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State Department Limits Passport Service During Coronavirus Outbreak

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The U.S. Department of State has announced that it is reducing passport services during the coronavirus outbreak.

The department issued a travel alert advising all U.S. citizens to avoid international travel during the pandemic and urged travelers that are currently abroad to return home immediately.

Now, the State Department is curtailing passport services to life-or-death emergencies.

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“Due to public health measures to limit the spread of COVID-19, effective March 20, 2020, we are only able to offer service for customers with a qualified life-or-death emergency and who need a passport for immediate international travel within 72 hours,” said the statement.

To qualify for a life-or-death emergency, travelers must show that there is a serious illness, injury or death in their immediate family that requires international travel within 72 hours.

In order to obtain a passport, travelers need to show:

—A passport application with supporting documents

—Proof of the life-or-death emergency such as a death certificate, a statement from a mortuary, or a signed letter from a hospital or medical professional. Documents must be translated or in English.

—Proof of international travel (e.g. reservation, ticket, itinerary)

Travelers needing an emergency passport can call the National Passport Information Center 877-487-2778 (888-874-7793 TDD/TTY) on Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern Time.

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WTTC Unveils Safe Travels Protocols for Airlines, Tour Operators and More

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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.

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

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