United States President Donald Trump announced new restrictions Sunday on travel to and from China as the coronavirus outbreak continues to kill hundreds of people.
According to the Department of Homeland Security’s official website, the U.S. government has barred entry to foreign nationals who recently visited China and started rerouting all incoming flights and American passengers onboard through one of eight approved airports.
In addition, travelers who visited China within the last 14 days will have to visit an approved health screening facility. Officials said three more coronavirus-outbreak-forces-us-airlines-to-suspend-all-flights-to-china.html” target=”_self” rel=”nofollow noopener noreferrer”>airports designated for screening would be added Monday.
The approved airports can be found in Atlanta, Dallas/Fort Worth, Detroit, Newark, Honolulu, New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.
The U.S. offered China “tremendous help” in dealing with the outbreak, according to President Trump, but China has yet to accept the aid. Trump followed it up by saying, “We can’t have thousands of people coming in who may have this problem – the coronavirus.”
Several major airlines including American and Delta have issued travel alerts regarding the government-imposed restrictions. Carriers are stressing that foreign nationals who visited China within the past two weeks and are denied entry to the country of destination will not be permitted back into the United States.
Airlines serving China who had yet to coronavirus-outbreak.html” target=”_self” rel=”nofollow noopener noreferrer”>temporarily suspend flights did so following the announcement of the new restrictions. Impacted travelers can receive re-accommodation to flights after April 30, a seat on another airline’s route, a refund or additional options.
Carriers in mainland China are also canceling flights to the U.S., as the New York Post is reporting China Eastern Airlines suspended service from Shanghai to New York, Los Angeles and other U.S. cities.
Last week, the U.S. Department of State raised its travel advisory for China to Level 4 and issued a “do not travel” warning. The decision came after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the outbreak a global emergency.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also announced the first confirmed human-to-human transmission of the virus in the country. The Chicago woman reportedly gave the illness to her husband after returning from a trip to Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the outbreak.
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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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