After a tumultuous 48 hours, in which the state of Rhode Island threatened to stop any car with New York license plates and President Trump considered quarantining New Yorkers, the Centers for Disease Control issued a travel advisory urging residents of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut to avoid out-of-state travel for 14 days due to coronavirus.
The CDC advisory issued Saturday night urged those living in the tri-state area to refrain from non-essential domestic travel for 14 days effective immediately.
That excludes employees of critical infrastructure industries as defined by the Department of Homeland Security, according to Forbes, which includes “employees of critical infrastructure industries, including but not limited to trucking, public health professionals, financial services, and food supply.”
The CDC said the governors of the three states will have full discretion to implement this Domestic Travel Advisory.
New York, and particularly New York City with its close proximity to New Jersey and Connecticut, has become the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, with 52,000 positives cases and more than 520 deaths alone.
The CDC decision capped an extraordinary couple of days that started when Rhode Island Gov. Raimondo ordered the National Guard and police to check drivers with New York license plates in the tiny state to see if they were new arrivals and needed to self-quarantine.
That – coming on the heels of Florida, Maryland, South Carolina and Texas ordering people from the tri-state area to self-quarantine for 14 days – included sending officials door-to-door to vacation homes in popular Rhode Island beachfront towns.
“I think that’s a reactionary policy and I don’t think that’s legal,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on CNN. “And we’re talking to Rhode Island now. If they don’t roll back that policy, I’m going to sue Rhode Island, because that clearly is unconstitutional.”
President Trump, talking briefly with reporters on the White House lawn before departing for Norfolk, Va., said that “Some people would like to see New York quarantined because it’s a hot spot. I’m thinking about that right now.”
Instead, the president instructed the CDC coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/travel-in-the-us.html” target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow noopener noreferrer”>to issue its warning late Saturday night.
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Travel Industry Lauds Passage of Paycheck Protection Program Reform Bill
The U.S. Senate passed the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Flexibility Act on Wednesday, sending it to President Donald Trump’s desk for final approval.
The reform bill provides business owners with additional flexibility and more time to utilize loan money and still be forgiven under the PPP established to provide economic relief in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The travel industry has been quick to commend lawmakers. The American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA) is in full support having advocated for the improvements behind the scenes.
“We commend the Senate for passing the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act (H.R. 7010), which would change PPP loan terms—in some cases retroactively—in a number of ways ASTA has advocated for, including five-year loan terms, reducing the requirement that 75 percent of the loan must go to payroll to get forgiveness, allowing forgivable expense over 24 weeks (as opposed to the current eight) and allowing companies to restore headcount without jeopardizing forgiveness by the end of the year (versus the current June 30),” Eben Peck, EVP Advocacy, ASTA, said in a statement.
“While the PPP will remain complex, this bill gives more flexibility to PPP recipients and increases the chances that loans can be fully forgiven,” Peck concluded.
The U.S. Travel Association also wasted no time praising the decision, calling it an “important step.”
“The PPP changes passed by both chambers are another important step in providing relief to small businesses that otherwise will not survive until the economic recovery phase,” added U.S. Travel’s Executive Vice President of Public Affairs and Policy Tori Emerson Barnes. “The modification to the portion of funds that can be used for non-payroll expenses is especially crucial to travel-related small businesses, which have comparatively high capital overhead but virtually zero incoming revenue because of the necessary measures in place to stem the spread of the pandemic.”
U.S. Travel still believes that there’s more work to be done to ensure a successful recovery. The organization is encouraging officials to extend PPP eligibility to non-profit and quasi-governmental entities responsible for driving local and regional economic development.
“Like the businesses they serve, the finances of these non-profits have been devastated by the standstill in travel and tourism, and the moment of recovery will be moot unless they can keep their lights on to take advantage of the return in travel demand,” Barnes stated. “We urge leaders to move urgently to enact the next phase of coronavirus response legislation, which is absolutely vital to the future of the travel and tourism industry, and to prioritize expanding eligibility to those most hard hit by this pandemic such as destination marketing organizations.”
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