US and other countries say they will hold Taliban to promises to let people leave Afghanistan after August 31


“We are all committed to ensuring that our citizens, nationals and residents, employees, Afghans who have worked with us and those who are at risk can continue to travel freely to destinations outside Afghanistan. We have received assurances from the Taliban that all foreign nationals and any Afghan citizen with travel authorization from our countries will be allowed to proceed in a safe and orderly manner to points of departure and travel outside the country,” the statement said in part.

“We will continue issuing travel documentation to designated Afghans, and we have the clear expectation of and commitment from the Taliban that they can travel to our respective countries. We note the public statements of the Taliban confirming this understanding,” it continued.

The statement comes amid international concern over what will happen to those still in Afghanistan after the US and other countries withdraw forces from the country under Taliban control.
Biden administration pledges 'safe passage' for Americans in Afghanistan after withdrawal deadline
US national security adviser Jake Sullivan told CNN earlier Sunday that the Biden administration is committed to a “safe passage” of Americans and Afghans who helped the US government after the US withdrawal deadline from Afghanistan.

“August 31 is not a cliff. After August 31, we believe that we have substantial leverage to hold the Taliban to its commitments to allow safe passage for American citizens, legal permanent residents and the Afghan allies who have travel documentation to come to the United States,” Sullivan told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union.” “We will use that leverage to the maximum extent and we will work with the rest of the international community to make sure the Taliban does not falter on these commitments.”

French President Emmanuel Macron has said he intends, alongside the United Kingdom, to submit a resolution to an emergency session of the UN Security Council that would focus on the creation of a “safe zone” in Kabul for Afghans leaving the country.

“Our draft resolution aims to define, under UN protection, a safe zone in Kabul that would allow humanitarian operations to continue,” Macron told French newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche, adding that he intends to “maintain pressure on the Taliban” in doing so.

It is not clear if or when the 15-member Security Council will consider the proposed resolution. A meeting between UN Secretary-General António Guterres and the five permanent members of the Security Council is expected to take place Monday evening, UN diplomats told CNN.

This story has been updated with additional information Sunday.



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Blinken said U.S. expects Taliban won’t seal off country after Aug. 31


Blinken was addressing the question of whether there was any hope that any remaining Americans and some allies of the United States still within Afghanistan — particularly those who helped the U.S. during the 20 years American forces have been in the country — would have a chance to leave the country if they can’t get to the airport in Kabul by Aug. 31, when the ongoing international evacuation is supposed to end.

“We’ve been very actively planning,” Blinken said, “for what would be necessary to keep the airport functioning, either to have it function right — immediately after the 31st or if necessary to take the steps required to reopen in a timely fashion, working with countries in the region who are very interested in helping.

“The Taliban have a strong interest in having an airport that functions, the Afghan people have a strong interest in an airport that functions, the entire international community has that interest.”

Blinken said the loss of 13 Americans killed Thursday during an attack at Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport would continue to be deeply felt.

“We couldn’t do our jobs as diplomats in any place around the world without the Marines and, of course, we certainly could not have done the job that’s been done in Kabul without these extraordinary men and women, including the 13 who gave their lives a couple of days ago. So I just wanted to share with you and others how deeply we feel this, especially at the State Department,” he said.

In an interview that immediately followed Blinken’s, Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) repeatedly denounced Blinken, President Joe Biden and the administration for relying on “happy talk.”

“It was a disgusting revelation of yet again no plan,” Sasse said of Blinken’s interview.



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Canada Plans to Require Vaccine for Travelers No Later than Oct. 31


The Canadian government within the next few months will require all commercial air travelers to be vaccinated against Covid-19, the government’s Treasury Board, a committee of Cabinet members, announced on Friday.

In addition to air travelers, the requirement will extend to rail passengers traveling between Canadian provinces and cruise ship passengers. All employees in the federally regulated air, rail and marine transportations must be vaccinated as well. Those requirements will come “as soon as possible in the fall and no later than the end of October,” according to the announcement.

“The government will engage with key stakeholders, including bargaining agents and transportation sector operators, as we plan for the implementation of these initiatives,” according to the board. “Details will be communicated as the work unfolds. The process will include determining how this requirement will be implemented, through confirmation of Covid-19 vaccination and other means of protection, such as testing when necessary.”

In a statement, the WestJet Group said it “welcomed” the news that would require vaccinations for airline employees, and WestJet EVP of people and culture Mark Porter said the group is “working diligently to implement the government’s policy.” For travelers, however, the group said it “is advocating that rapid-antigen testing is an acceptable, accessible and affordable alternative for unvaccinated travelers.”

Air Canada in a statement called the announcement “a welcome step forward” and said it would work with the government and its unions to implement the requirements. The carrier also urged the government to adopt measures suggested by a Covid-19 testing and screening expert advisory panel earlier this year, including eliminateing pre-departure testing for fully vaccinated passengers and to allow self-administered rapid antigen tests in lieu of the pricier, slower PCR testing.

The board’s announcement was part of a broader announcement on Friday that all government employees will need to be vaccinated “as early as the end of September.” The government also will be working with other federally regulated employers to implement vaccine requirements, according to the statement.

“Driving vaccine uptake in Canada to as high a level as possible is one of the most effective, and least disruptive, means at our disposal to sustain the gains we have made in recent months and ensure that we continue on our path to economic recovery, and a healthier and more equitable future,” according to Treasury Board president Jean-Yves Duclos.

The requirements will allow “alternative measures, such as testing and screening” on a case-by-case basis for those who are unable to be vaccinated, according to the announcement. As of Friday, more than 71 percent of eligible Canadians were fully vaccinated, and more than 82 percent had received at least one dose of a vaccine, the board reported. That leaves about 6 million eligible people in the country unvaccinated.

The United States reportedly is considering a vaccine requirement for international travelers as well.



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31 States Now on Chicago Travel Advisory – NBC Chicago


Chicago added 12 states to its travel advisory Tuesday, recommending that unvaccinated people entering the city from those areas test negative for COVID-19 or quarantine upon arrival.

Meanwhile, health officials in Illinois and the Chicago area say that they aren’t seeing the same significant increases in COVID hospitalizations in children that are happening in other parts of the U.S.

Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic across Illinois today:

Chicago Adds 12 More States to Travel Advisory as Cases Rise

Chicago added 12 states to its travel advisory Tuesday, recommending that unvaccinated people entering the city from those areas test negative for COVID-19 or quarantine upon arrival.

The 12 new states include Idaho, North Carolina, Washington, Oregon, California, New Mexico, Montana, Delaware, New York, Indiana, Wisconsin, and Iowa.

The addition brings the total number of states on the advisory to 31, along with two territories.

This marks the first time since April that the advisory has had more states over the threshold than under, CDPH reported.

The list – updated weekly – now includes: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.

Read more here.

Illinois Officials Say COVID Hospitalizations Among Kids Largely Steady as Other States See Surges

While children’s hospitals in some parts of the United States are seeing significant increases in illnesses and hospitalizations due to COVID-19, health officials in Illinois and the Chicago area say that they aren’t seeing those types of increases, but are still taking extra precautions to ensure that children continue to stay safe as variants help fuel new cases.

In the state of Illinois, hospitalization rates for children under the age of 12 have largely remained steady in recent months, while hospitalizations among children between the ages of 12 and 17 have actually dropped in the last two months.

Dr. Allison Arwady, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, says that her office is seeing more COVID cases among children, but that they are generally following the pattern of previous variants of the virus, with children generally not seeing severe health outcomes when they do get sick.

“They’re seeing more younger people (being infected), but that’s because kids haven’t had the opportunity yet to be vaccinated. We are seeing more children sick just because it is more contagious,” Arwady said. “The good news is, just like in the other types of COVID, the huge majority of the time, they have a relatively minor case.”

Dr. Abigail Hodges of Oak Park Pediatrics says that while the delta variant is more contagious than previous strains of the virus, it generally doesn’t cause severe health outcomes like hospitalizations and death at any higher rate than previous variants.  

“We are seeing more kids getting COVID. We’re seeing a lot more positives at my office, but they’re not more sick than they were before,” she said.

COVID hospitalization rates in Illinois for children have remained largely steady for most of 2021, according to data provided by state health officials. In the month of July, 57 children under the age of 12 were hospitalized in Illinois due to COVID-19, with 21 children between the ages of 12 and 17 hospitalized in that time.

Those numbers closely mirror the totals from other months, with 58 hospitalizations reported in both March and April among children 12 and under. May saw 55 hospitalizations in that age group, with June serving as a bit of an outlier with 29 hospitalizations.

Hospitalizations among teens between the ages of 12 and 17 actually are down in recent months, after peaking at 60 in April and then 50 in May. In June, 20 total hospitalizations were reported in that demographic.

Read more here.

Pitchfork Music Festival to Require Proof of Vaccination or Negative COVID Test to Enter

Pitchfork Music Festival, slated to take place in Chicago next month, has updated its guidelines to require attendees to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test in order to enter. 

The music festival said it will also be recommending all attendees wear a mask in line with guidance from the Chicago Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The festival will run from Sept. 10 to Sept. 12. at Union Park. 

To enter the festival, Pitchfork said it will accept the actual physical vaccination card, a photocopy of it or an electronic photo from a phone. A photo ID must be shown as well.

Unvaccinated individuals will need to show negative COVID-19 test results obtained within 24 hours each day of attendance, the festival said.

Pitchfork will accept negative COVID tests from Walgreens, CVS and Curative.

The day before the festival and throughout the remainder of it, Curative will be located one block away from the festival grounds offering rapid tests from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. 

Read more here.

$100K Illinois Vaccine Lottery Winners Chosen, From Chicago and Suburban Cook County

Three winners were chosen Monday during the fifth $100,000 drawing of Illinois’ COVID vaccine lottery.

The winners, two located in Chicago, and one in suburban Cook County, will be notified by the Illinois Department of Public Health by phone or email. Each will be awarded a $100,000 cash prize.

“Illinoisans from those cities and counties should keep their phones on and check their emails regularly to find out if they’ve won,” IDPH said in a statement.

Health officials will call from 312-814-3524 and/or email from DPH.communications@illinois.gov.

Read more here.

Chicago Crosses 2 Milestones in COVID Vaccination Effort

The city of Chicago announced Monday that it has crossed two major milestones in its effort to vaccinate residents against COVID-19.

As of Aug. 5, more than 70% of adults over the age of 18 have received at least one dose of the three available vaccines, the Chicago Department of Public Health said in a statement.

In addition, CDPH said that more than 50% of adolescents ages 12 to 17 had received at least one dose of the Pfizer vaccine, the only vaccine federal health officials have approved for emergency use for anyone under age 18.

Read more here.

Chicago’s Top Doctor Explains Variants, Delta and Delta Plus, When City May Need More Restrictions

Chicago’s top doctor on Thursday broke down the different types of coronavirus variants, explaining delta and delta plus, as well as detailing when the city and other jurisdictions would potentially need to make “major changes” in restrictions and other efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady addressed questions about the different variants in a Facebook live broadcast.

She highlighted the three different tiers into which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention categorizes coronavirus variants. They are, in ascending order of concern: variant of interest, variant of concern and variant of high consequence.

“We’ve never had a variant yet that has been considered a variant of high consequence. If we did, that would be a very big deal,” Arwady said. “It would mean that we would probably need to be doing another round of vaccinations or making major changes, but we’ve not seen anything that the [World Health Organization], the CDC, anybody, has labeled as variant of high consequence,”

“We do have some of these variants of concern,” she continued. “The one that has been getting the most attention right now, of course, is the delta variant.”

Arwady clarified that the so-called “delta plus” variant is a sub-type of the delta variant known formally as AY.1. The original delta variant is known as B.1.617.2, while three sub-types have been labeled AY.1, which some have informally called “delta plus,” as well as AY.2 and AY.3.

“There have been a handful of cases, but not even 1% of cases, either here in the Midwest area or in the U.S. have been identified as that AY.1,” Arwady said.

Arwady said that among the sub-types of the delta variant, the original delta variant B.1.617.2 “outcompetes” the others because it is more contagious.

Read more here.

Oak Park Public Health Department Issues Indoor Mask Mandate, Effective Immediately

Oak Park will require all individuals over the age of 2, regardless of vaccination status, to wear a mask in public indoor spaces starting Friday, the village announced. 

“The Village has experienced a 750% increase in COVID-19 cases in July 2021 as compared to June 2021. Therefore, I have determined that additional mitigation measures are necessary under Phase 5 to protect the public health pursuant to my authority,” said Oak Park Public Health Director, Dr. Theresa Chapple-McGruder.

The new requirement applies to all businesses, multi-family residential buildings, health care settings, nursing homes, long-term care facilities, shelters, congregate settings, government buildings and on all forms of public transportation, including in transportation stations and hubs, the village said. 

Masks were recommended outdoors if individuals are unable to maintain at least a six-foot distance from others not from the same household.  

Oak Park currently identifies as an area of substantial transmission of COVID-19. The village had 83 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in July, compared to 11 in June. 

According to Oak Park officials, about 58% of its residents have received at least one dose of a two-dose vaccine. 

Coronavirus in Illinois: 16,742 New COVID Cases, 64 Deaths, 176K Vaccinations in the Past Week

Illinois health officials on Friday reported 16,742 new COVID-19 cases in the past week, along with 64 additional deaths and more than 176,000 new vaccine doses administered.

COVID cases statewide have increased by more than 43% over the last week, with hospitalizations up 33%, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. Intensive care unit admissions also increased by 47% and the number of COVID patients on ventilators nearly doubled in the past week, up by 95%.

In all, 1,436,353 cases of coronavirus have been reported in the state since the pandemic began. The additional deaths reported this week bring the state to 23,503 confirmed COVID fatalities.

The state has administered 365,210 tests since last Friday, officials said, bringing the total to more than 27 million tests conducted during the pandemic.

The state’s seven-day positivity rate on all tests rose to 5.2% from 4.7% last week which was up from 3.5% the week before, officials said. The rolling average seven-day positivity rate for cases as a percentage of total tests was up to 4.6% from 4% the week before, 3.3% two weeks prior and 1.9% three weeks ago.

IDPH noted, however, that the regional seven-day positivity rate ranges from 3.1% to 10.3%.

Over the past seven days, a total of 176,709 doses of the coronavirus vaccine have been administered to Illinois residents – up from around 154,000 the week prior and bringing the state’s average to 25,244 daily vaccination doses over the last week, per IDPH data.

More than 13 million vaccine doses have been administered in Illinois since vaccinations began in December. More than 59% of adult residents in the state are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, with 75% receiving at least one dose.

As of midnight, 1,200 patients are currently hospitalized due to COVID in the state. Of those patients, 246 are in ICU beds, and 121 are on ventilators. All three metrics are a reported increase since last Friday.

How to Find Out if You’re in an Area Where the CDC Recommends Masks Indoors

Every county in the Chicago area is seeing “substantial” or “high” community transmission of COVID-19, placing the entire region in the category in which fully vaccinated people should resume wearing a mask indoors, federal health officials say.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its guidance last week to recommend that fully vaccinated people wear masks in indoor settings again in areas of the U.S. that are seeing “substantial” or “high” transmission of COVID-19.

The new guidance marked a reversal from earlier recommendations that said fully vaccinated people could remove masks in most settings.

So in which areas is the CDC advising people wear masks indoors? The agency points to its COVID-19 data tracker showing levels of community transmission, along with other data, for each county in the U.S.

Read more here.

COVID Booster Vaccine Shot Could Be Recommended for Certain Populations, Arwady Says

No COVID-19 vaccine booster shot has officially been recommended, but Chicago’s top doctor says it could be eventually for certain people.

Dr. Allison Arwady, commissioner for the Chicago Department of Public Health, said in a Facebook Live Thursday that should a booster COVID shot recommendation come, it will likely be for particular populations, such as those over age 65 and people with immune-compromising conditions.

“We may see a booster recommendation, but we’re more likely to see that I think for particular populations as we do for other diseases, even flu,” Arwady said.

If a recommendation is put into place in the future, however, Arwady said pharmaceutical companies are ready.

“So the pharmaceutical companies are doing all that work, they are very ready to go when if there is need for a booster, but we’ve not seen anything that says, adults, for example, that would be a requirement,” Arwady said.

She added that the U.S. will not be able to “booster” their way out of the COVID pandemic, so the focus should rather be on vaccine equity, especially as the delta variant surges.

Read more here.

Gov. Pritzker Announces Mask Mandate for All Illinois Schools This Fall

Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Wednesday announced that all students and teachers in schools will be required to wear masks while indoors, as state officials take steps to try to slow the spread of the delta variant of COVID-19.

Pritzker says that the new requirement will take effect immediately, and will also apply to all students and coaches participating in indoor sports and other activities.

“As your governor, it’s my duty to say that we must all take immediate and urgent action to slow the spread of the delta variant,” he said. “People are dying who don’t have to die.”

Pritzker says that the state has a “limited amount of time” to slow the spread of the delta variant.

The mandate comes after the Illinois Department of Public Health last week said it would follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s new recommendations for masking indoors at K-12 schools, recommending it be done universally among teachers, staff, students and visitors to schools, regardless of vaccination status. 

Chicago Public Schools – the state’s largest district – announced last month that all students and teachers will be required to wear face coverings and social distance while indoors this upcoming academic year.

Read more here.

‘It Can Happen:’ Pritzker Urges Young Adults to Take Delta Variant Seriously as Cases Rise

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker issued a stark warning to young adults in the state Wednesday, saying that the delta variant of the coronavirus is impacting individuals 30 and younger with much greater regularity than previous strains of the virus.

According to Pritzker, approximately 12% of COVID hospitalizations nationwide are occurring among individuals 29 and younger, and the state is urging those residents to take virus mitigation efforts seriously.

“Unlike before, people 29 years and younger are accounting for 12% of hospitalizations across the nation. We are seeing young people with no underlying conditions now on ventilators,” he said. “Every time we think we know where this virus is headed, it shifts.”

During a press availability Wednesday, Pritzker continued to urge eligible residents to receive their COVID-19 vaccinations, with shots available through at-home programs and a wide variety of other methods.

Pritzker says that 96% of COVID hospitalizations in the state are occurring in unvaccinated individuals, and he says that it is imperative that young adults take the virus seriously.

“I want to say specifically to young adults: please don’t think that the worst case scenario can’t happen to you. It can happen. It is happening,” he said. “Get vaccinated. To parents of minors who are eligible to get the shot, please get your children vaccinated as soon as possible.”

Read more here.

Pritzker Mandates COVID Vaccines for State Employees at Congregant Living Facilities

With the delta variant driving COVID-19 case numbers higher and higher in Illinois, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced multiple “initial” actions to combat the variant, including a new mask mandate for students and teachers in schools and vaccine requirements for employees of state-run congregant care facilities, including veterans’ homes and correctional facilities.

The new requirements were laid out during a press conference Wednesday at the Thompson Center, with the governor saying that the state needs to take “immediate and urgent action” to slow the spread of the delta variant.

The governor announced that employees at state-run congregant care facilities, including correctional facilities, veterans’ homes, and psychiatric hospitals, will be required to receive COVID vaccinations, effective Oct. 4.

“By and large, residents of these state-run facilities have done what they can do to protect themselves by getting vaccinated,” he said. “And yet, many of the long-term care facilities’ employees have not been vaccinated.”

State agencies will be required to make the vaccine readily available to employees, and negotiations remain ongoing with unions about implementation of the new requirements.

The third and final pillar of the actions Pritzker announced Wednesday is a requirement that all visitors, staff and patients at long-term care facilities wear masks. That includes such facilities that are privately  operated.

“Given our current trajectory, we have a limited amount of time to stave off the highest peaks of this surge heading into the fall,” he said. “We now have an extremely effective tool to save lives, and to keep our hospital systems from being overwhelmed by COVID cases.”

Read more here.

Will Illinois, Chicago Start to Require Vaccine Passports For Residents? Officials Weigh In

With areas like New York City now requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination for a number of indoor activities, could Chicago or Illinois start to require a similar “vaccine passport” for residents?

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker has not announced any plans for a COVID vaccine requirement statewide, but Chicago’s top doctor said Tuesday the city could have a type of vaccine passport in the future — just not yet.

Dr. Allison Arwady, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, said that while the city is “interested” in the idea, there are no current plans to make a move similar to New York City.

“I think at this point I’m certainly… we’re interested in this,” Arwady said. “We’ll be watching to see how this plays out, but we don’t have a current plan to do something like that at the city level.”

Arwady noted Chicago and Illinois are still working on technology to implement vaccine proof on such a grand scale, though she noted making such a requirement is “a really big decision.”

“I’ll tell you in New York City, there’s a couple things that are different. One is I think they have embraced this vaccine passport idea a little bit more than has been embraced here in the Midwest and across Illinois,” Arwady said. “We’ve been working with the Illinois Department of Public Health to make it easier for people to be able to access their own vaccination records, thinking about some behind-the-scenes work to be able to have a more standard way for people to be able to show proof of vaccination, for example, because I do think where you’re thinking about doing some of this potentially at a larger level, you want to make sure that it can be operationalized in a way that makes sense.”

Read more here.

Can Your Employer Require a Coronavirus Vaccine?

As coronavirus cases are once again on the rise fueled by the highly transmissible delta variant, more Chicago companies are mandating vaccinations and masks.

Some employees and customers are pushing back against the rules, citing their freedom of choice, but Chicago attorney Tom Glasgow said the legal system is not on their side, at least not so far.

“You’re an employee at will,” said Glasgow, of Glasgow & Olsson. “They can mandate anything for you as a private employer.”

Read more here.

Here’s How the Delta Variant Symptoms Differ From the Initial COVID Strain

About 83 percent of new COVID-19 cases in the U.S. have been fueled by the delta variant, and as the surge continues, the number of associated cases is expected to rise even higher in the coming weeks, according to health officials.

Approximately one month ago, on June 19, the delta variant accounted for just over 30 percent of new cases. On July 3, it crossed the 50 percent threshold to become the dominant variant in the U.S. Public health experts nationwide have focused their efforts on encouraging vaccinations as most of those who’ve contracted the variant haven’t been vaccinated.

Studies have shown that the COVID-19 vaccines are effective against multiple variants, including the delta variant. However, when it comes to symptoms, there appear to be key differences.

Here’s what you need to know.



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Eye on Travel — Silver Moon in Greece — July 31, 2021


This week’s broadcast of Eye on Travel comes from the Mediterranean aboard Silversea’s new ship, the Silver Moon, as it sails through Greece. Peter is joined by Harry Theoharis, the Minister of Tourism of Greece, who talks about the country’s strategic plan to reopen, and why Greece was able to welcome vaccinated travelers back in May, ahead of the rest of the continent. Richard Fain, Chairman and CEO of the Royal Caribbean Group, is also on board and addresses the short and long term public health and economic devastation as well as the path to recovery. And since we’re in Greece, there’s no better time or place to talk about the Gods — with Kenneth Davis, author of Don’t Know Much About Mythology. There’s all this and more on this week’s Eye on Travel, broadcasting from the Silver Moon.

 


 

Press the play button above to stream the full broadcast. 

Have a travel question? Then ask Peter. E-mail him at peter@petergreenberg.com, or tweet your questions to @petersgreenberg (include #AskPeter).

 


 

Harry Theoharis, Minister of Tourism of Greece, shines a light on all the work that went on behind the scenes so that Greece could open to vaccinated travelers and so that cruising could resume. He speaks about working with the country’s health experts to create rules and protocols that will keep everyone safe and healthy. He also talks about how they worked with the individual ports and imagined every possible situation and created procedures in order to ensure the ports could handle anything they encountered. He then speaks about the challenges the country faced when reopening including the large-scale coordination efforts that were needed and the fear many people still had and how they capitalized on the tools available to them to turn fear into care. He notes that Greece is taking extra steps to ensure travelers feel safe when they come such as providing medical care for visitors should they test positive for COVID-19 in Greece, and he also makes it clear that Greece is remaining vigilant with enforcing the current rules. He says Greece is not afraid to punish those who are not abiding by them and continues to encourage vaccinations. He shares his hope that travel reciprocity with the U.S. may be on the horizon soon. 

 

Richard Fain, Chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises, speaks about the devastating impact that the pandemic has had across all parts of the cruising industry from the ships themselves to the small businesses the cruise lines rely on to provide an enriching experience for their guests. Fain also notes that no one knew how to handle COVID-19 in the beginning and how impressed he is with how people have been able to work together following a period of confusion in the beginning of the pandemic. Royal Caribbean even teamed up with competitor, Norwegian Cruise Lines, and a team of experts in order to properly implement the recommended design and procedural changes needed on board ships. He also speaks about how the cruise industry has been a model of how to handle the crisis using a combination of science, working together, and making sure to keep the spread of COVID-19 down by identifying and isolating cases as necessary. 

 

Paul Brady, Articles Editor at Travel + Leisure, speaks about how nice it feels to be in Greece once again and notes how normal it feels despite the new protocols in place and having to wear a mask in some areas. He encourages people who are thinking about traveling to take the leap as there are less tourists than normal, and he says that hotels are actually affordable. He also advises people who may not be able to take as many trips to make them longer and more impactful when they can. Brady believes this fall will be a good indicator of what will happen as we head into the winter months and into next year. He also notes that he views the amount of paperwork needed to travel abroad right now may be a barrier for many people, and he hopes to see it streamlined in order to encourage more people to travel internationally again.

 

Dr. Despina Ignatiadou, Head Curator at the Sculpture Collection at National Archaeological Museum, talks about what makes the National Archaeological Museum unique in a country that is full of museums and artifacts. Not only is it the oldest museum in Greece, but with over 11,000 exhibits on display and hundreds of thousands more in the museum’s store rooms, it is also the biggest. Dr. Ignatiadou and her team constantly rotate special exhibits to allow as much as possible to be seen. Some discoveries from inside the museum’s store rooms include portraits and objects that have been pieced together to form a larger object. Dr. Ignatiadou’s favorite discovery is the large statue of a youth that was found in the sanctuary of Poseidon. Dr. Ignatiadou then discusses the many reasons why so many statues often don’t have heads and how rare it is to find a head that matches a body of a statue. 

 

Melissa Douglas, British Travel Writer and Blogger based in Athens, came to Athens from the U.K. in 2017 to be a digital nomad and travel around the world. It turns out that she liked Athens so much that she decided to stay and now often finds herself homesick for Greece even when visiting the U.K. Her favorite part of Athens is what lies beyond the traditional tourist areas and in the outlying neighborhoods that all have distinct personalities. She also discusses the globalization of the city and how someone can find amazing Middle Eastern food near the Agora. Douglas also offers some of her hidden gems for breakfast, lunch and dinner that all put a Mediterranean twist on classic favorites. 

 

Kenneth Davis, Author of Don’t Know Much About Mythology, defines the word myth as sacred stories that are created to explain what can not be seen. These myths were essential to daily life in Ancient Greece and made up large parts of the Greek belief system. It was rare someone would make a decision without consulting a myth or higher being like the Oracle at Delphi. According to Davis, the impact of the Ancient Greeks and their mythology is incredibly important as it served as a blueprint for the rest of Western civilization. He also discusses the lessons we can learn from mythology and the dangers it can hold today. Then, Davis explains how the Greek Gods, though powerful, were very human-like in that they were fallible, ambitious, and sometimes lusty. And he also discusses the transitional period when humans began to want to be higher than the Gods and the danger in that mentality that can still be seen in modern mythologies that have been created. He further speaks about some of the travel myths that people face today. 

 

Mary Jean Tully, Owner of Tully Luxury Travel, explains what travel agencies have been experiencing in the past 16 months. Having many clients on Crystal Cruises, she recounts when outbreaks occurred and how her team dealt with it. She says it was fear of the unknown that drove so many clients to ask for refunds and attempted to draw out of their travel plans. Tully’s experience has proven that cruise lines have learned from the mistakes at the start of the pandemic. Tully also talks about taking her vaccine in Canada and how the United States is now not recognizing some European vaccine brands. 

 

Roberto Martinoli, President and Chief Executive Officer of Silversea Cruises, talks about how happy the crews were to be able to go back and do what they love. He explains how the cruise line follows the CDC guidelines and EU Healthy Gateways closely in regards to all of their policies and where they can enter. Every crew member on every ship is vaccinated and he tells us how this particular ship’s crew was vaccinated in Greece. The particular cruise is not sailing at capacity and Martinoli says that with guidelines changing so much, it began with the intent to sail at a lower capacity but now that’s changed. His cruise on-board regulations include wearing a mask inside and getting vaccinated at the beginning and end of the trip. Martinoli continues to explain how passengers do not need to be escorted when touring the destinations. Silversea Cruises is opening a new route in Iceland and he attributes this new product to the country’s opening up to visitors as well as the growing interest in the country. Martinoli compares Silversea policies to other cruise lines and further talks about the issues with refunding passengers in the past at the wake of the pandemic. He tells us that he’s learned that cruises are probably the safest option in travel and that a constant dialogue with the local governments has made it that way. He shares that his cruises are selling out and uses the 4-month cruise as an example.

 

Doug Lansky, Travel Writer & Keynote Speaker, converses with Peter about current traveling trends as the world enters a post-pandemic era. Many cities are dealing with overcrowding issues and transportation prices are soaring due to high demand. Some consumers are choosing to spend their money on staycations at hotels by their residences, which contributes to further overcrowding. Lansky also speaks about how the pandemic impacted his permanent home in Sweden and how it compared to other countries in Europe. He’s excited to travel again, but he warns of the added difficulty that a mandatory PCR test can add to a travel plan.

 

By Amanda Morris for PeterGreenberg.com





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Wales breaking news plus traffic, weather and travel updates (Saturday, July 31)


Cardiff named most expensive city to buy a puppy in UK

Cardiff has been named the most expensive city to buy a puppy in the UK – with the average dog costing £2,720.

Pets4Homes has published the second of its twice yearly Industry Reports to reveal the most and least expensive places to buy a puppy.

According to their research, Cardiff, Liverpool and Southampton ranked the top three most expensive cities.

Lee Gibson, UK Managing Director at Perts4Homes, said:

There is still plenty of variation in the prices for pets across different regions. Where you live can make as much as £800 difference in the price of a dog, with averages varying from £1,911 in Middlesbrough to £2,720 in Cardiff.

You can see the full list of the most expensive cities here.

Cardiff has been named the most expensive city to buy a puppy in the UK – with the average dog costing £2,720.





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Covid-19: Myanmar extends travel suspension until August 31 – News


The issuance of all types of visas, too, has been suspended.

Myanmar’s foreign ministry has further extended the entry restrictions for all travellers to the end of August amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

The entry of all travellers, the issuance of all types of visas and visa exemption services will be suspended until August 31, reported Xinhua news agency.

According to the ministry’s announcement on Friday, foreign nationals, including diplomats and UN officials, who wish to travel to Myanmar by relief or special flights due to urgent official missions or compelling reasons, are asked to contact the country’s mission for possible exceptions to certain visa restrictions.

Meanwhile, the ministry of transport and communication also issued a further extension of the suspension period of international commercial flights till August 31 in an effort to prevent imported Covid-19 cases.

Myanmar reported 5,127 new Covid-19 cases in the past 24 hours, bringing the tally to 294,460 so far.

With 390 new deaths, the death toll was recorded at 8,942 while the number of recoveries reached 205,677.

As part of the measures to cut the chain of Covid-19 infections, the ministry has imposed a stay-at-home order in 108 townships across the country.






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Del Mar Tip Sheet – July 31


DEL MAR TIPS – SATURDAY, JULY 31, 2021

Historically our BEST BETS have finished in the money 64% of the time at this track.

 RACE #1    $28,000 CLAIMING
 6 FURLONGS ON THE DIRT – POST TIME: 5:00 PM ET

BEST BET:  #3 KANAH

PICK ORDER

M/L

P#

HORSE NAME

JOCKEY

WIN

5/2

3

Kanah

J Valdivia Jr.

PLACE

8-1

8

Palaleo

K Frey

SHOW

9/5

2

Defense Wins

F Prat

WILD CARD

7/2

7

Rayray

J Pyfer

ALTERNATE 1

5-1

6

Prince Magician

T McCarthy

ALTERNATE 2

20-1

5

Maybe Sometime

C Ortega

* EXACTA: 3-8 BOX, 8-2 BOX, 2-7 BOX

* TRIFECTA: 2/3/8 BOX, 2/7/8 BOX

 RACE #2    $70,000 MAIDEN SPECIAL WEIGHT
 5 FURLONGS ON THE DIRT – POST TIME: 5:30 PM ET

PICK ORDER

M/L

P#

HORSE NAME

JOCKEY

WIN

9/5

6

Grace Adler

F Prat

PLACE

5-1

5

Travel Smart

F Geroux

SHOW

5-1

3

Sugar Sugar

JJ Hernandez

WILD CARD

5/2

1

Haute Lady

A Cedillo

ALTERNATE 1

12-1

4

Valentina Ghada

T Baze

ALTERNATE 2

3-1

2

Ice Maiden

U Rispoli

* EXACTA: 6-5 BOX, 5-3 BOX, 3-1 BOX

* TRIFECTA: 3/5/6 BOX, 1/3/5 BOX

 RACE #3    $70,000 MAIDEN SPECIAL WEIGHT
 1 MILE ON THE TURF – POST TIME: 6:02 PM ET

PICK ORDER

M/L

P#

HORSE NAME

JOCKEY

WIN

8/5

3

Lookout Point

F Prat

PLACE

3-1

5

Il Capitano

T Baze

SHOW

12-1

4

Quincey

D Van Dyke

WILD CARD

6-1

2

Fowler Blue

A Cedillo

ALTERNATE 1

5-1

8

Mackinnon

JJ Hernandez

ALTERNATE 2

20-1

6

Empires Fire

K Frey

* EXACTA: 3-5 BOX, 5-4 BOX, 4-2 BOX

* TRIFECTA: 3/4/5 BOX, 2/4/5 BOX

 RACE #4    $72,000 ALLOWANCE OPTIONAL CLAIMING
 1 MILE ON THE DIRT – POST TIME: 6:34 PM ET

PICK ORDER

M/L

P#

HORSE NAME

JOCKEY

WIN

5/2

2

Appreciated

T J Pereira

PLACE

8-1

1

Anitanewmercedes

A Espinoza

SHOW

8-1

3

Hapi Hapi

D Van Dyke

WILD CARD

9/5

7

California Kook

F Prat

ALTERNATE 1

2-1

6

George Herman Ruth

J J Hernandez

ALTERNATE 2

15-1

5

Asaro

E A Maldonado

* EXACTA: 2-1 BOX, 1-3 BOX, 3-7 BOX

* TRIFECTA: 1/2/3 BOX, 1/3/7 BOX

 RACE #5    $55,000 CLAIMING
 5 FURLONGS ON THE TURF – POST TIME: 7:06 PM ET

BEST BET:  #3 TIL I FOUND YOU

PICK ORDER

M/L

P#

HORSE NAME

JOCKEY

WIN

4-1

3

Til I Found You

J Valdivia Jr.

PLACE

6-1

7

Emmas Dance

D Van Dyke

SHOW

5-1

1

Mind Meld

T McCarthy

WILD CARD

7/2

5

Speeding

J Pyfer

ALTERNATE 1

4-1

8

Gayles Evening

K Frey

ALTERNATE 2

20-1

2

Malibu Mistress

W A Barnett

* EXACTA: 3-7 BOX, 7-1 BOX, 1-5 BOX

* TRIFECTA: 1/3/7 BOX, 1/5/7 BOX

 RACE #6    $25,000 CLAIMING
 1 MILE ON THE DIRT – POST TIME: 7:36 PM ET

PICK ORDER

M/L

P#

HORSE NAME

JOCKEY

WIN

3-1

4

Railsplitter

C Ortega

PLACE

4-1

6

Dr. Hoffman

F Prat

SHOW

12-1

9

Full Draw

M Gutierrez

WILD CARD

7/2

2

Unilateral

U Rispoli

ALTERNATE 1

2-1

5

Dark Prince

A Cedillo

ALTERNATE 2

20-1

7

Very Irish

T Baze

* EXACTA: 4-6 BOX, 6-9 BOX, 9-2 BOX

* TRIFECTA: 4/6/9 BOX, 2/6/9 BOX

 RACE #7    $72,000 ALLOWANCE OPTIONAL CLAIMING
 5 FURLONGS ON THE TURF – POST TIME: 8:06 PM ET

PICK ORDER

M/L

P#

HORSE NAME

JOCKEY

WIN

5/2

3

Alice Marble

F Prat

PLACE

7/2

7

Lava Lane

U Rispoli

SHOW

8-1

5

Ds Lovely Sophia

J Pyfer

WILD CARD

8-1

11

Acai

M Gutierrez

ALTERNATE 1

6-1

2

Ensleys Dream

E A Maldonado

ALTERNATE 2

10-1

1

Trina

J Bravo

* EXACTA: 3-7 BOX, 7-5 BOX, 5-11 BOX

* TRIFECTA: 3/5/7 BOX, 5/7/11 BOX

 RACE #8    $55,000 CLAIMING
 7 FURLONGS ON THE DIRT – POST TIME: 8:36 PM ET

PICK ORDER

M/L

P#

HORSE NAME

JOCKEY

WIN

6-1

2

Sea to Success

E A Maldonado

PLACE

5/2

6

Wipe the Slate

M Gutierrez

SHOW

30-1

5

Alpine Thunder

D A Herrera

WILD CARD

3-1

1

Herd Immunity

F Prat

ALTERNATE 1

6-1

8

Positivity

U Rispoli

ALTERNATE 2

8-1

7

Charge Cash

T J Pereira

* EXACTA: 2-6 BOX, 6-5 BOX, 5-1 BOX

* TRIFECTA: 2/5/6 BOX, 1/5/6 BOX

 RACE #9    $74,000 ALLOWANCE OPTIONAL CLAIMING
 1 1/8 MILES ON THE TURF – POST TIME: 9:06 PM ET

BEST BET:  #8 IRIDEO

PICK ORDER

M/L

P#

HORSE NAME

JOCKEY

WIN

8-1

8

Irideo

T J Pereira

PLACE

15-1

3

Media Blitz

J J Hernandez

SHOW

8-1

2

Me and Mr. C

J Bravo

WILD CARD

4-1

9

Rip City

M Gutierrez

ALTERNATE 1

7/2

6

Ready Soul

F Prat

ALTERNATE 2

6-1

5

Ocean Atlantique

T McCarthy

* EXACTA: 8-3 BOX, 3-2 BOX, 2-9 BOX

* TRIFECTA: 2/3/8 BOX, 2/3/9 BOX

 RACE #10    $300,000 STAKES
 6 FURLONGS ON THE DIRT – POST TIME: 9:36 PM ET

** BONUS COMMENTARY **  $300,000 BING CROSBY STAKES G1

PICK ORDER

M/L

P#

HORSE NAME

JOCKEY

WIN

7/2

8

Dr. Schivel

F Prat

PLACE

5/2

3

C Z Rocket

F Geroux

SHOW

8-1

2

Vertical Threat

J Bravo

WILD CARD

7/2

9

Brickyard Ride

JJ Hernandez

ALTERNATE 1

4-1

6

Collusion Illusion

T Baze

ALTERNATE 2

15-1

1

Shooters Shoot

T McCarthy

* EXACTA: 2,3,8,9 Box

* TRIFECTA: 2,3,8/2,3,8,9/2,3,6,8,9

COMMENTS: DR. SCHIVEL is two for two at Del Mar and working well for this spot. C Z Rocket missed as the favorite in his last, trainer Peter Miller rebounds at 25% with defeated chalk. VERTICAL THREAT is three for three at the distance, including the top, last race speed figure. BRICKYARD RIDE has won five of eight at the distance, can struggle without the lead.

 RACE #11    $72,000 ALLOWANCE OPTIONAL CLAIMING
 1 MILE ON THE TURF – POST TIME: 10:06 PM ET

PICK ORDER

M/L

P#

HORSE NAME

JOCKEY

WIN

4-1

13

Bench Judge

F Geroux

PLACE

12-1

9

Signofthecross

T McCarthy

SHOW

8-1

7

Constant Conflict

F Prat

WILD CARD

7/2

1

Sea of Liberty

J Bravo

ALTERNATE 1

4-1

2

Carmelitas Man

A Cedillo

ALTERNATE 2

20-1

10

Circleofchampions

R Gonzalez

* EXACTA: 13-9 BOX, 9-7 BOX, 7-1 BOX

* TRIFECTA: 7/9/13 BOX, 1/7/9 BOX



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Wales breaking news plus traffic, weather and travel updates (Monday, May 31)


Today’s forecast

It’s set to be one of the hottest days of the year today, with the good weather expected to continue throughout the week.

Temperatures are set to peak on Tuesday, with parts of Wales reaching 26C.

The Met Office spokeswoman told WalesOnline: “Monday is also looking really nice with plenty of sunshine that will perhaps be a little bit higher than Sunday with a high of 23C and that is most likely in south west Wales in Pembrokshire and Swansea. The far south East of Wales like Usk could also reach 23C. In the North, Snowdonia could be 22C on Monday so it’ll be a nice day there as well.”

“Tuesday is set to be even warmer,” she said, “Temperatures are peaking at 25C and could be 26C in the south east of Wales. Everywhere will be around 24/25C though the north east could be nearer to 23C. From Wednesday, cloud and showers come across and that will bring temperatures down quite a bit back into the high teens.”





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Young leads Hawks to 113-96 win over Knicks, 3-1 series lead


ATLANTA (AP) — Trae Young led the way for the Atlanta Hawks, as usual. He sure had plenty of help.…

ATLANTA (AP) — Trae Young led the way for the Atlanta Hawks, as usual.

He sure had plenty of help.

Proving they are far more than a one-man team, the Hawks unleashed a dazzling array of weapons to take control of their series against the New York Knicks.

Young scored 27 points, John Collins added 22 despite a smack to the lip and the Hawks frustrated Julius Randle and the Knicks once again, pulling away in the second half for a 113-96 victory Sunday that gave Atlanta a 3-1 lead in the series

“We have so many guys who are skilled with the basketball,” Collins said. “We have great chemistry with each other. I think the sky’s the limit with this team when we do the right things.”

The Hawks will look to wrap up their first playoff series victory since 2016 when they travel to Madison Square Garden for Game 5 on Wednesday night.

“Obviously, we’re excited to win a game,” Young said. “But the job’s not done. It’s not done until the series is over. We have to have that same mentality, that same approach, try to go up to New York and finish it there.”

Atlanta took control in the third quarter, stretching a four-point edge at the half to an 88-71 lead going to the final period. The Hawks led by as many as 26 before clearing their bench in by far the most lopsided game of the series.

After struggling to hit shots in the first half, Atlanta suddenly found its range. The Hawks went 10 of 19 in the third, including 5 of 9 beyond the arc. Young scored nine points, Collins added seven and Bogdan Bogdanovic closed out the third with a 3-pointer that had another big crowd bouncing in their seats.

Randle was serenaded again by chants of “Overrated! Overrated! Overrated!” every time he put one up. The roars were deafening after a sequence in the third when Randle missed on a drive and had a put-back rim out before the Knicks knocked the ball out of bounds.

Less than a minute later, Randle gave Collins a shot to the face on another move toward the basket. Nothing was called initially, but Randle was assessed an offensive foul after a video review prompted by a challenge from Hawks coach Nate McMillan.

Collins headed to the locker room to receive four stitches in his upper lip. His bottom lip was also swollen, but he was able to return to the game in the fourth quarter.

By then, the outcome was no longer in doubt.

“I loved it,” Collins said. “I felt like from the very start, we came out with the mindset that we were not going to let their physical game get to us. We matched their physicality and played our game.”

Young and five of his teammates scored in double figures, including Danilo Gallinari with 21 points. A half-dozen players knocked down 3-pointers.

Young also had nine assists and joined Stephen Curry, Kevin Johnson and Oscar Robertson as the only players in NBA history to average 25 points and 10 assists through his first four career playoff games.

Randle had his highest-scoring game of the series with 23 points, but he was just 7 of 19 from the field and found himself surrounded by black-clad players every time he touched the ball. Clearly bothered by all the attention, he was called for a flagrant foul late in the game.

“We’ve got a Game 5 back at home to extend this series,” Randle said. “I love our chances. It’s not over. It’s not nearly over.”

Derrick Rose, making his second straight start for the Knicks, got off to another strong start but wasn’t much of a factor the rest of the way. He finished with 18 points.

The Knicks are making their first playoff appearance since 2013. Unless they can pull off an improbable comeback, it’s going to be a brief one.

“We’ve got to fix it,” coach Tom Thibodeau said. “We’ve got to fix it fast.”

TIP-INS

Knicks: RJ Barrett scored 21 points. … New York was outrebounded 48-39. … After a huge edge in free throws in Game 3, when the Knicks hit 27 of 30 at the line compared to 5 of 8 for the Hawks, more calls went Atlanta’s way. The Hawks were 26 of 28 from the line, while New York was 19 of 23.

Hawks: C Clint Capela reached double figures in rebounds (15) for the fourth straight time in the series and 30th time in his postseason career. … Bogdanovic scored 12 points — all on 3-pointers.

HOME-COURT ADVANTAGE

Atlanta has never been viewed as one of the NBA’s toughest venues, but this year’s team is changing that perception.

The Hawks have won 13 consecutive home games dating back to the regular season, the longest active streak in the NBA. They are 21-2 in their last 23 games at State Farm Arena.

The crowd of 16,458 clearly spurred on the Hawks in Game 4.

“It’s been fun these past two games,” Young said. “The fans showed up and brought a lot of energy.”

FRUSTRATED KNICKS

In addition to the flagrant foul on Randle, New York’s frustration was evident when Reggie Bullock picked up a technical in the closing minutes after lunging toward the Hawks huddle heading into a timeout.

Apparently upset at Gallinari, Bullock had to be pulled toward his own bench by his teammates.

“I was going to the bench to get my water. I wasn’t really paying attention to what was happening,” Gallinari said. “I think that’s a normal reaction when you lose a game like this.”

Bullock has reason to be irritated. He had zero points and just four rebounds in nearly 34 minutes.

___

Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at https://twitter.com/pnewberry1963 His work can be found at https://apnews.com/search/paulnewberry

___

More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright © 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.





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