(CNN) – Countries around the world have imposed travel restrictions after a new variant of Covid-19 was discovered in South Africa, more than 2.3 million Americans traveled by air for Thanksgiving, and in Asia-Pacific, New Zealand and the Philippines have revealed new plans to reopen.
Here are some of the biggest developments in travel this week:
New variant triggered flight bans
An aggressive new variant of Covid-19 has been discovered, triggering a cascade of travel closures on November 26 as the United States, the European Union and other major destinations move to block arrivals from seven countries of Southern Africa, including South Africa, Namibia and Botswana.
At the start of the week, prospects across much of the continent looked good, as a dozen African countries, including Benin in the west and Ethiopia in the east, moved to low categories. risk on the US list of travel advisories.
Only a small number of cases of the new strain, named Omicron, have been identified so far, but the World Health Organization has said it is of concern and experts warn that it could spread quickly.
Europe has persevered in its winter season
The opening of the Austrian seaside resort of Ischgl has been delayed until December 3 due to the nationwide lockdown.
Jan Hetfleisch / Getty Images
Austria and Slovakia have entered national lockdown, and there have been protests in Croatia, the Netherlands and Belgium over new Covid restrictions – but at European ski resorts there have been preparations ( cautious) for the winter season.
Christmas markets have started to open in Italy and elsewhere, despite the increase in the number of Covids, while the EU has recommended a nine-month limit on the validity of vaccines for travel. The United Kingdom, meanwhile, is on the verge of expanding its vaccination mandate, which it will allow entry.
Travel disruption to the United States continued its record year
There have been more reports of disruptive passengers in 2021 than there have been in 30 years and more records of such incidents. Flight attendants have had enough.
Following the November 20 panic at the Atlanta airport when a passenger’s gun accidentally detonated, the Federal Aviation Administration announced this week that a traveler on an April Southwest Airlines flight had fined $ 40,823 after he allegedly brought his own alcohol on board, sexually assaulted a flight attendant, and then smoked cannabis in the washroom.
Covid cases are on the rise again in the United States, with 595,255 new cases reported last week, but Thanksgiving travelers still set a pandemic record, with more than 2.3 million people in the air on November 24 – busiest day at US security checkpoints since March 2020.
Philippines and New Zealand unveiled plans to reopen
Vaccinated foreign tourists will be allowed to visit the Philippines without quarantine from December 1, provided they have stayed in “green list” countries for at least 14 days in advance.
The list of eligible countries includes the US, UK, Germany, Japan and Australia and travelers will also be required to provide a negative PCR test performed within 72 hours of departure.
New Zealand revealed some more of its long-awaited reopening plans for 2022. The border will first open to New Zealand citizens and residents traveling from neighboring Australia on January 16, before expanding to include New Zealanders from around the world on February 13. Fully vaccinated visitors from all other countries except those deemed “high risk” will be able to visit from April 30.
Egypt has reopened its old avenue of the Sphinxes
The more than 3,000-year-old road, connecting two Egyptian temple complexes, was first discovered in the late 1940s and has since undergone decades of excavation and restoration efforts.
The site has undergone decades of excavation and restoration efforts and today features hundreds of traditional sphinxes and ram-headed statues lined up in its path.
The Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities described the site as the “largest open museum in the world”. According to Reuters, Egypt lost around $ 9 billion in tourism revenue in 2020, so there will be high hopes for this new project.
Catering group finances family trips for its staff
Hong Kong’s Black Sheep Restaurants group is spending $ 650,000 to allow 250 of its employees to return home to see their families abroad.
In addition to the money for flights and those many, many Covid tests, workers will also receive additional weeks of unpaid leave to help them undergo the Hong Kong hotel quarantine, which the company is also paying for. The city’s strict entry restrictions mean returning residents must spend a mandatory two or three weeks at designated hotels.
Black Sheep restaurants will also deliver evening meals to their employees at their quarantine hotels. To qualify for this impressive personal benefit, they must complete one year of service with the company upon their return.
A holiday love story
When Dina Honor hosted her very first Thanksgiving dinner at her New York home in 1997, a vacationing Briton – Richard Steggall – interrupted the meal with his friends. She flew to England a month later to celebrate Christmas with him and now they have been married for 20 years.
The most beautiful “spawning event” you will see this year
Scientists say the event is a positive sign that the reef is able to regenerate despite ecological threats.
Australia’s Great Barrier Reef has “given birth” to its annual coral spawning. Scientists working under the waves say they witnessed the event, in which corals simultaneously release sperm and eggs en masse, on the night of November 23 off Cairns, Queensland.
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This story has been updated to correct the locations of Benin and Ethiopia.
CÃ©line Alkhaldi, Ghazi Balkiz, Chris Dwyer, Tamara Hardingham-Gill, Jack Guy, Marnie Hunter, Caitlin McGee, David McKenzie, Sandee LaMotte, Pete Muntean, Francesca Street, Gregory Wallace and Lizzy Yee contributed to this report.