Day: November 6, 2020

Travel to UK from Denmark to be banned amid worries over Covid in mink

All travel to the UK from Denmark is being banned amid mounting concern over an outbreak in the country of a mutation of coronavirus linked to mink, the Guardian understands.



a ferret in a cage: Photograph: Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen/Reuters


© Provided by The Guardian
Photograph: Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen/Reuters

Downing Street had already taken action to remove Denmark from the travel corridor this weekend, forcing arrivals to quarantine for two weeks from Sunday at 4am.

But following a Covid committee meeting on Friday afternoon, the UK government is halting all inbound travel from Denmark. It is unclear precisely when the ban will come into effect although the government is understood to be planning to formally announce it, meaning it is likely to happen imminently.

The chief medical officer, Chris Whitty, is understood to be particularly concerned by developments in Denmark. It follows the discovery of a new strain of the disease in mink bred for fur in Denmark’s northern regions which has spread to humans. It is feared the new strain could prove to be more resistant against a vaccine.



a ferret in a cage: Minks are seen at Hans Henrik Jeppesen’s farm near Soroe, Denmark, after the Danish government’s decision to cull his entire herd.


© Photograph: Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen/Reuters
Minks are seen at Hans Henrik Jeppesen’s farm near Soroe, Denmark, after the Danish government’s decision to cull his entire herd.

Anyone who has been in Denmark over the past fortnight will be asked to isolate, including their household. Meanwhile, NHS Test and Trace will prioritise contacting all those who have recently returned from Denmark.

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Danish government experts have insisted they are acting with an “abundance of caution” in imposing restrictions in the northern Jutland region in response to the outbreak and ordering the cull of 17 million mink on its commercial farms.

Several variants of Covid-19 that have infected mink have been detected in more than 200 human cases in Denmark, but it has been the one cluster of 12 cases that has caused particular concern.

The country’s prime minister, Mette Frederiksen, had said the measures were being put in place since the mutation of the virus could potentially have an impact on the efficacy of vaccines in development, but the experts stressed on Friday there was as yet no hard evidence to suggest it would.

Related: Denmark tightens lockdown in north over mink Covid outbreak

The World Health Organization also offered a circumspect assessment of the risk from the new mink variant. Soumya Swaminathan, the WHO’s chief scientist, said on Friday it was too early to jump to conclusions about the implications of mutations in the virus found in mink.

“We need to wait and see what the implications are but I don’t think we should come to any conclusions about whether this particular mutation is going to impact vaccine efficacy,” she said. “We don’t have any evidence at the moment that it would.”

Frederiksen’s comments that the strain “could pose a risk that future vaccines won’t work”, however, attracted international attention as she called for immediate action, adding that the “eyes of the world are on us”.

Dr Tyra Grove Krause of the Danish State Serum Institute told reporters on Friday that

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Boston hotel proposed for James Hook & Co. lobster site

Developers have filed a proposal to build a 300-foot tower hotel on what’s now the James Hook & Co. lobster spot downtown.



a long bridge over a river in a city: BOSTON, MA: November 6, 2020: The James Hook Lobster lot in downtown in Boston, Massachusetts. (Staff photo by Nicolaus Czarnecki/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)


© Provided by Boston Herald
BOSTON, MA: November 6, 2020: The James Hook Lobster lot in downtown in Boston, Massachusetts. (Staff photo by Nicolaus Czarnecki/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

SKW Partners filed a letter of intent with the Boston Planning and Development Agency on Friday to construct a 22-story hotel. saying it is the result of six years of planning.

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The “dramatic, new-construction, high-rise hotel,” as the letter of intent put it, would rise 305 feet on 440 Atlantic Ave. downtown. It would have “up to” 400 rooms. Law firm Dain Torpey, which filed the proposal for the developers, didn’t immediately respond to further requests for comment.

Right now, the 20,000-square-foot parcel of land in question is home to James Hook & Co., a seafood wholesaler and retailer. But fans of the lobster spot shouldn’t be crabby — James Hook Jr., whose family owns the restaurant, said it would be back on the first floor of the hotel when it opens, probably with more seating and harbor views.

“We’re still going to be here,” he said Friday.

The Hooks own the land, which the city assesses at $2.4 million. The lobster spot, which sells seafood on site and wholesale to other restaurants, has been run by three generations of Hooks since 1925. A 2008 fire destroyed what was the Hook warehouse there, but they’ve been selling seafood out of a modular structure on the site since.

The filing says the waterfront hotel would have a ballroom and a rooftop restaurant and terrace.

The hotel would no have any parking on site, the filing says; rather, a valet service would use “the abundant” public parking nearby, though that’s not clear where.

The filers tout that the redevelopment of the site between the Seaport Avenue bridge and the now-defunct Northern Avenue bridge would lengthen the Harborwalk. Further, the developers says, the building would “bring welcome activation and lighting to what is today an empty recess in the nighttime urban environment. No renderings were immediately available.

The environmental group Conservation Law Foundation, which has used lawsuits to hold up or get more concessions from many waterfront projects in Boston in recent years, declined to comment.

The developers asset that this would be a by-right project under the area’s current master plan, which allows that height for buildings. The plan, published by the BPDA in 2017, says a “slender” tower on the site would allow for substantial open space.

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District grants disputed $46 million tax abatement to Adams Morgan hotel

The audit also concluded the developer did not meet a mandate to grant all its apprenticeships to District residents.

The Bowser administration approved the abatement “after a confidential mediation with the Office of the Attorney General, review of additional documentation submitted to the OAG and updated legal guidance,” a spokeswoman for the Department of Employment Services said in a statement Friday.

The granting of the tax subsidy was first announced by the Line, which has long contended that it met all requirements. Jake Lamstein, the managing partner of the Sydell Group, which developed the Line, said in a statement that the hotel had been “vindicated.”

“In a time of such uncertainty it is nice to see that facts and law still prevail over the self interest of a very few,” he said.

But council member Elissa Silverman (I-At Large), chair of the council’s Labor and Workforce Committee, said she wants to review the new information the hotel presented to the District.

“I’m surprised and angry the council was not alerted to this redetermination,” said Silverman, who had been unaware that the District had granted the subsidy. “We want to understand what changed to meet these milestones.”

The spokeswoman for the employment services agency did not respond to a request for additional detail on why it issued the subsidy.

Michael Robbins, a Line spokesman, said the hotel gave “the same” documentation it had previously submitted to the District. He said the employment services agency “failed to properly review” that documentation when it was turned over in 2019.

Unique Morris-Hughes, the agency’s director, wrote in an October letter to the District’s chief financial officer, that her office had “conducted a compliance review” and concluded that the Line had met its hiring requirement.

Morris-Hughes also wrote that her agency, guided by a “legal opinion” from the attorney general’s office, had concluded that the hotel had met the requirement of reserving all apprenticeships for D.C. residents “because no District resident who requested an apprenticeship was turned away.”

A spokesperson for the attorney general’s office declined to comment, citing attorney-client privilege.

Of the project’s 31 apprenticeships, 14 went to District residents, according to the March audit. That total fell far short of what community leaders were expecting, said Bryan Weaver, a former advisory neighborhood commissioner who helped conceive the tax abatement legislation.

“They didn’t try to get people in the neighborhood, which was the whole idea behind it,” he said. “Everything about this was, how are we going to get local people jobs?”

Weaver was the first to question whether the developer had met the requirements of the tax abatement legislation, which the council passed a decade ago.

In 2019, the employment services agency recommended that the Sydell Group pay a $600,000 fine instead of losing the abatement. But Attorney General Karl A. Racine (D) advised at the time that the legislation required strict adherence to the requirements.

At one point, the hotel created a website that included a list of what it said were

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UPDATE: Woodstock Recreation Center temporarily closed after three staff members test positive for COVID-19

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The Woodstock Recreation Center has temporarily closed its doors, starting Friday and continuing through Nov. 13, after three staff members tested positive for COVID-19, the city of Woodstock said in a news release.

“To err on the side of caution, we are implementing a facility closure to ensure the health and safety of all of our members, visitors, residents and staff,” the city said in a news release. “This will also allow time for a thorough cleaning and sanitizing of the building to prepare for reopening.”

The Woodstock Recreation Center is scheduled to reopen Nov. 14.

An attempt to reach the Woodstock city manager Friday was unsuccessful.

Two area restaurants – Miller’s Diner in McHenry and Andy’s Restaurant in Crystal Lake – have also announced temporary closures in recent days after employees tested positive for COVID-19.

Both restaurants had continued to offer indoor dining despite increased restrictions ordered by Gov. JB Pritzker. The intensified restrictions that have hit restaurants and bars have not effected fitness centers like the Woodstock Recreation Center to the same degree.

Also on Friday, the Sage YMCA in Crystal Lake said in an email to patrons that a staff member was exposed to a person who tested positive for COVID-19. 

The Crystal Lake fitness center will not be closing, but “out of an abundance of caution,” the employee was immediately sent home and told to get a COVID-19 test and self-isolate for 14 days per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations, interim Executive Director Lesley Franklin said in the email.

The employee has been asked not to come back to work until test results confirm they have not contracted the virus, Franklin said in the email. An initial assessment indicates that this staff member worked throughout the Y this week and part of last week and may have interacted with a number of people. 

“We have already reached out to these people and have advised them to take precautions, including getting a test,” Franklin said in the email. However, she said, the risk to other patrons is thought to be low. 

“We believe that the risk of exposure is lessened by the numerous safety precautions that we always undertake at the Y,” Franklin said in the email. “However, we must acknowledge that as with many things, an element of risk is always present.” 

Health clubs, along with barbershops, salons and spas, were allowed to reopen with capacity limits in late June under Phase 4 of the state’s Restore Illinois Plan. Under the previous phase, health and fitness clubs were limited to outdoor classes and one-on-one personal training.

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Man in custody after bizarre hotel incident



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Andrew Cuomo to increase National Guard enforcement of coronavirus travel restrictions

Gov. Andrew Cuomo will enforce new testing requirements for entering New York by increasing the amount of National Guardsmen at airports amid a spike in COVID-19 cases.



Andrew Cuomo wearing a suit and tie


© Provided by Washington Examiner


Cuomo announced the move at his Friday press conference.

The entry rules that Cuomo announced last week require people traveling to New York to provide a negative coronavirus test before entering and then take another one four days after they arrive. New Yorkers who return from traveling within 24 hours of leaving New York only have to take a test after reentering, not before. Travelers who fail to comply must quarantine for two weeks.

“I want people to know we’re serious,” Cuomo said about increasing the National Guard’s presence. He said that he had also spoken with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio about increasing the amount of local law enforcement to assist with enforcing the testing requirements.

New York experienced almost 3,000 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, the highest total in months.

Additionally, Philadelphia is considering new restrictions as cases rise in the city.

“Everything is on the table now,” Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley said in an interview with the local CBS affiliate. He did not provide specifics on which restrictions were being considered.

On Friday, health officials in Philadelphia reported 742 news cases of COVID-19. The positivity rate is now at 14%.

Tags: News, Healthcare, Coronavirus, New York, New York City, Andrew Cuomo, Bill de Blasio, National Guard, National Security, Foreign Policy

Original Author: David Hogberg

Original Location: Andrew Cuomo to increase National Guard enforcement of coronavirus travel restrictions

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After 40 years, Wheels Family Fun Park could become a City-owned recreation center :: WRAL.com

Wheels Family Fun Park in Durham is being sold after 40 years.

Wheels Fun Park is a Durham institution that has been providing family fun for decades, offering go-karts, mini golf, a skating rink and more.

But now the Durham icon is for sale.

After 40 years, the Wheels owner said it’s time for her to retire.

However, that doesn’t mean the fun park will stop bringing entertainment to the Durham community. In fact, Wheels might become a recreation center for underserved members of the surrounding community.

Even better, the new source of activities and fun for the community’s kids could help combat crime in East Durham, which is considered a high crime area.

Throwback: The original Wheels on Latta Road in the 1980s. (Courtesy of Wheels Family Fun Park)

The owner of Wheels approached the City of Durham about purchasing the facility and 8 acres of surrounding land.

During work session earlier this week, Durham City Council added the possibility of purchasing Wheels Fun Park to their agenda.

“The city has been interested in the Wheels site for recreation,” said Tom Dawson, Asst. Director of Durham Parks & Recreation.

“This site could fit some of Durham’s fondest wishes,” he said, “It’s a great opportunity to serve the people of East Durham.

Dawson said a final decision will be made by city council on November 16.

If chosen, the site will be used partially for an aquatics facility, which was recommended for East Durham in the Aquatics Masterplan.

Once the city obtains the site, they plan to hire a consultant to help with the design and lead a community engagement process to help plan how to better fit the facility into the Park system.

As part of this ‘community plan,’ they will be asking for the public’s ideas and suggestions.

“That will help answer our questions about what to keep, improve or change,” said Dawson.

This would also include a discussion about whether or not to keep the roller rink. Dawson said he suspects there will be a lot of interest in keeping it. Plus, Durham Parks & Rec already uses it for their My Durham Teens program and School Age Care programs.

“Don’t give away those skates yet,” said Dawson.

Many residents have years of fond memories attached to Wheels. One East Durham resident shared their own excitement and ideas for the project, saying, “I am looking forward to the change and growth in the area. I want them to keep the skating rink and race cars, and also more food variety.”

“I think everybody knows Wheels and has a lot of emotional connections. I think it’s a very good passing of the torch from private recreation folks to the public recreation folks,” said Dawson.

The owner of Wheels said it’s been a pleasure to serve so many generations of Durham’s community.

“We’re going to miss everybody!” she said.

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After 40 years, Wheels Family Fun Park closing, could become a recreation center for East Durham :: WRAL.com

Wheels Family Fun Park in Durham is being sold after 40 years.

Wheels Fun Park is a Durham institution that has been providing family fun for decades, offering go-karts, mini golf, a skating rink and more.

But now the Durham icon is for sale.

After 40 years, the Wheels owner said it’s time for her to retire.

However, that doesn’t mean the fun park will stop bringing entertainment to the Durham community. In fact, Wheels might become a recreation center for underserved members of the surrounding community.

Even better, the new source of activities and fun for the community’s kids could help combat crime in East Durham, which is considered a high crime area.

Throwback: The original Wheels on Latta Road in the 1980s. (Courtesy of Wheels Family Fun Park)

The owner of Wheels approached the City of Durham about purchasing the facility and 8 acres of surrounding land.

During work session earlier this week, Durham City Council added the possibility of purchasing Wheels Fun Park to their agenda.

“The city has been interested in the Wheels site for recreation,” said Tom Dawson, Asst. Director of Durham Parks & Recreation.

“This site could fit some of Durham’s fondest wishes,” he said, “It’s a great opportunity to serve the people of East Durham.

Dawson said a final decision will be made by city council on November 16.

If chosen, the site will be used partially for an aquatics facility, which was recommended for East Durham in the Aquatics Masterplan.

Once the city obtains the site, they plan to hire a consultant to help with the design and lead a community engagement process to help plan how to better fit the facility into the Park system.

As part of this ‘community plan,’ they will be asking for the public’s ideas and suggestions.

“That will help answer our questions about what to keep, improve or change,” said Dawson.

This would also include a discussion about whether or not to keep the roller rink. Dawson said he suspects there will be a lot of interest in keeping it. Plus, Durham Parks & Rec already uses it for their My Durham Teens program and School Age Care programs.

“Don’t give away those skates yet,” said Dawson.

Many residents have years of fond memories attached to Wheels. One East Durham resident shared their own excitement and ideas for the project, saying, “I am looking forward to the change and growth in the area. I want them to keep the skating rink and race cars, and also more food variety.”

“I think everybody knows Wheels and has a lot of emotional connections. I think it’s a very good passing of the torch from private recreation folks to the public recreation folks,” said Dawson.

The owner of Wheels said it’s been a pleasure to serve so many generations of Durham’s community.

“We’re going to miss everybody!” she said.

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Virgin Galactic’s Richard Branson still plans to be the first ‘space billionaire’ to actually travel to space

Richard Branson, the thrill-seeking British billionaire, founded Virgin Galactic in 2004 on the promise that a privately developed spacecraft would make it possible for hundreds of people to become astronauts, no NASA training required. And if a 2,500-mile-per-hour ride to the edge of space sounded off-putting, Branson also pledged to take the journey himself before letting paying customers on board.



Richard Branson standing in front of a television screen: Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group Ltd., speaks during an interview following Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc.'s initial public offering (IPO) on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., on Monday, Oct. 28, 2019. Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc. became the first space-tourism business to go public as it began trading Monday on the New York Stock Exchange with a market value of about $1 billion. Photographer: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg via Getty Images


© Michael Nagle/Bloomberg/Getty Images
Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group Ltd., speaks during an interview following Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc.’s initial public offering (IPO) on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., on Monday, Oct. 28, 2019. Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc. became the first space-tourism business to go public as it began trading Monday on the New York Stock Exchange with a market value of about $1 billion. Photographer: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Branson is the only one among the group of the so-called space barons, the group of space-loving billionaires that includes Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, who has publicly pledged to take a ride in the near future aboard a spacecraft he has bankrolled.

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Bezos’ company, Blue Origin, is working on a competing suborbital space tourism rocket. Musk’s SpaceX, however, is focused on transporting astronauts and perhaps one day tourists on days-long missions to Earth’s orbit.

Branson made dozens of media appearances over the past decade touting various deadlines for his extraterrestrial journey that didn’t hold true, in part because building a spacecraft almost always takes longer than expected and because SpaceShipTwo development was hampered by two tragic accidents and — more recently — a pandemic. Virtually every year since 2004 the company has claimed it would be flying customers in a year or so.

On Thursday, however, Virgin Galactic set yet another deadline for Branson’s flight: Sometime between January and March of 2021.

Notably, that declaration didn’t come from Branson. This time it came from Michael Colglazier, the recently installed CEO of Virgin Galactic whose goal is to guide the company as it grows from an engineering project in the California desert into a multibillion-dollar space tourism business. Colglazier was speaking not to reporters, but to Virgin Galactic investors who bought into Branson’s vision after the company made its stock market debut in late 2019. (The company’s valuation has grown to $4.5 billion, though it’s still burning through more than $20 million per month as it trudges through the final stages of SpaceShipTwo’s testing and certification process.)

Branson has less of a financial stake in Virgin Galactic’s success than he did 16 years ago, as well. He sold off about a quarter of his shares amid controversy and Covid-19-related financial issues at his airline, Virgin Atlantic.

But Colglazier’s message on Thursday made clear that Branson, who turned 70 this year, is still planning to be the poster child for Virgin Galactic’s assertion that almost anyone can safely make the trek.

Is it dangerous?

Proponents of commercialized human spaceflight have long argued that danger — and even tragedy —

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Covid-19: Denmark off travel corridor list and city-wide testing trial begins

Here are five things you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic this Friday morning. We’ll have another update for you at 18:00 BST.

1. Denmark removed from UK’s travel corridor list

Anyone arriving in the UK from Denmark
must self-isolate for 14 days
with immediate effect, after the government made an emergency ruling overnight. It came after it emerged a mutated form of coronavirus present in the country’s mink farms could be passed to humans. Germany and Sweden have also been taken off the UK’s travel corridor list, although in their cases the requirement to self-isolate kicks in at 04:00 GMT on Saturday.

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2. City-wide testing pilot begins

The UK’s
first city-wide Covid testing trial is getting under way in Liverpool
, with everyone living or working there being offered repeat tests, whether or not they have symptoms. The city’s mayor says it has “absolutely nothing to lose” by hosting the two-week pilot. Here’s
how it will work
. Meanwhile, our health correspondent James Gallagher examines
whether mass testing could help avoid the need for future lockdowns
.

3. Mum and sons die after catching Covid-19

The potentially devastating effects of coronavirus have been highlighted by the case of 81-year-old David Lewis, who
lost his wife, Gladys, 74, and sons Dean, 44, and Darren, 42,
in the space of just five days, after they tested positive for Covid-19. Dean’s widow, Claire Lewis, says the family, from Pentre, Rhondda Cynon Taf, has been left heartbroken and is struggling to come to terms with what has happened.

Video caption

Covid: Pentre family’s mother and two sons die within five days

4. Students tear down ‘prison-like’ halls fencing

University of Manchester
students have torn down fencing put up around their halls of residence
on the first day of England’s new lockdown, after saying it left them feeling like they were in prison. The university has apologised, insisting it was not designed to stop students exiting the site but to address safety concerns, “particularly about access by people who are not residents”.

5. Strictly ‘difficult’ to film without live audience

If you’re relying on comfort TV such as Strictly Come Dancing to keep you sane while ordinary life is curtailed, you can rest assured
the BBC One contest will go ahead
as planned. However, judge Craig Revel Horwood and contestant Clara Amfo say lockdown is making things a bit more difficult as there will no longer be a live studio audience to cheer on the dancers.

Get a longer daily news briefing from the BBC in your inbox, each weekday morning, by signing up here.

And don’t forget…

With the UK having updated its travel corridor list, you can
check the latest quarantine rules
.

You can find more information, advice and guides on our
coronavirus page
.

What questions do you have about coronavirus?


In some cases, your question will be published, displaying your name, age and location as you provide it, unless you state otherwise. Your contact

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