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California’s new COVID order: Leisure travelers must stay home

Stop traveling, the governor says.

With the “regional stay-at-home” order issued Thursday, Gov. Gavin Newsom is imploring Californians to stay home for the next three weeks and cinching already tight restrictions in areas where the COVID-19 pandemic has hospitals under the heaviest pressure.

Outlining the new restrictions, which include new capacity limits for retailers and other changes, state officials said hotels and other lodgings will be allowedto open for critical infrastructure support only.” But in the immediate aftermath of the governor’s announcement Thursday afternoon, details of the new travel restrictions remained unclear.

Dr. Mark Ghaly, the state’s secretary of Health and Human Service, said the state is effectively telling, not asking, Californians to stop all nonessential travel. That includes canceling holiday travel plans, he added.

“The message of the day is, as much as you can, be at home,” Ghaly said.

However, he and Newsom also stressed that parks and beaches would remain open and that Californians could boost their mental health by hiking, running, fishing, practicing yoga, skiing, snowboarding and otherwise savoring outdoor activities.

The new regional stay-at-home order, which officials said goes into effect within 48 hours of the announcement, applies in California regions where ICU availability is less than 15%. Among other things, the new order “prohibits private gatherings of any size, closes sector operations except for critical infrastructure and retail, and requires 100% masking and physical distancing in all others.” It is to remain in effect for at least three weeks.

The order’s regional grouping categorizes Los Angeles County within an 11-county area that also includes Imperial, Inyo, Mono, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.

The 11 Southern California counties and 12 counties in the Central Valley could be required to implement the new restrictions on Friday, based on current projections of the rising number of patients who have been admitted to intensive care units.

VisitCalifornia.com, the state’s tourism website, puts the new rules in blunt terms: The state, it says, has “banned non-essential travel in most of the state beginning Dec. 4.”

In a widely circulated letter to industry professionals, Visit California President and Chief Executive Caroline Beteta wrote that in the 23 counties immediately affected, “hotels can remain open, although the order announced today bans non-essential travel statewide.”

She also noted that ski resorts can stay open (but must close their food and beverage services) and that campgrounds must close, along with wineries, breweries, museums, zoos, family entertainment centers and aquariums.

Mammoth Mountain Ski Area spokesman Tim LeRoy confirmed the information about ski operations. California State Parks did not respond to questions about how the governor’s order would affect its campgrounds. As of Wednesday, 83 state campgrounds were at least partly open.

Other details of the state’s plan for enforcing the tighter limits remained unclear Thursday afternoon.

In a web Q&A explaining the new travel guidelines, state officials said: “Stay in your county if you can. Don’t drive more than 2-3 hours.”

“You can

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The plan for a new aquatics and recreation center in Great Falls has hit a snag





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The plan for a new aquatics and recreation center in Great Falls has hit a snag

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Need to cancel your holiday travel plans amid COVID? Here’s the latest on changes and refunds

With California’s pandemic policies tightening, COVID-19 cases escalating and vaccines unlikely to reach most people until spring or later, many families are rethinking their holiday travel plans. “It’s time to cancel everything,” L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a news conference Wednesday night.



a group of people standing next to a sign: A flight crew member at LAX on Nov. 23, just ahead of the Thanksgiving travel period. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)


© (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)
A flight crew member at LAX on Nov. 23, just ahead of the Thanksgiving travel period. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Dr. Mark Ghaly, secretary of health and human services, said Thursday the state is, in effect, telling, not asking, Californians to stop all nonessential travel. That includes canceling holiday travel plans, Ghaly said. The new requirements, to take effect Friday, were in response to stress on critical care services and hospital intensive care units. Details on how the state would enforce such a broad restriction remained unclear Thursday afternoon.

Here’s a quick look at how airlines, lodgings and other travel suppliers are handling reservation changes and cancellations.

Airlines

In late August and early September, several airlines dropped their ticket change fees at least through the end of this year. Among them: Alaska, American, Delta, Hawaiian and United.

Southwest Airlines, which has had the most flexible major airline ticket policy for years, continues to allow passengers to rebook their flights for travel up to one year from the original purchase date.

It’s easier to get a credit or vouchers for future travel than it is to get your money back. As millions of travelers learned in the first months of the pandemic, many airlines refused to issue refunds unless they had canceled or significantly delayed a flight themselves. And even then, many did their best to nudge customers toward accepting travel credit rather than cash.

But as the Federal Trade Commission noted, airlines are required to offer refunds for canceled or significantly delayed flights, even if the cause is beyond their control. If your airline resists, report it to the U.S. Department of Transportation — but be warned that the DOT can take months to process complaints and the process is far from a sure thing.

Trains

Amtrak has waived change fees for tickets bought by Dec. 31. You may be eligible for a credit voucher or a refund, depending on the type of ticket you bought.

The cheapest Saver Fares give refunds only within 24 hours of booking; these tickets can’t be changed, either. Value Fares offer a refund or voucher if you cancel within 15 days of your departure. Canceling closer to your departure date may cost you 25% of the ticket price.

Flexible, Business and Premium fares will give you a full refund or voucher with no fees as long as you cancel in advance. If you don’t show up without canceling, you forfeit your ticket.

Buses

Greyhound is allowing bus riders to postpone their travel plans through Jan. 31. Requests for a credit voucher must be made at least a day before you are scheduled to leave. (This doesn’t apply to cash or

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‘I Still Kick Myself in the A** for This Every Day’

Before becoming one of the highest-paid actors on TV  thanks to The Big Bang Theory, Johnny Galecki played Rusty Griswold in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.

Chevy Chase in a scene from 'National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation'
Chevy Chase in a scene from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation | Warner Brothers/Getty Images

While filming the popular holiday movie the then-14-year-old actor convinced the director not to include a heart-to-heart moment between Rusty and his dad, Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase). Now 45, Galecki says he’s regretted it ever since. 

Johnny Galecki didn’t have much prior movie experience

In 2014, Galecki got together with some of his fellow Christmas Vacation stars to discuss the movie with Rolling Stone. Recounting his audition process, the actor said even if he hadn’t been cast as Rusty he would’ve been happy just getting to audition with Chase. 

Auditioning for “industrial films and regional theater” at the time, Galecki sent in an audition tape. Soon he was being flown out to Los Angeles, California, to meet with Chase and Christmas Vacation director Jeremiah S. Chechik. 

RELATED: Is ‘National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation’ on Netflix?

“I read with Chevy and Jeremiah — and that alone would have been enough for me,” he said. “I could have been given my walking papers and sent home on the next flight and it still would have been a dream come true.” 

Galecki didn’t have to wait long to find out if he’d been cast in the movie because as he recalled, “Chevy told me right there in the room that I had gotten the role.” 

He rounded out the cast for the immediate Griswold family along with Beverly D’Angelo as Ellen Griswold and Juliette Lewis as Rusty’s sister, Audrey Griswold. 

The actor didn’t see ‘any point’ in a ‘man-to-man scene’ in ‘Christmas Vacation’

There’d already been two National Lampoon’s movies about the Griswold family before Christmas Vacation. In each one there’d been a touching moment between Clark and his son. John Hughes, who wrote the screenplay for Christmas Vacation, didn’t have one in the script for the holiday movie.

Initially, he’d included a father-son moment but he got rid of it. Asked for his thoughts on including the scene, Galecki said it should stay out of the movie. 

“One day John Hughes, Jeremiah, Chevy and I were sitting around waiting for a scene to be set up, and Chevy said, ‘There’s always been kind of a man-to-man scene between Clark and Russ in the previous films — a coming-of-age scene. But there isn’t in this one,’” Galecki remembered.

RELATED: ‘Christmas Vacation’: Why Christie Brinkley Refused to Return for the Movie

“John mentioned that he had something like that in an initial draft, and Chevy said, ‘We should consider putting that back in,’” he added.

“So they asked what I thought and I said, ‘I don’t think there’s any point. Somebody thought it was worth taking out at some point, so even if we shoot it, it’ll probably get taken out again,’” Galecki recalled. 

So Christmas Vacation went on without it. Now

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Away Mini Gift Set Gift Pick

If you’re anything like us, you’re obsessive about finding the perfect gift. A Scouted Gift Pick is our stamp of approval for certified winners in the gifting department. You may not even need to get a gift receipt.

WHAT IT IS:

Away Mini Gift Sets: Away, purveyor of the high-tech luggage you’ve seen at airports and on trains for the last few years, has the perfect miniature holiday gift. The limited-edition Away Mini Gift Sets feature a travel case full of different goodies, depending on your giftee. Choose the Bliss Set for someone that needs some calm in their life, packed with hand sanitizer, a foot soak, and fancy creams. The Adventure Set comes with all the items you need to keep your skin safe while outdoors. Finally, the Boost Set comes with energizing facial sprays, sheet masks, and biodegradable glitter for some festive fun. There’s also the Travel Wellness Kit, which includes face masks, hand sanitizer, and more.

WHO TO GIFT IT TO:

Your travel-hungry friend that cannot wait to get back to satiating their wanderlust. Your best friend that needs some skin care in their life, but just doesn’t know it yet. Yourself, because these travel-sized cases are perfect for storing your goods on the go.

Scouted selects products independently and prices reflect what was available at the time of publish. Sign up for our newsletter for more recommendations and check out our coupon site for more deals. If you buy something from our posts, we may earn a small commission.

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How ‘The World’s Best Travel Jeans’ Brand Pivoted After The World Stopped Traveling

My favorite travel apparel is made by a local Los Angeles company called Aviator. Don’t tell anyone I said this but I essentially live in two pairs of Aviator’s comfort-stretch travel jeans — officially called The World’s Best Travel Jeans — made from 49% Lyocell, 42% cotton, 6% elasterell, and 3% spandex. You know travel jeans are extraordinary when you wear them in a year like 2020 when everyone is stuck at home all the time.

Colby Kane is the designer and former Macy’s art director behind the brand, and he and I kindred spirits. We both live to travel and make travel part of our work. But since March, he’s had to adjust to the radical new realities of running a small fashion brand in the most challenging business climate in recent history.

Aviator recently introduced a new air-dry polo shirt made from the same sweat-proof, odor-resistant, take-it-anywhere fabric that’s the brand’s signature. Aviator makes hoodies, t-shirts and, now, face masks with merino wool, and the stuff is practically bombproof. The new polo is cut like a classic with a crisp collar, a tailored fit at the shoulders and a nifty Aviator airplane logo at the chest that signals: you haven’t given up on going places.

I asked Kane how he’s managing in the face of pandemic shutdowns, and what keeps him sane as he pivots and re-prioritizes, all while staying in style.

Being a small clothing company among the giants of retail was already challenging. How did the pandemic impact on Aviator? 

Colby Kane: The pandemic had a huge impact on Aviator. Since we make clothing for the travel lifestyle our sales completely stopped from March 13th to the beginning of April. I remember seeing a couple sales come in for jeans and thinking “who’s buying jeans right now for their next trip?” It was over those first couple of weeks of the pandemic that I think being small and scrappy was an advantage. Most of those ‘giants’ don’t make products here in the USA, making it much harder for them to pivot to masks. Without pivoting to masks I believe we would have closed down the business. We are self-funded with zero investment and never would have survived. 

Wow. How big a part of the business did masks become?

It was a huge part of our business from April through July. I never envisioned making masks before but here we are. On April 1st, I spoke with some of my LA factories to see if we could work together on becoming an essential business and stay open by making masks. We have since donated thousands of masks to the frontline workers and other essential businesses. We started selling the masks through our website which helped keep our factories

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The world’s biggest third-party hotel operator is growing, even as the pandemic hits hotels hard

Plano-based Aimbridge Hospitality is making bold moves during a crippling pandemic for the hotel industry, naming a successor to the company founder and laying out an ambitious plan to add 120 properties to its portfolio in the next 120 days.

Aimbridge’s plans for expansion come at a time when the hotel industry is suffering massive revenue shortfalls caused by COVID-19 and local restrictions to stem the pandemic’s spread.

The company’s incoming president and CEO Mike Deitemeyer fully understands the severity of the current economic conditions. He said Aimbridge has had to function through the pandemic with at least 20,000 fewer staff due to layoffs and furloughs.

As the industry’s largest third-party management company, Aimbridge handles $10 billion in annual revenue for its hotel owners, CFO Judy Hendrick told CFO Magazine this week. The pandemic has cut Aimbridge sales by 86%, though Hendrick told the magazine “we do not fear downturns; during such times, we have an opportunity to gain market share.”

Deitemeyer is similarly optimistic about the big picture, and believes the company is positioning itself to bring back lost jobs when leisure and business travel recover.

“Our income is certainly suppressed,” Deitemeyer said, “But if you believe in the recovery of our space, the fact that we’ve added hotels… when the economy and hotel occupancies return, we’re going to be in a great position.”

Aimbridge has added 128 properties to its portfolio to date and plans to add another 120 in the next three months. The company said the growth is made possible because of corporate support during unprecedented times.

Private equity-backed Aimbridge has seen “historic organic growth” this year in new properties across all of its verticals, including extended stay, select service, and international segments, according to the company.

It’s taking on management agreements for hotels across North America, including the Hyatt House Chicago, the Renaissance Charleston Historic District in South Carolina and the Element Ontario in Canada. But it’s also raking in agreements in the U.K., announcing this week it will add 31 Jupiter Hotels properties. The expansion brings Aimbridge’s property count in the U.K. to around 160 hotels.

Mike Deitemeyer will take the reins at Aimbridge Hospitality as president and CEO effective January 1, 2021.
Mike Deitemeyer will take the reins at Aimbridge Hospitality as president and CEO effective January 1, 2021.(Aimbridge Hospitality)

The 17-year-old hotel operator named Deitemeyer its new president and CEO this week, effective Jan. 1. Deitemeyer was previously CEO of Interstate Hotels & Resorts and served as Aimbridge’s global president after the competitors merged last year.

Deitemeyer takes over from Aimbridge cofounder Dave Johnson, who will move into the new role of executive chairman overseeing mergers and acquisitions, capital markets and new business opportunities.

“We are pleased to have positioned ourselves for growth,” Aimbridge Hospitality CEO Dave Johnson said in a statement. “As we leverage our scale to add value, owners are responding by adding Aimbridge as managers.”

Andrew Milke, guest services supervisor, works the front desk behind a plexiglass barrier at The Pittman Hotel in Dallas, on Monday, Nov. 23, 2020. The hotel has taken measures to ensure the safety of their employees and guests by installing plexiglass at the front desk, having numerous hand sanitizing stations throughout the hotel and offering safety kits on request, which contain a face mask and sanitizing items.

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Reuben Brothers to Buy New York City’s Surrey Hotel

(Bloomberg) — U.K. real estate investors David and Simon Reuben are buying the upscale Surrey Hotel in New York City, in their latest push into U.S. real estate, according to a person familiar with the matter.



a man standing in front of Simon Reuben, Simon Reuben posing for the camera: Simon and David Reuben


© Photographer: David M. Benett/Getty Images
Simon and David Reuben

The price is less than the $215 million asking price, said the person, who asked to not be identified because the matter isn’t public.

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A representative for the Reuben Brothers declined to comment. A representative for the owner of the Surrey Hotel, Denihan Hospitality Group, didn’t respond to a request for comment.

The tony hotel near Central Park is a recreation of the original Surrey, which was built in 1926 and hosted famous people including John F. Kennedy and Bette Davis, according to its website.

The brothers, London property investors, invested in New York City real-estate this year by buying a condo from SL Green Realty Corp. for $170 million, Bloomberg News reported.

This transaction follows three recent financing deals they did worth more than $300 million, including buying the mortgage of the St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort in Miami, as well as a stake in a senior loan tied to the St. Regis Chicago, the person said.

For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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Rico Nasty: ‘Nightmare Vacation’ Album Review


Nightmare Vacation, the debut studio album from hip-hop rage queen Rico Nasty, is a musical manifesto proclaiming her sonic boldness and emotional progression. Although she is still considerably new to the rap game, Rico quickly made it clear that she would carve out her unique path with her bare hands if she had to. A slew of mixtapes, which she began releasing in 2014, showcased a ravenous young artist turning her vehemence into gold. Last year’s Anger Management was the pinnacle of her righteous indignation; the nine-track collaborative mixtape with Kenny Beats powerfully outlined all of Rico’s harrowing complexities with clarity.

This new record zeroes in on Rico’s vocal nimbleness and her cogent authenticity that has become more transparent with each project she releases. Opener “Candy” is a classic in her arsenal; its boisterous, bass-heavy percussion shows she can accelerate from docile to spine-chilling in under five seconds. “Call me crazy / but you can never call me broke” is not as much a taunt as it is a threat, which she expresses in a deceptively cheeky manner.

“Don’t Like Me” is a synthy trap dream where appearances from Gucci Mane and Don Toliver compliment Rico’s craziness with a more soothing approach. However, it still maintains its excitement as all three virtuosos bring a certain quirkiness to the song. “IPHONE” is one of the best moments on Nightmare Vacation, as Rico channels her playful side in the most alluring of ways. Amidst declarations of unapologetic madness, the lightness of “IPHONE” is a nice distraction and even a line like “Smoking so much gas / I forgot to put my mask on” feels jovial with its timely double entendre.

“STFU” feels slightly stale, with a repetitive chorus that spells out the acronym quite predictably. “Back and Forth,” which features a cameo from Amine, is lackluster, as well: Two of hip-hop’s most capricious personalities join forces on a track that holds a multitude of promise, only for the duo to remain subdued throughout its execution.

“Let It Out” is the halfway mark of Nightmare Vacation and serves as the perfect moshpit anthem. Rico’s raw screams of “If you wanna rage / Let it out” are visceral and even when she recites lines like “I’m a asshole / What the fuck’s new? / If it’s fuck me, then it’s fuck you!” it feels more defiant than offensive. “Loser,” where she teams up with Trippie Redd, is a thrill ride from start to finish. The young pair successfully team up for a collaboration saturated with moody melodicism that feels entirely natural.

“No Debate” starts off promising with a slinky and hypnotic beat, but 30 seconds in, it becomes obvious that something is missing. It’s as if Rico’s virulent disposition has been gently tucked away for a slightly more dulcet tune. In fact, this jarring shift runs deep throughout Nightmare Vacation. Rico is either dialing up the drama with chaotic caterwauling or doling out sweetness whenever the mood strikes her. Despite

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Cook County investigating wedding reception at north suburban hotel

A Prospect Heights hotel was given a written warning for not following state COVID-19 guidelines after a large wedding-related event Wednesday evening.

And the Cook County Department of Public Health is investigating the incident at the Hilton Chicago/Northbrook, which is in Prospect Heights.

Don Bolger, a health department spokesman, said it was unclear how many guests attended the event. “We won’t know until we get the guest list,” he said Thursday.

Joe Wade, Prospect Height’s city administrator, said he spoke to the hotel’s general manager Thursday and she was “very forthright” and acknowledged there had been a wedding party at the hotel Wednesday.

Wade said the general manager told him at least one hotel employee had urged members of the party to socially distance and wear masks.

Neither the hotel’s general manager nor other representatives from the facility could be reached for comment.

During his daily COVID-19 media briefing Thursday, Gov. J.B. Pritzker described the event as “very irresponsible.”

“This is very concerning to all of us at a moment when we have rampant COVID-19 throughout Illinois,” Pritzker said. “Here we have people who, in a concentrated fashion, have the ability now to go spread it to everywhere that they return to.”

“I’m deeply worried for them and for the communities that they’ve returned to, for their families and so on. I hope that each of them will isolate and get a test.”

Pritzker said it would be up to local authorities to mete out punishment.

The Illinois Hotel & Lodging Association said the event was “unacceptable and does not reflect the careful efforts the hotel industry as a whole has taken since the onset of the pandemic to protect guests, employees and our communities.”

“The hotel industry is committed to working with policymakers and public health officials to ensure this situation is not repeated,” association president and CEO Michael Jacobson said in a statement.

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