Tag: closed

Hotel Northampton closed until February

NORTHAMPTON — The Hotel Northampton has shut down until February — laying off most of its 30 or so remaining staffers — due to COVID-19 and the continuing punishment it’s inflicting on the travel industry.

The 106-room hotel, which opened in 1927, will be quiet at a time of year when it normally would have been booked for holiday parties, as well as during the generally slow month of January. But all those events, as well as most holiday travel, fell victim to the pandemic.

“COVID has taken a toll on every business,” said general manger Jeffrey Hoess-Brooks on Monday as he supervised the hotel’s shutdown process. “Just try to look at every angle as two where you can cut any expense during this closure time.”

When fully operating, the hotel has 75 to 80 employees.

The hotel, which announced its decision to the public on Monday, is referring potential guests to the Fairfield Inn & Suites on Conz Street, also owned by Mansour Ghalibaf.

Hoess-Brooks said the plan is to reopen in February. By then, he hopes, the coronavirus pandemic will have eased as well as the travel restrictions. Also, the Five Colleges will be, he hopes, reopening then bring families to the area.

Smith College, located just a few blocks away, plans to welcome as many as 1,830 students to campus for the spring semester which begins Feb. 15.

Hotel Northampton also has events – weddings, banquets, and the like, — booked in 2021, Hoess-Brooks said. Opening in February means the hotel will be able to host those events, many of which were already been rescheduled from pandemic-ravaged 2020 into 2021.

“It’s very hard But we are doing this so we can come back in February. Strong as ever,” Hoess-Brooks said.

Besides the 106 guest rooms, the hotel has two restaurants — Wiggins Tavern and the Coolidge Park Café – a banquet hall that seats as many as 200 people. It has other smaller, function room as well.

Hoess-Brooks said there will be some staff at the hotel 24 hours a day and seven days a week to care for the property.

The hotel is traditionally the site of the midnight ball drop on New Year’s Eve for First Night Northampton. That will be a virtual event this year due to the 10 p.m. state imposed COVID curfew.

The hotel shut down for more than a month in the spring, when the state first started imposing shutdowns aimed at arresting the spread of the virus, Hoess-Brooks said.

Nationally, 71% of hotel operators said in November they won’t make it another six months without further federal assistance given current and projected travel demand, and 77% of hotels report they will be forced to lay off more workers. That is according to a survey released by American Hotel & Lodging Association.

“Without further government assistance (i.e. second PPP loan, expansion of Main Street Lending Program), nearly half (47%) of respondents indicated they would be forced to close hotels,” the organization

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Vulcan recreation facilities closed for group, team activities for now

Members of the Vulcan Skating Club had one last session Nov. 25 at the Vulcan District Arena before the arena closed Friday for group and team activities. Until further notice, all Town of Vulcan recreation facilities are now closed for all group and team activities. The Town’s recreation facilities will be open for single family and one-on-one coaching, reads the Facebook page of the Town of Vulcan’s recreation department. All bookings must be made by noon the day before, during business hours from Monday to Friday. Phone 403-485-6659 or email [email protected] for inquiries and bookings.

Stephen Tipper / Vulcan Advocate

Until further notice, all Town of Vulcan recreation facilities are now closed for all group and team activities.

The Town closed the facilities starting Friday, following the Alberta government’s Nov. 24 announcement of public health measures to protect the health-care system and slow the spread of COVID-19.

The Vulcan District Arena was open last Wednesday and Thursday, allowing Vulcan Skating Club members and Vulcan Minor Hockey teams to use the facility.

While Vulcan’s recreation’s recreation facilities are currently closed for group and team activities, the recreation facilities are for single family and one-on-one coaching, reads the Facebook page of the Town of Vulcan’s recreation department.

All bookings must be made by noon the day before, during business hours from Monday to Friday. Phone 403-485-6659 or email [email protected] for inquiries and bookings.

Bonnie Ellis, the Town’s community services manager, said the recreation department’s programming has stopped for the time being.

“We’re still going to look for ways to keep the community active,” she said.

Derek Sager, president of the Vulcan Minor Hockey Association, said the league in which Vulcan teams play, the Central Alberta Hockey League (CAHL), is still running.

But that’s only for teams based in communities classified as being “open,” and there are not many communities within the CAHL classified as open, said Sager.

Vulcan County is not one of them, instead falling into the province’s “enhanced” category. As of end of day Nov. 24, there were 100 active cases of COVID-19 in Vulcan County, according to Alberta government data.

Vulcan Minor Hockey teams could resume practising and playing games once Vulcan County is classified as “open,” said Sager.

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UPDATE: Woodstock Recreation Center temporarily closed after 3 staff members test positive for COVID-19

As a public service, Shaw Media will provide open access to information related to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) emergency. Sign up for the newsletter here

The Woodstock Recreation Center temporarily closed its doors Friday until 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,” according to the release. “This will also allow time for a thorough cleaning and sanitizing of the building to prepare for reopening.”

The rec center is scheduled to reopen Nov. 14.

Dave Zinnen, director of the city’s recreation department, said one additional employe was identified as having close contact with the three employees who tested positive, and that person’s COVID-19 test came back negative. 

“We recommended the rest of the staff to go ahead and get tested because we do work in a very confined area,” Zinnen said.

City Manager Roscoe Stelford said the city does not think any members of the club or residents met criteria to be considered a close contact.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines close contact as being within 6 feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period starting from two days before illness onset – or, for asymptomatic patients, two days before being tested – until the time the patient is isolated.

Going forward, Zinnen said the recreation department likely will put more plexiglass between employees. A piece of plexiglass already is set up between the front counter staff and employees, he said.

A “tremendous amount” of safeguards have been put into place for the public because of COVID-19, Stelford said.

This includes changing the check-in process, in which members hold their card directly up to a scanner, so there’s no physical interaction between employees and members, as well as a lot of cleaning and sanitizing as people are done using the equipment. 

Because some classes are not being conducted now, they are able to put workout equipment in more places, Stelford said. 

Two area restaurants – Miller’s Diner in McHenry and Andy’s Restaurant in Crystal Lake – also have 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 affected fitness centers such as the Woodstock Recreation Center to the same degree.

Also 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 CDC recommendations, interim Executive Director

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

As a public service, Shaw Media will provide open access to information related to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) emergency. Sign up for the newsletter here

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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Armstrong Woods, Austin Creek recreation area to stay closed until spring or later

The million or so visitors who seek serenity each year at Armstrong Woods in Guerneville or who slip into the nearly 6,000 acres of adjoining wilderness known as Austin Creek State Recreation Area will have to demonstrate the virtue of patience for months to come yet, as they await reopening of the fire-scarred parks.

The lightning-sparked Walbridge fire that seared much of northwest Sonoma County over six weeks beginning in August has been contained for almost a month, but it will be much longer before visitors can return to state park properties impacted by the flames.

Certain park infrastructure needs repair — the restroom and water system at Bullfrog Pond Campground, for instance — and park personnel still need to assess trails, bridges and retaining walls for damage. There is also some culvert replacement underway, and some fencing and signs need replacement.

But the chief concern among park officials are hundreds, maybe thousands of hazard trees throughout the area, those that are obviously a fall risk and those that may not be.

Some are leaning or tangled in neighboring trees, their own roots burned away or still smoldering, they said.

In other cases, an unsuspecting visitor could step into a cavity left by an incinerated root ball or even encounter material inside that’s still burning.

“There are so many scary, crazy trees out here,” state parks Natural Resource Manager Brendan O’Neil said. “There are so many trees hung up in other trees — not just one, but like three of them together — and they’re suspended off the ground. And it’s like, Wow, just the right wind, and a hard hat isn’t going to do you any favors in that kind of situation.”

So, though the intensity of the fire varied across the area concerned, state park officials do not expect to reopen any part of the parks until spring, at the earliest, and maybe even summer, Sonoma-Mendocino Coast District superintendent Terry Bertels said.

“We’ve still got fire in the park, and we will have until we get some rain, and it’s mostly fire in the form of smoldering roots or cavities,” Bertels said.

Trees that are burned but cold, meanwhile, may still fail, though their instability won’t be revealed until the ground is saturated and high winds arrive.

Conversely, the passage of time may allow a weakened tree to stabilize, preventing its unnecessary removal, Bertels said.

“We don’t want to take a tree out that still has a chance to make it, but we’ve got to get through some winds and wet soils,” he said.

Hundreds of trees already have come down and are stacked awaiting processing for sale as camp firewood. A huge pile awaits attention near the northern end of Armstrong Woods, an area normally used for picnicking. Most of the trees — everything from tanoaks and Douglas firs to eucalyptus — come from uphill at the Austin Creek State Recreation Area, a wide expanse of rugged terrain north and northwest of Armstrong Redwood State Natural Reserve

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East Bay regional parks and recreation areas to remain closed due fire danger

Several East Bay parks will remain closed through Wednesday due to an extended Red Flag Warning anticipating continued high winds. 

The National Weather Service said wind gusts are expected to reach 60-70 mph in some parts of the Bay Area on Tuesday evening.

The East Bay Regional Park District announced Friday that it would close 11 of its parks and recreation areas Sunday and Monday in anticipation of severe winds. The district had expected to see some of the strongest winds in 20 years, but sustained winds only reached 21-45 mph in higher elevations, lower than the anticipated potential 70 mph impact. 

Ferocious winds are forecast to roar through Tuesday, prompting the district to extend the park closure through Wednesday. 

Parks that will remain temporarily closed to the public include Wildcat Canyon, Tilden, Reinhardt Redwood, Roberts, Huckleberry, Sibley, Claremont Canyon, Leona Canyon, Anthony Chabot, Lake Chabot, and Kennedy Grove.

According to the East Bay Regional Park District, winds knocked down 14 power lines in or near the closed park areas. Luckily, no fires sparked from the downed power lines, but that continues to be a worry during strong winds events. 

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U.S. borders with Mexico and Canada to remain closed for non-essential travel as coronavirus infections rise

Washington — The United States’ borders with Mexico and Canada will remain closed for non-essential travel for another month as the country braces for what public health experts say will be a difficult winter battling the coronavirus pandemic.

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said Monday that the three countries will extend travel restrictions through November 21 in an effort to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.

“We are working closely with Mexico & Canada to identify safe criteria to ease the restrictions in the future & support our border communities,” Wolf tweeted.

Bill Blair, Canada’s minister of public safety and emergency preparedness, said the nation’s “decisions will continue to be baked on the best public health advice available to keep Canadians safe.”

Under the restrictions, a foreign national arriving in Canada from the U.S. must prove they are traveling for an essential purpose or are an immediate family member and are not showing symptoms of COVID-19. Travelers must also have a plan to quarantine for 14 days.

Those traveling to Mexico from the U.S. may also be denied entry if their trip is considered non-essential, including for tourism and recreational purposes.

The U.S. leads the world in coronavirus infections, with more than 8.2 million confirmed cases, according to Johns Hopkins University. Mexico, by contrast, has had more than 800,000 confirmed coronavirus cases, and Canada has had more than 204,000 infections.

Coronavirus cases continue to rise in more than 30 states, and public health experts are warning the U.S. will be in for a difficult fall and winter.

Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former head of the Food and Drug Administration, told “Face the Nation” in an interview Sunday that the U.S. is heading toward the “most difficult phase of this epidemic.”

“I think the next three months are going to be very challenging. There’s really no backstop against the spread that we’re seeing,” he said.

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Denver’s 30 recreation centers likely to remain closed until mid-April

Denver’s 30 recreation centers — which closed as the coronavirus pandemic hit the city in March — will remain shuttered until mid-April at the earliest while the short-staffed Parks and Recreation Department pivots its resources, city officials have told The Denver Post.

Barring an immediate drop in COVID-19 cases, a vaccine or some other dramatic change, safely opening the city’s recreation centers isn’t a feasible option, said John Martinez, deputy executive director of recreation.

Still, as the weather turns colder and cooped-up Denverites look for things to do, the department will work to provide new options, he said.

“We’re going to beef up our virtual programming,” Martinez said. “Our goal is to keep people safe. The last thing we want to do is go too fast and then we have to take steps backwards.”

With 30 recreation centers — each with different layouts, facilities and staffing — it’s a logistical nightmare to open them and still be able to prevent further spread of the virus, said Parks and Recreation spokesperson Cyndi Karvaski. Until the department can figure that out or until the virus no longer presents such a substantial threat, the buildings must remain closed.

“It’s very difficult to have all this signage, physical distancing, janitorial service,” Karvaski said. “How we clean the equipment after each use? There’s just so many people.”

However, the department has been able to shift some of its resources outside, where physical distancing is much easier, and online, Karvaski said. Those programs — mostly arts- or fitness-related — are well suited for children and older adults, the recreation centers’ largest target demographics.

Some of the programs are conducted live, while videos for others are posted online and through the department’s social media channels so patrons can participate on their own time.

Online programming includes teaching children to imagine themselves as superheroes and to create their own super challenges to accomplish, drawing and dancing lessons and workout videos for active older adults.

The Boys & Girls Club of Metro Denver has also partnered with the remote learning center at the Athmar Recreation Center in Ruby Hill for some of that online programming, spokesperson Annie Zdrojewski said.

In addition, outdoor programs include youth sports camps at Valverde, Swansea and Parkfield Lake parks and the Lowry Sports Complex, Karvaski said.

A full list of available programs can be found online at denvergov.org/recreation.

As the weather turns colder and outdoor options become less viable, Martinez said he wants to shift even further online to give folks something to do this winter. About 3,500 patrons have participated in the department’s online programs since July — a far cry from the 40,000 patrons that used just the Carla Madison Recreation Center on East Colfax each month, Martinez acknowledged.

About 2.5 million people use the city’s recreation centers in a normal year, Karvaski said.

It’s not just the number of patrons that is dwindling, the department’s staff also has taken a hit during the pandemic as well.

Typically Martinez said his section

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U.S.-Canada border to remain closed to non-essential travel for another month as cases rise

The U.S.-Canadian border will remain closed to non-essential travel until late November as the U.S. has more confirmed cases and deaths from COVID-19 than any other country in the world. 

The ban on non-essential travel was put in place in March and has been extended every month since then. 


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On Monday, Canada’s public safety minister announced the earliest the border will reopen is now Nov. 21 in an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus. The closure was set to expire on Oct. 21. 

“We are extending non-essential travel restrictions with the United States until November 21, 2020. Our decisions will continue to be based on the best public health advice available to keep Canadians safe,” Canadian Emergency Minister Bill Blair said in a tweet Monday. 

The restrictions do not apply to essential workers such as health care professionals, airline crews and truck drivers. Americans and Canadians returning to their countries are also exempted from the border closure. 

The move comes as many parts of the U.S. are experiencing surges in coronavirus cases, prompting fears about a devastating second wave of infections going into flu season and the colder months. The U.S. reported more than 70,000 new infections on Friday, making it the highest single-day increase for the country since late July. 

Canada was able to largely flatten the curve over the summer,  but has been experiencing a rise in new daily cases since the end of August. 

As of Monday, the U.S. confirmed more than 8 million coronavirus cases and nearly 220,000 deaths. Canada has recorded nearly 210,000 cases and just under 10,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data.


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U.S. borders with Canada, Mexico to stay closed to non-essential travel until Nov. 21

WASHINGTON/OTTAWA (Reuters) – The United States’ land borders between Canada and Mexico will remain closed to all non-essential travel until Nov. 21, the U.S. Homeland Security Department said Monday.

FILE PHOTO: Canada’s Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Bill Blair speaks during a meeting of the special committee on the COVID-19 pandemic, as efforts continue to help slow the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada June 16, 2020. REUTERS/Blair Gable

The extension comes as the United States remains one of the worst-affected countries in the world and is reporting the second-highest number of new cases daily.

“To continue to limit the spread of COVID, the U.S., Mexico, and Canada will extend the restrictions on non-essential travel through Nov. 21. We are working closely with Mexico and Canada to identify safe criteria to ease the restrictions in the future and support our border communities,” said U.S. Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf on Twitter.

Mexico’s foreign ministry also confirmed that the measures will remain in place and unchanged until Nov. 21.

Canada’s Public Safety Minister Bill Blair earlier disclosed the latest one-month extension on Twitter, confirming a policy put in place in March to control the spread of COVID-19.

“We’d love to have the border open … but we can’t do that unless we’re comfortable that Canadians are being kept safe,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in an interview on AM 900 CHML Hamilton radio earlier on Monday.

“Right now, the situation in the United States continues to be of concern,” Trudeau added.

Last month, on the day the border extension was confirmed, U.S. President Donald Trump said it would open “pretty soon” because Canada wanted the restrictions lifted. But Canada’s government has made it clear it does not want the restrictions removed until COVID-19 is under control in both countries.

The restrictions are particularly painful for U.S. and Canadian towns along the border that are tightly intertwined.

Statistics Canada said earlier U.S. visits to Canada by automobile had plummeted by more than 95% in August compared with August 2019.

Reporting by David Shepardson and Steve Scherer; Additional reporting by Frank Jack Daniels and Ted Hesson; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama, Marguerita Choy and Andrea Ricci

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