Tag: News

STB investigating gathering alleged to flout Covid-19 rules at RWS hotel, Singapore News & Top Stories

SINGAPORE (THE NEW PAPER) – Another investigation has been launched over a possible breach of safety measures at a hotel at Resorts World Sentosa (RWS).

Videos of a group of at least six women and a man were uploaded on social media on Sunday (Nov 15), when they allegedly held a party to celebrate the 33rd week of pregnancy of one of the women.

Some of the women had uploaded several videos on Instagram, showing themselves play-fighting with pillows and clothes on beds.

Social gatherings of more than five people are prohibited due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Responding to queries from The New Paper on Monday, Mr Chew Tiong Heng, executive director of infrastructure planning and management at the Singapore Tourism Board (STB), said it was aware of the alleged incident and was investigating.

“STB takes a serious view of any breach in safe management measures,” he said.

“Hotels are required to comply with all safe management measures, including ensuring that gatherings do not exceed five people if they are not from the same household.”

An RWS spokesman said it takes a serious view of non-compliance and requires all guests to be registered with the hotel front desk.

Safe management measures are highlighted to guests during check-in, and signs are displayed at common areas as a reminder.

He said: “We strongly urge all guests to strictly observe and adhere to all safe management measures for the health, safety and well-being of the Singapore community.”

This is the second such gathering at RWS that has allegedly breached safe management rules in as many months.

Last month, it was reported that a group of at least 10 people, mostly women, were seen drinking and dining together in a hotel suite there. Investigations over the incident are being done.

A reader tipped off TNP on the latest alleged incident and claimed it involved six women and two men who held significant influence over youth here.

One of the women involved has about 57,000 followers on Instagram.

The posts have all been removed from their Instagram accounts.

Individuals who breach safety measures may be fined up to $10,000, or jailed for up to six months, or both.

The maximum sentence is doubled for repeat offenders.

Asked what possible action may be taken if such breaches repeatedly occur at the same location, Mr Chew said hotels that are found to be non-compliant may face closure of its premises.

Businesses that do not comply may also be ineligible for government grants, loans, tax rebates and other forms of assistance.

Rules for staycations at hotels

Staycations are allowed at hotels approved by the Singapore Tourism Board and Ministry of Trade and Industry.

The hotels must comply with existing safe management measures, such as the wearing of masks and practice of safe distancing in public and common areas.

Gatherings, even those in private rooms and adjoining rooms, must be limited to five persons or fewer.

The exception is if the gathering consists only of people who have already

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Holiday travel restrictions, MileagePlus changes + more travel news

In this week’s TravelSkills on SFGATE newsletter…

With Thanksgiving only days away now, it’s time to decide – if you haven’t already – whether you’re going to take that annual trip to celebrate the holiday with family and/or friends. It looks like a lot of people are deciding to stay put as a surge of COVID cases nationwide leads to new state and local restrictions and more worries about travel in general. What about you? Take our poll embedded in this post, please. Read: Time to decide about your Thanksgiving travel plans [POLL]

In route news, West Coast governors advise travelers to quarantine just as airlines announce more new routes to meet holiday demand; Volaris starts MEX service from San Jose and Sacramento; Hawaiian Airlines allows mileage redemptions for COVID-19 tests; United starts to revive some in-flight services, opens more airport lounges; American has new AAdvantage enhancements; more trans-Pacific service to China, Vietnam, Taiwan; low-cost carrier Norwegian has new financial troubles; airport construction slows down at SFO, speeds up at LAX; Sacramento Airport changes parking payment policy; Seattle-Tacoma opens a COVID testing facility for all travelers; and Wyoming’s Jackson Hole Airport will close down for a while in 2022. Read: Routes- Thanksgiving trips in jeopardy, more Mexico City, Hawaiian, United, AA, SFO, LAX

United Airlines will slash travel and spending requirements for elite status in its MileagePlus frequent flier program — a change that reflects the realization that demand for air travel, especially among business travelers, will likely remain low well into 2021. On average, the spending required to hit elite levels will drop by a quarter and the number of flights required by a third when compared with the original conditions for each elite level. Read: United Airlines makes it easier to climb the elite status ladder

Three West Coast states issued a travel advisory Friday urging against nonessential travel and recommending quarantines for those who do travel between states and internationally. California Gov. Gavin Newsom, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee recommend travelers to their states and residents who leave and then return home self-quarantine for 14 days. Read: West Coast states recommend 2-week travel quarantine

Ever since United Airlines’ CEO Scott Kirby took the reins of the airline last May, he has wanted to rectify what he viewed as a big mistake: In October 2015, United moved out of New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport and consolidated its NYC operations at Newark International. Last week, Kirby fixed that. Read: United to resume New York JFK nonstops from California

Anyone who still uses a traditional taxi instead of an Uber or Lyft for a ride in from San Francisco International Airport is going to have fewer vehicles to hail starting next month, thanks to a controversial court ruling this week. As if local taxi drivers didn’t already have it tough enough because of their huge loss of market share to the app-based ride-hailing companies in recent years — not to mention the loss of

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Cruise, Travel Stocks Jump as Vaccine News Buoys Reopen Bets

(Bloomberg) — News of a second highly effective vaccine against Covid-19 triggered a sharp rally in reopening beneficiaries as the promising results from Moderna Inc. built on momentum for an answer to the deadly disease.


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Investors piled back into industries like cruiseliners, airlines and casinos after Moderna’s data sparked optimism that more vaccine options can help to quickly reopen the global economy. The second positive update in as many weeks fueled stocks that have been among the market’s worst performers — the trio of big cruise stocks had shed between 47% and 69% of their value this year before Monday’s session.

Moderna jumped 12% to an intraday record as the so-called reopen trade helped lead U.S. stocks higher. Cruise companies including Carnival Corp., Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. all jumped in early trading Monday. The S&P 500 rose as much as 0.9%.

Moderna said its Covid-19 vaccine was 94.5% effective in a preliminary analysis of a large late-stage clinical trial. The progress report comes after vaccine results from Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE a week ago showed 90% efficacy in stopping SARS-CoV-2 infections. Shares in Pfizer fell 4.1%, while BioNTech ADRs slumped 14%, the most since July.

“The initial market impact might be more cautious than after the Pfizer news given that it’s just ‘more of the same,’” said Stephen Innes, a strategist at Axicorp Ltd. “But the medium-term economic outlook should once again look better now, which in my view should support a sustained macro reassessment.”

Read more: Moderna Vaccine Found Highly Effective at Preventing Covid

Reopen trade roars back led by airlines and cruise operators

© Bloomberg
Reopen trade roars back led by airlines and cruise operators

Cruise, travel, tourism and entertainment shares were hit hard this year and face further losses as Covid-19’s resurgence in parts of the globe forces governments to impose further lockdown measures and travel restrictions. The prospect of effective vaccines is helping offset some of the potential declines, analysts said.

Carnival shares jumped as much as 10%, while Royal Caribbean advanced 8% and Norwegian rallied 9.8%. Airline stocks gained as well, with American Airlines Group Inc. and United Airlines Holdings Inc. jumping at least 5.8%, while Southwest Airlines Co. and Delta Air Lines Inc. eyed similar gains.

Casino operators also rallied, with Wynn Resorts Ltd. jumping 6.7% and MGM Resorts International climbing 5.3%. The benefits also spread to theme-park operators and ride-sharing stocks like Uber Technologies Inc. and Lyft Inc.

McKesson Corp., the central distributor for most Covid-19 vaccines in the U.S., rallied as much as 2.6%. Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. and CVS Health Inc., which are partnered with the federal government to administer vaccines, climbed as well.

Industrial manufacturers like Carrier Global Corp. and Emerson Electric Co. — which offer refrigeration solutions and temperature management systems — can play a key role in any vaccine distribution effort. Carrier shares were up as much as 2.6% and Emerson rose 2.4%.

Lockdown Shares

Adding to the risk-on momentum was news that two of President-elect Joe Biden’s coronavirus

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Coastal News Today | NC

This year has been a rollercoaster for many of those who manage rental properties in the beach towns that dot the coastline of Southeastern North Carolina.

COVID-19 hit the United States in mid-March, just when rental properties tend to see an uptick in spring break bookings. Instead, many saw cancellation after cancellation. Temporary state and local bans on short-term rentals appeared to doom the rental season before it began.

But when bans lifted, people rushed to reserve vacation rentals. Reservations have remained steady for local rental companies throughout the summer and into the fall.

Watching the vacation rental season ‘fall apart’

For Ian Kraus, a property and reservations manager at Intracoastal Vacation Rentals in Wrightsville Beach, the cancellations began streaming in mid-March. Kraus estimates he handled 450 cancellations this spring. That’s unheard of.

“I’ve never been anywhere close to that,” Kraus said.

The initial uncertainty surrounding the pandemic led to the flood of cancellations that seemed to threaten the rental season.

“People were cancelling, not coming, trying to reschedule,” said Jessica Elliott, the marketing director at Sea Scape Properties in Wrightsville Beach. “This whole time, we’re just seeing our whole season fall apart.”

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Need a vacation? Experts advise you to take one | News

More than ever, people could use a vacation in 2020.

Data show most people won’t take the days they have earned and in fact, employees are working more than ever because so many are working from home, extending hours on the job.

Finding a way to manage it all, even changing company policies to permit employees to carry vacation days into 2021, are keyed by constant communication, Gabe Abshire an expert on workplace culture who is the CEO of Utility Concierge in Dallas.

According to a 2019 study by The U.S. Travel Association, Oxford Economics and Ipsos, Americans left a record 768 million vacation days on the table in 2018, a nine percent increase over the year before.

Couple that trend with the fact that many people skipped scheduled days off this year because of COVID-19 and many employers and employees are scrambling over the final seven weeks of the year.

Many companies have a “use-it-or-lose-it” policy with vacation, which can pose a challenge at this time of the year, especially when so many people are out of work because of the pandemic.

“Obviously, it’s an unprecedented time and a lot of things have changed,” Abshire said. “A lot of people are grateful to have a job with so many people laid off. So there is some uncertainty about the reaction. They feel guilty even asking.”

You shouldn’t.

“Employees should not be fearful of asking for vacation,” Abshire said. “It’s yours. You’ve earned it. But communication is important. Make sure you give them plenty of time. Don’t get to Dec. 15 and say, ‘I have 2 weeks left, see you in 2021.”

It is also vital for companies to communicate to make sure employees are aware of how much time they have left to take off, especially if there is no carryover.

“A lot of employers are just as grateful that you are there,” he said. “Whose responsibility is it to track it though? If the employer wants a team to be healthy and sharp, then they want them to take the vacations they are entitled to. There has to be an environment created where employees aren’t fearing taking off.”

That is as important as ever considering studies show that people working from home, while perhaps finding an easier work-life balance, are also putting in more hours.

With access to phones and email, it can be more difficult to disconnect while working at home

Studies show people working at home are spending, on average, 48 minutes more a day working than if they were in an office setting.

“It started out as this novel idea and two months into it, a lot of people were like, ‘this is what work-life balance is supposed to look like?’” Abshire asked.

“Some companies have seen it become a problem, so they cut people off where they can’t log-in to work, or shut the phone log-in off for the day. For our team, it’s made our employees more productive, more accountable and happier.”

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As virus cases rise, Southwest sees slower travel recovery | National News

Southwest said in a regulatory filing that October revenue is down about 65% from a year ago, and that November and December revenue will be off 60% to 65%. It is unclear whether the weakening booking trends is directly related to the surge in virus cases. Other industry officials left little doubt, however.

“Demand is softening, and in the wake of the news, it’s probably not hard to figure out why,” said Nicholas Calio, president of the trade group Airlines for America.

Air travel remains deeply depressed — in the U.S., it’s down about 65% from a year ago. Although that is improvement over April’s 95% decline, Calio told reporters that U.S. airlines are still losing about $180 million a day.

Airlines have added more flights for Thanksgiving, but health officials are warning against big gatherings over the holiday. This week, New York limited private gatherings to 10 people, even for outdoor events.

In the early days of the pandemic, several airlines tried to reassure frightened travelers by blocking some seats to create more space between passengers. As flights have become more crowded in recent months, airlines are losing money by leaving seats empty.

JetBlue is the latest U.S. carrier to abandon seating limits. Southwest will stop blocking middle seats on Dec. 1. The last holdouts — Delta Air Lines and Alaska Airlines — plan to eliminate their seating limits early next year.

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Relief, recreation and discovery in Ubin, ST Editorial News & Top Stories

New species of fauna are not something usually associated with urbanised Singapore. Yet the first comprehensive Ubin biodiversity survey on Pulau Ubin has discovered a spider species new to science, documented six animals not seen here before, and 13 others that are firsts for Ubin. The survey’s preliminary findings, released in September, are heartening for several reasons.

First, they are a vivid reminder of Mother Nature’s resilience. Pulau Ubin, despite its associations with rustic charms, has seen much human interference, primarily from granite mining. Its current abundance is a sign that nature can recover – and fairly rapidly. Second, Ubin’s success as a wildlife sanctuary is testament to how a civil society and government partnership can work for the benefit of all, as the example of preserving Chek Jawa in the early 2000s also showed. Third, the island is a capsule that offers ongoing lessons for Singapore as it strives to become a biophilic city under the National Parks Board’s 10-year vision, which entails not just a more intensive greening of this concrete jungle but also recognition on the part of citizens of the value of our natural environment.

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West Coast governors urge COVID quarantine after travel | National News

“I think it sets the right tone that these states are taking it seriously and that we have a bunch of hot spots in the USA,” Noymer said. “Nobody wants to become North Dakota.”

The travel advisory is not as strict as rules implemented in June by New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

Those three states require travelers to quarantine for 14 days and submit forms disclosing personal information if they arrive from states averaging 10 or more new daily cases of the coronavirus per 100,000 residents over a seven-day period, or from states where 10% or more of tests came up positive on average over the past week.

The West Coast measure will add to the misery of the airline and tourism industries that are reeling from a year when people have been told or encouraged to stay home for months at a time.

On Wednesday, three global airline alliances urged governments to favor testing and other measures over the “blunt instrument” of quarantines. Oneworld, Star Alliance and SkyTeam, which represent 58 airlines, said testing could be part of an overall approach to restart international travel, which is down 92% from pre-COVID-19 levels.

Visit California, a nonprofit promoting state tourism, said the recent uptick in cases was cause for concern going into the holidays.

“California’s tourism businesses are disappointed the pandemic is forcing this step, but the travel industry understands long-term recovery is not possible until COVID-19 rates are under control,” said Caroline Beteta, president and CEO of Visit California. “Safety remains our top priority.”

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Saving Weasel: Walla Walla animal control officer comes to rescue while on vacation in Gig Harbor | News

Toni Froehling and his wife, Sara Tidd, are unlikely to forget Walla Walla anytime soon.

Especially the city’s animal control officer, Sallie McCullough, whose actions and knowledge of animals prevented a tragedy for the Yelm, Washington, couple last month.

It was late October when Froehling and a friend took a boat into the Puget Sound waters off Gig Harbor with Froehling’s three dogs while his wife was on a camping trip with friends.

Tidd is retired, and Froehling is wrapping up a 45-year legal career. The two have been together three years, and life mostly revolves around their dogs, they said.

“And our cat, ‘Jeffrey Dahmer,’” Froehling said with a laugh.

Family pooches Louie, Farley and Weasel are all good sailors, he said, and are comfortable with being on the couple’s 50-foot boat.

The plan was to sail the harbor that Saturday, get some lunch at a dockside restaurant on the other side and return home.

When Froehling started back toward home, however, the weather turned bad about 4 miles from shore.

“By now the wind was driving 3-to-4-foot waves,” he recalled.

Not a problem for a boat that size, Froehling explained, “but the dogs were not happy. It was bouncing around inside the boat pretty good.”

Louie, a poodle, sat watching. Farley, the Australian shepherd, flattened out on the floor.

Weasel, a blue heeler, first jumped onto the boat’s dashboard, then zoomed down into the cabin.

That’s Weasel’s way in rough seas — she jumps into the bed and hides until the boat is safely moored.

Froehling assumed that was the case this time. But when he called the dog’s name after docking, no Weasel appeared.

The men searched the boat. When it became clear Weasel had jumped or fallen overboard, they headed back out to look in the harbor.

“If you had seen the water, the whitecaps, it was rough. We just felt like there was no hope. We both felt just sick,” Froehling said, his voice still laden with the agony of that moment.

There was nothing to do but call Tidd and deliver the bad news, he added.

“I cried through the night, and Sara was a disaster.”

In another part of Gig Harbor, Sallie McCullough was vacationing with friends at Sunrise Beach Park.

The community is tiny, she said, and their rental was part of a tightly packed row of tiny houses next to a tiny beach, separated from the water by a 15-foot high rock wall and a few feet of gravelly sand.

Just to reach the house requires parking up top a hill and traversing a winding path that then weaves around the cottages and along the retaining wall.

McCullough and the others were walking there when the 18-year-old in their group spotted what first appeared to be a deer ahead on the path.

Deer freely roam the area and munch on lawns, McCullough said, and she advised the young man to proceed slowly so as not to scare the animal.

In a

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New Magical Vacation Planner joins the chamber | Local Business News

New Magical Vacation Planner joins the chamber

Debbie King cuts the ribbon at a ceremony Thursday at the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce celebrating her joining the chamber with her new business, Magical Vacation Planner. She is surrounded by family and chamber ambassadors.

FLORENCE, S.C. – Magical Vacation Planner Debbie King celebrated joining the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce at a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Thursday at the chamber office.

She was joined by family and chamber ambassadors.

King joins more than a thousand agents around the country who are Magical Vacation Planners. She is the third in Florence.

King said the company was started in 2006, but she became an agent in January.

She said they plan vacations at all Disney resorts, Adventures Disney, inclusive resorts and major cruise line cruises. King said she plans honeymoon destinations, destination weddings and other special occasions.

She said her services are free to the vacationer. Her fees are paid by the vendor.

“I work out of my home,” King said.

King said she and her family have taken lots of Disney vacations over past 20 years, and she has first-hand knowledge of locations and sights.

King said planning a vacation can be time-consuming and stressful. It can take time away from your family, she said. She said selecting a Magical Vacation Planner is the best way to make sure you get the most out of your vacation.

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