As residents nervously await its impending arrival, the Gulf Coast’s first Hurricane of the season is now mere miles south of making landfall on Louisiana.
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Tropical Storm Barry has been upgraded this morning to Hurricane Barry, a Category One storm, with wind speeds up to 75mph, reports WSB-TV Atlanta. Major flooding and storm surges remain the area’s most pressing concerns as it awaits the full force of the hurricane. CBS News has surmised that Barry could bring “dangerous, life-threatening flooding” in areas of southeast Louisiana and southwest Mississippi.
WSB-TV’s severe weather meteorologist is predicting between ten and twenty inches of rain and the possibility of three to six feet of storm surge, along with potentially catastrophic flooding along the Mississippi River.
Currently 40 miles south of Lafayette, Barry is expected to hit Morgan City, located about 85 miles southwest of New Orleans, as the morning progresses. More than 56,000 people in Louisiana are without power today and roads are flooded in the state’s coastal communities, where heavy rains on the storm’s outer fringe are already causing issues.
The storm has also forced airlines to cancel hundreds of flights in and out of New Orleans. WSB-TV’s reporter on the ground at Atlanta’s airlines/hartsfield-jackson-atlanta-international-named-busiest-airport-in-world.html” target=”_self” rel=”nofollow noopener noreferrer”>Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport also said that American, Delta, JetBlue, United and Southwest airlines are currently issuing waivers for passengers traveling through select Gulf-Coast area airports to change flights without fees.
The first hurricane of the season has made landfall #HurricaneBarry2019 – Delays and cancellations are happening across the country at airports. At Noon, some passengers are scrambling. I’m live with the impact in Metro Atlanta. pic.twitter.com/lVsuuWFIYC
— Lauren Pozen WSB (@LaurenPozenWSB) July 13, 2019
This morning, CruiseCritic reported that emergency officials have closed the ports of News Orleans and Mobile, affecting schedules of passenger cruise-ship sailings, as well.
The Carnival cruise ships Valor had to alter plans for a New Orleans departure yesterday, diverting to Mobile to begin its current sailing, and the Fantasy’s Mobile departure, scheduled for today, was put on hold until Carnival could confirm the ship’s arrival. The ship’s scheduled return to New Orleans, scheduled for July 15, and the return Carnival Glory’s from its current sailing on July 14, are still up in the air. Carnival has issued a statement, saying: “We will confirm our plans once the post-storm assessment process has been completed and the port [of New Orleans] reopens.”
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WTTC Unveils Safe Travels Protocols for Airlines, Tour Operators and More
The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) has unveiled a new round of safety measures aimed at airlines, airports, tour operators and meeting and event organizers in an effort to propel the post-COVID-19 recovery.
WTTC previously released its Safe Travels protocols for the hospitality sector as well as outdoor retail businesses.
Developed following close consultation with WTTC members such as the International Air Transport Association (IATA), Emirates Group and Etihad, among others, guidance for the aviation industry includes enhanced cleaning procedures, personal protective equipment (PPE) and retraining for staff, signage to limit interaction and queuing at touchpoints and the implementation of more contactless processes.
WTTC is also recommending that airlines limit movement within the cabin as much as possible by boarding passengers from the back of the plane to the front and from the window seats out to the aisle seats.
“COVID-19 is a gamechanger for the travel and tourism sector, requiring us to enhance our approach to health and safety to protect our travelers and workforce,” said Alexandre de Juniac, Director General and CEO at IATA, in a statement. “Aviation is the business of freedom and it is vital to enable its restart on a safe basis. IATA is delighted to lend its framework and collaborate with WTTC on the Aviation Protocols as part of its Safe Travels initiative. This is an excellent example of the industry solidarity and cooperation that will be so vital to ensuring a strong recovery for travel and tourism.”
Meanwhile, tour operators are being asked to enhance disinfection and deep cleaning practices for coaches and other vehicles as well as to roll out pre-allocated seating plans with no rotation and explore staggered timing for access to venues, hotels and restaurants, among other measures.
Convention centers and meetings and event organizers are encouraged to implement physical distancing, reduce venue capacity limits, consider pre-arrival risk assessment questionnaires for participants and create isolation units outside the venue where possible for anyone showing COVID-19 symptoms.
“For the first time ever, the global private sector has rallied around our Safe Travels protocols which will create the consistency needed to allow a re-invigorated Travel & Tourism sector re-open for business,” stated WTTC President & CEO, Gloria Guevara. “Among the most important of these measures are those which will enable the aviation sector to take-off. Aviation’s return is critical to help repower the global economic recovery.”
“WTTC aviation protocols were created in close collaboration with ACI and IATA. We thank them and their leaders Angela Gittens and Alexandre de Juniac for their guidance, as it is vital we restore consumer confidence to get people traveling and flying safely,” she added. “The expertise from large and small tour operators contributed to define the new experience via tour operators and visiting event venues again, and were defined in the coordination of experts from this segment, through these robust global measures which have been embraced by businesses around the world.”
Visit WTTC.org to view a complete breakdown of the latest Safe Travels global protocols.
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