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Travellers from Europe to US face tougher Covid test restrictions

All travellers from Europe to the United States now have to provide a negative Covid test before boarding the plane.

 sign promotes a COVID-19 testing location located inside the Tom Bradley International Terminal at Los Angeles
US imposes new Covid test rule on travellers from Europe. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images/AFP

Travellers from Europe to the United States are from December 6th required to provide a negative Covid test before boarding the plane, under new rules announced by the White House last week.

The White House said that all travellers to the US – vaccinated or not – would need to provide a negative Covid test carried out within one day of departure. The rules took effect at 5:01am GMT (or 6:01am in Denmark) on Monday and apply to all non-citizens and non-US residents.

Previously, vaccinated travellers from Europe could present a negative test result obtained within three days of their time of departure. For unvaccinated travellers the requirement was a negative test within one day.

The new one-day testing requirement would apply equally to US citizens as well as foreign nationals arriving in the US. It applies to any traveller over the age of 2.

The pre-travel period for which a test is valid has been set as 1 day rather than 24 hours.

According to the CDC: “For example, if your flight is at 1pm on a Friday, you could board with a negative test that was taken any time on the prior Thursday.”

The US has accepted both the antigenic and PCR tests for the purpose of travel.

The US, which reported its first case of the Omicron variant on Wednesday last week, said on Monday cases have now been found in 16 states. But it has stopped short of imposing mandatory quarantine on arrivals.

“Our doctors believe tightening testing requirements for pre-departure will help catch more cases, potential cases of people who may be positive and inside the country,” a senior administration official last week told CNBC. “And so now is the right time to do it. And we can implement it very quickly.”

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TRAVEL NEWS

What to expect from strike action in France during the February school holidays

Several French unions have filed strike notices for February, with some aiming to target to busy February holiday period - here's what you can expect.

What to expect from strike action in France during the February school holidays

France is in the grip of a major confrontation between unions and the government over plans to reform the pension system.

So far, the main actions have been concentrated on one-day strikes that are supported by all eight of the union federations, however an increasing number of unions are filing notices for renewable or unlimited strikes, with some targeting the February holidays.

The French minister of tourism, Olivia Gregoire, called on unions to respect the “sacred period” of school holidays (which in France run from February 4th to March 6th, depending on which zone you are in).

Meanwhile, Philippe Martinez, the head of the hardline CGT union, told RTL that if the government remains stubborn then “there is a possibility of days of action during the school vacations”.

As a result, it is likely that further notices will be filed.  The Local will update this story with the latest – but here’s what we know so far.

January actions

Tuesday, January 31st – this is the next one-day mass strike, which will likely see severe disruption on many services, particularly public transport – full details here.

February actions

Trains – two rail unions – the hardline Sud-Rail and CGT-Cheminots – have filed a renewable strike notice for “mid-February” in addition to a two-day strike which is to take place on Tuesday, February 7th, and Wednesday, and 8th. 

READ MORE: Calendar: The French pension strike dates to remember

Ski resorts – two of the largest unions representing French ski lift operators and seasonal workers, FO (Force ouvrière) and the CGT, have filed “unlimited” strike notices starting on January 31st – the same day that unions across other sectors have called for another ‘mass strike’.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that the strike will continue throughout February, but unions say they want to put pressure on the government to discuss both pensions and changes to benefits for seasonal workers, which particularly affect ski industry employees.

The CGT union in particular has threatened further actions during the Ski World Championships, held in Courchevel from February 6th to February 19th. Strikes in ski resorts usually primarily affect the operation of ski lifts. You can read more here.

Oil refinery workers – refinery workers have threatened to strike for a period of 72 hours beginning on February 6th. 

The national union coordinator for French oil giant, TotalEnergies, Eric Sellini, told AFP that these actions would result in “lower throughput” and “the stoppage of shipments.”

The most concrete effect of this is likely to be shortages of petrol and diesel at some filling stations if the blockades are successful in stopping supplies leaving the refineries.

Power cuts – the hardline CGT have also threatened more “direct action” with employees of the State electricity sector threatening to cut the power to certain towns. This isn’t a scheduled action (or indeed a legal one, the government has promised to prosecute workers who do this) but short targeted power cuts could continue into February.

UK border – finally, if you are travelling to or from the UK, be aware that a UK Border Force strike is planned for February 1st and 2nd, which is likely to increase waiting times at the border.

We will update this story as more details are released, and you can also find all the latest in our strike section HERE.

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