Latest news updates: J&J starts work on vaccine targeting Omicron coronavirus variant


Japan will ban foreign citizens from entering the country, reversing a three-week old relaxation of its rules, as Tokyo responds to the emergence of the Omicron variant.

Prime minister Fumio Kishida on Monday announced the decision, which will take effect at midnight on Tuesday.

“We’re handling the Omicron variant with a strong sense of crisis,” Kishida told reporters. “It appears to be spreading around the world so we continue to look at further strengthening our border control measures.”

The new ban covers foreign students, trainees and workers moving to Japan and business travellers on short trips. Under the relaxation announced three weeks ago, vaccinated business travellers could visit Japan with a quarantine as short as three days.

Japanese nationals returning from South Africa, neighbouring countries and other nations with Omicron cases would have to quarantine at government controlled facilities, Kishida said.

Traders in Tokyo said that despite the Omicron news over the weekend, Tokyo’s morning session had been relatively positive, with opening dip pared back before the lunch break as NY futures continued to trade positively.

However, the headlines regarding Japan’s new policies on foreign arrivals hit sentiment hard, driving down stocks that had previously been trading higher on expectations of a gradual return to the tourism market.

Shares in Japan Air Terminals and several of the large railway companies fell sharply.

“Japan had just started to open up for short-term visitors and this looks like a step back,” said CLSA head of execution services Takeo Kamai. “There is a lot of uncertainty and the Tokyo market is always going to trade conservatively at a time like that.”



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Covid-19: When Aucklanders can travel and how it will work


Aucklanders who are fully vaccinated or have a negative Covid-19 test will be able to cross the border from December 15, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced.

People outside of Auckland will also be able to travel into the region, with the same vaccine or test requirement when they depart.

The requirements will remain in place until January 17, by which time it is hoped that vaccination rates around the country will be high enough that measures at the Auckland border will no longer be necessary.

Travel in and out of Auckland can resume on December 15.

David White/Stuff

Travel in and out of Auckland can resume on December 15.

“Aucklanders can now book summer travel and accommodation with confidence and businesses inside Auckland and around the rest of the country can plan for summer travellers,” Ardern said.

READ MORE:
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The requirements for those travelling by road will be enforced by police.

While the possibility of having checkpoints at the land border had earlier been floated, along with allocating Aucklanders “time slots” to travel, the Government has decided random spot checks will be sufficient.

Those caught breaking the rules would face a $1000 fine.

At the northern boundary used to enter Northland, police would be working with iwi to ensure confidence in checks.

Those leaving Auckland will either need to be fully vaccinated or provide a negative Covid-19 test.

BROOK SABIN/Stuff

Those leaving Auckland will either need to be fully vaccinated or provide a negative Covid-19 test.

For those travelling by air, checks would be done at check-in at Auckland Airport. Air New Zealand has already announced that proof of vaccination or a negative test result will be required to travel domestically, also starting from December 15.

Proof of vaccination or a negative test result would also be required to travel on interisland ferries, Ardern announced on Wednesday. This would mean all entry points to the South Island would be covered by checks.

Vaccine certificates, which people will use to prove they have received both doses of the vaccine, became available on the My Covid Record website on Wednesday morning.

Those who instead required a negative test to travel would need to take one within 72 hours of departure.

The requirements only apply to those aged 12 and older. Children under 12 who are not yet eligible for vaccination will not be required to get a test.

Got a summer travel question? Email [email protected], with ‘Ask An Expert’ in the subject line, and we’ll ask the experts for you.



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Latest dollar exchange rate and how tipping, contactless payments and credit cards work


From figuring out how much to tip to paying for almost everything in cash, travelling in the US can be a minefield of money questions.

If you want to avoid blowing too many bucks on card fees and poor exchange rates it can pay to do your research before you travel.

A lot has changed in the 20 months since UK visitors were last spending dollar bills stateside, so read on to make cents of what’s new.

How’s the exchange rate right now?

Unfortunately for holidaymakers, news of the US opening to tourists from the UK and Europe had the effect of boosting the value of the dollar against the pound.

You’ll spend 2p more for every dollar you buy now than on 28 October. The rate as of Monday 15 November was 74 pence to the dollar.

Contactless payments

In the 400-plus days that British tourists have been away, the US has slowly caught up with the rest of the developed world when it comes to contactless payments.

Originally slow to the wireless payments game, Apple Pay and Google Pay helped accelerate the uptake of contactless payments stateside.

The best change in the past 20 months? You can finally use Apple or Google Pay on the entire New York Subway and bus system – just like the London Underground and other local transport networks back home.

Bank credit cards

There are lots of bank credit cards on the market that work for travelling with, but Halifax’s Clarity Credit Card regularly tops expert charts.

Anecdotally, the Mastercard is favoured by some of the world’s most frequent and frugal travellers. I took a quick poll of travel writers on a recent trip to New York, and it was the most popular card by far.

You don’t pay any charges on transactions or to take money out of ATMs while overseas and the currency rate is pegged to Mastercard’s official rate.

Digital bank cards

Digital banks are more popular than ever, with many customers choosing to leave brick and mortar banks in favour of online-only brands like Revolut, Starling and Monzo.

Currensea is a great pick for travel. The UK’s first direct debit travel card, it offers a great exchange – you’ll pay no more than 0.5 on the FX travel rate. Simply link it to your current account by direct debit and it takes the money out of your main account after you’ve spent it, providing an extra level of security and peace of mind while travelling. A Mastercard, this plastic is contactless, and chip and pin.

Tipping and cash

In big cities in the US, tipping in bars and restaurants is now expected at 20 per cent, according to every local I asked while reporting from New York last week.

Evelyn Jack, 35, a bartender at Pendry Manhattan West in Manhattan admits what many of us suspect – that service industry workers sometimes give locals preferential service because they know they’ll tip at the local standard rate of 20 per cent.

She said: “It’s not just Europeans who think that 15 per cent is what they should be tipping, some tourists from the Midwest don’t think to pay 20 per cent when they visit New York. The cost of living in the city is so high, wait staff really rely on people paying tips at that higher rate to survive.”

Ms Jack also says that even if you think your main server has not been up to scratch, it is important to tip anyway, as the money is usually split among the entire front-of-house team.

And on the question of cash or card, she says that servers prefer it if you can pay your tips in cash, as in some bars this can mean they will avoid paying tax on the cash.

Currency exchange shops

The golden rule here is to never exchange your money at the airport, where the rates are always poor.

An investigation by FairFX found that Travelex currency exchange desks at Heathrow Airport are offering rates that are 17 per cent less than the market rate, meaning you could lose out on £211 for every £1,000 exchanged.

A safe alternative is always the Post Office who will give you a much fairer rate.



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Tip: Can An H-1B Employee Work From Home? – Immigration



United States:

Tip: Can An H-1B Employee Work From Home?


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Whether an H-1B employee can work from home depends on factors
including the geographic area of employment. Employers will need to
determine, on a case-by-case basis, whether to file an amended
petition or take other action such as posting the original LCA at
the new worksite location.

When You Must File an Amended Petition

You must file an amended H-1B petition if your H-1B employee
changed or is going to change his or her place of employment to
a worksite location outside of the metropolitan statistical
area (MSA)
covered by the existing approved H-1B petition,
even if a new LCA is posted at the new location.

Note: Once you file the amended
petition, your H-1B employee can immediately begin to work at the
new location. You do not have to wait for a final decision on the
amended petition for your H-1B employee to start work at the new
location.

When You Do NOT Need to File an Amended Petition

A move within an MSA: If your H-1B employee is
moving to a new job location within the same MSA or area of
intended employment
a new LCA is not required. Therefore,
you do not need to file an amended H-1B petition. However, you must
still post the original LCA in the new work location within the
same MSA or area of intended employment. For example, an H-1B
employee moving to a new job location within the New York City MSA
(NYC) would not trigger the need for a new LCA, but you would still
need to post the previously obtained LCA at the new work location.
This is required regardless of whether an entire office moved from
one location to another within NYC or if just one H-1B employee
moves from one client site to another within NYC.

Short term placement: Under certain
circumstances, you may place an H-1B employee at a new job location
for up to 30 days, and in some cases 60 days (where the employee is
still based at the original location), without obtaining a new LCA.
See 20 CFR 655.735. In these situations, you do not need to file an
amended H-1B petition. Under the short-term placement provisions,
an employer may place the H-1B worker at the new worksite location
for up to 30 workdays in one year and, in certain circumstances, up
to 60 workdays in one year. Employers will need to determine, on a
case-by-case basis, whether the 30-workday and/or 60-workday
provisions may apply. Employers should be aware that, if the
worker’s place of residence is outside the area of intended
employment, the 60-workday provision would not apply. The
short-term placement provisions only apply to H-1B workers; not
H-1B1 or E-3 workers.

Non-worksite locations: If your H-1B employee
is only going to a non-worksite location, you do not need to file
an amended H-1B petition. A location is considered to be
“non-worksite” if:

  • The H-1B employees are going to a location to participate in
    employee developmental activity, such as management conferences and
    staff seminars;

  • The H-1B employees spend little time at any one location;
    or

  • The job is “peripatetic in nature,” such as
    situations where their primary job is at one location but they
    occasionally travel for short periods to other locations “on a
    casual, short-term basis, which can be recurring but not excessive
    (i.e., not exceeding five consecutive workdays for any one visit by
    a peripatetic worker, or 10 consecutive workdays for any one visit
    by a worker who spends most work time at one location and travels
    occasionally to other locations).” See 20 CFR
    655.715.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.

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Moroccans protest vaccine pass required for work, travel


RABAT, Morocco (AP) — Demonstrations have been staged in cities across Morocco against a coronavirus vaccine passport required to access indoor activities and travel. Proof of vaccination has been mandatory since Oct. 21 for all Moroccans to enter their place of work and restaurants and for domestic and international air travel. The North African kingdom’s vaccination rate is the highest in the continent, with more than 58% of its 36 million people fully inoculated. But a vocal minority is opposed. Protests were held Sunday in the capital of Rabat, Casablanca, Tangiers in the north and Agadir in the south. 



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Indonesia, Malaysia to Start Work on Travel Corridor | World News


JAKARTA (Reuters) – Indonesia and Malaysia will start a travel corridor between the two nations and finalise maritime borders in accordance with international law, Indonesia’s foreign minister said on Monday after a meeting with her Malaysian counterpart.

Retno Marsudi also said Southeast Asian countries would continue to offer Myanmar humanitarian help, despite the lack of cooperation by its ruling military in committing to a peace roadmap.

(Reporting by Kate Lamb in Sydney and Augustinus Beo Da Costa in Jakarta; Editing by Martin Petty)

Copyright 2021 Thomson Reuters.



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Mortgage rates jump to highest level since April, and how does the IRS ‘wash sale’ rule work?


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COVID-19: UK’s travel rules are changing this week – what will be different and how will it work? | UK News


The UK’s travel rules are set to change again this week as more restrictions are relaxed, allowing people to be more confident about making plans.

British holidaymakers have been forced to adapt to many new travel rules since the summer during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since May this year, travellers have been adhering to the government’s travel traffic light system, which regularly changed which countries were safe visit.

Experts say they are worried about the risk of variants infecting UK travellers in Europe this year
Image:
The traffic light system will be changed as part of the shake-up

These changes made planning a trip abroad difficult, but a major shake-up announced a few weeks ago will come into force on Monday – and the rules are set to remain in place until the New Year.

Which travel rules are changing this week?

Traffic light system

The current traffic light system of red, amber and green countries will be replaced with one red list only.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced the plans last month as he said the aim was to “simplify measures”.

He wrote on Twitter: “We’re making testing easier for travel.

“From Monday 4 October, if you’re fully vaccinated you won’t need a pre-departure test before arrival into England from a non-red country and from later in October, will be able to replace the day 2 PCR test with a cheaper lateral flow.

“We’ll also be introducing a new simplified system for international travel from Monday 4 October, replacing the current approach with a single red list and simplified measures for the rest of the world – striking the right balance to manage the public health risk as number 1 priority.”

PCR tests

People who are fully vaccinated will no longer need to take a pre-departure test for travelling into England from countries on the non-red lists.

At the end of October, people will also be able to replace their day-two PCR test with a cheaper lateral flow test.

UK travellers face expensive COVID tests
Image:
UK travellers previously faced expensive COVID tests when travelling

However, those who are unvaccinated will still have to pay for PCR tests.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid previously said he wanted to get rid of PCR tests for travel “as soon as I possibly can”.

He told Sky News’s Trevor Phillips On Sunday: “I’m not going to make that decision right now, but I’ve already asked the officials that the moment we can, let’s get rid of these kinds of intrusions.

“The cost that generates for families, particularly families just trying to go out and holiday, you know we shouldn’t be keeping anything like that in place for a second longer than is absolutely necessary.”

Lateral flow tests

The pre-arrival lateral flow test required by all Britons returning to the UK will also be scrapped this week.

The government will also keep adding pressure on people to get their jabs by maintaining a 10-day quarantine on the unvaccinated despite which country they arrive from.

Which countries will still be on the red list?

Anyone returning from a red list country will also still be required to pay £2,285 to quarantine at a government-approved hotel.

The red list:

Afghanistan

Angola

Argentina

Bolivia

Botswana

Brazil

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Transport Sec on travel restrictions

Burundi

Cape Verde

Chile

Colombia

Congo (Democratic Republic)

Costa Rica

Cuba

Dominican Republic

Ecuador

Eritrea

Eswatini

Ethiopia

French Guiana

Georgia

Guyana

Haiti

Indonesia

Lesotho

Malawi

Mayotte

Mexico

Mongolia

Montenegro

Mozambique

Myanmar

Namibia

Nepal

Panama

Paraguay

Peru

Philippines

Réunion

Rwanda

Seychelles

Sierra Leone

Somalia

South Africa

Sudan

Suriname

Tanzania

Thailand

Trinidad and Tobago

Tunisia

Uganda

Uruguay

Venezuela

Zambia

Zimbabwe

What happens if a traveller tests positive when returning to the UK?

Anyone who tests positive will need to isolate and take a free confirmatory PCR test.

This would then be genomically sequenced to help identify new variants.

Will the new rules apply to the whole of the UK?

The travel changes will only apply to England.

The Scottish government has already announced it will not remove the requirement for people who are fully vaccinated to take a pre-departure test before returning from non-red list areas.

The Scottish government said: “A UK government decision to implement proposals to remove the requirement for a pre-departure test in England and to use lateral flow tests on day two have not been adopted at this stage in Scotland due to significant concerns at the impact on public health.”

A plane lands on the southern runway at London Heathrow Airport. US and EU travellers who are fully vaccinated against coronavirus will be allowed to enter England and Scotland without the need to quarantine from Monday. Travellers will be required to take a pre-departure test, and a PCR test on or before the second day after their arrival. Picture date: Thursday July 29, 2021.
Image:
Anyone who tests positive will need to isolate and take a free confirmatory PCR test upon arrival

Eluned Morgan, minister for health and social services, added the Welsh government would “carefully consider” the new travel measures announced for England before making a decision.

Are the rules the same for leaving the UK and returning from other countries?

The rules will only apply to those getting back into the UK.

Towards the end of October, passengers who change flights or international trains during their journey will be able to follow the measures associated with the country they originally departed from, rather than the countries they have been through as part of their journey.

However, a date for this has not yet been confirmed.

Passengers should continue to check GOV.UK travel guidance to keep up to date with entry requirements into the UK here.



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Some Original Staffers Say They’re Still Happy To Work At Disney World After 50 Years : NPR


Celebrating 50 years as original employees of Walt Disney World are (from left) Chuck Milam, Earliene Anderson and Forrest Bahruth.

John Raoux/AP


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John Raoux/AP


Celebrating 50 years as original employees of Walt Disney World are (from left) Chuck Milam, Earliene Anderson and Forrest Bahruth.

John Raoux/AP

ORLANDO, Fla. — Applying to be one of the first workers at Walt Disney World, high school graduate George Kalogridis made a split-second decision that set the course for his life: he picked a room where prospective hotel workers were being hired.

Chuck Milam got a tip about a job opening from a transplanted Disney executive whose new house he was landscaping. Earliene Anderson jumped at the chance to take a job at the new Disney theme park in Florida, having fallen in love with the beauty of Disneyland in California during a trip two years earlier.

At the time, the three were among the 6,000 employees who opened the Magic Kingdom at Disney World to the public for the first time on Oct. 1, 1971. Now, they are among two dozen from that first day still employed at the theme park resort as it celebrates its 50th anniversary on Friday.

Over those decades, Disney World added three more theme parks, two dozen additional hotels and grew to have a workforce of 77,000 employees as it helped Orlando become the most visited place in the U.S. before the pandemic.

What never changed was the original employees’ devotion to the pixie dust, the dream machine created by Walt Disney and his Imagineers.

A Disney representative presents the three with special 50th anniversary name tags.

John Raoux/AP


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John Raoux/AP


A Disney representative presents the three with special 50th anniversary name tags.

John Raoux/AP

“Disney has been my love, and it still is,” Anderson said recently before starting her shift in merchandising at a Magic Kingdom hotel. “I love Disney.”

The employees who make up the 50-year club say the theme park resort has allowed them to grow their careers and try on new hats. Kalogridis worked his way up to be president of Walt Disney World and Disneyland in California. Milam went from a warehouse worker to a buyer of spare parts for rides and shows.

Forrest Bahruth joined the workforce at Disney World in January 1971 as a show director, responsible for staging and choreographing parades and shows. He was also given the opportunity to help open other Disney theme parks around the world over the past five decades.

“There are people all over the world who get up to go work. They’re unhappy about it. They don’t really like their jobs,” Bahruth said. “As you can tell from us, there’s an enthusiasm. We are privileged to be at a place where we love what we do.”

Some Disney World history

There was no guarantee that Disney World was going to be a success 50 years ago. Walt Disney, the pioneering animator and entrepreneur whose name graces the Florida resort, had died in 1966, just a year after announcing plans for “the East Coast Disneyland.” The company had quietly acquired 27,000 acres (11,000 hectares) of scrub land outside Orlando for around $5 million via secret land purchases using fake names and shell companies.

The job of shepherding the project to Opening Day fell to his brother, Roy Disney, who with other company officials convinced the Florida Legislature to create a quasi-governmental agency that would allow Disney to self-govern when it came to matters of infrastructure and planning. Roy died almost three months after Disney World opened.

Just weeks before opening, construction at the Magic Kingdom was controlled chaos, and it seemed impossible that it would all come together in time.

“It was like an army of ants. Everything was under construction. Interiors were still being put in. Roofing was still being put on top,” Bahruth said. “There was painting, landscaping. Things were arriving by the moment. It was like trucks going everywhere.”

Bahruth rehearsed performers through parade choreography down Main Street, which cut through the center of the Magic Kingdom and resembled a turn-of-the-century small town from Walt Disney’s childhood. Even though he was a busser, Kalogridis was drafted into laying down sod outside the hotel he was working in, hours before Disney World’s grand opening.

Memories of opening day

Two things have stuck in the memories of the longtime employees from that opening day. The first was the photo. It was an image of thousands of Disney World workers standing in front of the iconic Cinderella Castle with Mickey Mouse and other costumed characters holding hands in front. Two weeks later, it was featured on the cover of Life magazine.

“They brought all the characters up, staged them first, and then they tried to keep all the different workers together based on the color of their costumes,” Milam said. “If you were from Fantasyland and in yellow, you would go over there.”

The second was the parade. It featured a 1,076-member marching band conducted by Meredith Wilson, the composer of the Broadway show, “The Music Man.” There were 4,000 Disney entertainers marching through the theme park, a mass choir and trumpeters from the United States Army Band. Hundreds of white doves were released into the air, and less environmentally friendly, so were thousands of multi-colored balloons.

“It was the biggest thing I had ever seen,” Bahruth said.

Only around 10,000 visitors showed up on that first day — which at today’s much larger Walt Disney World would represent about 90 minutes’ worth of visitors entering. It wouldn’t be until Thanksgiving 1971, almost three months later, when Disney executives had an answer about whether their new resort would be a success; that’s when cars trying to get into the Magic Kingdom stretched for miles down the interstate.

“It was very clear after that first Thanksgiving, that the public definitely liked what we were doing,” Kalogridis said. “That first Thanksgiving, that was the moment.”



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EXPLAINER: How Vaccine Passports for Global Travel Will Work | Business News


By KELVIN CHAN, AP Business Writer

LONDON (AP) — Boarding pass, suitcase, passport and … digital vaccination certificate?

Keen to avoid losing another summer of holiday revenue to the coronavirus pandemic, the European Union, some Asian governments and the airline industry are scrambling to develop so-called COVID-19 vaccine passports to help kickstart international travel.

They’re working on systems that would allow travelers to use mobile phone apps to prove they’ve been vaccinated, which could help them avoid onerous quarantine requirements at their destinations.

But the multiple efforts underscore the lack of one central international system to electronically verify vaccination status. The projects also face technical challenges in working together, while questions about privacy and vaccine inequality linger.

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DEL RIO, TEXAS - MAY 19: Venezuelan mother Meryenf kisses her son Mauricio, 4, as they wait to be taken into U.S. Border Patrol custody on May 19, 2021 in Del Rio, Texas. They had crossed the Rio Grande minutes earlier from Mexico to seek political asylum in the United States. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

Vaccination passports would add another digital layer to the multitude of existing coronavirus health and contact tracing apps many countries and U.S. states have rolled out. Their use domestically to reopen local economies has been hotly debated, with many opposed to requiring them for pubs, concerts and sporting events. However, there’s more momentum to use them for international travel, especially as countries like Iceland open their borders to vaccinated visitors and others like Saudi Arabia start allowing vaccinated citizens to travel abroad. The EU’s decision last week to open its borders to fully vaccinated travelers adds even more urgency.

Here’s a look at how vaccine passports work:

The first part of a vaccination passport is the user’s official or approved electronic immunization record.

The European Union, China and Japan are all working on their own digital vaccination certificates for cross-border travel. The U.K., meanwhile, updated its National Health Service app last week to let fully vaccinated users prove their status when traveling abroad, coinciding with an easing of travel rules.

Testing is under way for the EU’s digital certificate, which will also confirm COVID-19 test results or recovery from the virus and is set to go live by the end of June, allowing residents to reunite with friends and relatives living across 30 European countries. It’s still unclear where and how exactly travelers in the EU, which doesn’t have internal border checkpoints, will have their certificates checked. Officials in Brussels say that will be up to individual countries. The idea is that travelers will flash a QR code on their phones so it can be scanned at, say, an airport or train station, using an official verification app that checks with national databases, via an EU technical “gateway.”

The World Health Organization doesn’t recommend vaccination proof as a requirement for international travel, citing unequal distribution of vaccines, even as it consults on interim guidance for developing a “Smart Vaccination Certificate.”

Travelers also need a smartphone app to carry any eventual official vaccination certificates.

The EU’s project includes open source technology European countries can use to build their own official mobile wallets.

The International Air Transport Association, an airline industry group, has its smartphone IATA Travel Pass, which airlines including Qantas, Japan Airlines, Emirates, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic have signed up to. A rival effort, the nonprofit CommonPass, has gained traction with carriers like Cathay Pacific, JetBlue, United and Lufthansa.

Travelers can already use the apps to verify that their COVID-19 test results are accepted at their destination. Travel Pass and CommonPass are so far only available to travelers on airlines that are using them. Both can also be integrated into airline travel apps so users can verify their vaccine status when they check in online. Both are also expected to work with the EU certificates. CommonPass says users will be able to import vaccine credentials by mid-June.

Amid a pandemic-dimmed travel outlook, CommonPass CEO Paul Meyer said vaccine passports will only become more widespread. “Our expectation is it will remain a requirement for international travel.”

Business travelers like British public relations executive Richard Fogg welcome vaccine passports. Fogg’s firm scaled back plans to attend a major telecom trade show in Barcelona next month, given quarantine rules for people returning to the U.K.

“Those 10 days of quarantine will have negative business implications – there’s no way around it,” Fogg said, while acknowledging tradeoffs including concerns about data privacy.

Eymeric Segard, CEO of Geneva-based private jet broker Lunajets, noted travelers already hand over passports with personal data on arrival.

“Personally, you know, I would be happy to tell anybody, yes, I am vaccinated or no I’m not vaccinated,” he said, adding that vaccine passports would help avoid the “logistical nightmare” of multiple COVID-19 tests Europeans face when visiting other EU countries.

Phony paper COVID-19 document s sold by fraudsters have been a problem during the pandemic but developers say digital versions have safeguards that make them hard to fake.

IATA says it doesn’t verify test results or vaccination status but acts as the conduit for registered labs to securely send those details to travelers whose identity the app can match to the person who took the test or vaccination. The app scans a traveler’s face using the phone camera and matches it to passport biometric details, and there are checks to prevent someone else using their identity.

Vaccination passports are a polarizing topic, with online discussion highlighting unfounded fears that they’ll be used to control people, restrict freedom and erode privacy. Developers stress that minimal personal data is kept on phones, and the only thing that gets transmitted are encryption keys allowing information to be exchanged securely.

“If done correctly, this doesn’t bring an additional level of privacy risk because you’re just putting in a credential status of yes or no,” said Kevin Trilli, chief product officer at ID verification company Onfido, which is working on vaccination cards technology.

There’s also the question of how well various vaccine credential systems will work together and whether countries will recognize each others’ certificates. The U.K. government has warned that not many countries currently accept proof of vaccination from travelers.

“You can’t have an interoperable system on day zero,” but over time the kinks will be worked out, which helps lay the groundwork for the next pandemic, Trilli said.

What about people who don’t have smartphones? Or families that don’t have a device for each member? IATA and EU officials say they’re are working on solutions, including paper-based options.

For all of AP’s tech coverage, visit https://apnews.com/apf-technology

Follow Kelvin Chan at www.twitter.com/chanman

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