Djokovic confirms error made on Australian travel entry form | News


By Sonali Paul

MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Novak Djokovic said on Wednesday an incorrect answer was made on his Australian entry documents, breaching the country’s strict laws on reporting recent travel, as the government said it was still considering whether to deport the player.

Djokovic was held in immigration detention in Melbourne for several days after his visa was cancelled by border force officials, who questioned his medical exemption for a requirement to be vaccinated for COVID-19.

He was released on Monday after a judge quashed that decision, saying the cancellation of the visa was “unreasonable” because the player was not given time to consult with lawyers and tennis officials when he arrived in the country.

Djokovic said his travel declaration was filled in by his support team, who made an “administrative mistake” when they ticked the “no” box in response to whether he had travelled elsewhere in the 14 days before arriving in Australia.

“This was human error and certainly not deliberate,” Djokovic said. “We are living in challenging times in a global pandemic and sometimes this mistakes can occur.”

The statement came as Australia’s Immigration Minister Alex Hawke considered whether to cancel the world no.1 tennis player’s visa ahead of the Australian Open, which starts on Jan. 17.

Giving false or misleading information in the form is an offence, carrying a maximum penalty of 12 months in prison, and a fine of up to A$6,600 ($4,730) and can lead to cancellation of the offender’s visa.

Djokovic, who is seeking to win a record 21st tennis major at the Open, said his lawyers had provided additional information to the Australian government on Wednesday to clarify the matter.

A spokesman for Hawke, who has the discretionary power to again cancel Djokovic’s visa, said the minister was still considering taking action, a process that would be extended to assess the new information.

STRICT RULES

Australia has a policy barring non-citizens or non-residents from entry unless they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 but offers a medical exemption. Djokovic’s visa was cancelled on the grounds he has not been vaccinated and his medical exemption was not satisfactory.

Monday’s court ruling did not address whether that exemption – based on Djokovic contracting COVID-19 last month – was valid.

Djokovic’s case provoked a row between Canberra and Belgrade and fuelled heated debate over mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policies.

Questions arose about Djokovic’s movements before coming to Australia when social media posts appeared to show him in Belgrade less than two weeks before he headed to Spain and then on to Australia.

Accounts from two eyewitnesses and another individual, obtained by Reuters on Tuesday corroborated those social media posts.

Djokovic, who held another practice session at Melbourne Park on Wednesday, did not detail his travel in his statement on Wednesday acknowledging the mistake.

In its online explanation for the 14-day travel reporting requirement, the government said the information helps determine any necessary quarantine arrangements and allows health officials to contact any arrival if a fellow traveller tests positive for COVID-19.

INTERVIEW APOLOGY

The player also apologised in his statement for attending a L’Equipe interview and photoshoot on Dec. 18, the day after he said he learned he had tested positive for COVID-19 last month.

“While I went home after the interview to isolate for the required period, on reflection, this was an error of judgement and I accept that I should have rescheduled this commitment,” he said.

Djokovic denied media reports he also knew he had contracted the virus when he attended a tennis event in Belgrade to present awards to children a day earlier.

“I was asymptomatic and felt good, and I had not received the notification of a positive PCR result until after that event,” he said, adding that a rapid antigen test taken before the event came back negative.

Social media posts showed Djokovic posing with the children, without wearing a mask.

(Reporting by Sonali Paul, Byron Kaye and John Mair; Writing by Jane Wardell; Editing by Lincoln Feast.)



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Novak Djokovic’s Australian travel entry form questioned by officials


Authorities are looking into whether ​the tennis star’s form was innacurate.

Tennis star Novak Djokovic may have won Monday’s court battle to appeal his visa cancellation, but his tussle with the Australian government doesn’t appear to be over just yet.

Australian authorities are looking into whether ​Djokovic lied on his Travel Declaration Form, and Immigration Minister Alex Hawke is weighing whether to use discretionary powers to revoke the Serb’s visa, days before the defending champion is set to play in the Australian Open which begins on Jan. 17.

Every traveler needs to submit the document before entering the country. They must declare whether they have travelled or intend to travel in the 14 days before arrival.

Djokovic declared that he had not travelled in the two weeks before his arrival, according to documents submitted to the court.

He flew to Australia from Spain via Dubai on Jan. 4, meaning that he would have had to stay in Spain for 14 days ahead of his arrival on Jan. 5.

But at least one post online appeared to suggest he was in Serbia over Christmas. On Dec. 25, Serbian handball player Petar Djordjic posted a photo on instagram alongside Djokovic, with the caption: “ONE AND ONLY!!!!! Thank you for the picture and for the nice wishes.”

The travel declaration discrepancy seems to be a main point of investigation for Hawke, the immigration minister, who is “thoroughly” considering whether to cancel Djokovic’s visa under a section of Australia’s Migration Act.

In a statement to ABC News, the Australian Border Force said it would not comment on operational matters, adding that, “Providing false or misleading information or documentation to the Commonwealth can lead to visa cancellation and/or attract penalties, including under criminal law.”

Djokovic, the world’s top tennis star, was denied entry when he landed last Wednesday, Jan. 6. The 34-year-old had applied for a medical exemption to Australia’s COVID-19 vaccine requirements. But officials questioned whether he meet the requirements for that exemption.

He was placed into immigration detention in the Park Hotel in inner Melbourne until Monday, when a judge ruled he could stay in the country.



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Qatar Covid Entry Requirements For 2022


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Offering travelers a seamless blend of rich tradition and striking modernity, Qatar is fast emerging as one of the top destinations to visit in the region, rivalling nearby tourist powerhouses Dubai and Abu Dhabi and set to grow further as it hosts the FIFA World Cup this year. From traditional souqs to state of the art malls, Qatar has staked its claim as a top cultural, culinary and shopping destination – and it’s open to travelers. Here are all the latest 2022 COVID-19 entry requirements for Qatar all travelers need to know before booking their trip.

Entry Requirements For Countries Permitted to Visit Qatar For Tourism

COVID-19 Testing Entry Requirements

All travelers, regardless of whether they arrive from a red or green list country, must have a negative PCR test within 72 hours before arrival to Qatar. Vaccinated travelers from green list countries do not need to do a further test, whilst unvaccinated travelers from green list countries must take a Rapid Antigen Test on their seventh day of quarantine. Fully vaccinated travelers from red list countries – such as the US – must take a further Rapid Antigen Test on day 2 of hotel quarantine, with this time frame being extended to the seventh day for unvaccinated red list travelers.

Quarantine Entry Requirements

Fully vaccinated travelers from green list countries do not need to quarantine. Travelers from green list countries who are unvaccinated must spend seven days in hotel quarantine, and can leave with a negative test on the seventh day. Fully vaccinated travelers arriving in Qatar from red list countries must quarantine for two days, with unvaccinated red list arrivals needing to stay in quarantine for seven days.

Health Form

Travelers to Qatar do not need to fill out a health form prior to arrival. However, they do need to fill out an Acknowledgement Form online prior to arrival.

COVID-19 Travel Insurance Entry Requirements

Travel insurance is not a mandatory requirement for entry to Qatar, though having a solid travel insurance policy is strongly recommended for travelers heading to any country.

COVID-19 Health Requirements While in Qatar

Masks are required to be worn in public indoor and outdoor spaces except when exercising. Unvaccinated travelers may be unable to enter some businesses and malls in the country. People are also advised to remain a 1m distance away from one another, and to avoid physical contact. Restaurants have capped their capacities, and travelers will need to show their health status on the Etheraz App in order to enter. 

COVID-19 Vaccine Entry Requirements

Both vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers from red and green list countries are able to enter Qatar.

Visa Entry Requirements For Qatar During COVID-19

Regular visa requirements are in operation for entry to Qatar in 2022, with many countries granted visa waivers or visas on arrival. Travelers should ensure that they check their country’s visa requirements before traveling to Qatar.

Can Americans Enter Qatar?

Yes, Americans can enter Qatar for tourism purposes at present. The US is a red list country, meaning that travelers will have to jump through more hoops to enter, which are outlined above. Qatar has been handed a Level 3 travel advisory by the US Department of State.

Red List And Green List Countries

The red list and green list for countries entering Qatar is being updated frequently. The lists can be found here.

Qatar Covid-19 Entry Requirements:

  • Non-residents of Qatar must register via the pre-registration system for people entering the State of Qatar and upload all relevant documents within three days of arrival
  • Travelers must take a PCR test with 72 hours of departure and show it to airline staff prior to arriving
  • Travelers should download the Ehteraz mobile application
  • Travelers from red list countries must sign an Acknowledgement Form​ before arriving in Qatar
  • Travelers must ensure they book a suitable hotel for their quarantine period – these can be found on the Discover Qatar website

Read More:

The Latest Entry Requirements For The Top 9 European Destinations Due To Omicron

U.S. Issues 15 New Travel Advisories To Start 2022

Travel Insurance That Covers Covid-19 For 2022

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3 More Caribbean Destinations Update Entry Rules For Tourists


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Barbados, The Bahamas and The U.S. Virgin Islands have all recently updated their entry requirements in response to the new Omicron variant.

In spite of drawing attention recently, they are not the only Caribbean destinations to update their Covid border regime: over the last few days, a number of countries in the region has already enforced stricter rules following an uptick in infections.

Man Sat On A Balcony Overlooking A Beach In The Bahamas

As a result, vacationers are now susceptible to updated guidelines concerning testing at points of entry and/or proof of vaccination status, which are sure to impact the busy holiday season.

Here, you will find all the recent changes that have been made to the 3 highly popular sunny getaways:

Updated Entry Rules For Tourists Arriving In Barbados

Bridgetown, Barbados

From January 7, all visitors arriving in Barbados must produce a negative rapid PCR test result within one day of arrival. Or, if preferred, a negative standard RT-PCR test taken in the 72 hours preceding the border crossing.

In a recent statement, Barbados’ Ministry of Health and Wellness said to be closely monitoring the “unfolding situation” with the new variant, giving rise to speculation more changes could be applied in the near future should the scenario worsen.

Woman Carrying Surfboard On Beach

When it comes to rules that apply domestically, all persons in Barbados must wear face masks at all times in public spaces, including outdoors, unless they are exercising.

Some tourists may also be required to supply contact details when entering premises and should expect their temperature to be taken. According to CDC guidance, American travelers should avoid all unnecessary travel to Barbados in order to minimize disease risk, especially if they are unvaccinated.

Updated Entry Rules For Tourists Arriving In The Bahamas

Panoramic View Of Port Nassau In The Bahamas

The Bahamas are the latest Caribbean destination to update its border policy in response to Omicron. Some have been welcomed by tourists, others much less so.

Shortly after announcing a tightening of the testing regime, the archipelago has already suspended the mandatory RT-PCR requirement for vaccinated travelers, which was due to come into effect on January 7.

On the other hand, those planning to stay in national territory for longer than 48 hours will still need to present a rapid antigen test in order to be granted entry, whether immunized or not.

Paradise Island in Nassau, Bahamas

Passengers arriving by sea should still note that, as a result of the swift Omicron spread, a growing number of Caribbean nations are enacting restrictions on cruise passengers that may impact certain itineraries.

Lastly, all visitors aged 18 and older are also required to fill apply for a pre-departure Bahamas Travel Health Visa.

Updated Entry Rules For Tourists Arriving In The U.S. Virgin Islands

St Thomas In The US Virgin Islands

Since January 3, domestic travelers to the U.S. Virgin Islands, which include arrivals from mainland U.S. cities, must present proof of a negative antigen test or RT-PCR in order to be granted entry to the territory.

The rule applies to both the vaccinated and unvaccinated, and travelers are reminded that the test must taken within 3 days prior to arrival at the destination.

Woman Paddleboarding In The US Virgin Islands

Additionally, domestic travelers aged 5 and older must apply for a Travel Screening in order to enter the U.S. Virgin Islands. They should expect to include both negative test and vaccination certificate, if applicable, in the application process.

Covid cases have also been increasing across the territory, with Omicron presenting as the biggest threat to the season. Despite stark warnings, travelers of all nationalities are still welcome.

Could My Travel Plans Still Be Affected As A Result Of Omicron?

Masked Woman Reading At The Beach

All international travelers are advised to carefully prepare for any disruption that may arise from countries imposing new testing or vaccination requirements at short notice.

Especially with Omicron, the chances of finding yourself in a difficult position after testing positive before a flight are higher than they were before.

The best advice we can give is to assure you have travel insurance that covers any Covid-related imbroglios.

We would also recommend you to check for individual country guidance, as this is an ever-evolving situation and travel rules may be eventually tightened or relaxed.

Read More:

Travel Insurance That Covers Covid-19

12 Countries Vaccinated Travelers Can Enter Without Testing

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Country updates testing requirements for entry


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The Bahamas’ government is scrapping plans to enforce more stringent pre-arrival testing requirements among vaccinated travelers this week.

While Prime Minister Philip Davis said in late December the Bahamas would no longer accept rapid antigen pre-departure tests from vaccinated travelers starting Jan. 7, officials said Tuesday it would be suspending that requirement. Fully vaccinated travelers and those under 12 may continue to show either a negative PCR test or rapid antigen test to enter, according to a statement from the country’s Ministry of Tourism and Aviation.

Unvaccinated travelers ages 12 and older must still present a negative PCR test and cannot use rapid tests. Travelers under the age of two continue to be exempt from testing requirements. 

The Bahamas also updated its post-arrival testing requirement. As of Tuesday, travelers staying longer than 48 hours must take a rapid antigen test, regardless of vaccination status. 

Previously, only tourists staying longer than four nights and five days were required to take another test. 

The updated entry requirements come on the heels of Davis’ announcement in late December that the country would no longer accept pre-departure coronavirus tests taken more than three days prior to arrival instead of five.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the Bahamas has a high level of COVID-19 cases and advises travelers to be fully vaccinated before entering. The country reported nearly 2,500 new cases within the past week, its highest weekly case count to date, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

► Hours in line or a $110 test: How the COVID test shortage is ‘frustrating’ Puerto Rico visitors

What are the Bahamas’ testing requirements for entry? 

Under the new entry requirements, vaccinated travelers ages two and older entering from another country must:

  • Take a negative coronavirus test (either a rapid antigen test or PCR test) no more than three days before arrival.
  • If staying longer than 48 hours, take a rapid antigen test. 

Meanwhile, unvaccinated tourists traveling from another country are required to:

  • Take a negative PCR coronavirus test no more than three days before arrival if 12 and older.
  • Take a negative PCR or rapid antigen test no more than three days before arrival if between the ages of 2 and 11.  
  • If staying longer than 48 hours, take a rapid antigen test. 

► Caribbean travel: CDC urges travelers to avoid Aruba due to a ‘very high level of COVID-19’

Follow USA TODAY reporter Bailey Schulz on Twitter: @bailey_schulz





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Tennis star Novak Djokovic denied entry into Australia, visa canceled amid vaccine exemption furor


Australian authorities barred tennis star Novak Djokovic from entering the country, canceling his visa and likely keeping him from defending his Australian Open title, officials said.

Australians had been furious about news that Djokovic had been given “an exemption permission” to travel to play in the tournament amid a surge in Covid-19 cases in the country.

The world’s top-ranked male player, who has refused to reveal if he is vaccinated against Covid, wrote on social media Tuesday that he had the exemption permission and was headed “Down Under.”

The statement ended months of uncertainty about his participation because of Australia’s strict Covid vaccination requirements.

But when Djokovic landed in Melbourne on Wednesday, the Serbian star was not allowed to leave the airport and early Thursday morning local time he was told to leave.

“The Australian Border Force will continue to ensure that those who arrive at our border comply with our laws and entry requirements,” the agency announced.

“The ABF can confirm that Mr. Djokovic failed to provide appropriate evidence to meet the entry requirements to Australia, and his visa has been subsequently canceled.”

The ABF added: “Noncitizens who do not hold a valid visa on entry or who have had their visa canceled will be detained and removed from Australia.”

Among the most prominent critics was a visibly angry Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who said on Wednesday that Djokovic should not get special treatment to enter the country, which has had some of the world’s toughest border restrictions and only started to allow some international travel in November.

“He must provide acceptable proof that he cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons to be able to access the same travel arrangements as fully vaccinated travelers,” said Morrison at a news conference Wednesday. “If that evidence is insufficient, then he won’t be treated any different to anyone else and he’ll be on the next plane home.”

“There should be no special rules for Novak Djokovic at all. None whatsoever,” he added.

Morrison’s rhetorical volleys sparked a diplomatic back-and-forth between Canberra and Belgrade.

“I’ve just finished my telephone conversation with Novak Djokovic,” Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic wrote on Instagram.

“I told our Novak that the whole of Serbia is with him and that our bodies are doing everything to see that the harassment of the world’s best tennis player is brought to an end immediately.”

Vucic made Djokovic’s status with the Australian Open a matter of national pride.

“In line with all norms of international law, Serbia will fight for Novak, truth and justice. Novak is strong, as we all know,” the Serbian president wrote.

Morrison had said earlier in the day that the decision to grant Djokovic an exemption was in the hands of the government of Victoria, the state where the tournament will be held.

Tennis Australia and the Victorian state government said Djokovic was one of a “handful” of successful applicants among 26 people who sought exemptions from being vaccinated, but had not received any special treatment in the anonymous application process, according to Reuters.

The Victoria state government has mandated that all players, staff and fans attending the Australian Open, set to begin on Jan. 17, must be fully vaccinated unless there is a genuine reason why an exemption should be granted.

It was not immediately clear what exemption Djokovic was claiming, or whether the central government would actually intervene in this case. The state’s head and the country’s Department of Home Affairs did not respond to requests for comment.

The Australian Open will take place in Melbourne, which spent more time under Covid-19 lockdowns than most other cities in the world.

Fellow player Jamie Murray of the U.K., ranked in the Top 20 in doubles competition, seemed to question Djokovic’s exemption.

“I think if it was me that wasn’t vaccinated I wouldn’t be getting an exemption,” he said, according to Reuters. “But well done to him for getting clear to come to Australia and compete.”

Australians, meanwhile, reacted to Djokovic’s post that he was on the way to their country with anger on social media.

“It’s unbelievable that you get a ‘special medical panel’ exemption to play tennis here when thousands of Australians were denied seeing loved ones, dying family members etc. over the last two years,” Alan Birrell wrote on Twitter.

If Djokovic were allowed to play, many fans said they would tune out of the tournament.

“We’ve all done the right thing, we’ve all gone out and got our jabs and our boosters,” Christine Wharton, of Melbourne, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. “I think it’s an absolute disgrace and I won’t be watching it.”

Djokovic tested positive for Covid in June 2020 after he took part in an exhibition series he organized in Serbia and Croatia. He was criticized at the time for organizing the tournament and bringing in players from other countries amid the pandemic.

Once a champion of a “zero-Covid strategy“ of managing the pandemic, Australia, which has a population of 25.7 million, has recorded a total of over 612,000 cases. More than 91 percent of Australian’s aged 16 and over have received two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine.

But cases have exploded in the country in recent weeks, from more than 1,000 a day in early December to over 64,000 on Wednesday. That’s led to long lines at publicly funded testing centers.

Djokovic has won the Australian Open nine times.





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What to know about entry, passes and tests


Keeping on top of a country’s entry rules is particularly challenging during a pandemic and for skiers heading to a French ski resort via Geneva airport in Switzerland, there are two countries’ worth of rules to get your head around as well as land-border quirks.

From midnight on Saturday, December 18 (11pm GMT Friday), all non-essential travel between the UK and France is banned meaning skiers, tourists and second-home owners among other others can no longer enter France, though French or EU citizens are exempt.

Despite fast-changing travel and entry rules, the winter season in France has got off to a flying start—with some key pandemic-induced differences. I spent time in the postcard village of Les Gets, part of the Portes du Soleil ski area in the French Alps, for the resort’s pré-ouverture (pre-opening). That in itself was a marvel: warmer temperatures and rising snowlines mean December mountainsides can still be green. But the snow gods have been kind to early-bird skiers this year, blessing the Alps and Pyrenees with an unprecedented abundance of powder. 

If you have a skiing trip tripped booked or are considering one, here’s what you need to know about the latest rules in France.

orderly-lift-queue2-LesGets.jpg
Orderly queues in France © Nicola Williams

Understand the entry rules

From midnight on Saturday, December 18 (11pm GMT Friday), all non-essential travel between the UK and France is banned. It is unknown how long this ban will be enforced for. The exceptions, with a myriad of caveats, are French or EU citizens and residents and their families who will need to show a negative Covid-19 test (PCR or lateral flow) taken within 24 hours of departure, then isolate for seven days or 48 hours with a negative test taken on arrival. 

Fully vaccinated skiers (from 12 years) flying from elsewhere outside the EU or Switzerland to Lyon, Grenoble and other French airports need proof of full vaccination and negative test (PCR or lateral flow) taken within 48 hours of departure to enter France. Arrivals to France must also show a sworn statement declaring absence of Covid-9 symptoms and no contact with confirmed Covid-19 cases in the previous 14 days.

Fully vaccinated skiers (from 16 years) flying into Geneva airport then transferring to a ski resort in France by bus, rental car or car-sharing service, need a PCR test (taken within 72hrs) to enter Switzerland. The Swiss Federal Office of Public Health has confirmed that since 10 December people who have recently recovered from Covid-19 and no longer have symptoms can enter Switzerland with a lateral flow test (antigen) no older than 24hrs and medical confirmation of having been ill with Covid-19 (such as a positive Covid-19 test result). Prior to take off, all arrivals – including those continuing straight to France – must fill in the electronic Swiss entry form 48hrs before departure.

Testing rules don’t apply for travel between border regions, meaning you don’t need any further test to drive across the Swiss-French land border into France. For your return journey from your French ski resort to Geneva airport, you likewise don’t need any test or entry form to cross back into Switzerland. Just make sure you have tested in-resort, within the required time slot, for entry tests required to get back to the country you are returning home to. 

Have the right pass 

This winter, to access ski lifts in French resorts, anyone over the age of 12 and two months needs a pass sanitaire. This French health pass⁠—a QR code, stored in the efficient TousAntiCovid app or printed – shows you are fully vaccinated, have recovered from COVID-19 in the last six months or tested negative in the last 24 hours.

Most resorts won’t even sell you a lift pass without proof of one; others rely on local gendarme to spot-check. Either way, don’t expect a refund on your ski pass if you’re caught riding lifts without a pass sanitaire. 

For families visiting from the UK, single-jabbed teenagers are not considered fully vaccinated in France, meaning daily testing to use ski lifts. The notable exception is single-vaccinated teenagers who have recovered from COVID-19 in the last six months—once in resort, take teen ID, vaccination certificate and positive COVID-19 test (hard copies only) to a pharmacy to get a pass sanitaire (€36). 

Top tip: Keep a paper print-out of your health pass QR code in your ski jacket pocket—vital backup should you forget your mobile device, lose it, or suddenly find high-altitude cold has killed your phone battery. 

Book tests in advance 

Pharmacies in ski resorts are ramping up COVID-19 testing facilities this season to ensure skiers don’t waste a second of premium ski time—and if you plan it right, you shouldn’t need to queue. 

Pharmacies administer lateral-flow tests (in French, un test antigénique or simply ‘antigen’) to walk-ins all day. Tests cost €25 (€30 on Sunday) and results usually take 15 to 30 minutes. If you need to test daily to secure a 24-hour pass sanitaire, book a block of same-time test appointments in advance. The Grande Pharmacie de Morzine in the Brit-loved resort of Morzine and many others take bookings online via the Doctolib platform.  

Lateral-flow home kits sold at pharmacies (around €6) don’t generate a QR code and are not valid for a pass sanitaire. To secure a PCR test for travel (€45 to €50, results within 48 hours), book an appointment at the resort medical center. 

Prepare to mask up 

Even with faces shrouded in mask, ski goggles and helmet, the euphoria radiating from the oddly silent (and orderly—none of the usual pushing to the front in a pack) line of skiers queueing for the Chavannes bubble in Les Gets last weekend was electrifying. The resort’s celebratory motto this season is #CetHiverJeSki (#ThiswinterIski) and clearly mask-wearing—recommended for six to 11 year olds and obligatory for anyone older—is a small price to pay for skiers. 

A sign indicates that masks must be worn in public.
Prepare to mask up while skiing in France © Nicola Williams

Face masks are this winter’s essential on ski lifts, in lift queues and at the start of ski-school lessons. Masks are obligatory outside on streets in resort centers, at outdoor markets and ice rinks, on public transport, and in all public indoor spaces, including ski-rental outlets, spas, shops, hotels, cinemas, and restaurants and bars until seated. Only disposal surgical masks (sold at resort pharmacies) and Category 1 fabric masks (AFNOR SPEC S76-001) or certified-equivalent neck buffs are allowed—although checks were nonexistent last weekend. 

Top tip: When skiing or boarding, ditch helmet-unfriendly face mask with ear straps for certified neck buff—dramatically easier to whip up and down quickly. Buy in resort at ski schools, tourist offices and sports shops. 

Skinning is still in 

While chairlifts gathered dust last winter (or rather celestial icicles sculpted by the elements into breathtaking art), ski touring enjoyed a massive rebirth. Many resorts marked out dedicated ski-touring itineraries for skiers to enjoy at a slow, serene and scenic pace (skin up the snowy slopes of Mont Chéry in Les Gets at sunrise and you’ll immediately understand the magic). Several itineraries have been maintained this season—no pass sanitaire required. Ski shops rent all the gear and ski schools now offer guided ski-touring expeditions.  

A skier carves their way through a beautiful winter scene.
Enjoy the scenery in France this year © Nicola Williams

Ditch dancing for forest bathing after dark

The decision by the French government to close nightclubs and ban dancing in bars and restaurants for four weeks (from 11 December until 6 January included) might have temporarily killed off any wild après-ski jigging on tables or dancing until dawn. But after two disastrous winter seasons, French ski resorts are pulling out every creative stop. Restaurants, cafes and bars are functioning as normal—albeit with pass sanitaire to enter and face masks when not seated—and après-ski is embracing the great outdoors with Génépi shots around campfires, torch-lit snowshoeing soirées, wigwam fondues and forest bathing after dark.  

In pristine pine woods above the Les Gets slopes, Alta Lumina transports visitors to an enchanting nighttime land of dazzling light, sound and video—again, pass sanitaire is required for entry.

This article was first published on December 10, 2021 and updated on December 17, 2021



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Carnival cruise ship with ‘small number’ of Covid-19 cases books a new port after being denied entry to 2


(CNN) — A Carnival cruise ship that departed Miami has “a small number” of people aboard who have tested positive for Covid-19, and it has been denied entry to ports at two Caribbean islands, the cruise line said.

However, the Carnival Freedom ship was granted access to visit Amber Cove in the Dominican Republic, company spokesperson AnneMarie Mathews said in a prepared statement.

“Carnival Freedom is following all protocols and has a small number on board who are in isolation due to a positive Covid test,” Mathews’ statement reads.

“Our protocols anticipate this possibility, and we implement them as necessary to protect the health and safety of our guests and crew. This is a vaccinated cruise, and all guests were also tested before embarkation,” the statement reads.

The Carnival Freedom departed Miami on December 18 and stopped in Curacao on Tuesday. Its planned stops at the Caribbean islands of Bonaire on Wednesday and Aruba on Thursday were canceled.

Those stops were replaced by Friday’s stop in the Dominican Republic, and the ship will return to Miami as planned on Sunday, the cruise line said.

The ship’s entry into Curacao was also delayed due to the Covid-19 cases detected onboard.

Dr. Izzy Gerstenbluth, the national epidemiologist for Curacao, told CNN that he was alerted by the ship prior to its docking that it had crew members who tested positive for Covid-19.

Gerstenbluth wanted to assess the situation once the ship docked, but he said he was delayed due to an emergency on the island. Once Gerstenbluth arrived on the cruise ship, he determined the cases were contained among the crew, he explained. Curacao allowed the ship’s passengers to leave the ship, but the crew remained onboard, he said.

Ashley Peterson, a passenger aboard on the cruise, told CNN the cruise line refused to inform her why the ship was delayed entry into Curacao. Later that day, she learned from a news report the delay was triggered by Covid-19 infections, she said.

Peterson said it wasn’t until the next day when the ship was denied entry into Bonaire that passengers were officially informed of the Covid-19 cases, and said she may have taken a flight back to North Carolina if she knew of the positive cases.

When asked by CNN, Carnival Cruise Line did not address specific claims by Peterson.

Carnival and many other cruise lines require passengers to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19, with some exceptions for children.

The cruise line is working closely with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and local health authorities at the destination it visits, according to the statement.

“The rapid spread of the Omicron variant may shape how some destination authorities view even a small number of cases, even when they are being managed with our vigorous protocols,” Mathews’ statement reads. “Some destinations have limited medical resources and are focused on managing their own local response to the variant.

“Should it be necessary to cancel a port, we will do our best to find an alternative destination.

CNN’s Sharif Paget contributed to this report.



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Israel extends COVID entry ban for foreigners, weighs Europe travel restrictions – Israel News


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Thailand Bans Entry of People Travelling From Eight African Countries | World News


BANGKOK (Reuters) – Thailand on Saturday said it would ban entry of people travelling from eight African countries it designated as high-risk for the new B 1.1.529 COVID-19 variant, a senior health official said.

Starting in December, travel from Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe, will be prohibited, the official told a news conference.

(Reporting by Chayut Setboonsarng; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

Copyright 2021 Thomson Reuters.

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