Airlines continue to increase service to meet demand for domestic leisure travel, including service to Florida, national park destinations such as Montana, and small-airport routes. The Transportation Security Administration is also hiring more staff and upgrading technology in preparation for a busy summer.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has updated guidance to allow inbound international air passengers to meet COVID-19 testing requirements using self-administered tests that fulfill several criteria, including FDA-approval and remote supervision.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has relaxed its guidance on mask wearing, noting that fully vaccinated adults need not wear masks outdoors most of the time -- but for those who embraced the protective accessory early in the pandemic, the new norms are proving hard to handle. Health officials are mixed on whether or not they will still wear masks outdoors, and many early adopters are holding on to their masks, citing concerns about health, etiquette and being associated with anti-mask groups.
Women make up a significant percentage of the workforce in the health care, hospitality and restaurant industries -- all hard-hit by the pandemic. But as businesses eye reopening and the economy slowly recovers, millions of women who found themselves forced to leave their jobs to care for children or relatives amid the pandemic are now unable to return. The combination of child care shortages and the automation of positions historically dominated by women are preventing women from returning to the workforce -- a fact that could threatens gender equity in our economic recovery.
Across much of the US, businesses are pressing governments to limit or end pandemic unemployment benefits, citing their struggle to hire employees as the economy reopens. But some experts say this "labor shortage" is a restructuring of the job market and what employees are willing to do, while essential workers -- who have continued to man their posts throughout the pandemic -- highlight a lack of public concern for their safety. Leaders looking to rebuild their workforce should rethink hiring strategies and disengage from hiring myths that preclude them from engaging qualified staff.
Business and government leaders all over are hoping to encourage vaccine-hesitant populations to accept the vaccine with incentives that include free beer, meals and tickets or vouchers for sporting events, concerts and amusement parks. And it's working. The "Shot and a Chaser" program launched in Erie County, N.Y., last Saturday saw more people vaccinated than the combined weekly total of all the county's first-dose clinics. Incentivization efforts aren't just stateside, either. Weekend clinics at Bran Castle in Romania (rumored inspiration for Dracula's home in the Bram Stoker novel) are hoping to boost vaccination levels -- and tourism -- with free shots and free admission to the castle's torture exhibit.
Pandemic-related production and supply chain delays are driving shortages of lumber and granite, even as demand skyrockets. The National Association of Home Builders estimates the confluence of rising demand and short supplies has driven the cost of framing a home up 250% -- and business is still booming. Investment experts say the problem is temporary and will ultimately self-correct, although when that will happen remains to be seen.
Animal shelters across the US are reporting a dramatic increase in the number of cats and dogs being returned after adoption rates spiked last year amid pandemic shutdowns. While some pets are reportedly being sent back because economically struggling families can't afford to care for them, many more are being surrendered as their owners resume regular work and travel schedules and no longer have time for them.