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HomeTravelCovid-19 travel update: Thailand reopens, UK to have lockdown-free Christmas

Covid-19 travel update: Thailand reopens, UK to have lockdown-free Christmas

Thailand is ending quarantine for vaccinated visitors from more than 60 countries, the biggest reopening gamble in Asia and one that could mark a turning point for the revival of mass tourism during the pandemic.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is adamant that the UK will have a Christmas without restrictions despite an alarming spike in Covid-19 cases. “I see no evidence whatever to think that any kind of lockdown is on the cards,” Johnson told reporters.

Key Developments:

  • Virus Tracker: Cases approach 246.4 million; deaths surpass 4.99 million
  • Vaccine Tracker: More than 7 billion shots given
  • China’s Xi uses G-20 talk to push for mutual recognition of shots
  • Isolated China is cracking under the strain of keeping Covid out
  • Shots for younger kids need doctors’ push to sway leery parents
  • Homelessness surges in Brazil’s biggest cities as Covid fades

Australia Opens For New Zealand Tourists (8:43 a.m. HK)

Australia has further loosened its tight border controls, with fully vaccinated tourists arriving from New Zealand permitted to fly there without quarantining starting from late Sunday evening.

Quarantine-free travel will initially be limited to those arriving in New South Wales and Victoria, the two jurisdictions that have scrapped the isolation requirement for vaccinated international travellers. 

“Australia’s rapidly increasing vaccination coverage has put us in good stead to take the next steps in reopening our borders to the world,” Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said in a statement.

Thailand’s Reopens For Vaccinated Travelers (8:00 a.m. HK)

Thailand is ending quarantine for vaccinated visitors from more than 60 countries, the biggest reopening gamble in Asia and one that could mark a turning point for the revival of mass tourism during the pandemic.

Starting Monday, fully-vaccinated travellers flying in from the U.S., China, Singapore, Japan, India and most of Europe will be able to freely tour Thailand after testing negative for Covid on arrival. Inoculated visitors from countries not on the list can travel to Bangkok and 16 other regions, but they will be confined to their initial destination for the first seven days.

It’s the biggest step Thailand has taken to welcome back a slice of the nearly 40 million visitors it hosted the year before the pandemic, and is billed as a “fight to win foreign tourists” as countries from Australia to the U.K. also loosen Covid curbs.

Johnson Says UK Will Have Lockdown-Free Christmas (5:00am HK)

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is adamant that the U.K. will have a Christmas without restrictions despite an alarming spike in Covid-19 cases.

“I see no evidence whatever to think that any kind of lockdown is on the cards,” Johnson told reporters en route to the Group of 20 summit in Rome. “Yes it’s true that cases are high, but they do not currently constitute any reason to go to Plan B.”

The promise of a lockdown-free Christmas this year is one Johnson will want to keep after he dramatically changed course last December and cancelled plans to allow families to see each other over the holidays. 

Harris Gets Booster Shot (5:45 p.m. NY)

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris received a booster of her Moderna Inc. vaccine on Saturday, some nine months after completing her first two shots on Jan. 26.

US Boosters Reach 1 Million Daily (5:22 p.m. NY)

Vaccine booster shots have risen above 1 million for the last two days, amid an uptick in the pace of U.S. inoculation. Slightly more than 1.6 million vaccinations were reported on Saturday, among the highest daily totals in the last four months. 

Third shots and boosters have been outstripping first doses since the beginning of October, after an extra shot from Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE was approved for vulnerable populations. The numbers have soared since booster shots from Moderna Inc. and Johnson & Johnson were approved last week. 

More than 4 million people have already received boosters from Moderna, with about 75,000 from Johnson & Johnson, according to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than 13 million Pfizer boosters have been given.

As of Saturday, 69.5% of adults in the U.S. were fully vaccinated and 9.9% had received a booster dose, according to the CDC.

Greek Cases Surge to Pandemic High (4:40 p.m. NY)

Greece recorded 4,696 cases on Saturday, a new daily high since the beginning of the pandemic. 

A committee of health experts is scheduled to meet on Wednesday to discuss imposing new measures mainly in regions with high number of unvaccinated people. Just above 70% of adults have gotten at least one dose. 

The aim of any further potential measures will be to convince citizens to get vaccinated, Gkikas Magiorkinis, an adviser to the government on Covid-19 said Saturday on Skai TV.

Oregon Mandate Allowed for Many Exemptions (4:05 p.m. NY)

Oregon’s vaccine mandate for health-care workers, state workers and some teachers allowed for significant exemptions, including almost half of emergency medical responders in one city in the state’s south, The Oregonian reported. 

The state mandate, one of the broadest in the US, did push up vaccination rates, the newspaper found. But many exemptions for religious and health reasons were granted, which the newspaper said were not fully tracked. 

The investigation listed vaccination rates and percentage of exemptions approved. Portland public schools were 96% vaccinated. Among EMTs in the city of Medford, 44% applied for exemptions and all of them were approved. 

NYC Workers Get Last-Minute Shots (11:27 a.m. NY)

Vaccination rates among New York City’s police, fire and sanitation departments rose as workers faced possible suspension on Monday. The city is bracing for gaps in public health and safety, with tens of thousands of essential public workers still not vaccinated under the mandate imposed by Mayor Bill de Blasio. 

The New York Police Department said its vaccination rate had risen to 84%, from 79% on Thursday. The Fire Department’s numbers rose to 77% from 69% the day before. 

Amid complaints of trash already piling up on city sidewalks, the rate for sanitation workers rose 10% to 77%, according to City Hall data.

Most city workers were required to receive a first dose by Friday afternoon, but were allowed to work through the weekend, presumably leaving more time for vaccination.

States Sue US Over Contractor Mandate (11:15 a.m. NY)

More than a dozen states sued President Joe Biden over his vaccine mandate for federal contractors, arguing the initiative forces Americans to choose between their jobs and their constitutional rights. 

The U.S. constitution doesn’t give the federal government the right to dictate “any and every facet of its citizens’ lives,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said in one of the complaints, filed Friday night in federal court in Galveston, Texas. 

More than a dozen other Republican-led states joined in two other lawsuits filed in federal courts on Friday in Missouri and Georgia. 

Ireland Posts Most New Cases Since January (9 a.m. NY)

Ireland reported 2,966 new Covid-19 cases on Saturday, the highest daily uptick in infections since January.

Ninety-two people were being treated in an intensive-care unit as of 11:30 a.m. local time, government figures showed. More than 443,000 people have been infected since the pandemic began.

Russia Reports Record Cases (6:30 a.m. NY)

Russia reported a record number of daily infections, even after restrictions were announced to slow the spread.

There were 40,251 new cases and 1,160 deaths over the past day — fractionally below the record fatalities posted on Friday — according to data from the national coronavirus headquarters.

September was Russia’s deadliest since World War II , with 44,265 deaths associated with the virus last month, according to figures published Friday. President Vladimir Putin has ordered non-working days for the first week of November, while several regions imposed tougher lockdowns. Moscow is closed for most business from Oct. 28 through Nov. 7.

China Says Mongolia Outbreak Under Control (6:18 a.m. NY)

Chinese officials said the country’s latest Covid-19 outbreak is under control but the share of the elderly getting infected has posed healthcare challenges.

The virus hotspot of Ejina county in Inner Mongolia, a tourist destination that draws many older visitors, has not seen cases spreading to other places in four days, National Health Commission officials said in a media briefing on Saturday. All new infections found among close contacts are under quarantine, they said.

Merkel Says New Surge Should ‘Worry Us All’ (4:30 p.m. HK)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned in a newspaper interview that people should continue to take Covid-19 seriously as the latest wave of infections reached its highest level since May 3.

Trends in hospitalization and death rates “worry me a lot,” Merkel is quoted as saying in an interview with Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung. “They should worry us all.”

Germany reported 90 new Covid deaths on Saturday morning. Though about two-thirds of the population is fully immunized, some 3.6 million residents above the age of 60 still haven’t gotten their shots.

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This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.

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