Is it safe to travel for the holidays in 2020 during the pandemic?

The end of the year is sneaking up, and people are weighing travel plans to join friends and family for the holidays — all against the backdrop of a deadly pandemic.



a group of people walking down the street: There's a lot more to consider when planning holiday travel in 2020.


© Daniel Slim/AFP/Getty Images
There’s a lot more to consider when planning holiday travel in 2020.

Gathering with others — probably the most universal holiday tradition — has never required so much meticulous forethought.

Should you travel for the holidays in 2020? What precautions will make it safer? Who will be there and how careful have they been?

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that travel increases the chances of contracting and spreading Covid-19. Staying home is the best way to protect against getting and spreading the virus, yet many people are likely to travel before the year is over.



a sign on the side of a snow covered car in a parking lot: Driving is not without risks, but your interactions with others can be more easily controlled than with air travel.


© Jason Connolly/AFP/Getty Images
Driving is not without risks, but your interactions with others can be more easily controlled than with air travel.

CNN spoke with medical experts on how to reduce the risks around holiday travel and when you really should skip it altogether.

Should you travel for the holidays this year?

“Probably not, if you are anxious or vulnerable,” says Dr. Richard Dawood, a travel medicine specialist and director at Fleet Street Clinic in London.

But traveling is fine if you’re willing to be cautious, follow the rules and adapt easily to changes of plan, he said.

“I think the threshold for travel at this time should still be higher than before the pandemic,” says Dr. Henry Wu, director of Emory TravelWell Center and associate professor of infectious diseases at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta.



a statue of a man and a woman standing in front of a building: Staying in a hotel may give guests more control of their environment than staying with friends or relatives.


© Benno Schwinghammer/picture alliance/Getty Images
Staying in a hotel may give guests more control of their environment than staying with friends or relatives.

“If you do choose to travel, try to keep gatherings small and take precautions,” such as wearing a mask and practicing social distancing and good hand hygiene, Wu said.

Who should skip it?

People who are especially vulnerable to severe Covid-19 illness are safest staying home.

“Are you older, are you frail, do you have chronic underlying illnesses?” are the questions to ask, says Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious diseases specialist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee.

People who are considering meeting up with vulnerable relatives or friends should really weigh the implications of introducing illness to them, Wu said.

“There are well-documented Covid-19 clusters associated with family gatherings, including ones that resulted in deaths,” he said.

Are some locations safer than others?

Gatherings are likely safer in areas around the world where infections remain low, although the standard precautions still apply.



a group of people sitting at a table: Joining hands around a crowded holiday table is best skipped this year.


© Shutterstock
Joining hands around a crowded holiday table is best skipped this year.

For example, it may be possible to have a “relatively normal” Thanksgiving gathering in parts of the United States where infections are very low, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

“But in other areas of the

EU nations set to adopt common travel rules amid pandemic

European Union countries are set to adopt a common traffic light system to coordinate traveling across the 27-nation bloc

BRUSSELS — European Union countries are getting ready to adopt a common traffic light system to coordinate traveling across the 27-nation bloc, but a return to a full freedom of movement in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic remains far from reach.

When the virus struck in March, several EU countries decided to close their borders to non-citizens without talking to their neighbors, creating huge traffic jams and slowing down the delivery of much-needed medical equipment.

The cacophony, which also played havoc with millions of tourists caught off guard by the virus, prompted the EU’s executive arm to push for a more unified approach. The EU commission last month came up with proposals that have been discussed and amended before their scheduled approval by EU nations on Tuesday.

“This new system will make things easier for citizens. I am glad that we found this solution together,” EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said.

The key measure is a common map of infections drawn up by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. It will sort European regions into green, orange and red zones according to the severity of coronavirus outbreaks, taking into account new confirmed cases per 100,000 people and the percentage of positive tests.

Under the latest proposal, red zones should be areas where COVID-19 cases are more than 50 per 100,000 people during a 14-day period and the percentage of positive tests reaches at least 4%. Regions with a lower positive rate but where the total number of cases is more than 150 per 100,000 will also be classified red.

In light of the very high level of infections across the continent, it means that most of the bloc should be classified as red or orange.

The harmonization stops short of providing common rules for the EU’s orange and red zones. Travelers from green areas won’t face limits on their journeys, but national EU governments will continue to set their own restrictions such as quarantines or mandatory testing upon arrival for people coming from orange or red zones.

EU countries have yet to come up with a unified length of self-isolation following an exposure to the virus, but they did agree to mutually recognize test results in all

Rapid COVID Testing Coming To Airport Near You, XpresCheck Test Could Boost Air Travel

KEY POINTS

  • XpresCheck rapid COVID tests began at JFK and Liberty airports Wednesday
  • The company hopes to expand nationwide
  • The test delivers results in 13 minutes

The airline industry, devastated by the coronavirus pandemic, is about to get a boost: Health and wellness company XpresSpa Group Inc. began conducting rapid COVID-19 testing at Kennedy International Airport in New York and Newark Liberty Airport in New Jersey, with plans to expand the program nationwide.

With the pandemic still raging across the United States, Americans have been reluctant to get on airplanes, with the total number of passengers averaging about 25% of last year’s levels.

More than 7.5 million Americans have been infected by the coronavirus and more than 211,000 have died from COVID-19.

Though the virus doesn’t spread easily on flights because of air circulation systems, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns exposure to people in close quarters and frequently touched services put travelers at increased risk. The CDC estimated last month 11,000 people potentially had been exposed to the virus on flights.

XpresSpa began performing its ExpresCheck rapid COVID-19 tests Wednesday, expanding its polymerase chain reaction and blood antibody testing programs.

“We believe rapid COVID-19 testing at airports can play a major role in slowing the virus spread and decreasing the risk of new community outbreaks linked to travel as cases continue to rise throughout many states,” XpresSpa CEO Doug Satzman said in a press release.

He added: “Having a rapid test inside the airport immediately upon travel could also eliminate the need for a full 14-day quarantine in states where that applies.”

The tests would be voluntary for both travelers and airport workers. The company currently is focusing on airline employees and those who are showing COVID-like symptoms.

The test uses Abbott’s portable rapid molecular ID Now COVID test, which delivers results in 13 minutes. The test, however, has yet to gain full Food and Drug Administration approval although it has been cleared for emergency use, and has been criticized for false negatives, which are possible until an infection has reached its height and depending on how the test is performed.

Even with rapid COVID-19 tests available, travelers would still need to wear masks and practice social distancing.

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Longtime ex-Major Leaguer dies, NFL game postponed, Ohio travel ban, more – coronavirus timeline Sept. 26-Oct. 2

CLEVELAND, Ohio – Here is our regular roundup of coronavirus facts, figures and numbers regarding Cleveland, Ohio, the United States and the world Sept. 26-Oct. 2:

Sept. 26: Cleveland has 19 new cases of coronavirus. Longtime Major League Baseball player Jay Johnstone (above, top right photo) dies of complications resulting from coronavirus. He played for eight teams in 20 years (1966-85). The jovial prankster was 74.

Sept. 27: It’s reported that Summit County Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh (above, top left photo) has tested positive and spent time in the hospital. The Ohio Department of Health says the state has 800 new cases, bringing the total to 150,809. A total of 4,741 people have died from the virus. Cleveland records 11 cases, taking the city’s total numbers to 5,454. Ages of victims range from 9 to 69. Death toll worldwide stands around 998,000.

Sept. 28: Kent State University quarantines 44 students in two residence halls after they were potentially exposed to the virus. Ohio’s cases increase by 993 from the previous day’s report. In all, 151,802 people have had the virus in Ohio. Five more people die in Ohio. Cleveland confirms 11 new cases. So far, one in 77 Ohioans is known to have contracted the virus.

Sept. 29: Ohio reports 1,105 new cases. Cleveland confirms 13 new cases. The Tennessee Titans suspend in-person activities through Friday after three players and five staffers test positive. The presidential debate is held in Cleveland, coronavirus-style. President Trump and Joe Biden do not shake hands upon entering. Fewer than 100 ticketed guests are allowed to attend, and all participants and media had to pass a Covid test before entering. The Cleveland Clinic is advising on all presidential debates.

Sept. 30: Ohio reports 1,080 new cases and 23 deaths Wednesday, bringing the death toll past 4,800. In Cleveland, 12 cases are reported. The state releases its latest travel advisory map, with seven states (Idaho, South Dakota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Kansas, Missouri and Mississippi) with high positivity rates. That’s a possible indicator the virus could be prevalent among the population. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention extends the no-sail order for cruise ships through Saturday, Oct. 31. CNN, citing Johns Hopkins University’s figures, says the United States has had at least 42,812 new cases in the past 24 hours, bringing the country’s total to 7,233,042 confirmed infections. Also: 946 new fatalities are reported, bringing the domestic death toll to at least 206,932. More than 63 million people in India may have contracted the virus – about 10 times higher than official reported figures – because of a survey that found antibodies in about one in 15 people over age 10. The Tennessee Titans’ outbreak results in the postponement of their scheduled game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Major League Baseball says it will allow a limited number of fans for the National League Championship Series and World Series in Arlington, Texas.

Oct. 1: It’s reported that presidential aide Hope Hicks has coronavirus. In Ohio, 11 counties are

Medicine Hat advocates travel to Lethbridge to volunteer with its unsanctioned overdose prevention site

A pair of Hatters travelled to Lethbridge last week to volunteer outside the unsanctioned overdose prevention site.

Kym Porter and Kari Ursulescu are members of the group Moms Stop the Harm, and have both lost a loved one to overdose. Porter lost her son Neil, and Ursulescu lost her partner Riley.

The women say they went to the site to help people, and to show compassion to those battling addiction.

“It’s the right thing to do,” said Ursulescu. “Since ARCHES was closed and the mobile supervised consumption site opened, a lot of people have not had anywhere to go.

“We went where the problem is and we’re trying to help.”

Porter says the mobile SCS isn’t doing a good enough job.

“The mobile site can accommodate less than 10 per cent of the capacity that ARCHES used to cover,” she said. “We’ve discovered that former ARCHES clients haven’t found the new people to be as compassionate as ARCHES staff.

“Consequently, they’re gong to Galt Gardens and using there, putting their lives at risk.”

Before it was closed, the ARCHES site was the busiest site in North America, serving more than 600 people every day.

The new site is being operated by the Lethbridge Overdose Prevention Society and has sparked protests at Galt Gardens. The organization has been fined twice so far for having a tent set up on city property, which goes against a city bylaw.

According to Lethbridge Herald reporting, police have not seen drug use at the unsanctioned site.

“The tent took about four of us to set up and inside are a couple tables and chairs,” said Porter. “Outside of the tent, we had a table set up with water, juice and food. They also have naloxone in case someone does overdose. People there are trained to use it.”

The site is not drug testing yet, which is the process of testing a drug on the spot to see if it is contaminated with other substances like fentanyl.

The site has been called illegal by many, including Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Jason Luan. Porter says the courts have not ruled on overdose prevention sites.

“Courts haven’t ruled on the legality of overdose prevention sites in Alberta, or Canada for that matter,” she said. “If a staff member, volunteer or client were to be charged, they would have a legal defence under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Everyone has the right to life.”

According to the Drug Policy Alliance, there are approximately 120 supervised consumption sites operating around the world, without a single overdose fatality at any of them.

Porter says closing the ARCHES site was a step in the wrong direction.

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“The ultimate impact is that there will be deaths,” she said. “The site also supplies clean needles and is a gateway to resources. If you want to find out about housing or recovery, they have information there. They can help people with having wounds cleaned