s battered economies. On Wednesday, ambassadors of the European Union indicated their support for adding the United States to a list of countries considered safe from an epidemiological point of view, a bloc official confirmed, though no official announcement is expected until Friday.

The traffic will be one-way, however, unless the United States lifts its ban on many European travelers, which was announced on Jan. 25 of this year, days after President Biden took office. The U.S. barred noncitizens traveling from many countries around the globe, including the Schengen area of Europe, the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland.

In Europe, however, low infection numbers in many countries in recent weeks have been taken as an optimistic sign. But that is not the case everywhere. In Britain, officials are keeping watch for the Delta variant, which has spurred a rise in cases, and on Monday delayed by a month a much-anticipated reopening that had been heralded as “freedom day.”

And in Moscow, a surge of cases prompted a shutdown, leaving Russian officials pleading with residents to get vaccinated.

Still, the move to open up the European Union countries to tourists from the United States signaled a wider hope that the bloc is on a pathway to normality more than a year after the pandemic began.

But health policy in the European Union is ultimately the province of the national member governments, so each country has the right to decide whether to reopen, and to tailor the travel measures further — adding requirements for PCR tests and quarantines, for example.

Travel from outside the bloc was practically suspended last year to limit the spread of the coronavirus, with the exception of a handful of countries that fulfilled specific criteria, such as low infection rate, and their overall response to Covid-19. Until Wednesday, the list, contained a relatively small number of nations, including Australia, Japan and South Korea, but will add more to the list, including Albania, Lebanon, North Macedonia and Serbia.

Some countries heavily dependent on tourism, like Spain and Greece, have already reopened for external travelers in recent weeks. Germany also lifted more restrictions this month, announcing it would remove a travel

In early April, Payal Raj accompanied her family to India to renew the visas that permit them to live in the United States. She and her husband waited until they had been vaccinated, carefully preparing their paperwork according to the advice of their immigration lawyers. But the visa itself would soon strand her in India indefinitely, separating her from her husband and daughter in Hendersonville, Tenn.

“Our family is in a crisis,” said Ms. Raj, who is one of thousands of immigrants stuck in India, in part because the Biden administration’s restrictions on most travel from the country mean that temporary visa holders are explicitly barred from re-entering the United States. “Every morning is a struggle.”

The restrictions, issued as a devastating surge in coronavirus cases has overwhelmed India in recent weeks, prohibit Ms. Raj and others like her from returning to their homes, families and jobs in the United States. Even those exempt under the ban are in limbo as the outbreak forces the U.S. Embassy and consulates to close, leaving many with no clear path home.

Ms. Raj’s husband, Yogesh Kumar, an operations manager for a multinational corporation, lives in the United States on an H-1B visa, or a temporary permit for highly technical foreign workers. As dependents, Ms. Raj and their daughter hold H-4 visas, which allow temporary workers to bring immediate family and must be renewed about every three years at an embassy or consulate outside the United States.

Mr. Kumar and his daughter, Saanvi Kumar, renewed their visas, but Ms. Raj was asked to submit biometrics and complete an in-person interview, both of which would not be completed until after the travel restrictions went into effect two weeks ago.

As the primary breadwinner, Mr. Kumar said his employer would not allow him to work from India indefinitely given that some aspects of his job required in-person interaction. He returned to Tennessee with Saanvi, leaving Ms. Raj behind in Bangalore.

“If he quits his job, we won’t have any means to sustain ourselves,” Ms. Raj said of her husband, whose income also supports both their parents. “But in the middle of all of this, I’m sitting here, away from my family, for I don’t know — months? Years?”

The White House did not respond to questions about the restrictions on travel from India, but a State Department representative described them as “appropriate public health measures” that are “critical” to defeating the coronavirus.

“The pandemic is a global issue, and it will not be over for anyone until it’s over for everyone,” the representative said in a statement.

But critics say that the exemptions to the travel ban are unevenly applied and still risk spreading the virus. American citizens and permanent residents, for instance, can travel freely, while people who are fully vaccinated, test negative or quarantine before and after flying cannot. The administration has not indicated when or under what circumstances it would lift the restrictions.

“They just put the same blanket ban for India

Americans who have been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus may be able to visit countries in the European Union this summer, the head of the bloc’s executive body said.

Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, told The New York Times on Sunday that immunization with a vaccine that has been approved by bloc’s drug regulator, the European Medicines Agency, “will enable free movement and the travel to the European Union.”

The agency has approved each of the three coronavirus vaccines available in the United States, which were developed by Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech and Johnson & Johnson.

“One thing is clear,” she told the newspaper. “All 27 member states will accept, unconditionally, all those who are vaccinated with vaccines that are approved by EMA.”

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NBC News confirmed von der Leyen’s statements with a European Commission spokesperson, who declined to comment further.

A spokesperson for the U.S. Mission to the E.U. in Brussels declined to comment.

A timeline for potential travel isn’t clear. The 27-member bloc will require digital vaccination certificates from travelers as proof of immunization.

A commission had previously confirmed talks are underway between the two sides. On Wednesday, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas spoke with the E.U.’s commissioner for justice, Didier Reynders, in a virtual meeting where travel was discussed.

Travel is also contingent on the “epidemiological situation” in both regions, Von der Leyen told The New York Times, though she added that the U.S. appeared to be “on track” to achieving herd immunity.

More tourists from the U.S. visit the E.U. than from any other country outside the bloc, with 25 million arrivals spending 74 million nights in 2016, according to an E.U.-funded report.

The European Union imposed travel restrictions on most foreigners last March and failed to allow travelers from the U.S. to enter when it reopened its borders in July.

Tim Stelloh reported from New York; Patrick Smith reported from London.