Government bans Belarusian airlines from UK airspace | News


The UK government has told airlines to avoid Belarusian airspace after a Ryanair flight was diverted to Minsk and an opposition journalist arrested.

At the same time, the Civil Aviation Authority has suspended all foreign carrier permits held by Belarusian air carriers until further notice.

The suspension applies to both scheduled operators, including the Belarusian airline Belavia, as well as chartered air carriers.

“The Civil Aviation Authority has also issued a notice to all UK registered airlines requesting that they avoid overflight of any territory of the Republic of Belarus,” a statement added.

The moves come after Belarus scrambled a fighter jet to force the plane – which was travelling from Athens in Greece to Vilnius, Lithuania – to land in the Belarusian capital after saying there had been a bomb threat.

Dissident journalist Roman Protasevich was removed from the plane and arrested at Minsk airport on Sunday.

In response, transport secretary, Grant Shapps, tweeted the government was taking the necessary “to keep passengers safe”.

Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, added the interception of the flight was a “shocking assault on civil aviation”.

Image: Juan Alberto Casado / Alamy Stock Photo





Source link

Travel updates: Taipei bans dining-in, Japan extends Covid-19 emergency


Asia stepped up actions to tackle the resurgence of the coronavirus in the region with plans to vaccinate more people and further restrictions imposed. Japan’s large-scale vaccination centers in Tokyo and Osaka open, Taiwan’s capital is banning all on-site dining and drinking, while Malaysia details new rules.

The spread of Covid-19 in the US continues to slow, with the country ending its first week since June with no days of infections exceeding 30,000, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg.

Still, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned that under-vaccinated areas in the US could become hot spots for a mutation of the coronavirus first detected in India and is increasing surveillance of the more-transmissible variant.

Key Developments:

  • Global Tracker: Cases pass 166.9 million; deaths exceed 3.4 million
  • Vaccine Tracker: More than 1.65 billion doses have been given
  • World’s supply of chips is in danger unless Taiwan gets vaccines
  • What’s the best Covid vaccine? Why it’s not so simple: QuickTake
  • Asia’s Covid Surges Should Worry Us All: Clara Ferreira Marques
  • GlaxoSmithKline will make sure it’s on the front lines of the next pandemic

Japan Opens Vaccination Centers (7:53 p.m. HK)

Japan’s large-scale vaccination centers in Tokyo and Osaka opened from Monday, as the government pushes towards the goal to administer 1 million doses a day and finish inoculating the country’s 36 million over-65s by the end of July.

The venues will use Moderna Inc.’s vaccine. A total of 7,500 people are expected to get the shots at the venues on the first day, according to broadcaster NHK. Japan has been slow in its vaccination drive, with local municipalities largely responsible for inoculating its residents with vaccine developed by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE.

Taipei Bans On-Site Dining Amid Outbreak (7:44 a.m. HK)

Taipei, Taiwan’s capital, banned all on-site dining and drinking from May 24, the city government said in a statement Sunday. Outlets will only be allowed to serve takeout food or make deliveries. Operators who fail to comply will be fined as much as NT$15,000 ($536).

Malaysia Curbs Movements in New Restrictions (7:20 a.m. HK)

In new rules imposed in Malaysia from May 25, businesses will only be allowed to operate from 8 a.m until 8 p.m. daily, while about 80% of government officers and 40% of private sector employees will work from home, with the move affecting 7 million to 8 million workers.

High-risk places will be shut immediately and usage of public transportation will be limited to 50% capacity. Further guidelines for the economy are expected to be announced. The moves are an attempt by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin to tamp down new infections without derailing the nascent economic recovery by imposing a nationwide lockdown.

Singaporeans Told to Expect More Testing (7:12 a.m. HK)

Singapore said it will conduct more targeted testing and surveillance operations to curb a coronavirus outbreak.

“Special ops” such as testing all residents in a particular housing apartment block, will help detect and isolate people early, including those who show few or no symptoms and would otherwise be missed, Health Minister Ong Ye Kungsaid in a Facebook post Sunday.

Sniffing Dogs Could Shorten Travel Lines (7:07 a.m. NY)

Covid-sniffing dogs could be used to detect the coronavirus at ports of entry, potentially reducing long waits at testing lines and strengthening efforts to contain transmission, according to a U.K. study.

Two dogs could accurately scan 300 plane passengers in about half an hour as part of a rapid screening strategy, scientists from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine said in research published Monday. Then only the people selected by the dogs would need to undergo a PCR test.

Japan to Extend Emergency (6:58 a.m. HK)

The Japanese government is planning to extend a coronavirus state of emergency in 9 prefectures including Tokyo and Osaka that’s scheduled to expire on May 31, the Yomiuri newspaper reports, citing several unidentified officials.

The government is considering an option to extend the period in all 9 prefectures to June 20 when the emergency in Okinawa is due. Another option being discussed is to end the period on June 13. An official decision is expected this week.

Three at Wuhan Lab Hospitalized in Late 2019, WSJ Reports (3:20 p.m. NY)

Three researchers from the Wuhan Institute of Virology sought hospital care in November 2019, about the time when experts say the coronavirus began circulating around the Chinese city, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The newspaper cited a previously undisclosed U.S. intelligence report that could bolster the theory that the pandemic began at the laboratory, which studied coronaviruses. No official conclusion has been made about the origin of the virus, and many nations, including the U.S., have criticized China for a lack transparency, without overtly embracing the lab-leak theory, which had been pushed by the Trump administration.

France Deaths Lowest Since Fall (1:36 p.m. NY)

France reported the lowest daily increases in coronavirus-related deaths since October, in a sign that the pandemic’s grip on the country is loosening. The 70 additional fatalities registered over the past 24 hours bring the official toll to 108,596. France reported 9,704 new cases, about a third less than the seven-day average.

Gottlieb Says Covid Profile Changing (12:22 p.m. NY)

Falling hospitalizations from Covid-19 show a “rapidly-declining vulnerability” in the U.S., as the people getting infected — sharply falling, but still averaging over 25,000 a day in the past week — tend to be younger and less vulnerable to complications, said former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb.

Gottlieb said on CBS that many in the U.S. are gradually recalibrating their approach to masks, social distancing and other measures as cases and deaths fall sharply.

“We need to make a judgment about what our comfort is. A lot of people have spent a year wearing masks and taking precautions, so it will take some time for us to get comfortable again going into settings without those precautions,” he said.

Texas Governor Hails Early End to Masking (12:05 p.m. NY)

Texas Governor Greg Abbott said his decision to remove mask mandates and to allow businesses to open at full capacity as early as March was the “right move.”

“Of course, President Biden and the Democrats railed against it,” he said Sunday on Fox News. “Democrats said that I had issued a death warrant.”

New cases and deaths have been declining in Texas since March. Last week, the state reported zero virus-related deaths for the first time in more than a year. About 43% of the population in Texas has received at least one dose of vaccine, behind the U.S. average of almost 49%, according to Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker.

Italy Reports Fewest Deaths This Year (11:58 a.m. NY)

Italy on Sunday reported the lowest number of daily coronavirus-related deaths this year, according to Ansa. There were 3,995 new virus cases compared with 4,717 a day before and 72 deaths compared with 125 on Saturday.

US Outbreak Continues to Weaken (8:16 a.m. NY)

The US reported just over 18,700 new cases Saturday, capping the first week since June with no days of infections exceeding 30,000, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg. Average daily infections dropped to about 25,600, compared with almost 217,500 at the end of the first week that vaccines were rolled out in the US in mid-December.

A further 481 fatalities were recorded, capping a week with the fewest fatalities since the end of March 2020.

UK Denies Cummings Claims (7:05 a.m. NY)

The UK government pushed back on claims from the former chief aide of Prime Minister Boris Johnson that officials pursued a herd-immunity strategy in the early days of the pandemic. Dominic Cummings unleashed a series of tweets on Saturday criticising the UK’s response.

He said that letting enough citizens become infected in order to reach natural herd immunity was the “official plan in all docs/graphs/meetings” until early March 2020, when it became clear that such a policy would lead to catastrophe.

When asked about the allegations in an interview on the BBC on Sunday, Home Secretary Priti Patel said that was “not at all” the plan. Jenny Harries, chief executive of the U.K. Health Security Agency, also said it wasn’t the nation’s strategy.

Germany Vows Summer Easing (5:51 p.m. HK)

Germany’s health minister, Jens Spahn, has promised a wide-ranging easing of pandemic restrictions during the summer if the country’s seven-day incidence rate falls below 20. “Last summer the rate was below 20. We should aim for that again,” Spahn told the Sunday edition of Bild. According to the Robert Koch Institute, Germany has a seven-seven-day incidence rate of 64.5. That means that there are 64.5 new infections per 100,000 individuals over a period of seven days.

CDC on Variant Watch (5:01 p.m. HK)

Federal health officials are ramping up their surveillance of the highly transmissible Covid-19 variant first identified in India, as experts warn that under-vaccinated areas in the U.S. could become hot spots for the mutation.

While U.S. cases attributed to the B.1.617 variant currently sit below 1%, the growth rate remains unclear due to the small sample size. One science group said the strain could be as much as 50% more transmissible than B.1.1.7, the variant that emerged from the U.K. That mutation was first seen in the U.S. in late December, and is now dominant nationally.

India Cases Lowest in More Than a Month (2:38 p.m. HK)

India’s new coronavirus cases continued to slow with a daily total of 240,842 on Sunday, the lowest in more than a month. Meanwhile, India’s capital extended its lockdown until May 31 as it halted vaccinations of people age 18 to 44 due to a shortage of jabs. India and scores of other World Trade Organization members made a fresh appeal for a three-year patent waiver on products and technology used in the treatment of Covid-19, the Economic Times reported.

CDC Probes Cases of Youth Heart Inflammation (7:17 a.m. HK)

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is investigating “relatively few” reports of a heart problem in adolescents and young adults after a Covid-19 vaccination.

A report from a meeting of the agency’s safety group on May 17 said that most discovered cases of myocarditis “appear to be mild” and could be unrelated to vaccinations. Myocarditis is an inflammation of the heart muscle often found after an infection.

The cases were mostly in adolescents and young adults and more often in males than females. The report added that the cases occurred more often after a second dose than the first and were typically found within four days after infection.

Follow more stories on Facebook and Twitter

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.





Source link

Nepals bans international flights till May 31


Nepal bans international flights till May end

You cannot fly to Nepal till May 31 midnight as the nation has extended its ban on international flights from May 14. The ban has been put in place by the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) to contain the spread of COVID-19 outbreak. The regulatory body issued a release, announcing the extension of the ban on international flights.

An official from CAAN stated that, “The suspension period of international schedule flights (except two flights in a week between Kathmandu and New Delhi, one flight each by Nepal Airlines and Air India, under the Air Travel Bubble Arrangement) is extended till 31st May 2021 midnight (23:59 hrs NST).”

The regulatory body has also asked airline companies to not accept new bookings to and from Nepal till further notice. It has also directed airlines to refund air tickets and also help passengers with changes in travel dates if they seek to do so. The current ban on international flights will not be applicable on medical, cargo and chartered flights.

Nepal is currently battling COVID-19, and had previously urged Everest mountaineers and other trekkers to bring back their oxygen cylinders to aid in oxygen supply in the nation.





Source link

Travel Alert – Update On U.S. Travel Bans – Immigration


As the COVID-19 pandemic and related restrictions continue, we
advise caution regarding international travel. Everyone considering
international travel is urged to carefully consider the risks and
be fully aware of how ongoing conditions may impact travel. Due to
limited availability of visa appointments and the possibility of
additional COVID-related travel restrictions, individuals should
consider not traveling abroad, or else should be prepared to spend
additional time outside the United States if needed.

CDC Update Requiring Negative COVID-19 Test

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an
Order, effective January 26,
2021, requiring all international air passengers destined for the
United States to be tested no more than 3 days before their
U.S.-bound flight departs, and present the negative viral test
result. As an alternative to a negative COVID-19 test result,
international travelers may present documentation of recovery from
COVID-19, including a positive viral test result and letter from a
healthcare provider or public health official clearing them for
travel. All passengers must present the negative test result or
proof of recovery from COVID-19 before boarding the flight. This
new Order supersedes the December 25, 2020 Order requiring negative
pre-departure COVID-19 proof for all passengers arriving from the
United Kingdom.

The CDC Order applies to all air passengers traveling to the
United States, 2 years of age or older, including U.S.
citizens and legal permanent residents. Further, the CDC guidelines
and orders do not replace the Presidential proclamations. Finally,
proof of vaccination does not exempt international travelers from
any of the restrictions or requirements currently in place. Please
see details on the current Presidential proclamation travel bans
below.

Current Travel Bans:

COVID-Related Country Bans

Between January and May 2020, President Trump issued a series of
travel bans to curtail the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19)
pandemic, which remain in place. In addition, in January 2021 and
April 2021, President Biden issued updated COVID-related travel
bans to add South Africa and India, respectively. Exempting U.S.
citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents, these travel bans suspend
indefinitely the entry of foreign nationals who have been
physically present in certain countries during the 14 days prior to
entering the U.S. These bans will remain in place until they are
terminated by President Biden. The suspension of entry for foreign
nationals currently applies to physical presence in the following
countries: China (excluding Hong Kong and Macau), Iran, Brazil,
India, the United Kingdom, Ireland, South Africa, and the Schengen
area of Europe comprising Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic,
Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary,
Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg,
Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia,
Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.

Any physical presence in these countries triggers application of
the ban, including flight connections and layovers, so it is
important to arrange any travel accordingly.

As mentioned above, U.S. citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents
are exempt from the travel ban. The full list of exempt individuals
is as follows:

  • U.S. citizens;

  • U.S. lawful permanent residents;

  • Noncitizen nationals of the U.S.;

  • Spouses of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents;

  • A foreign national who is the parent or legal guardian of an
    unmarried U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident under the age
    of 21;

  • A foreign national who is the sibling of a U.S. citizen or
    lawful permanent resident, provided they are both unmarried and
    under the age of 21;

  • A foreign national who is the child, foster child, or ward of a
    U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, or who is a prospective
    adoptee seeking to enter the United States on an IR-4 or IH-4
    visa;

  • A foreign national traveling at the invitation of the U.S.
    government for a purpose related to containment or mitigation of
    the COVID-19 virus;

  • A foreign air or sea crewmember;

  • Certain A, C, E-1 (TECRO or TECO), G, and NATO nonimmigrants,
    or nonimmigrants whose travel falls within the scope of section 11
    of the United Nations Headquarters Agreement;

  • A foreign national whose entry would further important U.S. law
    enforcement objectives;

  • A foreign national whose entry would be in the national
    interest; and

  • Members of the U.S. Armed Forces and spouses and children of
    members of the U.S. Armed Forces.

Due to the increase in COVID cases, it is always possible that
additional countries may be added to these travel bans in the
future; and that the addition of new countries will be done with
little notice.

Economic-Related Ban on Certain Individuals Seeking
Entry in the H, L and J Visa Categories

The Presidential Proclamation banning H-1B, H-2B, L-1 and
certain J-1 travelers from applying for visas and entering the
United States expired on March 31, 2021, and is no longer in
effect.

However, for those who do not have a valid visa for return to
the U.S., either because their status was changed in the U.S. or a
prior visa has expired, obtaining a new visa may prove challenging.
Some consular posts are simply not scheduling routine visa
appointments, and others are allowing appointments to be scheduled
— sometimes months in the future — only to cancel them.
From a practical standpoint, unless one is likely to qualify for a
National Interest Exception waiver, there is a good chance that a
new visa will not be issued. Individuals eligible to have the
in-person visa appointment waived stand the best chance of securing
visas in these categories by submitting application documents to
the Embassy through drop box or courier services. Each consular
post determines the criteria for a waiver of the interview
requirement. At a minimum, typically, the consular post requires
that the individual have already been granted a visa in the same
classification.

Those who need to obtain a new nonimmigrant visa should verify
the status of visa processing operations at the consular post where
they will apply.

Exemptions and Waivers for Individuals Subject to Travel
Bans

For those wishing to travel and subject to the travel bans,
there may be options available.

Options for COVID-Related Country Bans

Individuals seeking to return to the U.S. from one of the
COVID-banned countries generally have two options:

  1. Securing a “National Interest Exception” (or
    “NIE”) waiver from the U.S. Consulate or Embassy in their
    home country

On April 30, 2021, the Department of State expanded the NIE
waiver so that it applies universally to all individuals who are
subject to the COVID travel ban. For individuals traveling from any
country that is subject to a travel ban, waivers may be granted for
travel related to humanitarian travel, public health response, and
national security. These requests must be submitted to the U.S.
Consulate or Embassy in the individual’s home country. Most
consular posts will not entertain a request for an NIE waiver
unless the individual is outside of the U.S., so permission to
return to the U.S. cannot generally be secured in advance of
departure. Further, consular officers have wide discretion with
regard to granting these waivers, and limited consular operations
frequently result in long waits. As a result, traveling with the
expectation of being granted a waiver continues to be risky.
Procedures vary widely, but are generally outlined on the
Consulate’s website.

The Department of State recently revised and restricted its
criteria for granting an NIE waiver of the COVID travel ban. Please
see our prior alert for more details.

In addition, travelers to the U.S. who remain eligible to apply
for an NIE waiver include academics, students, journalists,
humanitarian travelers, public health responders, and those
travelers who will benefit national security. More specifically,
the Department of State has provided the following exemptions for
all COVID-related travel bans to the U.S.:

  • F-1 and M-1 students with a valid visa who are entering the
    U.S. to begin or continue an academic program that starts on August
    1, 2021 or later do not need to apply for a waiver and may enter
    the U.S. up to 30 days prior to their program start date;

  • F-1 and M-1 students who are entering the U.S. to begin or
    continue an academic program that starts on August 1, 2021 or later
    and who need a visa will be automatically considered for a National
    Interest Exception;

  • J-1 exchange visitors in a number of categories, as described
    in the Department of State’s update.

  1. Individuals seeking to return to the U.S. from a COVID-banned
    country who are unable to secure an NIE waiver – because the
    request is denied, delayed or not available – may choose to
    return to the U.S. only after a 14-day “quarantine” stay
    in a non-banned country. The COVID-related ban only applies to
    anyone who has been physically present in one of the banned
    countries during the 14 days prior to admission. Spending the 14
    days prior to admission in another country removes the ban on entry
    into the U.S.

When considering international travel and the available waivers,
it is important to remember that the COVID-related travel bans
exempt individuals in a number of categories listed above, but
these categories are not exempt from the testing requirement.

Individuals in the exempt categories may continue to travel to
the U.S. without securing a waiver, and should carry original
documentation that evidences the exemption as well as the required
COVID test result or alternative documentation.

Visa Processing and Impact on Travel Options

The U.S. Department of State (“DOS”) initially
suspended routine visa processing in March 2020 due to COVID-19 and
began phased reopenings across Consulates starting in July 2020.
The Consulates have resumed routine visa services on a post-by-post
basis, but most Consulates are still operating at reduced capacity
and offering only very limited services. Some Consulates resumed
routine visa services only to reduce their capacity in October due
to the increase of COVID cases in a number of countries. The DOS is
unable to provide dates on when each Consulate will resume specific
visa services or when all posts will return to pre-COVID processing
times. Most Consulates do have emergency and
“mission-critical” services available on a case-by-case
basis. Please be sure to check the U.S. Consulate website in
advance to confirm current rules on visa issuance.

If an individual is able to secure a nonimmigrant visa
appointment, most appointments will follow routine processing and
the applicant will be notified of an approval following the
interview. If approved, the visa stamp is normally placed in the
passport within several business days following the appointment. In
certain instances, if the Consular Officer conducting the interview
cannot establish visa eligibility at the time of the interview, the
application will be placed in administrative processing and will
undergo further review. If the application is selected for
administrative processing, the applicant cannot return to the U.S.
until the visa is issued and, while most cases are resolved within
2-3 weeks, on occasion, administrative processing may extend to
several months, or even longer. Visit the Mintz Resources page here and here for further details on visa
processing.

Entry into the U.S.

In addition to the COVID-19 Test Order issued by the CDC when
entering the U.S. following international travel, foreign nationals
should be prepared to answer questions from a Customs and Border
Protection officer regarding the nature of proposed entry and
qualifications for a designated waiver or exemption. All foreign
nationals should carry documentation evidencing status as well as
any documentation supporting the individual’s specific
exemption from the travel ban or waiver requests. Visit the Mintz
Resources page here for details on required documents for
travel.

Following entry into the U.S., it is critical for individuals to
check the I-94 admission record to ensure that it properly reflects
their status and authorized stay in the U.S. We recommend verifying
the accuracy of Form I-94 details within 48 hours of entry to the
U.S. in order to correct any errors in a timely manner.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.



Source link

Indonesia bans traveling home for Eid al-Fitr – FOX23 News


JAKARTA, Indonesia — Indonesia is prohibiting travel during the popular homecoming period to celebrate Eid al-Fitr.

COVID-19 cases have been decreasing in the world’s most populous Muslim country, but the government imposed the ban after seeing a significant rise in the mortality rate last year after the Eid holiday marking the end of Ramadan.

The ban started Thursday and will last for 12 days, exempting only civil servants, police and military officers, and those who need to travel for work.

Indonesia has confirmed more than 1.6 million cases and 46,000 deaths from COVID-19, the largest totals in Southeast Asia.

___

THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:

— Biden administration joining calls for more sharing of vaccine technology to help speed the end of the pandemic

— Every Republican in Congress voted against the pandemic relief bill Biden signed into law, but they’re touting its accomplishments

India hits another grim record, adding 400,000 new cases, as it works to move lifesaving supplies where they are most needed

— India’s diaspora is tapping its wealth, clout and expertise to help India combat its catastrophic coronavirus surge

— Most elementary and middle schools open for in-person learning, but remote is still the choice of many students

— Follow more of AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine

___

HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — Soldiers and police in the Pacific nation of Fiji have surrounded and locked down a major hospital.

Health authorities say they are quarantining 400 patients, doctors, nurses and other staff within the compound until they can determine who had contact with a coronavirus patient who died there.

The 53-year-old patient at Lautoka Hospital was only the third person to die from the virus in Fiji, which has about 1 million people. But the nation’s leaders are deeply worried that the latest outbreak is spreading, especially after two doctors at the hospital tested positive for the virus.

A health official says the hospital is closed and all medical services are being diverted to other facilities. The official says those sequestered in the hospital will be provided with food, bedding and whatever other supplies they need.

___

MANILA, Philippines — Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has asked China to take back 1,000 doses of donated Sinopharm vaccine after he was criticized for getting the injection even though the vaccine hasn’t been authorized for public use in the country.

The Philippine health secretary injected Duterte on Monday, and an unspecified number of Duterte’s guards received the Sinopharm vaccine in secrecy.

Duterte said he told the Chinese ambassador “that this came under criticism because Sinopharm did not undergo examination so let’s just do away with it. You withdraw all Sinopharm vaccines, 1,000 of them.”

Duterte said his injection did not breach any regulation because it fell under a “compassionate use” exemption.

Critics, however, said Duterte and Health Secretary Francisco Duque III made a mockery of vaccine regulations while ordinary Filipinos have struggled with a plethora of pandemic restrictions.

___

NEW YORK — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo says Broadway theaters can reopen Sept. 14. Many Broadway productions are scrambling to resume ticket sales in the coming days to welcome theater-goers this fall after city and state leaders have green-lit a reopening of the Great White Way at full capacity.

Broadway theaters will be allowed to decide their own entry requirements, like whether people must prove they’ve been vaccinated to attend a show.

Selling tickets will allow theaters to gauge interest before stages open, said Robert Mujica, Cuomo’s budget director. The Broadway that reopens will look different, with “Frozen” and “Mean Girls” deciding not to restart.

___

WASHINGTON — The U.S. departments of health and housing have launched a joint project to provide coronavirus vaccines to the homeless and people living in low-income neighborhoods and subsidized housing.

Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge made the announcement on Wednesday during a visit to Community of Hope. It’s a service organization in an area of the nation’s capital that’s had high rates of coronavirus and relatively low rates of vaccination. The organization runs community health centers while also working to end homelessness among families.

“I think it is past time that this country understands that its government does care about them,” Fudge said. “We have gotten the low-hanging fruit — the people who really want the vaccines —now we have to go and do the next step.”

Becerra says the Biden administration is trying various communication strategies. Those include directly reaching people who lack internet access and enlisting ministers, community leaders and sports figures as vaccination advocates.





Source link

Saturday News: “Biden Bans Travel From India as Coronavirus Cases Surge”; “Don’t let the GOP’s buffoonery distract you from its sinister intentions”; Rudy Might “Rat Out Ivanka, Don Jr., and Trump to Save Himself?”; “Virginia GOP’s Gubernatorial Contest Is a Trumpian Mess”


The WaPo nails it: “[Pete] Snyder’s evolution in politics is a study in Trumpian distortion”; “[Glenn] Youngkin’s campaign is built on a scaffolding of slogans and dodgy assertions”; “many in the [VA GOP] remain entrenched on the fringe” https://bluevirginia.us/2021/04/in-closing-stretch-of-va-gop-governors-race-the-candidates-turn-to-yep-race-baiting#comment-5366162499





Source link

Activists Fear HK Immigration Bill Will Allow Arbitrary Travel Bans | World News


HONG KONG (Reuters) – An immigration bill on Hong Kong’s legislative agenda for Wednesday would give authorities virtually unlimited powers to prevent residents and others entering or leaving the former British colony, lawyers, diplomats and rights groups say.

The government says the bill merely aims to screen illegal immigrants at source amid a backlog of asylum applications, and does not affect movement rights.

But lawyers say it empowers authorities to bar anyone, without a court order, from entering or leaving Hong Kong and fails to prevent indefinite detention for refugees.

The government, which has pushed Hong Kong onto an increasingly authoritarian path since Beijing imposed a sweeping national security law in 2020, faces no official opposition after democratic lawmakers resigned en masse last year in protest at the disqualification of colleagues.

Most prominent democratic politicians and activists are either in jail, charged under the security law or for other reasons, or in exile. Western countries, in response, have eased immigration rules for Hong Kongers and granted political asylum to several activists.

Lawyers and rights groups say the immigration bill gives authorities unbridled powers to impose “exit bans” such as those used by mainland China. Beijing denies accusations that the bans are a form of arbitrary detention.

“We have seen the way China has restricted people’s movement in and out of the country, suppressing activists and lawyers,” said Chow Hang-tung, a lawyer who is vice-chairwoman of Hong Kong Alliance, which champions democratic causes.

“They’re saying refugees are a target, but they’re expanding their power across all Hong Kong.”

Authorities in the United States and Europe have long required carriers to provide them with detailed passenger and crew information in advance of travel, under an international convention, and Hong Kong says it is merely following suit.

European Union directives, for instance, state specifically that authorities may not use the data to deny entry for any reason other than “preventing, detecting, investigating and prosecuting terrorist offences or serious crime”.

They also state that any decisions to restrict movement “shall in no circumstances be based on a person’s race or ethnic origin, political opinions, religion or philosophical beliefs, trade union membership, health, sexual life or sexual orientation”.

The Hong Kong Bar Association (HKBA) said in February that Hong Kong’s bill, in contrast, confers “an apparently unfettered power” on the director of immigration “to prevent Hong Kong residents and others from leaving Hong Kong”.

It said the bill offered no explanation of why such a power was necessary or how it would be used, or any limit on the duration of a travel ban, or any safeguards against abuse.

The Security Bureau said the law would be applied only to inbound flights and target illegal immigrants, expressing disappointment at the “unnecessary misunderstanding” caused by HKBA.

In response, HKBA urged the government to clarify the limits of the bill.

But the Bureau last week said that freedom to travel was guaranteed by the city’s mini-constitution, the Basic Law, and its Bill of Rights, and this made it unnecessary to spell out in the bill that those rights would not be affected.

HKBA declined further comment. The Security Bureau referred Reuters to a statement last Friday describing the idea that the bill would deprive residents of travel rights as “complete nonsense”.

It said some organisations “have been attempting to spread rumours in emotional and hostile rhetoric, misleading the public with ill intentions and creating conflict in society”.

Lawyer Senia Ng said concerns about the bill were real and substantial because there was no specific wording to limit its scope.

Asian and Western envoys fear their citizens could be affected. “There is a deepening sense that something longer-term could be at work here and we are watching closely,” said a Western diplomat who declined to be named.

If passed, potentially as soon as Wednesday, the bill could take effect on Aug. 1.

    Activists also say the bill raises concerns about refugee rights and well-being.

Among the changes, it allows immigration officers to carry guns and, in some cases, requires asylum seekers to communicate in a language other than their mother tongue.

The government says there are currently 13,000 claimants in Hong Kong and that the bill is aimed at tackling the backlog.

The screening process can take years and the success rate for claimants is 1%. During that period, it is illegal for asylum seekers to work or volunteer, and they live in limbo, on food vouchers.

Currently, asylum seekers can be detained only if they break the law or for deportation, and then for a period “that is reasonable in all circumstances”.

The bill removes the phrase “in all circumstances”, which rights groups say allows refugees considered a security risk to be detained indefinitely. The law does not state what constitutes such a risk.

“Even under the existing detention system there are already many unresolved issues, such as allegations of abuse,” said Rachel Li, policy officer at rights group Justice Centre.

“The bill is not in compliance with common law principles and international best practices.”

(Additional reporting by Greg Torode; Editing by Marius Zaharia and Kevin Liffey)

Copyright 2021 Thomson Reuters.



Source link

COVID-19 update: Canada bans all flights from India and Pakistan for a month, France


COVID-19 update: Canada bans all flights from India and Pakistan for a month

In a recent travel update, Canada has announced to suspend all passenger flights from India and Pakistan for 30 days due to hike in COVID-19 cases. Canadian Transportation Minister Omar Alghabra made the announcement on Thursday and said the decision was taken after maximum cases were detected in people arriving from these countries. The restriction will come into effect at 11:30 PM Eastern Time Thursday (0330 GMT Friday) but won’t apply to cargo flights.

Alghabra said in a news conference, “Given the higher number of cases of Covid-19 detected in air passengers arriving in Canada from India and Pakistan… I am suspending all commercial and private passenger flights arriving in Canada from Indian and Pakistan for 30 days.”

Patty Hajdu, the Canadian Health Minister said that overall only 1.8 per cent of travellers to Canada have tested positive for coronavirus.

He further called it a temporary measure and said that they are assessing the evolving situation.

The minister also said that the restrictions won’t apply to cargo flights to ensure an uninterrupted shipment of vaccines and PPE kits.

As of now, India is battling with an extremely deadly COVID-19 “double mutant” variant. The virus is spreading even faster and has affected India like never before. More than 300000 new cases were recorded in the country on Thursday only which is worrisome.





Source link

House Votes to Curb Power of Presidency on Travel Bans | Political News


By KEVIN FREKING, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Democratic-led House passed legislation Wednesday designed to constrain a president’s power to limit entry to the U.S., a response to former President Donald Trump’s travel ban covering five Muslim-majority countries.

President Joe Biden reversed the travel restrictions from the Trump administration in one of his first moves in office, easing limits on Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen, as well as North Korea and some government officials from Venezuela. But Democrats say Congress has a responsibility to prevent future administrations from enacting similarly broad restrictions.

The bill passed the House by a vote of 218-208. It is unlikely to advance in the evenly split Senate, with Republicans broadly opposed.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler, the Democratic chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said presidents from both parties have used their authority to exclude narrow groups of people from entering the U.S, such as certain North Korean officials. “But former President Trump abused this authority, twisting it in ways that were never intended.”

The White House announced its support for the measure earlier this week. “The prior Administration’s haphazard misuse of this authority highlights the need for reasonable constraints,” it said.

Trump had proposed a broad, all-encompassing Muslim ban during the presidential campaign. Within a week of him taking office in early 2017, the first travel ban was announced with little notice, causing chaos at airports and sparking protests across the nation.

The Trump administration was forced to revise its original order twice to resolve legal problems concerning due process, implementation and exclusive targeting of Muslim nations.

In 2018, the Supreme Court upheld the ban in a 5-4 decision. It determined that the ban was within a U.S. president’s considerable authority over immigration and responsibility for keeping the nation safe.

Republicans said Trump’s actions were not a Muslim ban. Rather, he was seeking to secure the United States from terrorists. They said the ban was limited to countries that were previously designated by Congress or prior administrations as posing national security risks.

They also noted that the ban affected only a fraction of Muslim-majority countries.

“Do not listen to repetitions and lies about Muslim bans when it is not true,” said Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas.

“The president said he was going to impose a Muslim ban, and he did,” Nadler countered.

Under the House bill, sponsored by Rep. Judy Chu, D-Calif., the secretaries of state and homeland security must first determine that the entry of certain aliens would undermine national security or public safety before the president could order a temporary travel restriction.

Republicans called that requirement a “constitutional absurdity.”

“You know, in this bill, the president may only act if the secretary of state allows him to act, and that is backwards,” said Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz.

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



Source link

Travel Alert – Update on U.S. Travel Bans | Mintz – Immigration Viewpoints


As the COVID-19 pandemic and related restrictions continue, we advise caution regarding international travel. Everyone considering international travel is urged to carefully consider the risks and be fully aware of how ongoing conditions may impact travel. Due to limited availability of visa appointments and the possibility of additional COVID-related travel restrictions, individuals should consider not traveling abroad, or else should be prepared to spend additional time outside the United States if needed.

CDC Update Requiring Negative COVID-19 Test

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an Order, effective January 26, 2021, requiring all international air passengers destined for the United States to be tested no more than 3 days before their U.S.-bound flight departs, and present the negative viral test result. As an alternative to a negative COVID-19 test result, international travelers may present documentation of recovery from COVID-19, including a positive viral test result and letter from a healthcare provider or public health official clearing them for travel. All passengers must present the negative test result or proof of recovery from COVID-19 before boarding the flight. This new Order supersedes the December 25, 2020 Order requiring negative pre-departure COVID-19 proof for all passengers arriving from the United Kingdom.

The CDC Order applies to all air passengers traveling to the United States, 2 years of age or older, including U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents. Further, the CDC guidelines and orders do not replace the Presidential proclamations. Finally, proof of vaccination does not exempt international travelers from any of the restrictions or requirements currently in place. Please see details on the current Presidential proclamation travel bans below.

Current Travel Bans:

COVID-Related Country Bans

Between January and May 2020, President Trump issued a series of travel bans to curtail the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, which remain in place. In addition, in January 2021 President Biden issued an updated COVID-related travel ban to add South Africa. Exempting U.S. citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents, these travel bans suspend indefinitely the entry of foreign nationals who have been physically present in certain countries during the 14 days prior to entering the U.S. These bans will remain in place until they are terminated by President Biden. The suspension of entry for foreign nationals currently applies to physical presence in the following countries: China (excluding Hong Kong and Macau), Iran, Brazil, the United Kingdom, Ireland, South Africa, and the Schengen area of Europe comprising Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.

Any physical presence in these countries triggers application of the ban, including flight connections and layovers, so it is important to arrange any travel accordingly.

As mentioned above, U.S. citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents are exempt from the travel ban. The full list of exempt individuals is as follows:

  • U.S. citizens;
  • U.S. lawful permanent residents;
  • Noncitizen nationals of the U.S.;
  • Spouses of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents;
  • A foreign national who is the parent or legal guardian of an unmarried U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident under the age of 21;
  • A foreign national who is the sibling of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, provided they are both under 21;
  • A foreign national who is the child, foster child, or ward of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, or who is a prospective adoptee seeking to enter the United States on an IR-4 or IH-4 visa;
  • A foreign national traveling at the invitation of the U.S. government for a purpose related to containment or mitigation of the COVID-19 virus;
  • A foreign air or sea crewmember;
  • Certain A, C, E-1 (TECRO or TECO), G, and NATO nonimmigrants, or nonimmigrants whose travel falls within the scope of section 11 of the United Nations Headquarters Agreement;
  • A foreign national whose entry would further important U.S. law enforcement objectives;
  • A foreign national whose entry would be in the national interest; and
  • Members of the U.S. Armed Forces and spouses and children of members of the U.S. Armed Forces.

Due to the increase in COVID cases, it is always possible that additional countries may be added to these travel bans in the future; and that the addition of new countries will be done with little notice.

Economic-Related Ban on Certain Individuals Seeking Entry in the H, L and J Visa Categories

The Presidential Proclamation banning H-1B, H-2B, L-1 and certain J-1 travelers from applying for visas and entering the United States expired on March 31, 2021, and is no longer in effect.

However, for those who do not have a valid visa for return to the U.S., either because their status was changed in the U.S. or a prior visa has expired, obtaining a new visa may prove challenging. Some consular posts are simply not scheduling routine visa appointments, and others are allowing appointments to be scheduled — sometimes months in the future — only to cancel them. From a practical standpoint, unless one is likely to qualify for a National Interest Exception waiver, there is a good chance that a new visa will not be issued. Individuals eligible to have the in-person visa appointment waived stand the best chance of securing visas in these categories by submitting application documents to the Embassy through drop box or courier services,. Each consular post determines the criteria for a waiver of the interview requirement. At a minimum, typically, the consular post requires that the individual have already been granted a visa in the same classification.

Those who need to obtain a new nonimmigrant visa should verify the status of visa processing operations at the consular post where they will apply.

Exemptions and Waivers for Individuals Subject to Travel Bans:

For those wishing to travel and subject to the travel bans, there may be options available.

Options for COVID-Related Country Bans

Individuals seeking to return to the U.S. from one of the COVID-banned countries generally have two options:

  1. Securing a “National Interest Exception” (or “NIE”) waiver from the U.S. Consulate or Embassy in their home country

For individuals traveling from the UK, Ireland or a Schengen country, waivers may be granted for travel related to humanitarian travel, public health response, and national security. These requests must be submitted to the U.S. Consulate or Embassy in the individual’s home country. Most consular posts will not entertain a request for an NIE waiver unless the individual is outside of the U.S., so permission to return to the U.S. cannot generally be secured in advance of departure. Further, consular officers have wide discretion with regard to granting these waivers, and limited consular operations frequently result in long waits. As a result, traveling with the expectation of being granted a waiver continues to be risky. Procedures vary widely, but are generally outlined on the Consulate’s website. Note that this NIE waiver option is limited to travelers coming from the UK, Ireland and the Schengen area countries.

The Department of State recently revised and restricted its criteria for granting an NIE waiver of the COVID travel ban from the Schengen Area, U.K. and Ireland. Please see our prior alert for more details.

Students seeking to travel to the U.S. on valid F-1 or M-1 visas from the UK, Ireland and the Schengen region do not need to contact the Consulate or Embassy, but are automatically granted the NIE waiver.

  1. Individuals seeking to return to the U.S. from a COVID-banned country who are unable to secure an NIE waiver – because the request is denied, delayed or not available – may choose to return to the U.S. only after a 14-day “quarantine” stay in a non-banned country. The COVID-related ban only applies to anyone who has been physically present in one of the banned countries during the 14 days prior to admission. Spending the 14 days prior to admission in another country removes the ban on entry into the U.S.

When considering international travel and the available waivers, it is important to remember that the COVID-related travel bans exempt individuals in a number of categories listed above, but these categories are not exempt from the testing requirement.

Individuals in the exempt categories may continue to travel to the U.S. without securing a waiver, and should carry original documentation that evidences the exemption as well as the required COVID test result or alternative documentation.

Visa Processing and Impact on Travel Options

The U.S. Department of State (“DOS”) initially suspended routine visa processing in March 2020 due to COVID-19 and began phased reopenings across Consulates starting in July 2020. The Consulates have resumed routine visa services on a post-by-post basis, but most Consulates are still operating at reduced capacity and offering only very limited services. Some Consulates resumed routine visa services only to reduce their capacity in October due to the increase of COVID cases in a number of countries. The DOS is unable to provide dates on when each Consulate will resume specific visa services or when all posts will return to pre-COVID processing times. Most Consulates do have emergency and “mission-critical” services available on a case-by-case basis. Please be sure to check the U.S. Consulate website in advance to confirm current rules on visa issuance.

If an individual is able to secure a nonimmigrant visa appointment, most appointments will follow routine processing and the applicant will be notified of an approval following the interview. If approved, the visa stamp is normally placed in the passport within several business days following the appointment. In certain instances, if the Consular Officer conducting the interview cannot establish visa eligibility at the time of the interview, the application will be placed in administrative processing and will undergo further review. If the application is selected for administrative processing, the applicant cannot return to the U.S. until the visa is issued and, while most cases are resolved within 2-3 weeks, on occasion, administrative processing may extend to several months, or even longer. Visit the Mintz Resources page here and here for further details on visa processing.

Entry into the U.S.

In addition to the COVID-19 Test Order issued by the CDC when entering the U.S. following international travel, foreign nationals should be prepared to answer questions from a Customs and Border Protection officer regarding the nature of proposed entry and qualifications for a designated waiver or exemption. All foreign nationals should carry documentation evidencing status as well as any documentation supporting the individual’s specific exemption from the travel ban or waiver requests. Visit the Mintz Resources page here for details on required documents for travel.

Following entry into the U.S., it is critical for individuals to check the I-94 admission record to ensure that it properly reflects their status and authorized stay in the U.S. We recommend verifying the accuracy of Form I-94 details within 48 hours of entry to the U.S. in order to correct any errors in a timely manner.

[View source.]



Source link