Like many musicians, J Mascis, the leader of the stalwart alt-rock band Dinosaur Jr., has struggled through a year without touring.
“I’ve never been home this long since, like, high school,” Mascis said in a phone interview from his home in western Massachusetts. “To have no idea when or if you can do anything again, just sitting around,” he added, trailing off. “My mental health has definitely suffered.”
But a few weeks ago, Dinosaur Jr. took a step toward normalcy by announcing an extensive fall tour, with a handful of warm-up dates booked for as early as May.
“We’re not naïve; we know we might have to reschedule,” Mascis said. “But just to have something on the books somehow makes things a bit more hopeful.”
33 percent of their regular capacity, up to 100 people for indoor spaces. Throughout the country, rules from local governments have kept many clubs and theaters closed, or allowed them to operate at reduced capacities — which for many of those places does not allow enough business to cover the basic costs of operating and of paying artists and employees, said Audrey Fix Schaefer of the 9:30 Club in Washington.
“The only thing worse than being totally shuttered is being partially reopened,” said Fix Schaefer, who is also the communications director for the National Independent Venue Association.
Shuttered Venue Operators Grant fund, which they can apply for starting April 8 — are eager for the business.
The relative handful of clubs and theaters set to reopen in the spring are doing so with altered seating plans, temperature checks and adjusted financial deals with performers. A recent rock concert in Spain, with extensive Covid-19 protections, drew 5,000 fans. These events are being watched closely by the concert industry, which went into 2020 anticipating its biggest year ever but ended up losing nearly $10 billion in box office revenue, according to data collected by Pollstar, a trade publication.
calendar.) Tables have been arranged to allow space between parties, and patrons, who must wear masks when not seated, will get their temperatures checked upon entry.
“Even if it’s for 100 people, it takes on such a significance to be putting on a show,” said Michael Dorf, the venue’s founder. “It feels like a sacred job, putting on culture.”
Miller, a regular performer at the dozen City Winery spots around the country, said that he had struggled with the forced grounding from Covid-19, though he also noted the silver lining of spending more time with his family. The idea of playing live again, he said, both excites and terrifies him.
Foo Fighters and others; Summerfest in Milwaukee, a major urban concert series, is also planned for September. But whether Lollapalooza in Chicago will go forward is unclear.
In New York, a smattering of clubs are also planning shows, like Bowery Electric and the Bitter End. But the majority are holding out for when they can reopen at full capacity, or close to it, many proprietors said. The industry has been placing its bets on summer or fall for that.
fall tour at large clubs like Avant Gardner in New York and the Anthem in Washington. Sam Denniston, the group’s manager, said that all signs have pointed toward that being feasible, as millions more people get vaccinated and more venues fully reopen. Yet uncertainty about the pandemic means that anything could happen.
“It’s kind of like penguins sitting on the edge of a cliff, and they push one in to see if there’s a killer whale in the water,” Denniston said. “I kind of feel like we’re that first penguin. But someone’s got to take the risk.”
While stadium-sized artists are counting on the pandemic coming under control and the full revival of a mothballed industry by the time they hit the road, for many others below the superstar level, a year without shows has simply been long enough.
“I don’t know if I can wait another six months to a year,” Miller said, “to do my job again.”
“Unvaccinated children would still need to quarantine for five days, and the parents, of course, must stay with the child,” said Eric Newman, who owns the travel blog Iceland With Kids. “Iceland’s brand-new travel regulations are not friendly to families hoping to visit with children.”
After a year of virtual schooling and working from home, parents have no desire to quarantine with their kids, said Anthony Berklich, the founder of the travel platform Inspired Citizen. “What these destinations are basically saying is you can come but your children can’t,” he said.
Instead, families are opting for warm-weather destinations closer to home.
When the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced in January that proof of a negative PCR test would be required of all air passengers arriving in the United States, many tropical resorts — including more than a dozen Hyatt properties — began offering not just free on-site testing, but a deeply discounted room in which to quarantine in case that test comes back positive. That move, said Rebecca Alesia, a travel consultant with SmartFlyer, has been a boon for family travel business.
“What happens if the morning you’re supposed to come home, you get up and Junior has a surprise positive test?” she said. “A lot of my clients have booked this summer because of this policy.”
For parents struggling to decide how and when to return to travel, there is good news on the horizon, said Dr. Shruti Gohil, the medical director of infection prevention at the University of California, Irvine.
“The chances of a good pediatric vaccine coming soon are high,” she said, noting that both Pfizer and Moderna are already running pediatric trials on their vaccines. “There is no reason to think that the vaccine will have any untoward effects on children that we haven’t already noted in adults.”
In the meantime, she said, parents with children need to continue to be cautious. That doesn’t mean families shouldn’t travel at all, but she recommends choosing to drive rather than fly; to not allow unvaccinated children to play unmasked with children from other households; and to remain vigilant about wearing masks and regularly washing hands while on the road.
“Covid really happened so suddenly at this time last year that states and the Centers for Disease Control didn’t issue guidance to operate quickly,” Mr. Rosenberg said. “A large proportion of camp parents intended to send their kids but didn’t because they weren’t comfortable.”
Nearly all camps made it through the last year with a combination of federal assistance, donations and bank loans. This year, many have reported that demand is back up to prepandemic levels, Mr. Rosenberg said, but are limiting spaces to make sure they comply with health protocols.
Jon Deren, co-owner and director of Camp Manitou, a sleep-away camp in Maine for boys, said he was able to operate last summer on a reduced schedule with fewer campers. He will continue to operate this summer with 90 percent of the campers but 100 percent of the staff to maintain Covid-19 safeguards. Spots for most age groups have been full since the fall, he said.
“Pre-Covid, camp was a lot about fun and getting outside and playing and all the activity,” Mr. Deren said. “As we’ve all worked through technology this past year, the importance of camp has been highlighted as being a tech-free place where kids can be happy. Parents want their kids to have fun, given the lack of fun and isolation their kids have had.”
The price for summer camps varies widely. The average for an independent nonprofit day camp is $413 a week, according to the camp association’s data. It’s $805 at a for-profit camp and roughly $300 for a national nonprofit camp, like the ones run by the Y.M.C.A. An overnight camp averages $1,962 a week for an independent nonprofit group, $1,468 for the for-profit version and $680 for those run by organizations like the Y.M.C.A.
Most camps, though, offer discounts for multiple weeks. Camp Manitou costs $14,350 for the full seven weeks — about $2,000 a week — but $8,650, or about $2,500 a week, for a half-session.
In a report in February, the camp association, working with the University of Utah, found that the majority of parents whose children had participated in camp before the pandemic said their children had less physical activity last summer without the structure of camp. They were more apt to spend their days on the computer or watching television than playing outside.
With the number of people in the United States vaccinated against the coronavirus climbing, Americans are starting to explore their prospects for international travel this summer, a season when Europe is traditionally a big draw.
Most of Europe has been off-limits to most U.S. citizens for over a year, and the continent is currently grappling with a third wave of coronavirus infections and a surge in new, more contagious variants, making it unclear when its borders will reopen. But some European countries have started to welcome vaccinated travelers, including American tourists, and others are making preparations to ease restrictions in time for the summer season.
Vaccine and health certificates that would help speed travel are under development, which could make it easier for tourism to restart. The 27 member countries of the European Union have endorsed the idea of a vaccine certificate. While individual European countries will still set their own rules, the initiative is expected to establish a coordinated approach across the continent.
“Finally, we have a tangible solution to coordinating and harmonizing travel measures,” said Eduardo Santander, chief executive of the European Travel Commission, an association of national tourism organizations based in Brussels. “I think other countries like the U.S. will also come up with their own technological solutions that will be compatible and after a period of trials this summer, a global standard will be established.”
including Albania and Armenia.
As the number of cases has risen in Europe, and vaccination has been sluggish, several European Union countries have gone back into lockdown. France, Belgium and Portugal have reintroduced stringent measures that restrict nonessential travel, even from within the bloc and within what is known as the Schengen Zone, which includes nonmember countries that allow free movement across their borders.
“Right now, in some European countries, it might feel like you are in the middle of a storm, which is how we felt in the U.K a couple of months ago,” said Gloria Guevara Manzo, chief executive and president of the World Travel & Tourism Council, a forum that works with governments to raise awareness about the travel industry.
European Travel Agents’ and Tour Operators’ Association. “But right now, we are not talking about Americans visiting Europe.”
American travelers do have some options, though: Having brought the virus under control, Iceland is allowing all vaccinated travelers — including those from the United States — to enter without being subject to Covid-19 testing or quarantine measures.
Greece, one of the most popular European summer destinations for Americans, announced this month that it would reopen for all tourists in mid-May, as long as they show proof of vaccination, antibodies or a negative Covid-19 test result before traveling. All visitors will be subject to random testing upon arrival.
Turkey said it would not require international travelers to be vaccinated this summer and will re-evaluate testing policies after April 15.
Other European countries like Slovenia and Estonia are letting in vaccinated tourists, but not those from the United States.
several cruise lines have announced “staycation sailings” around the British Isles starting in June.
Many Britons traveled last summer when the virus seemed to have ebbed, and a recent study found that they brought a significant number of infections back into the United Kingdom. A ban on British travel abroad for leisure was enacted on Jan. 4 and was expected to expire in May, but the government introduced legislation this week that lays down the legal framework to extend the restrictions until the end of June.
It is not clear when exactly the United Kingdom lift its quarantine requirements for more tourism, but Visit Britain forecasts a slow recovery that will start toward late summer.
Will I need proof that I’m vaccinated to enter Europe?
Earlier this month, the European Commission proposed a digital travel certificate that would prove that a person has been vaccinated, received a negative Covid-19 test result or recovered after contracting the virus.
States have different quarantine requirements, so travelers should check what their state requires before booking a vacation abroad.
What types of health and safety measures should I expect in Europe?
Each country sets its own rules, but most safety protocols are unlikely to change this summer, even for those who have been vaccinated.
Visitors will be expected to wear masks and keep a safe distance in public spaces. Hotels, restaurants and event spaces will have enhanced cleaning protocols in place, and some may impose capacity restrictions.
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If the start of spring break is any indication — when an average of more than a million fliers a day passed through security at U.S. airports — domestic summer travel is poised to pop.
Airlines have been expanding their route networks, especially in vacation destinations, as competition for leisure travelers heats up. Leisure travelers are expected to lead the recovery as business travel continues to lag.
Here are five things we know about flying this summer.
The skies will be busier, the planes fuller
According to the airline industry group Airlines for America, passenger volume on U.S. carriers was down 53 percent in mid-March compared to pre-Covid-19 levels, but up from the darkest days of the pandemic, when it bottomed out below 90 percent.
With the soft bounce, only Delta Air Lines has continued to block middle seats through April. It would not comment on an extension. (Alaska Airlines is keeping middle seats open in its Premium Class through May 31).
Global Business Travel Association doesn’t expect a full business travel recovery before 2025.
The expansion of low-cost carriers during the pandemic is likely to keep prices down.
“Leisure low-cost carriers will be back to 2019 levels this summer, maybe even a little bit higher,” said Savanthi Syth, an airline analyst at Raymond James & Associates.
Southwest Airlines plans to begin service to Myrtle Beach, S.C., this summer, one of 17 destinations it has added or announced in the pandemic, including Palm Springs, Calif., and Bozeman, Mont.
Spirit Airlines is adding St. Louis, Mo., and Milwaukee. Shortly after Feb. 23, when Spirit announced it would serve Louisville, Ky., a Hopper survey found competing fares from Louisville to Las Vegas went from $330 to $225 round-trip.
Breeze Airways and Avelo Airlines, expected to launch this year. “The more low-fare airlines, the more low-fare seats available to the public, not just on these airlines, but on carriers that compete with them.”
Flexible terms will tighten, as voucher dates loosen
During the pandemic, most airlines eliminated their cancellation and change fees (though Southwest never charged them), but the rules are changing for some of the cheapest fares.
By April, basic economy tickets at American and Delta will become nonrefundable and nonchangeable, as they were before the pandemic. United said it hasn’t decided whether to extend the waiver on basic fares past March 31.
Beginning April 1, JetBlue passengers buying the carrier’s basic fare will be subject to change and cancellation fees.
Ultra-low-cost carriers are also ditching waivers. Spirit is suspending fees on tickets booked only through the end of March. After March 31, change fees at Frontier Airlines will range from zero to $59, depending on when a ticket is changed.
Many travelers who had to cancel their plans since the pandemic have received vouchers for use on future flights that normally expire after a year. A study by TripActions, a business travel management company, found that 55 percent of vouchers for unused tickets will expire in 2021, and 45 percent in 2022.
The fight for refunds from pandemic-related cancellations continues. This month, Consumer Reports and U.S. Public Interest Research Group sent a letter to 10 airlines demanding refunds if requested — citing the nearly 90,000 refund complaints received by the U.S. Department of Transportation in 2020, representing 87 percent of all complaints about airlines — and an extension of voucher expirations to the end of 2022.
Scott’s Cheap Flights.
Passengers will still be masking between bites
Move over, Biscoff cookies. Chicken wraps and Coca-Cola are poised to make a comeback.
During the pandemic, many airlines reduced or eliminated food service, but this summer, Frontier Airlines plans to resume food sales. United said it will adjust its policies in the coming weeks. Southwest plans to add soft drinks in addition to cups of water with its snacks. Delta implemented a new touchless paying system on March 16 for onboard sales, currently limited to earbuds, but expected to expand to food and drink.
“This is one of the biggest gripes passengers have about flying right now,” Mr. Harteveldt said, noting that in many airports, concessions remain closed, making it hard for travelers to bring their own food on board. “If health considerations are improving to where restaurants can reopen and if industry-funded research shows airplanes are one of the cleanest and safest places to be, and you layer in vaccinations, I think airlines have no choice than to plan to resume cabin service.”
Most observers say the protocols airlines put in place to make the public feel safe about flying again — especially deep cleaning and mask mandates — will continue.
Airlines had mask mandates before the Biden administration’s executive order went into effect Feb. 1. Implementing the order, the Transportation Security Administration requires masks in airports and on planes until May 11.
A T.S.A. spokeswoman said it was too soon to say what will happen after that date, but given airline support, masks are likely to be required going forward.
requiring face-coverings for all passengers and customer-facing employees since last April, and this policy will remain in place for the duration of the pandemic,” wrote Katherine Estep, a spokeswoman for group, in an email.
A recent J.D. Power survey of more than 1,500 travelers in airports found 58 percent said requiring masks was the most important safety measure for airports to adopt; 42 percent said they would likely continue mask-wearing and social distancing through 2021 and beyond.
Even if you can eat in the air, don’t expect to remove the masks for prolonged periods. “Masks must be worn between bites and sips,” United says on its website.
There will be easier access to the great outdoors
The lack of international and business travel has scrambled the airline route map. Flights to international business destinations like London and Frankfurt were trimmed in favor of more flights to vacation destinations, particularly in Florida and Mountain States like Montana.
Comparing March 2021 to March 2019, nearly all states saw declines in scheduled flights. Only traffic to South Dakota and Montana grew.
Most carriers are announcing new service to leisure destinations in time for summer and in many cases are offering convenient point-to-point service, modeled on low-cost carriers, rather than routing fliers through hubs.
There are new flights to Honolulu from Austin, Texas, coming in April on Hawaiian Airlines. With partners JetBlue and Alaska, American is adding 10 routes from Austin. Southwest plans to extend its original winter service to Telluride and Steamboat Springs, Colo., through the summer. JetBlue recently added Miami and Key West, Fla., and Allegiant is new to Key West, Jackson, Wyo., and Portland, Ore.
While the trend may be rural, bargains remain in cities.
“U.S. cities are very affordable this summer, and appear poised to make a comeback,” wrote Mel Dohmen, a spokeswoman at the online travel agency Orbitz in an email, noting flights to Chicago, New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Seattle are all cheaper this July compared to July 2019.