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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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ENVIRONMENT

Drought-hit Mont Blanc shuts shelters to dissuade hikers

Authorities in the French Alps said Friday they had closed down two popular mountain shelters used by Mont Blanc climbers because of potentially deadly drought-related rockfalls.

Drought-hit Mont Blanc shuts shelters to dissuade hikers

In a year marked by drought and heatwaves, rockfalls and gaping crevices have made access to the top of Mont Blanc, western Europe’s highest mountain, even more difficult and perilous.

The mayor’s office in the Mont Blanc village of Saint-Gervais, said climbers were in “mortal danger” from rocks and shards coming loose because of dry weather and dropping from a height.

“All day long, we still see climbers going on the mountain range, all the time, as if this was Disneyland or the Parc Asterix,” said Saint-Gervais mayor Jean-Marc Peillex, in reference to two popular theme parks near Paris.

Hikers had been advised since last month to stay away because of the danger, but “they just don’t give a damn,” he told AFP.

READ MORE: ‘To pay funeral costs’ – Why Mont Blanc mayor wants to charge climbers

The closure of the two mountain shelters — Gouter with 120 overnight spots and Tete Rousse with 74, as well as a base camp accommodating up to 50 people — was to “show clearly that there is no accommodation available”.

The authorities had warned for weeks that falling rocks were a danger, he said, adding that crossing the Gouter mountain corridor represented “a mortal danger”, he said.

Nevertheless, 79 people stayed at the Gouter shelter Thursday night, he said.

The shelters will remain shut until normal weather conditions return, the mayor said, probably not before early September.

Peillex had warned Wednesday that Saint-Gervais would require a deposit of €15,000 from each hiker, saying the sum represented the average cost of a rescue operation and a funeral.

He was, however, advised that French law offers no basis for such a move.

A lack of snow during the winter has laid bare vast areas of greyish glacier — yellowish where sand dust from the Sahara has accumulated — riven with fractures on the Mont Blanc.

The heat did the rest, causing the fragile snow bridges to melt that make it possible to cross the crevasses, as well as leading to landslides.

Following several heatwaves, France is in the grip of severe drought, blamed by scientists on climate change.

On Friday, 100 municipalities across the country were without drinking water, Environment Minister Christophe Bechu said.

Calling the drought “historic”, Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne called a crisis meeting Friday to seek solutions.

Scientists say human-induced climate change is amplifying extreme weather — including the heatwaves, droughts and floods seen in several parts of the planet in recent weeks — and say these events will become more frequent and more intense.

The international community has agreed that climate change poses an existential threat to human systems and the natural world.

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