Destinations

Australia updates travel warning for the US following Capitol Hill riots

Ali Coulton

Ali Coulton

The federal government has updated its travel advice for the US following the “terribly distressing” Capitol Hill riots.

During a press conference last week, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the “disturbing scenes” at the US capital last Wednesday had prompted the advice update.

“As I’ve already expressed today earlier, and as so many around the world have, the riots and protests that we’ve seen in Washington D.C. have been terribly distressing,” he said.

“As a result, we are making some changes to our travel advice, which is as follows: due to violent protests in Washington D.C., curfews are in place in the District of Columbia and the Commonwealth of Virginia from 6pm on Wednesday the 6th of January to 6am on Thursday the 7th of January, and that you should avoid areas where protests are occurring due to ongoing potential for violence.

“Follow the instructions of local authorities, including curfews, and stay away, stay at home orders, monitor the media for information and updates.”

This advice is on top of the pre-existing travel ban on all international travel due to the global pandemic.

SmartTraveller’s updated advice said the government expects widespread protests to continue in the weeks ahead, as the US prepares for Joe Biden’s Presidential inauguration on 20 January.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the US has also made some changes due to the violent demonstrations, enacting stricter legal enforcement against unruly passengers after supporters of outgoing US President Donald Trump disrupted flights on their return from Washington.

“I expect all passengers to follow crew member instructions, which are in place for their safety and the safety of flight,” FAA Administrator Steve Dickson said according to Reuters.

“Unruly passenger behaviour … can distract, disrupt and threaten crew members’ ability to conduct their key safety functions.”

Under the new policy, the FAA will no longer address unruly-passengers with warnings or counselling measures, instead pursuing legal enforcement action against any passenger who assaults, threatens, intimidates, or interferes with airline crew members.

Passengers who interfere with, physically assault, or threaten to physically assault aircraft crew or anyone else on an aircraft face stiff penalties, including fines of up to $35,000 and imprisonment.

Meanwhile, travel companies are scrambling to disassociate themselves from those involved in the capital riots and the Trump administration in general.

Airbnb has moved to ban individuals identified as involved in the “criminal activity at the capital”, as well as reviewing reservations in the D.C metropolitan area to weed out guests associated with hate groups in the lead up to Biden’s inauguration.

Two hotel giants have also made moves to distance themselves from the political storm, with Marriott announcing it would suspend donations to candidates who objected to the certification of Biden’s victory in the 2020 election, while Hilton opted to pull the plug on all political donations altogether, according to Skift.

On top of this, commercial real estate brokerage firm JLL, which had been marketing Trump’s Washington D.C hotel to potential buyers, has jumped ship, according to a tweet from a Washington Post reporter.

Jonathan O’Connell said a spokesman for JLL confirmed the firm “is not going to be involved in selling that hotel.”

Even New York City is working hard to rid itself of association with the outgoing President, with Mayor Bill de Blasio announcing it would end its contracts with the Trump Organization.

According to The New York Times, the city is cancelling contracts at two ice-skating rinks at Central Perk, the Central Park Carousel and a golf course in the Bronx.

“Inciting an insurrection against the US government clearly constitutes criminal activity,” de Blasio told MSNBC.

“The City of New York will no longer have anything to do with the Trump Organization.”


Featured image source: iStock/narvikk

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