Fiji, the South Pacific archipelago of more than 300 islands, closed its borders to tourists in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Officials now say the country is poised to open its borders once again.

Indeed, Fiji plans to re-open November 1, Fiji’s Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama, said on the Radio Fiji One Nai Lalakai program, FBC (Fiji) News reports. That’s even earlier than an anticipated reopening on December 1.

Bainimarama says the planned reopening is based on recent developments both locally and abroad, and that the government is confident the goal will be met.

“You must have heard that Qantas has announced its international restart plan for December,” Bainimarama said. “Qantas plans to include Fiji, which has given us the confidence to open our international border by November 1.”

Earlier this week, Qantas Airways, Australia’s largest airline, announced its plans to prepare for international travel in countries with high vaccine rates to resume in December. “We’re preparing for a gradual restart of international flights from mid-December 2021, with plans linked to the vaccination rollout in Australia and key international markets,” the airline said in a statement.

A Tropical Paradise

Fiji, which is roughly two-thirds of the way from Hawaii to New Zealand, is 1,300 miles north of Auckland, New Zealand. The population is 939,535

The country is famous for its rugged landscapes and palm tree-lined beaches. However, Fiji has also been called the “Soft Coral Capital of the World” by legendary undersea explorer and conservationist Jacques Cousteau.

Due to those coral reefs, Fiji is a spectacular place for snorkeling and SCUBA diving.

Cause For Celebration

Although the details for Fiji’s reopening have not been released, the news is welcome to the country’s population. 

Tourism makes up at least 40 percent of Fiji’s gross domestic product. Since the country closed due to the pandemic, it’s estimated the country has lost approximately $1.3 million,

an ABC Radio Australia article reports. An estimated 100,000 tourism-related jobs have also been lost.

Know Before You Go

According to data from Johns Hopkins University, slightly more than 26 percent of Fiji’s residents are fully vaccinated from COVID-19, and there have been 2,261 new cases reported this week. What’s more, there have been 504 deaths from COVID-19 in Fiji, but half of them occurred in August.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a “Level 4: Very High Level of COVID-19” alert for Fiji, bluntly stating “Avoid travel to Fiji.” Based on that guidance, the U.S. State Department also issued a “Level 4: Do Not Travel” alert, stating “Do not travel to Fiji due to COVID-19-related restrictions.”

Be sure to stay up to date on our coverage of Fiji, Australia and South Pacific, and COVID-19.

The majority of Manchester City’s squad have jetted off on a two-week international break, but for three players in particular, they’ve taken up a slightly different job in the fortnight break. 

As confirmed by Pep Guardiola earlier this month, the club had blocked call-up’s for Manchester City’s Brazilian players, with fears about travel due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. 

With strict restrictions still imposed in South America, there was a risk both Gabriel Jesus and Ederson would have to quarantine for 10 days upon their return to England.


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So, instead of some light training and relaxation, Sam Lee from the Athletic has reported that both Fernandinho and Gabriel Jesus have been working with Manchester City’s under-18s and under-23s during the international break.

Joined by Kevin De Bruyne – who is currently recovering from an ankle injury – the trio have also helped out with some advice and words of encouragement for the up and coming starlets.


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We’ve already seen the benefits working with world-class players can bring to the club’s talents range of academy prospects.

Graduate Phil Foden is now one of the best players in Manchester City’s squad, but for years he worked very closely with the likes of legendary duo David Silva and Sergio Agüero.

Recently, it was revealed that all of Romeo Lavia, James McAtee, Liam Delap and Cole Palmer would be receiving the same development pathway this season.


Follow us on Twitter for live updates: @City_Xtra

The decision about when to open Australia’s borders for travel is something Keerthigha N P thinks about constantly.

Her two-year-old daughter Shivashakthi is in Singapore with Dr N P’s parents while she trains to be a general practitioner in Sydney.

“Because of my training, I rotate to different rural areas every few months and I thought it wouldn’t be a good idea to be bringing her to new spots all the time,” she said.

“Now I’m left unable to hug her. I don’t get that much leave and all my time would be spent in quarantine if I were to try to travel to see her now, so I have to wait.”

Dr N P hasn’t seen her daughter since December last year and her absence is unlikely to be resolved any time soon.

NSW has announced it will halve its intake of returning Australians from overseas to 750 per week until at least the end of October to reallocate the state’s resources away from hotel quarantine, as the state battles a worsening COVID-19 outbreak.

Departures gate at Sydney Airport
NSW has halved its intake of returning Australians until at least the end of October.(

AAP: Dan Himbrechts

)

Earlier this year — when NSW was processing around 3,000 returned travellers per week through Sydney airport — Premier Gladys Berejiklian repeatedly reminded her counterparts that NSW was shouldering most of Australia’s hotel quarantine burden.

However, that was cut to 1,500 in July when the Delta COVID-19 variant began to take hold in India, and from next week it will be cut further.

The announcement came on the same day Ms Berejiklian said she wanted all Australians to be “home for Christmas”.

Ms Berejiklian said she didn’t understand why some states and territories were walking away from a national plan to relax restrictions when certain vaccination milestones were reached.

“We want Australians reunited with their families at Christmas time. My absolute goal and dream is to have every Australian home for Christmas, whether it’s Aussies within Australia visiting loved ones, or Aussies overseas coming back home.”

Ms Berejiklian yesterday made it clear she would be keen to see NSW receive some international arrivals when enough people had been vaccinated.

“While 70 per cent double dose gives those of us vaccinated freedoms, 80 per cent double dose allows us to look at international travel, welcoming home all Australians,” she said.

“It would be disappointing if NSW and Victorian residents were able to go overseas before they can go interstate.”

Singapore’s high vaccination and low transmission rates place it on top of the list for potential travel bubble destinations, along with a federal commitment by

Interest in the purchase of international flight tickets went up by 250% on Sunday as the Health Ministry announced that people who receive their third COVID vaccination will not have to enter full quarantine after returning from orange-designated countries, according to N12’s Lee Abramowitz.

Demand jumped immediately by 50% after the announcement in comparison to last weekend, and the air travel website Gulliver said that traffic on its website had risen by 250%, according to Abramowitz.

Israelis did not just surf the web but opened their wallets, as the number of tickets sold also rose sharply.

Israeli airlines are preparing to fly to many destinations to meet the growing demand and according to the report,  Israir will be resuming flights to Athens, Rhodes, Baku, Cyprus, Montenegro, Marrakesh and other destinations.

Brazil, Turkey, Mexico, Spain, Bulgaria and Georgia are still designated as red countries and as of Monday, travel to those countries is still restricted.    

Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz announced at a press conference on Sunday evening that the third coronavirus vaccine shot is available for anyone who has been fully inoculated for at least five months. It was previously available only to adults over the age of 30 and workers in fields deemed essential, such as healthcare.

 Health Nitzan Horowitz attends a press conference about the Coronavirus, in Jerusalem on August 29, 2021. (credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90) Health Nitzan Horowitz attends a press conference about the Coronavirus, in Jerusalem on August 29, 2021. (credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)
In addition, under the new rules, which are due to take effect on Friday, all those who are either vaccinated within the previous five months or who were vaccinated earlier and received a booster, will be exempt from isolation if they return from all countries, except those labeled as red.

Currently, all inbound travelers to Israel are required to quarantine for a minimum of seven days, unless they come from a very limited group of countries.

CANBERRA, Australia — Qantas Group posted a $1.7 billion (AU$2.35 billion) pandemic-related annual loss on Thursday and forecast Australia will reopen to international travel in December.

The Sydney-based airline company said it expected flights to countries with high vaccination rates including the United States, Britain, Japan and Singapore would resume in mid-December.

Flights to countries with lower vaccination rates including Indonesia, the Philippines and South Africa would restart from April next year at the earliest, Qantas said in a statement to the Australian Securities Exchange.

“One of the biggest unknowns is the quarantine requirements for fully vaccinated travelers entering Australia,” the statement said.

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If Australia keeps its requirement for vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers to spend 14 days in hotel quarantine, travel demand would be “very low.”

“A shorter period with additional testing and the option to isolate at home will see a lot more people travel,” the statement said.

Australia has had some of the world’s toughest pandemic border restrictions since March 2020. Most Australians must ask the government for an exemption from a travel ban to leave the country and foreigners are in most circumstances refused permission to enter.

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The Qantas prediction for a resumption in international travel was based on an agreement reached by Australian government leaders in July that the country will begin to reopen when 80% of the population aged 16 and older is fully vaccinated.

Qantas expects Australia will have reached that target by December.

According to the latest government figures released on Thursday, 32% of the target population was fully vaccinated.

Qantas said it had lost AU$16 billion in revenue because of COVID-19 since the pandemic began. The lost revenue would likely exceed AU$20 billion by the end of 2021.

►What Australia’s lockdown looks like:My family is living it

Australia’s largest airline has also suffered financial losses because of domestic travel restrictions.

More than half the Australian population and the two biggest cities, Sydney and Melbourne, are currently locked down due to a delta variant outbreak that began in mid-June.

The company had recorded a $554 million (AU$771 million) pre-tax profit in the first half of that fiscal year before the pandemic struck.

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Qantas planes are seen at Kingsford Smith International Airport, following the coronavirus outbreak, in Sydney, Australia, March 18, 2020. REUTERS/Loren Elliott

  • Loss slightly narrower than prior year
  • Underlying EBITDA in line with market expectations
  • To bring back 5 A380s earlier than planned

SYDNEY, Aug 26 (Reuters) – Qantas Airways Ltd (QAN.AX) on Thursday said it was preparing for international travel with countries with high vaccine rates to resume in December as it reported a slightly narrower annual loss of A$1.73 billion ($1.26 billion).

The airline, which grounded its international fleet in March 2020 due to closed borders, said it planned to bring back five of its 12 Airbus SE (AIR.PA) A380 super-jumbos by mid-2022 to fly to the United States and Britain, a year earlier than previously forecast.

It is a hopeful sign for travel in the Asia-Pacific region, where borders are largely closed and international travel is 95% below pre-COVID levels, though the Qantas plan is dependent on government decisions.

Australia set a target last month for 80% of adults to be fully vaccinated for a calibrated reopening of its international borders. read more

At present, more than half the population is locked down due to COVID-19 outbreaks and just over 30% are fully vaccinated, though forecasts say the country could reach 80% by the end of the year as more doses of imported vaccines arrive.

“When Australia reaches those critical vaccination targets later this year and the likelihood of future lockdowns and border closures reduces, we expect to see a surge in domestic travel demand and a gradual return of international travel,” Qantas Chief Executive Alan Joyce said.

Pending government decisions, Qantas said it expected flights to countries with high vaccine rates like Singapore, Japan, the United States, Britain and hopefully New Zealand to resume from mid-December.

Flights to places with lower vaccination rates like Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and South Africa would restart from April 2022 at the earliest, it added.

“One of the biggest unknowns is the quarantine requirements for fully vaccinated travellers entering Australia,” Joyce said. “If it’s 14 days in a hotel, demand levels will be very low. A shorter period with additional testing and the option to isolate at home will see a lot more people travel.”

The airline forecasts international capacity will reach 30% to 40% of pre-COVID levels in the third quarter and 50% to 70% in the fourth quarter.

Qantas reported underlying earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) of A$410 million for the 12 months ended June 30, in line with the average figure expected by 11 analysts polled by Refinitiv.

The statutory loss of A$1.73 billion, including impairments and restructuring charges, was better than last year’s A$1.96 billion loss.

The airline reported A$3.8 billion of liquidity as of June 30, down A$200 million from April 30.

The domestic market had performed strongly in the fourth quarter when state borders, often closed at times of small COVID-19 outbreaks, had been largely open.

But the country’s most populous city,

Locals and tourists attend an event organized to mark the opening of Phuket to international tourists on Patong beach.

Thomas De Cian | NurPhoto | Getty Images

The darkest days for the tourism industry may soon be over, according to the chairman of a multinational hospitality firm.

Tourist hotspots like Phuket are now open to international tourists who don’t have to quarantine, and others like Koh Samui are following suit, pointed out William Heinecke, CEO of Minor International, which runs a chain of hotels and restaurants worldwide.

The Thai government recently announced a “sandbox scheme” for Phuket, saying the popular resort island will be open, quarantine-free to vaccinated Thai and foreign travelers from July 1. Koh Samui, Thailand’s second largest island also became accessible to tourists from July 15 under the same rules.

Tourists can move around both islands freely and leave for other cities in Thailand after staying in Phuket or Samui for 14 days.

“I think we’re already seeing the results of that (sandbox) with people coming in … Phuket has been doing it effectively since July 1,” with a rising number of tourists each day, he told CNBC’s “Street Signs” last week.

Strong rebound in Europe, China

Minor International, which runs more than 530 hotels, resorts and serviced suites worldwide, is also seeing a strong recovery in Europe, the Middle East and China, Heinecke said, pointing out that some regions have returned to pre-Covid levels or higher.

Hotels are also seeing a strong demand in room types with higher pricing room types — such as villas, suites and deluxe rooms — being taken up before regular rooms.

“In Europe, where we just reopened, we’re seeing very strong demand. We’ve seen very steady recovery since January in the Middle East… our Middle East properties are now functioning at pre-Covid levels. We have many countries in the world that are in pre-Covid levels or higher. China is another one,” he added.

One of the trends for sure that we see is much more focus on wellness and immunity and people concerned about their health.

William Heinecke

CEO and Chairman, Minor International

Heinecke also noted the change in consumer behavior when it comes to tourism during the pandemic, and added that his company is taking advantage of it by offering more programs focused on wellness.

“One of the trends for sure that we see is much more focus on wellness and immunity, and people concerned about their health,” he added.

Risks to outlook

While demand for tourism has rebounded in parts of the world and recovery has been strong, the rate of vaccine rollouts in Asia has been a concern.

“We see still slowness in many markets brought on by problems with (vaccine) production,” Heinecke said, naming slow progress in Malaysia and the Philippines.

That’s “partly because of the AstraZeneca manufacturing in Thailand,” he added.

Thailand started producing Covid-19 vaccines for British-Swedish drugmaker AstraZeneca in June. Its local partner Siam Bioscience, owned by King Maha Vajiralongkorn, is set to produce

The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) has expressed its concerns that the lack of governments’ coordination to agree on a list of approved COVID-19 vaccines could continue to block the restart of international travel.

“The restart of international travel could be seriously delayed without worldwide reciprocal recognition of all approved COVID-19 vaccines,” the statement published by the tourism body, which represents the global private travel and tourism sector has revealed,  SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.

WTTC’s comments came after many travellers from the United Kingdom who have taken the AstraZeneca jab, manufactured in India, were not permitted to enter Malta, even though the vaccine is identical to the UK-made vaccine, approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

Malta’s government previously announced that it would restrict non-vaccinated passengers wishing to enter the country from the United Kingdom, as the latter faces an increased number of COVID-19 infections, especially from the Delta variant. Such a decision was considered discriminatory by the European Union.

Due to the recent increase in the number of infections in the UK, some countries started to impose stricter restrictions on arrivals from Britain in a bid to stop the further spread of the disease.

However, several countries in Europe said that they would start accepting the vaccine version of AstraZeneca produced in India, known as Covishield.

Recently, the number of holidaymakers facing many difficulties entering other countries has marked an increase. According to WTTC, such a situation is provoked by the lack of coordination to agree on a list of approved vaccines.

Many travellers face difficulties despite most vaccines approved by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

Such difficulties reported by passengers, according to WTTC, are damaging the already struggling travel and tourism sector.

“Reciprocal recognition of all vaccine types and batches is essential if we are to avoid any further unnecessary and damaging delay to restarting international travel,” the Senior Vice President of the WTTC, Virginia Messina, pointed out.

She said WTTC is very concerned regarding the failure of countries to agree on a standard list of recognized vaccines, stressing that everyday travel is curbed and more cash-strapped travel and tourism businesses face even more significant strain.

“We can avoid this by having a fully recognised list of all the approved vaccines – and vaccine batches – which should be the key to unlocking international travel, not the door to preventing it,” Messina stresses.

WTTC believes the restoration of safe international travel can be possible by following four guidelines:

  • Worldwide recognition for international travel of all vaccines deemed safe by the World Health Organization.
  • “A data-driven, risk-based and internationally harmonised approach to re-establishing freedom of movement that is consistent across countries.”
  • International adoption of digital health passports which permits passengers to obtain and verify their vaccination status easily.
  • Continued implementation of high-quality safety and  health and standards “throughout all areas of travel and tourism industry.”

Previously, the annual Economic Trends Report conducted by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) revealed that Europe’s

The delta variant is quickly establishing itself as the dominant COVID-19 strain – but do travelers need to be concerned? 

The highly transmissible variant accounts for nearly 58% of all U.S. infections, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and has been detected in more than 100 countries. The World Health Organization expects it to become the most common strain in the coming months. 

Some countries are beginning to tighten entry restrictions to get a handle on its spread, just as international travel had been starting to pick up steam.  

“Undoubtedly, this is a virus that spreads really, really quickly,” Richard Webby, who helps lead St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital’s Infectious Diseases Department, told USA TODAY. “It is a stumbling block as far as us getting to the other end of this (pandemic).” 

Delta variant:Accounts for 58% of U.S. infections; COVID-19 updates

Mask rules and more: What you need to know about summer travel in Europe

What sort of travel restrictions are in place today?

Travel restrictions vary across countries. 

Some are continuing to ease roadblocks to entry – Switzerland, Finland and Qatar all started allowing in more travelers in recent weeks – while others are starting to reimpose COVID-19 safety protocols that had been pushed aside ahead of the busy summer travel season. 

Less than a month after reopening its borders to foreign travelers, Portugal now asks for proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test before checking in to a hotel or dining in an indoor restaurant at certain hours. Some areas in the country are also enforcing a nightly curfew. 

Malta is requiring either proof of vaccination or EU Digital COVID Certificate to enter, and other countries – including Israel – have extended their travel ban in an attempt to keep the delta variant at bay.   

“If I was a country that didn’t have a lot of this (delta variant) activity going on, it’s a virus that I would want to keep out of my community,” Webby said. “I would certainly be imposing travel restrictions from places where this virus is rampant. Unfortunately, at the moment, that’s a lot of places around the globe.”

Purvi Parikh, an immunologist who has worked as an investigator for some of the COVID-19 vaccine trials, believes the variant “will definitely impact international travel.”

“Various parts of the world may go back on lockdown depending on spread and vaccines and testing will be required,” she said via email. “(Some countries) may have to reinforce lockdown, travel bans, masking and quarantines, depending how bad it is.”

She added that the easing of restrictions will depend on countries’ vaccination efforts, and “many are behind.”

Some areas in the U.S. are starting to reimpose COVID-19 restrictions, too. 

Starting Saturday, masks will be required indoors in Los Angeles County, regardless of vaccination status. And earlier this week, Chicago added Missouri and Arkansas back to its travel advisory, which advises unvaccinated visitors from the two states with rising COVID-19 cases

Despite intense pressure from the travel industry and warnings of “dire economic consequences,” the Biden administration has no immediate plans to lift any international travel restrictions amid the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a White House official.

“We have made tremendous progress domestically in our vaccination efforts, as have many of these other countries, but we want to ensure that we move deliberately and are in a position to sustainably reopen international travel when it is safe to do so,” an unidentified White House official told Reuters on Wednesday.

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President Joe Biden.

The statement comes one month after the administration launched interagency working groups with the European Union, United Kingdom, Canada and Mexico to examine how to best lift restrictions and ultimately resume free-flowing travel. “While these groups have met a number of times, there are further discussions to be had before we can announce any next steps on travel reopening with any country,” the official said.

Earlier this week, a coalition of at least two dozen travel industry associations came together to develop a blueprint for reopening the U.S. to international travel that identifies policy principles to quickly welcome foreign tourists back to the U.S. without sacrificing health and safety.

“The travel industry agrees that being guided by the science is absolutely the correct approach, and the science has been telling us for some time that it’s possible to begin to safely reopen international travel,” U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow said in a statement.

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