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State Department Issues Travel Advisory to Australia



The U.S. Department of State has issued a Level 2 travel advisory to American citizens in or traveling to Australia, as raging wildfires continue to burn throughout a large swath of the country.

A Level 2 advisory warns tourists to exercise increased caution due to the risk of travel in certain areas.

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According to the State Dept.:

– Tourists should exercise increased caution when considering travel to areas affected by bushfires until the danger of natural disaster has passed.

– Authorities may issue evacuation orders to certain areas as conditions warrant. Travelers should follow local evacuation orders.

– Smoke is causing poor air quality which can cause increased health problems for travelers with related health conditions. Check the air quality for your destinations and take precautions as needed. Consider postponing your travel plans to areas where air quality is significantly affected by bushfire conditions.

State and territory emergency services in Australia provide up-to-date information on bushfires and advice on precautionary measures that can help minimize fire-related risks. U.S. citizens visiting or living in Australia should monitor local television and radio stations, as media reporting may be the best source for breaking news on fire conditions. Read the Safety and Security section on the country information page.

If you decide to travel to Australia, monitor local news media outlets for updates on areas under evacuation. While in Australia, dial 000 (triple zero) for immediate assistance from the police, ambulance service, or fire brigade.

Be sure to have evacuation plans that do not rely on U.S. government assistance. For more information see Crisis Abroad: Be Ready.

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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.”

This post was published by our news partner: | Article Source

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