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Americans will remain barred from European travel

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Travelers from a list of 15 nations will be allowed entry to the European Union starting Wednesday, but the United States is not on the list.

Thirty countries in Europe (26 of which are members of the EU) closed their external borders in March to mitigate the spread of Covid-19. As most of them reopen their economies, they are also starting to welcome external visitors — though at a much slower rate than before the pandemic.

European Union governments decided Tuesday to open their external borders to Algeria, Tunisia, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand and Uruguay. Chinese travelers will also be allowed in the EU, but only if China announces that it will also accept European visitors.

The decision was taken based on the health situation of the countries of origin and will be reviewed every two weeks.

For each country on the list, the EU said the following criteria needed to be met: the number of new Covid-19 cases over the last 14 days and per 100 000 inhabitants needed to be close to or below the EU average; there should be a stable or decreasing trend of new cases over this period in comparison to the previous 14 day; and the overall response to Covid-19 needed to be considered.

The recommendation was given to all EU member states and the Schengen-associated countries (Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway and Switzerland).

However, it is non-binding, meaning that EU member states can reopen their borders to whichever countries they want. The European Commission, the executive arm of the EU, has insisted that external borders should be reopened in a coordinated way to avoid any travel chaos, but ultimately it is a national decision. 

In this context, European governments have been advised to not lift the travel restrictions for non-listed countries until it has been decided in a coordinated manner.

The United States currently has the highest number of coronavirus infections — nearly 2.6 million — in the world, according to Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in an interview Monday that the virus is moving too rapidly across the United States, in what she described as a “very discouraging” situation. 

In recent days, the U.S. has set records for daily new infections as cases surge mostly across the South and West of the country.

In March, President Donald Trump suspended travel from Europe into the United States. At the time, the EU criticized the decision for being taken “unilaterally and without consultation.”

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Travel

Huge rise in travel-related coronavirus cases in Ireland

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THERE HAS been a significant rise in the number of travel-related coronavirus cases in the Republic of Ireland.

After a number of days with low cases and no new deaths, the Republic of Ireland yesterday recorded six new deaths and 23 new cases– the highest figures in several weeks.

At a time where the debate on closing borders is raging and Irish people have been urged not to go on holidays abroad, rather remain in Ireland for the summer, the rise in travel-related cases is particularly worrying.

Dr Ronan Glynn, Acting Chief Medical Officer for the Department of Health, yesterday told a press briefing that “15 of today’s confirmed cases are directly or indirectly related to travel”.

“NPHET today reiterates that all non-essential travel overseas should be avoided.”

Earlier this month, the Government decided to delay the publishing of a ‘Green List’ of countries which will be open for non-essential travel– namely, for holidays.

The plans were pushed back until 20 July after a concerning rise in cases both at home and abroad, and after images spread of revellers not adhering to social distancing in the streets after pubs opened in Ireland.

With pubs reopening, complacency amongst young people is a particular concern to the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET).

Acting CMO Dr Ronan Glynn told the press briefing yesterday that out of the 23 new cases, “77% of cases… are under 25 years of age.

“Covid-19 is extremely infectious and none of us are immune. It is important that we all continue to follow public health advice and risk assess our actions.”

Professor Philip Nolan, chair of the NPHET Irish Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group, said there is “an immediate need for us all to take care and caution in our decisions and actions”.

Speaking yesterday, he revealed that the R number is now at or above 1, meaning each infected person is infecting at least one other person with the virus, allowing it to spread quickly through the community.

 

 

 

 

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How Covid-19 will change air travel as we know it

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In the heart of Australian outback lies Alice Springs. The town – colloquially known as Alice – is the site of indigenous human presence dating back nearly 30,000 years. More recently, however, a new (and admittedly very different) type of settler has descended upon Alice. Since April, four Airbus A380s have made their way to the small town. The 500-plus-tonne behemoths belong to Singapore Airlines which, like many other carriers, has grounded almost its entire fleet.

The reason is Covid-19. The spread of the novel coronavirus has caused passenger demand to collapse, forcing airlines to park, rather than fly, their planes. Alice offers conditions ideal to do just that. The local airport has a runway long enough to land commercial airplanes and the climate is dry, which means aircraft parts corrode far slower than in the sweltering heat and humidity of South East Asia.

Slumps in travel demand aren’t new. Following the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001, passenger enthusiasm towards flying also waned amid security fears. This forced airlines – then, like now – to cancel flights and puts planes into storage. The industry did recover. Passenger numbers for 2002 were 1.63 billion, only slightly lower than the 1.66 billion who flew in 2001. But passenger numbers don’t tell the whole story.

The 9/11 attacks also forced airlines to trim costs through furloughs, layoffs, and most notably, consolidation. Prior to the attacks, the US airline market – the world’s most lucrative – was largely controlled by eight carriers. Today, its four. Following the attacks, airlines also became more cautious and shelved plans for aggressive expansion. This led to fewer flights overall and for passengers, less space as planes got fuller.

Whether Covid-19 has a similar impact on the industry and how passengers fare in the aftermath will depend on a few things.

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The collapse in air travel demand has been driven largely by public policy. As Covid-19 spread, governments worldwide chose – in the interests of preserving public health – to ban entry to non-residents. Some countries like India, Malaysia and South Africa stopped issuing visitor visas. Others like the Australia, New Zealand and the United States suspended visa-free travel reciprocity. The move not only ended the plans of millions of travellers but also forced airlines to stop serving once-lucrative markets. Flying empty planes around makes little fiscal sense. Consequently, getting planes back in the air will require an easing of government entry restrictions.

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BBC – Travel – Chinguetti: Mauritania’s ancient Saharan city

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Rising like a mirage on the edge of Mauritania’s vast Erg Warane sand dunes, the ancient city of Chinguetti has welcomed travellers seeking shelter from the blistering Saharan heat for more than 1,200 years. Founded in the 8th Century as a caravan stop for pilgrims en route to Mecca, this red-stone desert oasis eventually blossomed into one of the biggest centres of science, religion and mathematics in West Africa.

As pilgrims and scholars came and went, many left religious texts, scientific studies and historical manuscripts. In fact, so many of these historical documents accumulated over the years that during Chinguetti’s peak between the 13th and 17th Centuries, this thriving city boasted 30 libraries.

Today, five of these original libraries remain and a team of loyal custodians humbly guards more than 1,000 priceless medieval Quranic manuscripts from the sand, wind and heat. But as the Sahara continues to expand southward at an alarmingly fast rate and encroach on Chinguetti’s flat-roofed buildings, and with climate change recently causing seasonal flash flooding to rip through the town, the future of these Islamic treasures remains in jeopardy.

This video is part of BBC Reel’s Incredible Libraries playlist.

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