(CNN) — Russia and China are fighting record Covid outbreaks, US domestic air travel is set to go from bad to worse, but there’s good news out of Asia-Pacific.
Here are some things we learned in pandemic travel this week.
1. Russia has moved to the CDC’s highest-risk category
Moscow will impose a 10-day lockdown from next week in an effort to curb soaring Covid-19 cases, the city’s mayor has said, as Russia endures its worst-ever phase of the pandemic. CNN’s Frederik Pleitgen reports.
There are now nearly 80 countries on the CDC’s “no-go” Level 4 list, including the UK, Greece, Switzerland and Thailand.
2. China is doubling down on its zero-Covid strategy
All across Asia Pacific, from Australia to South Korea, countries are easing restrictions and reopening borders as they move away from zero-Covid strategies — but China is holding out.
Despite fully vaccinating more than 75% of its population, China is sticking to its policy of closed borders, lengthy quarantines for international arrivals and localized lockdowns.
3. Flying has gotten really bad. Here’s why
American Airlines has canceled hundreds of flights over a four day period as it deals with staffing shortages and weather issues. The airline says 1,800 flight attendants are returning from pandemic time-off. CNN’s Pete Muntean reports.
Staffing shortages mean flight crews are overworked and vaccine mandates could lead to even more shortages. Lower availability of flights, meanwhile, means higher ticket prices for those flights. Planes are packed, there’s division over mask rules, and tensions are rising.
4. The ultra long-haul dream hasn’t gone away
An experimental 2019 research flight by Qantas landed in Sydney after flying nonstop from London, breaking two aviation records.
Ultra long-haul flights are classed as any that are scheduled to last more than 16 hours — and they’ve actually been around since the 1930s.
5. Try warm-weather destinations, say travel experts
Relax and enjoy the surf and sun by taking a 60 second break in Turks & Caicos.
While the 2020 holiday season was a stay-at-home affair, this year moving around the world is safer and more accessible. However, we still need weigh up risks versus benefits during every step of vacation-planning.
Your vaccination status is the most important factor when it comes to ease of travel, with many countries not letting the unjabbed enter. If you want to reduce your Covid risk but are still keen for a vacation abroad, consider warm-weather destinations where most of the activity is outdoors.
7. The ‘world’s best’ cheese for 2021 was revealed
The World Cheese Awards 2021 were held in northern Spain.
The Guild of Fine Food
Even if you’re not making plans to jet off anywhere for a while, you can still travel the world with your palate.
The winning cheese, called Olavidia, is from an artisan cheesemaker using the commercial name Quesos y Besos (Cheeses and Kisses). The crown returned to Europe this year after the previous winner was — for the first time ever — an American cheese, Oregon’s Rogue River Blue.
8. There were joyful reunions at Australian airports
Tens of thousands of loved ones and family members have been kept apart for more than 20 months due to Australia’s strict border policy in response to Covid-19.
So far, only the highly vaccinated states of New South Wales and Victoria have relaxed restrictions on international arrivals, but the Australian government says further border limits will be removed as other parts of the country meet their 80% vaccination targets.
CNN’s Forrest Brown, Karla Cripps, Nectar Gan, Steve George, Al Goodman, Marnie Hunter, Chris Isidore, Angus Watson, Ben Westcott and Jessie Yeung contributed reporting.