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Cruises

MGM Resorts Reveals Health and Safety Plan for Reopening US Properties

MGM Resorts International has released a “Seven-Point Safety Plan” for reopening its U.S. properties, which have been temporarily closed for the past two months due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The report released Tuesday outlines the comprehensive health and safety protocols— developed in conjunction with medical and scientific experts including lead health and safety advisor and Vice President of Health Sciences for Colden Corporation Dr. Shannon Magari—the company is implementing prior to welcoming guests back.

The plan includes employee-screening measures such as routine temperature checks and self-screening protocols for guests as well as mandatory masks and personal protective equipment (PPE) for all employees. Meanwhile, guests will be encouraged to wear masks in public areas, with MGM Resorts providing them free of charge.

The company is also implementing a six-foot physical distancing policy and utilizing plexiglass barriers and eye protection for employees in areas where maintaining a safe distance isn’t feasible. Guests will also have access to custom-built handwashing and hand-sanitizing stations in high-traffic areas while electrostatic sprayers will be used in many large areas for more efficient disinfection.

Additionally, MGM Resorts is prioritizing air quality and enhancing the effectiveness of its heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems to further minimize the risk of virus transmission.

The company has also established incident response protocols in the event that a guest or employee tests positive for COVID-19, including ensuring that the individual in question has access to medical treatment and that any exposed areas are thoroughly sanitized.

Finally, MGM Resorts is eyeing a number of digital innovations such as contactless check-in through the MGM Resorts mobile app and digital food and beverage menus available to view on guests’ personal mobile devices via QR code.

As we prepare for the moment we can re-open our doors, safety is our first priority. That is why we have created comprehensive health and safety protocols outlined in our “Seven-Point Safety Plan.” Learn more about this important update: https://t.co/4WiwCdQAdf pic.twitter.com/xoXeEGZcJ0

“Preparing for the moment we can re-open our doors, MGM Resorts focused on developing a plan that puts health and safety at the center of everything we do. Our ‘Seven-Point Safety Plan’ is the result of months of consultations with public health experts and outlines our comprehensive approach to welcoming guests back safely,” said MGM Resorts Acting CEO and President Bill Hornbuckle in a statement.

“Our properties will not look the way they used to for a while, and that’s not only okay, it’s critically important. We will continue providing the hospitality experiences we are known for, but we must do so safely,” added Hornbuckle. “We will continue working with experts and following guidance from the World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and government officials and regulators as we evolve these protocols based on the latest information.”

Click here to view MGM Resorts’ complete Seven-Point Safety Plan.

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Travel

easyJet refund: How to get refund from easyJet

EasyJet has suspended its service for two months after completing its final rescue flight earlier this year. All cabin crew have been given a leave of absence for this duration. The company wants to reduce £4.5billion in spending, including payments for the new aircraft from Airbus, in response to the drop in demand for air travel amid the coronavirus pandemic. But how do you get a refund?

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Budget airline easyJet grounded its entire fleet at the end of March.

EasyJet has not confirmed a date for restarting commercial flights yet.

Additionally, the airline said 4,000 of its 9,000 staff members would be furloughed for two months starting from April 1.

The company had already cancelled most services but was running rescue flights to repatriate Britons stranded abroad.

So far, easyJet has flown 650 rescue flights, taking 45,000 people home, but has said it will continue to work with government bodies to assist rescue flights as requested.

When its planes resume travel, the airliner plans to keep the middle seats on its places empty to allow for social distancing.

As things currently stand, easyJet intends for holidays in June, July and August to go ahead.

The airline says that cancellations are being evaluated daily, and if your flight does get cancelled, you’ll be notified at least seven days in advance.

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The airline said: “As a result of the unprecedented travel restrictions imposed by governments in response to the coronavirus pandemic and the implementation of national lockdowns across many European countries, easyJet has, today, fully grounded its entire fleet of aircraft.

“Over recent days easyJet has been helping to repatriate customers, having operated more than 650 rescue flights to date, returning home more than 45,000 customers.

“The last of these rescue flights were operated on Sunday, March 29. We will continue to work with government bodies to operate additional rescue flights as requested.

“At this stage there can be no certainty of the date for restarting commercial flights.

“We will continuously evaluate the situation based on regulations and demand, and will update the market when we have a view.”

The news from easyJet came as regional airline Loganair said airlines were unlikely to survive without a government bailout.

Loganair boss Jonathan Hinkles told the BBC any airline saying it could survive without government help “would probably be lying”.

EasyJet said on Monday it would not need a bailout.

The airline said: “We have no plans currently to ask the government for bespoke support as outlined by the chancellor.”

It added: “To support recovery in the future, we believe that further actions will be needed such as a temporary removal of Aviation Passenger Duty and Air Traffic Control Charges.”

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How to get a refund if you have a flight booked with easyJet

EasyJet flights are cancelled until at least June.

If your flight has been cancelled you are entitled to a full refund to the original form of payment within seven days under EU air passengers’ rights rules.

You may also be entitled to a voucher for the value of their original booking or an alternative flight of the same price.

The airline has said impacted customers will be contacted to discuss their options.

If you are affected, you can contact easyJet yourself, but the airline has warned that customers are likely to experience long wait times due to the massive number of disrupted flights.

The customer service number for easyJet is 0330 365 5000.

EasyJet said: “We are experiencing higher than average wait times so we would thank customers for their patience and assure them that these entitlements will be available long after their cancelled flight has flown.”

You can also manage your booking online using the easyJet website here.

What happens if you have issues getting a refund from easyJet?

If you struggle to reach an agreement, you can escalate any claim to an alternate dispute resolution body.

EasyJet is a member of the Consumer Dispute Resolution Limited group and you can find information on how to start a complaint here.

If you booked a flight through a third part company, you need to contact them regarding a refund or alternative flight.

You can also claim your money back through your credit or debit card provider.

Credit card payments between £100 and £30,000 are covered under Section 75 of the Consumer Rights Act.

If you bought a flight using a debit card, you can claim a refund via your bank using the Chargeback scheme, which can be used to reclaim cash for goods and services you did not receive.

Claims apply for purchases made by debit card or by credit card for purchases under £100, but must be within 120 days of the transaction.

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Travel

EU Schengen area: Which European countries are in the Schengen free-travel area?

Coronavirus cases across Europe are rapidly increasing, with many nations now taking drastic action to slow down the spread of the coronavirus. The number of deaths in Europe comes close to 2,000, with 48,277 confirmed cases. Worldwide there have been 7,113 deaths and more than 180,000 cases.

Italy is the worst affected nation in Europe, with more than 27,000 cases confirmed, while Spain, Germany, France and Switzerland all have several thousand infected by the respiratory disease, also known as COVID-19.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the UK rose to 1,543 on Monday, up from 1,372 the day before, with 55 now dead.

Today, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen revealed plans to ban all non-essential travel in the to Schengen area.

The free travel region would be closed to all non-essential travel for 30 days if approved.

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Which European countries are in the Schengen free-travel area?

There are in total 26 European countries in the Schengen free-travel area.

Of the 27 EU member states, 22 participate in the Schengen Area.

EU member states not part of the agreement are Ireland, Cyprus, Croatia, Romania and Bulgaria.

Non EU-members Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein are also within it.

Ms von der Leyen told a press conference on Monday: “The UK citizens are European citizens so of course there are no restrictions for the UK citizens to travel to the continent.

“Here in Europe we are heavily affected by coronavirus and we know that everything that reduces social interaction also reduces the speed of the spread of the virus.

“The less travel, the more we can contain the virus.

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“Therefore, as I have just informed our G7 partners, I propose to the heads of state and governments, to introduce temporary restrictions on non-essential travel to the European Union.”

The Schengen Area has a population of over 420 million people.

About 1.7 million people commute to work across a European border each day, and in some regions these people constitute up to a third of the workforce.

Each year, there are 1.3 billion crossings of Schengen borders, with 57 million crossings due to transport of goods by road, valued £2.55 trillion (€2.8 trillion) each year.

List of countries in the Schengen free-travel area

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Liechtenstein
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland

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Travel

Coronavirus in Romania: Is it safe to travel to Romania? Are there still flights

Romania has so far confirmed 89 cases of coronavirus in the country as the respiratory disease continues to spread through Europe. As a result, the nation has stepped up its measures to stop the spread of the deadly virus.

More than 145,000 have been infected by the coronavirus worldwide in 139 countries.

This week, the World Health Organisation labelled the coronavirus crisis a pandemic as it continues to worsen.

Globally, more than 5,000 people have died, while 71,715 have so far recovered.

Many countries, especially in Europe, are now stepping up measures to delay the spread of coronavirus, including travel bans, school closures and quarantines.

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Is it safe to travel to Romania?

Close to 90 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Romania and the authorities have introduced a number of measures to limit the spread of the virus.

The public health system is already under significant strain.

This week the nation entered its second phase of its response to the outbreak with supermarkets and shopping centres now operating at reduced opening hours.

Indoor gatherings of more than 100 people have been banned, with cultural, artistic institutions and museums following suit.

Almost 14,000 are self-isolating while 2,067 are in quarantine.

On Friday, the government announced its members were self-isolating, after a Liberal Party senator confirmed he had the virus.

The Department for Emergency Situations spokesman, Theodor Mihai, said: “”We are considering increasing prevention measures, yet the conditions under which new restrictions will take place depends on several indicators such as the number of infected people, their health status and number of available quarantine sites.”

A work from home system has also been established as a precaution measure to come in aid of employees.

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Restrictions for travellers arriving in Romania include:

  • mandatory quarantine in an institution such as a hospital if you have travelled from Italy, Hubei Province in China, Madrid, Iran, or Daegu City or Chendongo County in South Korea
  • all flights, bus, and rail routes from Italy are suspended, and airlines have been asked to deny boarding to travellers coming from the above countries and areas
  • travellers arriving from other parts of China, South Korea, all of Iran, and Heinsberg District in North-Rhine Westphilia in Germany will be asked to self-isolate for 14 days on arrival.Travellers arriving from the UK are required to fill in a form to self-certify that they are infection-free. Infringements on these procedures are being pursued with fines of up to €4000
  • the Romanian Government has indicated that travel restrictions are likely to expanded in the coming days. There are some indications that travel from the UK may be more tightly managed.

Within Romania the Government has:

  • announced the closure of national museums and other tourist attractions such as the Palace of the Parliament
  • banned confined space events with more than 100 participants, and all events with more than 1000 participants
  • closed all schools in the country until at least 22 March, which may be extended
  • recommended all universities suspend courses until 31 March
  • asked private companies based in cities and with over 99 employees to vary working hours to reduce overcrowding on public transport. Government ministries have been mandated to work with much lower staffing levels
  • advised against non-essential use of public transport

Are there still flights to Romania?

All flights to and from Italy have been cancelled, as people coming in will be automatically placed under quarantine and home isolation.

Some flights from Romania to Germany and those from Germany to Romania have also been cancelled.

Wizz Air also announced they would cancel flights to help stop the spread of the pandemic.

In a press release, the flight company said: “To help limit the epidemic, Wizz Air cancels flights from Memmingen / Munich West, Dortmund, Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg, Madrid, Nuremberg, Karlsruhe / Baden-Baden, Frankfurt Hahn to Bucharest, Cluj-Napoca, Timisoara, on March 11, 2020.”

As the situation continues to worsen more flights could be cancelled and all passenger due to travel to Romania should check with the airline if the flight will still be operating.

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Travel

Coronavirus in Norway: Is it safe to travel to Norway? Is Norway on lockdown?

More than 145,000 have been infected by the coronavirus worldwide with 1,002 of these cases in Norway. As the coronavirus pandemic continues to worsen and has now been detected in some 110 countries across the globe.

Is it safe to travel to Norway?

The Norwegian authorities have introduced a number of precautionary measures in response to the ongoing crises.

The Scandinavian nation advised its citizens on Saturday not to travel abroad for the next month and urged Norwegians outside the country to consider returning home as soon as possible due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The Foreign Ministry said in a statement it was making the recommendation due to the spreading virus and the risk other nations will restrict travel.

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Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Soereide said: “Countries can quickly introduce travel restrictions, quarantine at arrival from countries with coronavirus, and borders can close, flights could be cancelled or other measures initiated.”

The Norwegian capital of Oslo’s main airport has now shut its gates to foreign travellers, according to a local municipality said.

The government invoked emergency powers on Thursday to shut a range of private and public institutions, including schools and restaurants, and asked most people to work from home if they could.

The central bank made an emergency rate cut on Friday and pumped money into banks, while the government presented a package of fiscal and regulatory measures to aid the economy.

The new travel advice for avoiding infection includes the following:

  • All who have been outside Nordic countries, that is Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Iceland, are to stay in their homes for 14 days after arriving home to Norway, regardless of whether they have symptoms.
  • Travellers from countries outside the Nordic region who are not residents of Norway will be asked to return. The alternative for these travellers is quarantine. Travellers with symptoms will be isolated.
  • This means that everyone presently staying in Norway and who has been in a country outside the Nordic region in the past 14 days is to be quarantined.

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  • Coronavirus: Is it safe to travel to Denmark? Are there flights?

This policy has retroactive effect and applies to all arrivals since Thursday 27 February.

The UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office travel advice reads: “The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs advises that travellers from countries outside the Nordic region (Denmark, Finland, Iceland and Sweden) who are not residents of Norway will be asked to return.

“Those still wishing to enter will be required to enter self-quarantine for 14 days. Travellers with symptoms will be isolated.

“All visitors in Norway who arrived after February 27 are also required to self-quarantine for 14 days.

“The British embassy is working to clarify what this means for those wishing to leave Norway before their 14 day self-quarantine has expired.

“Travellers are advised to check with their travel insurance company whether their policy covers them for costs incurred due to coronavirus precautions rather than illness.”

The Chief Medical Officer has advised British nationals aged 70 and over and those with pre-existing health condition against cruise ship travel at this time.

A number of Norwegian ports are also considering restrictions on passenger embarkation and disembarkation.

The situation can change rapidly so check with your cruise provider before travelling.

In addition, Norwegian authorities have issued recommendations people avoid using public transport unless strictly necessary.

Airports will remain open for now, but travel is being discouraged.

Read the latest updates on travelling to Norway at the FCO website.

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Categories
Travel

Coronavirus: Tips for cleaning your travel gear when you get home

Months into the coronavirus crisis, travellers have grown familiar with how to protect themselves on planes, in hotel rooms and among crowds.

But what about the risk of returning home with potentially contaminated travel gear? Can you catch or spread the virus through your luggage or clothing? Medical experts say the threat is low but suggest several precautions you can take to reduce the worry even more.

Global health organisations and professionals do not yet know how long the coronavirus can live on certain materials, so they are basing their information on similar viruses, such as the one that causes Middle East respiratory syndrome (Mers).

The World Health Organisation estimates the coronavirus’ survival time from a few hours to several days, depending on various factors, such as type of material, air temperature and humidity. Hard, nonporous materials such as metal, plastic and glass are more welcoming habitats for viruses than soft goods such as fabrics.

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