Visitors line the edge of the Darvaza 'Gates Of Hell' gas crater in Karakum Desert, Turkmenistan, in May, 2017.

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This week in travel, the United States declared Canada a “very high” risk destination, the world’s most powerful passports for 2022 were revealed and Turkmenistan’s president called for the country’s “Gates of Hell” to close.

Here are the biggest new stories from CNN Travel.

Canada deemed ‘very high’ risk

Say it ain’t so! After very low Covid numbers throughout the pandemic, the world’s second-largest country in terms of total area has recently seen a very steep rise in cases.

So on Monday, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention moved Canada to its highest-risk category for travel: Level 4.

A Middle Eastern favorite jumped two CDC rankings from Level 1 to Level 3, and an Asian city-state moved into Level 3, having previously been rated Unknown.

More US cities are adding indoor vaccine mandates, while health oversight is set to ease on cruise ships.

France lifted its weeks-long travel ban on arrivals from the United Kingdom on January 14, while in China, a snap lockdown forced a woman to stay at her blind date’s house for days on end.

Spirit Island in Canada's Jasper National Park.

Passport envy

Travelers have never had it so good.

No, seriously. Pandemic restrictions aside, passport holders worldwide now enjoy visa-free entry to 107 countries, on average – nearly twice as many as in 2006.

Problem is, there’s no such thing as an average passport. A new report says two Asian nations hold the title of world’s most powerful passports in 2022, and the gap between the highest-ranking countries and those at the bottom has never been wider.

Then there are those extra-special VIP passports – diplomatic, investigative, even presidential – with rights the rest of us can only dream about. Here’s our explainer on the passports that open all doors.

The world’s shortest flight

In Scotland’s Orkney Islands, there’s a regular scheduled flight that takes less time than it does to take off your belt and shoes for the airport security tray.

Loganair flight LM711, between the islands of Westray and Papa Westray, covers a 1.7-mile route and takes just 53 seconds on a good day. Here’s what it’s like on the world’s shortest passenger flight.

And if you’re interested in economizing in the world of aviation, check out our story on why commercial airliners might soon be flying with just one pilot.