Pandemic travel news: The latest on Omicron restrictions

Well. It was good while it lasted, eh?

Pandemic travel news: The latest on Omicron restrictions
© Mario Tama/Getty Images A sign promotes a COVID-19 testing location located inside the Tom Bradley International Terminal at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) on December 1, 2021 in Los Angeles.

This week, we all got a little more familiar with the Greek alphabet as the Omicron variant wreaked havoc with travel plans everywhere.

Here are the latest developments you need to know about from the past seven days:

Pandemic travel news: The latest on Omicron restrictions
© Stringer/AFP/Getty Images TOPSHOT – In this photo taken on October 1, 2020, a resident wearing a face mask walk along a beach in Borocay, central Philippines. – Authorities eased restrictions in the world-famous Boracay on October 1, allowing local tourists to visit the island after more than six months of quarantine as coronavirus infections levelled off. (Photo by STR / AFP) (Photo by STR/AFP via Getty Images)

Travel restrictions are now a crazy game of Whac-A-Mole

Just when you thought it was safe to get back in the air, the coronavirus variant also known as B.1.1.529 showed up and travel suddenly became very complicated again. We’ve been keeping track of the restrictions country by country.

Pandemic travel news: The latest on Omicron restrictions
© AURA Skypool Lounge

For details on Germany’s national lockdown, check this out. And here’s what you need to know about the new US travel rules.

We also have things you should consider if you’re trying to plan international travel right now. And then there’s the question of whether travel bans even work. The World Health Organization doesn’t think so.

Fiji reopened to tourism

It wasn’t all closures this week, though. On Wednesday the Pacific island of Fiji reopened its borders to international travelers for the first time in nearly two years. Tourism accounts for 40% of the island’s economy, and now that 90% of the population is vaccinated, it’s getting back to business.

Pandemic travel news: The latest on Omicron restrictions
© Jan Hetfleisch/Getty Images INNSBRUCK, AUSTRIA – FEBRUARY 13: A row of houses on the banks of the Inn in Innsbruck, the capital of Tyrol on February 13, 2021 in Innsbruck, Austria. Tyrol, which is struggling to contain the rapid spread of the South African mutation of the novel coronavirus, has mandated a recent COVID-19 test for anyone seeking to leave the province for neighbouring regions. Meanwhile the German government will temporarily mostly seal its border to Tyrol and the Czech Republic, where in the latter the British novel coronavirus mutant has spread. Tyrol’s tourism industry, which is heavily dependent on foreign tourists, particularly in the winter ski season, is reeling. (Photo by Jan Hetfleisch/Getty Images)

Elsewhere, the land border between Singapore and Malaysia reopened for vaccinated people on November 29.

Pandemic travel news: The latest on Omicron restrictions
© Jan Hetfleisch/Getty Images ISCHGL, AUSTRIA – NOVEMBER 19: The village and ski resort of Ischgl on November 19, 2021 in Ischgl, Austria. Austrian authorities announced today that the country will go into a nationwide lockdown beginning this coming Monday for 20 days in response to the current high levels of novel coronavirus infections. Austria has already mandated restrictions for people yet unvaccinated. Ischgl, a popular ski resort, became notorious in the first wave of the pandemic last year as a locus of infections that spread across Europe. (Photo by Jan Hetfleisch/Getty Images)

English pub-goers were snowed in for three days

More than 60 people were trapped by snow at England’s Tan Hill Inn, the UK’s highest pub, after Storm Arwen hit the country. They were caught there for three nights, but kept in good spirits with plenty of food, drink and even entertainment, in the form of an Oasis cover band.

Pandemic travel news: The latest on Omicron restrictions
© Georg Hochmuth/AFP via Getty Images People walk as Christmas lights are lit in the street “Am Graben” near Stephan square (Stephanplatz) in Vienna, Austria, on November 12, 2021, during the ongoing coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. – Austrian Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg said on November 12, 2021 he wanted to introduce a nationwide lockdown for those not vaccinated or recovered from coronavirus, as the country struggles with rapidly rising cases. – Austria OUT (Photo by GEORG HOCHMUTH / APA / AFP) / Austria OUT (Photo by GEORG HOCHMUTH/APA/AFP via Getty Images)

If you’re worried about getting caught out in harsh weather yourself — let’s face it, endless rounds of “Wonderwall” aren’t for everyone — CNN has put together some wilderness survival tips as part of our Life, But Better series. If you ever need to fashion head protection out of underwear and fishing gear, we’ve got you covered. Or you can have a look at our blizzard-specific tips.

Pandemic travel news: The latest on Omicron restrictions
© Joe Klamar/AFP via Getty Images Visitors explore the traditional annual Christmas Market outside of Vienna’s city hall in Vienna, Austria on November 15, 2021. – Authorities began vaccinating children between 5 and 11 against coronavirus in the capital on November 15, 2021, among soaring rates that saw a country wide lockdown for some two million people who have not been fully vaccinated against Covid-19. (Photo by JOE KLAMAR / AFP) (Photo by JOE KLAMAR/AFP via Getty Images)

(Some) Christmas markets are still going ahead

There’s nothing quite like Glühwein for dispelling gloom. A number of well-known festive markets have been canceled this year, but CNN Travel has put together this round-up of those that are still going ahead.

US President Biden was there for the National Christmas Tree lighting ceremony in Washington on December 2, the day after the Rockefeller Tree lights were switched on in New York, but Londoners were critical of the somewhat bedraggled appearance of their city’s tree which popped up in Trafalgar Square on November 30.

Pandemic travel news: The latest on Omicron restrictions
© Mladen AntonovAFP via Getty Images This picture taken on October 4, 2019 shows boats at the boundary line set by the Thai National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department to close the beach on Maya Bay to visitors on the southern Thai island of Koh Phi Phi. – The glittering Thai bay immortalised in the movie “The Beach” will be closed until mid 2021 to allow it to recover from the impact of hordes of tourists. (Photo by Mladen ANTONOV / AFP) (Photo by MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP via Getty Images)

However, at least the London tree won’t give anyone nightmares — unlike this swivel-eyed Canadian creation with distinct “Squid Game” vibes.

Buying a cheap house in Italy has pitfalls, but can be worth it

An ever-growing number of Italian towns and villages are offering up the chance to buy homes for as little as a Euro thanks to some innovative regeneration schemes.

However, it’s not all sipping Chianti in the garden — these buildings are usually dilapidated and need a significant amount of care and attention to bring them back to life.

When it comes to offering advice on this topic, no one is better placed than those who’ve actually done it themselves. CNN Travel contributor Silvia Marchetti spoke to three sets of buyers who made the leap.

Poland and Niger are now in the US ‘very high’ risk travel category

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released its weekly travel advisory update.

As usual, there were a lot of high climbers this week. Joining a group of southern African countries as new additions on the Level 4 highest-risk list — you know the ones — are Niger, Poland, Papua New Guinea and Trinidad and Tobago.

Five destinations dropped from Level 4 to Level 3: Those are Bermuda, Costa Rica, French Polynesia, Guyana and Saint Lucia.

And now for dumplings

Take a break from the worries of the world by turning your mind to dumplings, those hot ‘n’ plump little pockets of joy. We’ve rounded up no fewer than 35 of our doughy favorites from around the world.

All hail Queen Riri

The Caribbean island of Barbados cut its ties to the British monarchy this week and finally became a republic. Prime Minister Mia Mottley is the country’s first female leader, while the newly appointed Sandra Mason is the country’s first president. To complete the all-woman triumvirate, one of the republic’s first acts was to designate global superstar Rihanna a national hero.

In case you missed it

A new report named the world’s most expensive cities to live in this year.

It was the first time ever that the winner topped the list.

You can now go inside a secret bunker which helped change the course of World War II.

Churchill enjoyed the brandy and cigars.

It’s 30 years since the international trailblazer Pan Am flew its last flight.

We took a look back at the jet set airline.

But this is what the future of first class travel could look like.

It’s all about “the halo effect.”

‘Baby dragons’ have been found under Europe.

And they’re pretty cute, too.

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