Day: November 11, 2020

South African president says travel to all countries will be allowed

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – South Africa will open up travel to all countries in an effort to boost the tourism and hospitality sectors, President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Wednesday, despite having the highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases on the continent.

Africa’s most advanced economy, which has recorded more than 740,000 COVID-19 cases and over 20,000 deaths, has seen infections rise since it eased lockdown restrictions in September to their lowest levels.

Ramaphosa, in a televised national address, said normal trading hours of alcohol would be restored too, after sales were restricted on weekends in an effort to reduce pressure on hospitals due to alcohol-related accidents.

“We are also opening up international travel to all countries subject to the necessary health protocols and the presentation of a negative COVID-19 certificate,” he said.

“By using rapid tests and strict monitoring we intend to limit the spread of the infection through importation,” he added. “We expect that these measures will greatly assist businesses in the tourism and hospitality sectors.”

The president did not give further details, or a specific date for the reopening. A presidency spokesperson could not immediately be reached for comment.

South Africa opened its borders to some international travellers at the beginning of October after a six-month ban, but restricted entry from high-risk countries, with the latest list including the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Russia, Brazil and India.

The country depends heavily on tourism, which prior to the pandemic contributed nearly 9% of its gross domestic product and employed over 4% of the workforce.

The economy was already in recession before the pandemic struck, and one of the world’s strictest lockdowns has exacerbated its woes with millions of its citizens losing their jobs or being pushed deeper into poverty.

Ramaphosa, however, warned of a potential resurgence in infections, saying the number of new cases in the Eastern Cape province was 50% higher than the week before, with higher infection rates also seen in the Northern Cape and Western Cape regions.

“We have also seen in other countries how a resurgence can dash hopes for a swift economic recovery,” he said.

(Reporting by Tanisha Heiberg and Wendell Roelf; Editing by Chris Reese and Pravin Char)

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Asia Today: Hong Kong, Singapore OK quarantine-free travel

HONG KONG — Hong Kong and Singapore will start an air travel bubble at the end of November, allowing travelers from each city to visit the other without entering quarantine in a first step to stimulate tourism amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Starting Nov. 22, visitors from either city must have a negative virus test result before they leave, when they arrive and before they return. Flights designated to carry passengers in the bubble will carry a maximum of 200 travelers each. It will start with one flight a day to each city and increase to two designated flights Dec. 7.

The bubble will be suspended for two weeks if either Hong Kong or Singapore reports a seven-day moving average of more than five untraceable coronavirus infections, according to the Hong Kong government.

“Hong Kong and Singapore are similar in terms of epidemic control. Both are regional aviation hubs and international cities, enjoying strong trade, investment, finance, tourism and people-to-people ties,” said Hong Kong’s secretary for commerce and economic development Edward Yau. “The revival of cross-border air travel between the two places is of utmost importance.”

He said that he hopes the aviation, tourism, hotel and retail businesses will benefit from the bubble, and that it would gradually help Hong Kong’s economy to recover.

Separately, government officials also announced that Hong Kong residents returning to the city from Guangdong province or Macau will be exempted from quarantine from Nov. 23, as long as they register in advance and test negative for the coronavirus.

However, the exemption from quarantine is only one-way, and Hong Kong residents travelling to the mainland must still serve 14 days of quarantine on arrival.

A temporary daily quota of visitors is in place. This is to ensure it can be handled smoothly and without overcrowding, according to Tommy Yuen, director of special duties at the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau.

In other developments in the Asia-Pacific region:

— Vanuatu has recorded its first case of the coronavirus after a citizen who had been repatriated from the United States tested positive while in quarantine. The Pacific nation had been among the last few countries to have avoided the virus altogether. Health authorities say the 23-year-old man was asymptomatic when he returned on Nov. 4 and his infection was confirmed Tuesday after routine day 5 testing. Authorities say they plan to keep everyone from the same flight in quarantine and to trace the man’s close contacts but don’t need to impose any broader measures in the nation of 300,000 people.

— India’s capital has recorded a new peak of 7,830 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours as festivals and weddings attended by large crowds fuel a resurgence. Authorities targeted testing in shopping areas, workplaces and religious places with New Delhi’s tally continuing to be more than 7,000 daily this week after dropping to nearly 1,000 in September. India’s infections overall have held steady recently with 44,281 new cases reported Wednesday. The Health Ministry also reported 512 deaths,

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Singapore and Hong Kong say a travel bubble will begin this month.

Singapore and Hong Kong said Wednesday that a travel bubble between the two Asian financial centers will begin this month, allowing travelers to bypass quarantine.

The arrangement, set to begin on Nov. 22, would allow one designated “bubble” flight into each city every day, each carrying a maximum of 200 passengers. Travelers must test negative for the virus and fly only on the designated flights.

Singapore’s transport minister, Ong Ye Kung, said in a video Wednesday that the bubble is “as close as it gets” to travel before the coronavirus pandemic. “This is only possible because both Singapore and Hong Kong have successfully controlled the spread of Covid-19,” he said.

Travelers from Singapore would be the first allowed to enter Hong Kong since the semiautonomous Chinese territory barred all nonresidents from outside China in March. Singapore requires most travelers to serve a mandatory quarantine period upon arrival.

Edward Yau, Hong Kong’s secretary of commerce, said in a statement Wednesday that he hoped the travel arrangement would bring relief to Hong Kong’s economy. “We hope that aviation, tourism, hotel, retail and catering businesses can benefit from it,” he said.

Cathay Pacific, Hong Kong’s flagship carrier, has eliminated 8,500 jobs, saying it had to “fundamentally restructure” as the coronavirus pandemic pummeled the aviation industry.

Hong Kong Express, a budget carrier, began offering this month a “flight to nowhere,” an hourlong tour of the city’s airspace. In Singapore, travel-starved customers have paid hundreds of dollars to eat first-class and business-class meals on grounded Singapore Airlines planes.

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Yeti Recalls 250,000 Travel Mugs Over Faulty Lids

Yeti  (YETI) – Get Report said on Tuesday that it was recalling 250,000 travel mugs due to faulty lids that could cause injuries, the company and a media report say.

The Austin company urged its customers in a statement to “stop using the product immediately.”

The Rambler 20-ounce travel mug’s magnetic slider on the lid can eject and spill hot contents, causing burn hazards, the company said in its voluntary product recall on its website.

The producer of outdoor products, including coolers, drinkware, bags and more, is offering a full refund on the product once customers return just the lid.

In a filing from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission last week, Yeti said it received two reports of the slider ejecting. 

No injuries were reported.

The travel mugs were available for purchase on Yeti’s website from Oct. 1 through Oct. 9 with 15,000 mugs being ultimately sold, the company told CNN.

Last week, Yeti shares jumped as analysts lauded the third-quarter earnings report from the company.

The shares recently traded at $54.97, down 1.2%. They climbed 60% year to date through the close of Tuesday trading.

Profit registered $51.4 million, or 58 cents a share, more than double the $21.3 million, or 25 cents, of a year earlier. Adjusted earnings per share hit 61 cents, beating the FactSet analyst consensus of 37 cents.

The company’s revenue totaled $294.6 million in the third quarter, up 29% from $229.1 million in the year-earlier quarter. The latest figure beat the FactSet analyst consensus of $262 million.

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Can the EmDrive actually work for space travel?

The "impossible" EmDrive engine, which purportedly generates thrust by bouncing microwaves around inside a cone-shaped chamber.

© Provided by Space
The “impossible” EmDrive engine, which purportedly generates thrust by bouncing microwaves around inside a cone-shaped chamber.

Paul M. Sutter is an astrophysicist at SUNY Stony Brook and the Flatiron Institute, host of Ask a Spaceman and Space Radio, and author of How to Die in Space. He contributed this article to’s Expert Voices: Opinions and Insights.

The “EmDrive” claims to make the impossible possible: a method of pushing spacecraft around without the need for — well, pushing. No propulsion. No exhaust. Just plug it in, fire it up and you can cruise to the destination of your dreams. 

But the EmDrive doesn’t just violate our fundamental understanding of the universe; the experiments that claim to measure an effect haven’t been replicated. When it comes to the EmDrive, keep dreaming. 


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Related: Superfast spacecraft propulsion concepts (images)

Microwaves of the future

It goes by various names — the EmDrive, the Q-Drive, the RF Resonant Cavity, the Impossible Drive — but all the incarnations of the device claim to do the same thing: bounce some radiation around inside a closed chamber, and presto-chango you can get propulsion.

This is a big deal, because all forms of rocketry (and indeed, all forms of motion across the entire universe) require conservation of momentum. In order to set yourself in motion, you have to push off of something. Your feet push off of the ground, airplanes push themselves off of the air, and rockets push parts of themselves (e.g., an exhaust gas) out the back end to make them go forward.

But the EmDrive doesn’t. It’s just a box with microwaves inside it, bouncing around. And supposedly it is able to move itself.

Explanations for how the EmDrive could possibly work go past the boundaries of known physics. Perhaps it’s somehow interacting with the quantum vacuum energy of space-time (even though the quantum vacuum energy of space-time doesn’t allow anything to push off of it). Perhaps our understanding of momentum is broken (even though there are no other examples in our entire history of experiment). Perhaps it’s some brand-new physics, heralded by the EmDrive experiments.

Don’t play with momentum

Let’s talk about the momentum part. Conservation of momentum is pretty straightforward: in a closed system, you can add up the momenta of all the objects in that system. Then they interact. Then you add up the momenta of all the objects again. The total momentum at the beginning must equal the total momentum at the end: momentum is conserved.

The idea of the conservation of momentum has been with us for centuries (it’s even implied by Newton’s famous second law), but in the early 1900s it gained a new status. The brilliant mathematician Emmy Noether proved that conservation of momentum (along with other conservation laws, like conservation of energy) are a reflection of the fact that our universe has certain symmetries.

For example, you can choose a suitable location to perform a physics experiment. You can

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How the lessons of 2020 may make travel better in the long run

He’s right. Many of the positive changes appear to be here to stay. Among them:

●Contactless service: The travel industry has made a massive push toward automation, introducing cleaning robots and apps that double as hotel room keys. In the future, you may not have to interact with staff when you travel — unless you want to.

●New booking policies: Travel companies have bent over backward to accommodate customers who want more flexibility during the pandemic. From “no risk” bookings that you can cancel at the last minute to eliminating change fees, experts say the new rules could be here to stay.

●The return of common sense: Instead of kowtowing to big spenders, travel companies introduced policies that made sense for everyone. Take airline boarding procedures, for example. “Most airlines have now adopted a much more intuitive approach to getting travelers on the plane, typically by boarding from back to front,” says Jeff Klee, CEO of Qtrip, an online travel agency. “This cuts down on personal contact, but also just makes for a more efficient experience. Definitely a win for those folks not in first class.”

●Room to breathe: Before 2020, travel was crowded and cramped unless you had a fortune to spend. No longer. “Perhaps the most significant change is simply the reduction in travelers,” says Janet Moore, the president of Distant Horizons, a travel agency in Long Beach, Calif. “I know there is talk that once there is a vaccine, all will be fine. But too many travelers are wary of taking the vaccine, and that, I believe, will impact us for quite a bit longer than we might realize now.”

●Safety-first policies: Remember when airlines had use-it-or-lose-it policies for sick passengers? That forced infected passengers to choose between losing money or exposing the entire cabin to infection. Sick passengers “used to sit next to you and cough and sneeze for hours,” remembers Phyllis Stoller, the president of the Women’s Travel Group, a small-group tour company. All it took was a pandemic, but airlines have stopped doing that. They are scrubbing their planes, taking passengers’ temperatures — and if you think you might be sick, you don’t have to worry about losing your airfare.

●Focus on the customer: It is all about you now. Some of the more ridiculous industry rules have vanished, and they may not return. “Long-standing restrictive pet and cancellation policies have melted away in 2020,” says Paul Hitselberger, the chief operating officer of First Hospitality, a hotel management company. “This year forced nearly everyone to hit pause and take stock of what is important. Those of us in the hospitality industry were reminded of why we got into this business.”

●Environmentally friendly choices: Laura Shane, a business analyst and travel blogger who lives in Lyon, France, noticed reduced housekeeping services at hotels. “This has forced customers to reuse their towels for multiple nights,” she says. “This simple change reduces the overall environmental impact because less water is

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A Connecticut hotel gets a makeover, a book celebrates 200 years of Maine, and puzzles can take you places



It’s a tough time to debut a hotel rehab but Connecticut’s The Lloyd does it with style. Located in the heart of downtown Stamford, each of the 94 guestrooms has been given a top-to-bottom renovation with modern West Elm furniture, spa-like bathrooms and luxury amenities such as plush bathrobes and natural essentials from Malin and Goetz. The complete makeover continues in the public spaces such as lounge area that includes a café by day and intimate bar by night, and high-tech fitness center with core and cardio fitness training equipment, Peloton bike, and The Mirror for on-demand cardio, yoga, and boxing classes. Additional amenities include valet parking, fresh-brewed coffee delivered to your door, and turndown service. Don’t want to drive? The hotel is half a mile from the Amtrak Station and local Metro North line. Rates from $179. 203-363-7900,


As the weather gets colder, curl up in front of a wood stove or wrapped in a blanket on your couch and peruse the dazzling photos, illustrations and stories in the Bicentennial Edition of Maine the Way. This 200-page special edition publication, released in partnership with the Maine Office of Tourism, delves into the state’s colorful history through the decades (from when it was granted independence from Massachusetts in 1820) as well as looking at the people shaping the present and future of its land, cities, and seas. While reading, you can plan your next excursion to the Pine Tree State. $35.

Those looking for a secluded (and warm) winter getaway may want to consider Caerula Mar Club in sleepy South Andros, Bahamas.
Those looking for a secluded (and warm) winter getaway may want to consider Caerula Mar Club in sleepy South Andros, Bahamas.



Those looking for a secluded (and warm) winter getaway may want to consider Caerula Mar Club in sleepy South Andros, Bahamas. The resort’s 18 oceanfront suites and six private villas, tucked between lush mangroves and powder-white shoreline sands, offer elegant accommodations that blend traditional architecture and midcentury modern style with contemporary furnishings, Belgian linens, aged marble stone, and soft white oak floors. Three on-site dining options range from a café and smoothie bar to casual lounge serving artisanal pizzas and fresh fish tacos to a Caribbean-inspired fine-dining restaurant with sweeping ocean views. The island’s coral reefs are a perfect spot for outdoor activities such as diving, snorkeling, boating, and fishing. Rates from $485-$585 per night. 800-790-6845. Before booking, check out updated entry and travel COVID-19 protocols on the Bahamas Tourism website:

The recently opened Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco at Embarcadero.
The recently opened Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco at Embarcadero.


When it comes to travel, it’s said that location is everything. That’s certainly true at the recently opened Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco at Embarcadero, centrally located in the Financial District just steps from tourism favorites such as Union Square, the Ferry Building and Fisherman’s Wharf, and the California cable car route. Residing in the top 11 floors of a 48-story landmark, the 345 California Center, the hotel offers

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How to travel safely and host travelers over the holidays

Despite rising Covid-19 infections throughout the United States, Europe and beyond, people are preparing to travel in late 2020.

According to a survey by travel booking app Hopper, 39% of Americans are expected to travel during the upcoming holiday season. By that estimate, nearly 130 million people will be hitting the road in the United States alone before the end of the year.  

Homebound and weary after a stressful and vacationless year, many in America at least simply aren’t willing to miss spending Christmas and Thanksgiving with their loved ones, no matter the coronavirus count.

CNBC’s Global Traveler asked doctors for medical advice on how travelers and holiday hosts can more safely celebrate the next seven weeks.  

Before leaving home

1.      Find out who is gathering

It’s important to understand how much risk a family can tolerate, said Dr. William Lang, a former White House doctor and current medical director of telemedicine practice WorldClinic. Start, he said, by assessing the ages and health of attendees.

“A younger family with all healthy members and no recognized, higher risk factors can accept a little bit higher risk than a multigenerational family where some of the older members have chronic diseases,” he said.

A group of younger family members may be able to safely get together, as could a group of older, Covid-cautious relatives. But young people planning to congregate at their parents’ and grandparents’ homes need to be especially careful.

“Unfortunately,” Lang said, “this is not the year for big multigenerational holiday gatherings with family from far-flung places.”

2.      Quarantine before the trip

“The only accepted way to virtually eliminate risk is a 14-day strict quarantine,” Lang said. “But in most families, that’s not practical, and especially with young adults, it probably just wouldn’t happen.”

He said young adults should, at the very least, minimize social activities — “especially bar-like activities” — in the 10 days before going home.

3.      If possible, drive

Dr. Anne Rimoin, a professor of epidemiology at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, said that while data suggests air travel carries minimal risks of contracting the coronavirus, flying “is more than just sitting on a plane.”

“You have to go through [security], wait in seated areas and lines to board, and use public bathrooms,” she said. “You also cannot control who you sit next to, which also dictates your risk.”

While flying is considered fairly safe, driving is recommended this holiday season.

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Lang agrees that flying is “fairly safe” but that getting through the airport and on and off the plane is riskier. To avoid the “crush in the aisle,” he advises passengers to stay in their seats until it’s their turn to disembark.

Driving is the safest way to travel right now, said Dr. Diego Hijano, assistant faculty member of the Department of Infectious Diseases at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

“Act as if both you and everyone you meet in transit may be infectious, and remain vigilant,” he said.

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Miami hospital COVID nurses surprised with island vacation


MIAMI (AP) — Over a dozen Miami nurses and front line health care workers are finally getting a well-deserved break. The group was scheduled for an upcoming mandatory, aka boring, 48-hour training, but were instead surprised with an island vacation to the Florida Keys.

Jackson Health System supervisors were asked to choose staff that went above and beyond during the pandemic. Many of the staff, including respiratory therapists and lab techs, have not been able to take any time off during the pandemic to relax or spend time with their loved ones and have been working tirelessly during the pandemic treating COVID patients, the hospital said.

The 50 workers were told they had to attend a mandatory two-day, training, but when they gathered at the hospital Tuesday they were handed gift boxes with gift certificates.

Hawks Cay Resort in the Florida Keys donated two-night stays to their island on Duck Key, surrounded by sparkling waters and swaying palm trees as part of its Heroes Salute program.

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GA high school principal, wife drown in Puerto Rico

A Georgia community is mourning the loss of a Fulton County principal who died while vacationing in Puerto Rico.

Westlake High School principal Jamar Robinson and his wife, AnnMari Robinson, drowned while swimming in the ocean behind their hotel early Sunday, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported, citing local media outlets.

A Puerto Rican outlet reports the couple was on the beach behind the La Concha Resort in San Juan when “a whirlpool and currents of water allegedly drag(ged) the woman, and her partner (came) to her aid — both dying in the incident.”

Locals in the area tried rescuing the couple but it was too late, according to the news site. Life-saving efforts by paramedics were also unsuccessful.

“Mr. Robinson was an inspirational leader who brought joy with his passion for education and his students,” Fulton County Schools said in a statement obtained by McClatchy News. “We join the community in remembering him and expressing our condolences to his family. School leadership and support staff are at the school to support students, teachers and staff. This support is also being provided remotely to students.”

News of the couple’s passing began circulating online Tuesday, and, in an email to students, Westlake administrators announced a switch to online learning “due to the tragic death of a staff member,” according to CBS46. Robinson was not named in the memo.

Condolences poured in as the community received confirmation that Robinson and his wife had died.

“I’m at a complete lost [sic] of words this morning, upon hearing of the passing of Westlake High School Principal Jamar Robinson and his wife this past weekend,” State Rep. William Boddie, D-Georgia, wrote on Facebook. “Principal Robinson was a Good Man and a Great Educator. Westlake High School continuously had high academic performance scores year after year. I will keep the entire Robinson and Westlake High School Families in my Prayers and Thoughts.”

Westlake assistant football coach Matthew Van Dusen lauded Robinson as an “amazing and passionate leader who loved Westlake and would do anything for its teachers and students.”

“Heartbroken by the news of Mr.Robinson,” a Westlake alum wrote on Twitter, adding: “That man showed Class of 2017 so much love!!! May him and his wife souls Rest In Peace.”

Robinson graduated from Southwest DeKalb High School in DeKalb County before earning his bachelors in psychology from Florida A&M University, according to his bio on the Fulton County schools website. He would go on to earn advanced degrees from Georgia State University and Georgia Southern University.

The former teacher was known for showing love to his students and honoring Westlake’s 2020 graduates with an electronic billboard display on the highway earlier this year.

AnnMari Robinson

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