Fines doubled for mask scoffers on public transport in US. Vaccinated foreigners can visit US.

By David Tykol
This item appears on page 4 of the November 2021 issue.
One of many red-rock formations found in the Tupiza canyon area of Bolivia.

Dear Globetrotter: 

Welcome to the 548th issue of your monthly worldwide travel magazine. You won’t find another publication like it!

The original travelers’ forum, ITN is largely reader-written, and subscribers are free to give their candid appraisals of tours, cruises, destinations, etc. With the exception of one page, introduced during the current pandemic-induced travel shutdown, ITN only covers destinations outside of the US.

While our subscribers keep each other informed about their latest finds, experiences and observations, not to mention sharing reflections on travel, ITN staff, for its part, gathers pertinent news items, such as the following… .

On Sept. 10, in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, US authorities doubled the fines for people who do not wear masks on public transportation, such as airplanes, buses and trains. Fines now range from $500 to $1,000 for first-time offenders and from $1,000 to $3,000 for repeat offenders.

The fines were introduced when President Biden signed a federal mask mandate in January 2021, and they are enforced by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

At press time, the mask mandate was to remain in force until at least Jan. 19, 2022.

As of Nov. 8, fully vaccinated foreign leisure travelers can visit the United States, provided they test negative for COVID-19 within three days of travel. With this new allowance, country of origin is not considered, only vaccination status. Some exceptions, such as for children too young to be vaccinated, will be allowed. *

At press time, it had not been determined which non-US-approved vaccines would be accepted by the CDC, but it’s likely that the one produced by Oxford-AstraZeneca, the only EU-approved vaccine that is not also approved for use in the US, will be accepted. Other widely used vaccines that will be considered include Sputnik V, from Russia, and Sinopharm, from China.

This compromise had long been asked for by both US tourism organizations and other countries, particularly in the EU, which for months had been allowing entry to US travelers without any reciprocity.

The order also changes the rules for Americans returning from traveling internationally. Vaccinated Americans now will need to show a negative COVID test taken no more than 72 hours before the departure of their flight, giving them a day more than the previous 48-hour time limit. Unvaccinated Americans now will need to take a test no more than 24 hours before their flight AND show proof that they have paid for a second test to be taken after arriving back in the US or they will not be allowed to board.

One thing that the order does not do is open up land borders to leisure travelers coming from Canada or Mexico. However, Canada and Mexico allow Americans to cross their borders to visit, and the US allows those travelers to return by land, if they so choose.

An ITN subscriber called recently with a request we cannot yet fulfill. We are currently not planning to bring back the “On The Money” chart that, each month, showed the foreign-exchange rates of a number of countries. The caller said he wished ITN still printed that, as he wanted to know how much bolivianos were going for.

ITN’s source of exchange rates for the chart was, which our staff still refers to. You’ll need internet access, but the currency converter at the top of the company’s home page is handy to use. To bring up the currency you want, type into the box the name of the currency, its 3-letter abbreviation or just the name of the country.

For the record, at press time, $100 equaled 690.54 Bolivian bolivianos ($100 = BOB690.54).

Do you have a photo showing an interesting angle on a well-known landmark outside of the US? How about a picture of a historic building somewhere? Or an interesting (and identifiable) landscape? We’re looking for pictures for our “Where in the World?” page, where, in each issue, readers guess the location of the subject in the photo (with a prize given to one of the people answering correctly).

By the way, the photos that get chosen first for that page are ones from more frequently visited destinations so that more readers can participate. An image from a place almost no one has been to may present an interesting challenge but perhaps an impossible one for most travelers. So check through your screensaver shots and send us a few.

Email your Where in the World? photos (taken outside of the US) to or send them to ITN at our new address: 2122 28th St., Sacramento, CA 95818. Include a caption for each indicating what we’re looking at, where the photo was taken and approximately when you were there, plus who shot the photo. Let’s see what you’ve got.

Lastly, Brigid Duffy of Dallas, Texas, has a writing assignment for her fellow ITN subscribers. She wrote, “I’d like readers to shortly describe a place they’d like to return to and what its appeal is.”

She got the ball rolling, writing, “The place I’d like to go back to is Curio Bay in the Catlins region of New Zealand. Besides the stunning natural beauty of this remote southeastern corner of the South Island, not to mention a large colony of rare yellow-eyed penguins, the 12-mile coastline of Curio Bay is known for its petrified forest.

“Ancient pines and conifers were flattened and buried in volcanic mud thousands of years ago, in the Jurassic Period. At low tide, you can walk among tree logs and stumps that turned to stone before flowering plants even existed.

“Most locals gladly welcome visitors; I was told by one resident that the tourist trade is the reason the Catlins finally got paved roads.

“I took a bus there on a day trip in January 2019, but high tide and gale-force winds kept me off the beach… that time. Next time will be a different story!”

What place outside of the US would YOU would like to visit again? Tell us approximately when you were there and, briefly, what it was like and what you found most appealing about it. Share any other observations you wish.

Email or write to I Wanna Go Back, c/o ITN, 2122 28th St., Sacramento, CA 95818. Include the mailing address where you regularly receive ITN or, if you’re an online-only subscriber, your billing address. Photos are welcome (include captions).

You’ve got SOMEPLACE in mind, I’m sure. Join the conversation in ITN!

* Editor's note : In the print issue that was sent out to readers this month an incorrect date of when vaccinated foreign leisure travelers can visit the United States was given. We stated that travellers could enter the United States starting on November 1 but that date was later adjusted by The US Department of State to November 8th.