Royal commentator Roya Nikkhah reflected on the news that the Queen will not be going to the Climate Change Conference in Glasgow (Cop26) due to health reasons. This comes after the Queen was told to cancel her visit to Northern Ireland last week and rest by her medical professionals. While speaking on the Today Programme, Ms Nikkhah argued the Palace will put the Queen’s schedule on constant review now.
She said the Queen’s secretaries will now be looking at a “gear change” and considering carefully what events the Queen needs to attend.
Ms Nikkhah said: “I think there will be a reassessment and possibly a slight gear change in the kind of work the Queen does, the distances she travels.
“I don’t think we will see, all being well that she is able to continue with public duties in the way that she will be.
“I think we will still see her out and about as much as she feels and her doctors feel she can.
“I think her private secretaries and her diary secretaries will look at her engagements coming and think what does the Queen really need to be at and what does she feel she can really do.
“I think that will be a constant review going forward now.”
The palace released a statement yesterday announcing the Queen would not be attending the climate change event.
Daily Express royal correspondent Richard Palmer wrote: “In short, the Queen is up to light duties such as reading and signing paperwork and holding virtual meetings but she is not considered well enough to undertake external engagements at the moment.”
ITV News’ Chris Ship tweeted: “The Queen’s decision to pull out of the big UN summit on such an important issue as climate change is a blow.
“She was a big draw for the world leaders. We are told that she hopes no other leader will use her absence as a reason not to attend.”
Other members of the Royal Family including the Prince of Wales, Duchess of Cornwall, and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will still attend the climate conference.
Josie Steenhart finds an uber modern hotel tucked away from the main drag of George Street.
My first introduction to the incredibly cool and unique EBB-Dunedin hotel came when I drove my rental car down a glass-walled, paved strip directly through the centre of the near brand spanking new building to the carpark set neatly on the other side.
All black steel and walls of glass, the architecturally designed hollow cube opened for business in March this year after being in development for three years (including construction delays thanks to the 2020 lockdowns).
Tucked a row back from the main drag of George Street and a less-than-10-minute walk from the Octagon, you’re unlikely to miss this new hotel, set as it is among some fairly tired older buildings and at the foot of the hills covered in historic homes.
With just four floors (the ground floor houses a reception area on one side and a café on the other, with a terrace garden and the access to the carpark in the centre), 27 rooms and one two-bedroom penthouse, it has a boutique feel, but the chic, sleek, almost futuristic aesthetic, spacious rooms and high spec, luxe interiors ensure it’s anything but pokey or overly intimate.
It’s also a literal work of art – with the entire facade of the top three floors wrapped in a large-scale artwork by Simon Kaan depicting Polynesian waka arriving through the heads of the Otago Harbour, with the view of the land and sky from the sea.
After checking in inside the gorgeous-smelling glass reception ‘box’ (I later found out the scent is compliments of local candle brand Santosha), you pop into an elevator to your floor (each “layer” of the hotel is inspired by land, sea or sky, a theme that runs throughout).
The corridors to the rooms run externally around the covered central atrium space and feature renowned New Zealand art, and at the end of each is a shared lounge area where guests are encouraged to sit, chat, have a drink or read. The top floor’s lounge even has a fireplace, which I think is fairly impressive.
There are five room types including Classic (what I stayed in), Universal (which can accommodate guests with disabilities or accessibility needs) and Superior – which have gorgeous bathtubs). All are spacious, with floor to ceiling windows and an aesthetic that’s edgy and contemporary without compromising on comfort. The bathrooms are as much of a highlight as the rest of the room, decked out in striking marble.
As mentioned above, it’s well located for all things central in Ōtepoti, including cool shops, cafés and bars and the very good Dunedin Public Art Gallery on the Octagon.
For those sans car, a hot tip – jump on the #8 bus from the stop opposite the Golden Centre on George Street and for a couple of dollars you can ride all the way to St Clair Beach.
Having a really great little café on site is a major plus and EBB’s is run by celebrated local writer and chef Alison Lambert. It’s open 7am to late afternoon from Tuesday to Sunday and offers café classics with a modern twist and a focus on organic and locally sourced, as well as sides and snacks, coffee, tea, smoothies and even a handful of Otago-based wines and beers.
Moving beyond the premises, try Side-On for brunch and baked goods, Best Café for old school fish ‘n’ chips, burgers and Bluff oysters, Woof! Bar for fun and friendly drinks and delicious bites and Moiety for an exceptional degustation-style dining experience.
I mean, tough call, but I guess all the little details in the rooms, from ceramics by local artist Jack Tilson and bespoke wooden cabinetry and carpeting to the underfloor heating in the bathroom and the exceptional booze and snack mini bar. And the sheer uniqueness of the property, which perfectly treads the lines between uber cool, dreamily comfy and truly decadent.
My room was at the end of the row and right beside the housekeepers’ storeroom, so I got all the gossip for most of the morning whether I wanted it or not (I didn’t). The rooms on the hillside are also a major suntrap, which, once the air conditioning is on is certainly nothing to complain about and instead something to enjoy immensely – but it would have been nice to have it pre-cooled a little on my afternoon arrival as I was in an instant sweat from the sauna-esque temperature on check in.
Rooms start at $210. Secure 24-hour onsite parking is $20 per night and a full breakfast including beverage from EBB-Cafe can be added on when booking for $28 per person.
The writer was hosted by EBB-Dunedin.
Staying safe: New Zealand is currently under Covid-19 restrictions. Follow the instructions at covid19.govt.nz.
Three countries – including Turkey – could move from red to amber on the Government’s traffic light system next week, it’s been suggested.
Pakistan and the Maldives are two of the other top three tip-offs to move from red to amber for UK tourists, which will come as welcome news to some.
Predictions vary greatly and aren’t always reliable but they’ve certainly been right before.
The next travel review is due on either Wednesday, September 15 or Thursday, September 16, reports MyLondon.
And Paul Charles, founder of the PC Agency travel consultancy, said: “Turkey very much deserves to be on the amber list as it has some of the best Covid safety policies in place, especially in hotels and other tourist areas and has worked hard to reduce its infection rates.”
The Government reviews the traffic light system roughly every three weeks.
If the next review lands on the expected Wednesday or Thursday next week, then any changes made won’t come into effect until a few days to a week afterwards.
In recent weeks various new travel updates have been issued.
Russia has dropped its 14 day quarantine period for UK travellers – and Canada has reopened to fully vaccinated travellers.
Meanwhile, Lithuania has offered a free night in a move to entice foreign tourists.
For countries on the amber list, a PCR is needed two days after arriving in the country, as well as a Covid test three days before returning.
Fully vaccinated adults can skip the additional day eight PCR.
This means that for those who are double vaxxed, there isn’t much difference between amber and green list countries.
resh hope for holidaymakers could be on the horizon as the next travel update should arrive next week.
Many popular European destinations remain on either the amber list or the red list.
Holiday hotspots France, Italy, and Cyprus all remain amber at the moment.
With the travel update expected next week, what can we expect to be announced?
When is the next UK travel review?
The traffic light system is being reviewed by the government every three weeks.
The next review is expected around Thursday September 16.
How does the traffic light system work?
• Green: Travellers must take a pre-departure test and a PCR test on or before day two of their arrival back into England. Holidaymakers who test negative will not need to quarantine on their return or take any additional tests, halving the cost of tests post holiday.
• Green watchlist: Countries at risk of going amber.
• Amber: Double vaccinated British holidaymakers returning from an amber list country will no longer need to self isolate as of July 19. Arrivals, who are not double-jabbed, must quarantine for ten days. Unvaccinated people must take a pre-departure test and a PCR test on day two and day eight with the option for “test to release” on day five to end self-isolation early. Those who are vaccinated must take a pre-arrival test and test on day two of arriving back into the country.
• Amber plus: UK travellers must quarantine for up to 10 days when they arrive home, regardless of vaccination status. They also need to take a PCR test on or before day two of their arrival and another on day eight. Double-jabbed people can take an additional test on day five and leave quarantine early if the result is negative. They still must take the day eight test. Only France is amber plus at the moment but others including Spain and Greece are rumoured to be under consideration to be added.
• Red: Those returning from red list countries must stay in a managed quarantine hotel for ten days which they should book before their trip. Travellers must complete pre-departure testing and PCR testing on day two and day eight. This could cost around £2,000 per traveller.
What countries are currently on the green list?
Antarctica/British Antarctic Territory
British Indian Ocean Territory
Pitcairn, Henderson, Ducie and Oeno Islands
South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands
St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha
Will Spain, France, Italy, Greece and Portugal move to the Green list?
These major European holiday destinations are expected to remain on the amber list.
What countries are expected to move?
Jamaica could be demoted to the red list after the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) renewed its guidance to advise against all non-essential travel to the island.
When will the traffic-light system end?
The traffic light system could end by October, according to a key spokesperson for the travel industry.
On Wednesday, Paul Charles chief executive of the PC Agency tweeted: “The traffic light system is expected to be scrapped by 1 October – at last. Airlines and some of us in the sector are aware of plans to create a simpler system, where countries are either red or not. This would be the US model in effect, which I’ve been calling for.”
A new system based on the vaccination status of travellers could be under consideration instead.
The Scout 4 is a simple, portable mobility scooter. Most people who use this scooter have health or mobility issues but still want to get out and remain active, according to Torres. “Some can still walk and just need to use a scooter part-time,” he says.
To operate the Scout 4, set the speed knob on the console to the speed range you want and push a small throttle to start moving. This scooter doesn’t go fast—its speed maxes out at 4.25 miles per hour. The electromagnetic brake system senses when you engage the throttle and automatically releases the rear wheels. When you let go of the throttle, the brakes automatically activate and the unit slows to a stop.
The height and angle of the padded seat are adjustable to fit your body. The armrest width and angle can also be adjusted, and the angle of the tiller can be tilted to fit the length of your arms so you can drive without leaning forward.
As a four-wheel scooter with two small anti-tip wheels at the rear, the Scout 4 offers a stable ride. There’s no danger in speeding since its speed tops out at 4.25 miles per hour. But it doesn’t have headlights or rear lights, so it’s not safe to drive outside at night.
The Scout 4 is designed to be a travel scooter, so it’s easy to take apart and reassemble. “It disassembles to four pieces,” says Torres. “I can take it apart in less than a minute. For older people, it might take a few minutes,” he says. And “everything has a handle. So when you disassemble the rear section, that has a handle. The front section has a handle and the battery box has a handle,” adding that the seat is easy to carry.
It’s a versatile mobility scooter for indoor and outdoor use—within limits. The ground clearance is only 2.5 inches, so it’s best driven on smooth, compact terrain, says Torres. “If you drive over loose gravel or sand, you’ll sink,” he says. “You can take it on light grass if it’s not too thick.” If you’re unsure about driving this scooter over a particular surface, avoid it, the owner’s manual advises.
The Customer Service Experience
Several calls to the Drive Medical customer service line were answered immediately by courteous and well-informed representatives. They took time to answer many detailed questions and offered information to help understand the uses and limitations of the scooter. Representatives were well-versed in all kinds of scooters, as they were able to compare the Scout 4 to others in terms of stability, comfort and usability.
Warranties and Discounts
Drive Medical offers a lifetime warranty for the mainframe, seat post, platform and frame welds; a 24-month warranty on the motor, throttle, brakes and other items; and a 12-month warranty on batteries. Battery manufacturers provide a 6-month warranty, so if something goes wrong after six months, the batteries are covered for the next six months by the Drive Medical warranty.
The travel traffic light system was introduced by the Government in May. Since then, changes to the green, amber, and red lists have been announced every three weeks.
The next travel review will be the last one before the school summer holidays.
This makes it an important announcement since if anything changes, families will still have the opportunity to go on holiday before children have to return to school in early September.
There could be changes to the travel lists next week.
Currently on the red list, the Maldives, Dominican Republic, and Oman, could turn amber.
Egypt, Pakistan, and Turkey are “borderline candidates” to be added to the amber list, but it is still unclear if they will be removed from the red list.
Pakistan has been on the red list since April, when it was placed on it with the Philippines, Kenya, and Bangladesh.
This was due to concerns over the rise of the Delta variant in the country.
Some parts of Pakistan have imposed lockdowns, but only three percent of the country has been vaccinated, meaning the virus is able to spread more easily.
However, some countries are in danger of turning from amber to red.
Jamaica is at the greatest risk of being removed from the red list and added to the amber list.
This is because the Caribbean nation has been battling a third wave of infections, with the Delta variant being ever-present and highly contagious.
The island’s prime minister, Andrew Holness, told a virtual news conference on Thursday, August 19: “Our case numbers are unacceptably high and rising, and the rate of hospitalization is beyond – and I want to stress this – beyond the capacity of our health system, to cope.”
South American countries are also struggling with more infectious Covid-19 variants.
All nations on the continent are on Britain’s red list.
As for the green list, Britons could expect some changes.
Poland, Canada, Bosnia and Herzogovina, Czech Republic, and Lithuania could all turn from amber to green if the number of cases in the countries remain low.
Poland has three cases per 100,000 people and 46.8 percent of its population is fully vaccinated.
Meanwhile, Canada has 37 cases per 100,000 people and 68.9 percent of citizens are double jabbed.
Speaking to BBC Radio Four after the most recent review on August 4, travel expert Paul Charles said: “When you take the criteria of the seven countries added to the [green] list today, then actually they equally apply to the countries that haven’t been added – like Poland, for example, or the Czech Republic or even Canada.
“So, there are many countries in the world which should be on the green list, but aren’t.”
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Travel experts have said they are confident the Government will not add Spain to the red list as the country’s infection rate is dropping and doing so could risk the collapse of the hotel quarantine system.
Spain is currently in the amber list but there had been concerns it could be moved up to red at the next travel review, after data showed a high proportion of travellers returning from the country had tested positive for Covid.
However, latest figures published on Thursday showed Spain’s 14-day average case rate is at 457 infections per 100,000 people, down from 604 the previous week, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevent and Control.
The next travel is due on 25 August, with ministers expected to consider Thursday’s figures in the decision-making process. Any new restrictions, if imposed, are likely to come in from 29 August.
Paul Charles, chief executive of travel consultancy the PC Agency, said there was “no chance” of Spain being moved into the red list.
“Its infection rate is dropping fast, meaning any variants are very much under control,” he said.
“Spain’s rates are half those of France and its vaccine rate is 65 per cent fully-jabbed. British tourists there can rest easy.”
Scott Hadden, director of Mark Bratt Travel, also told i he thought it was unlikely that Spain would move into the red list.
“There are far too many people in Spain to be put into hotel quarantine and I think the Government would not want to risk the collapse of that system,” he said.
If such a move did happen, Mr Hadden said he believed it would “cause short-term chaos due to vast numbers who would want to go home”.
“More interesting is whether the Government will use the data and see if there are any Covid hotspots or put a blanket ban on all of Spain and its islands,” he added.
Mr Hadden advised customers travelling to consider whether they can isolate should the rules change and ensure “to purchase a good travel insurance to protect them and consider their choice and style of holiday.”
Brett Parsons, a business travel consultant at Travel Counsellors, said he liked to think ministers would not put Spain on the red list, adding there would be “a lot of controlled chaos” if they did.
“Within the travel sector we all know how to deal with type of thing now pretty quickly,” he said.
“It would be interesting to know if its younger unvaccinated people coming back to the UK with the infections as that then suggests keep it Amber but unvaccinated need to quarantine.”
Mr Parsons said clients tended to be “more accepting” if they were up front about how thing might change.
“Spain has been mentioned a lot in the press about the numbers rising and potentially going red,” he said.
“I think this has prompted many to not consider Spain at present and head to alternatives like the Greek Islands, Malta, Croatia and further afield like the Caribbean so, for the UK travel industry, travellers just pivot and go elsewhere.
“As for Spain, it’s not great as it will impact them financially with tourism being a big part of their GDP. Hopefully it will always be in the short-term while more people are able to be vaccinated and the infection numbers can start to dwindle.”
Restrictions for red-list countries:
Before travelling to England:
Take a Covid-19 test before entering the UK – children aged 10 and under do not need to take this test
Book a quarantine hotel package, including two Covid-19 tests
Complete a passenger locator form
Upon arrival in England:
Anybody returning from a red list country must quarantine at a government-selected hotel for 10 days at a cost of £2,250 per adult, regardless of their vaccine status