Hundreds of flights canceled by the main airlines complicate the massive displacement of Americans at Christmas, who continue with their holiday plans despite the impact of the omicron variant, responsible for 70% of new cases. With miles of queues at mobile virus detection units, Americans are preparing to spend the second Christmas pandemic, with some last-minute restrictions to curb community transmission.
On the other hand, the White House will announce this Friday the end of the ban on entering the country for travelers from eight South African countries as of December 31. The United States registers an average of 170,000 new cases per day, an increase of 38% compared to the rate registered in the last 14 days.
Of the nearly 3,000 flights canceled worldwide due to the advancement of the new variant, according to the calculation of the Flight Aware website, more than 500 had as their destination or starting point the United States. The main airlines, such as Delta and United Airlines, accuse a wave of infections in their workforce, which has forced them to suspend 100 and 150 flights, respectively, in the last 24 hours. Only American Airlines currently maintains its operations practically intact.
This Saturday, 269 flights will be canceled, between domestic and international routes with origin or destination in the United States, according to the aforementioned website. Delta has explained in a statement that “it has exhausted all options and resources” to maintain flight plans, to no avail. United Airlines shields itself from the “direct impact of the omicron variant on our crews and the personnel who direct operations.”
Based on scientific evidence that existing vaccines are effective against the omicron variant, especially in the case of people who have received the booster dose, the Biden Administration will revoke the entry ban as of December 31 in the United States of travelers from seven southern African countries, which had been adopted on November 26 after learning of the emergence of the omicron variant. The White House decision joins a similar one from the United Kingdom, which on Tuesday lifted the veto of travelers from 11 southern African countries.
The affected countries once considered the ban unfair, unnecessary and discriminatory, as well as scientifically unfounded. As of December 31, passengers from South Africa, Botswana, Swaziland, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique and Namibia arriving in the US will be subject to the same requirements as other international travelers: vaccination certificate and a negative test performed in the 24 hours prior to the trip.
New York is also preparing to experience the pandemic second Christmas, with kilometer-long lines of people in front of pharmacies and mobile detection units, ubiquitous in all districts of the city. The City Council has begun to distribute millions of coronavirus tests in street deliveries announced on social networks and the municipal website. The new mayor, Eric Adams, has canceled the program of public events scheduled for his inauguration on January 1. The outgoing councilor, Bill de Blasio, has announced for his part that the typical street celebration on December 31 in Times Square, which was canceled last year, will restrict capacity and require the use of a mask and a certificate of the complete vaccination schedule. . The celebration, which usually drew around 58,000 people, will be limited to 15,000 this year. The State of New York declared a state of emergency for the omicron variant on November 27.
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