Tag: Postponed

Hong Kong-Singapore ‘travel bubble’ postponed

The highly-anticipated Hong Kong and Singapore “air travel bubble” was postponed Saturday — less than 24 hours before it was due to launch.

a large passenger jet flying over a body of water: A Cathay Pacific passenger airplane takes off from Hong Kong's Chek Lap Kok International Airport on March 10, 2020.

© Anthony Wallace/AFP/Getty Images
A Cathay Pacific passenger airplane takes off from Hong Kong’s Chek Lap Kok International Airport on March 10, 2020.

The bubble would have allowed quarantine-free, air travel between the two Asian hubs. But a spike in coronavirus infections in Hong Kong means the arrangement will be postponed for two weeks, said Edward Yau, Hong Kong’s secretary for commerce and economic development, at a press conference Saturday.

Hong Kong reported 43 new coronavirus cases on Saturday, the highest daily spike in over three months. Among them, 36 were locally transmitted — including 13 that are untraceable.

The quarantine-free corridor was meant to boost tourism and business travel between the two Asian hubs, which have largely contained their coronavirus outbreak. Hong Kong has recorded 5,561 Covid-19 cases, including 108 deaths, since the outbreak began, while Singapore has reported 58,000 infections and 28 deaths.

Quarantine-free travel would have been a big deal for both destinations, where strict arrival regulations have been in place for months. When the coronavirus pandemic hit, both governments shut borders and denied entry to most non-residents and short-term visitors. In Hong Kong, returning residents are required to undergo a 14-day quarantine and wear an electronic bracelet to track their location.

How the bubble was meant to work

The bubble was set to begin Sunday with one flight a day into each city, with a quota of 200 travelers per flight — and later set increased to two flights a day.

Travelers would have to meet certain parameters before embarking, such as having made no trips in the previous 14 days, and undergo compulsory Covid-19 testing. But they wouldn’t be subject to any quarantine or stay-home notice requirements, or a controlled itinerary, upon arrival.

However, the arrangement always included the caveat that should the Covid-19 situation deteriorate in either city, the plan would be suspended.

Singapore’s Civil Aviation Authority initially announced on Saturday morning that the travel bubble with Hong Kong would be launched as scheduled. But later that day, the city-state’s Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung announced there had been a change of plan.

“Given the evolving situation in Hong Kong, Secretary Edward Yau and I discussed further this afternoon, and decided that it would be better to defer the launch of the ATB, by two weeks. We will review within two weeks on the new launch date and update again,” Ong said.

Hong Kong has seen a sharp rise in coronavirus infections in the past few days, after weeks of steadily low number of cases.

The city’s Centre for Health Protection “strongly urged” the public to avoid all non-essential travel outside Hong Kong, and called on residents to avoid going out, dining out and having social contact.

“The scale of the increase is very alarming,” Chuang Shuk-kwan, head of the Communicable Disease Branch at Hong Kong’s Centre for Health Protection

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Singapore-Hong Kong air travel bubble postponed

Singapore and Hong Kong have postponed a planned air travel bubble meant to boost tourism for both cities, amid a spike in coronavirus infections in Hong Kong

The air travel bubble, originally slated to begin Sunday, will be delayed by at least two weeks, Hong Kong’s minister of commerce and economic development, Edward Yau, said at a news conference.

The arrangement is meant to allow visitors between the two cities to travel without having to serve a quarantine as long as they complete coronavirus tests before and after arriving at their destinations, and fly on designated flights.

Hong Kong reported 43 new coronavirus cases on Saturday, including 13 untraceable local infections.

Under the initial agreement, the air travel bubble was to be suspended if the number of untraceable local infections in either Singapore or Hong Kong exceeds five on a seven-day moving average. The current average of unlinked cases in Hong Kong is nearly four.

Although the average of five had not been reached in Hong Kong, the bubble was suspended after Yau and Singapore’s transport minister, Ong Ye Kung, held discussions on Saturday.

Prior to the postponement, Singapore said Saturday morning that travelers arriving from Hong Kong via the bubble would be required to take a coronavirus test on arrival. Originally, only people landing in Hong Kong were to be required to be tested.

Ong said in a Facebook post Saturday that the postponement is a “sober reminder that the COVID-19 virus is still with us.”

“I can fully understand the disappointment and frustration of travellers who have planned their trips. But we think it is better to defer from a public health standpoint,” Ong wrote.

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Opening of Navy Pier hotel is postponed, the latest blow to city’s reeling hotel market

Before Navy Pier temporarily shut down on Labor Day, officials of the popular lakefront attraction remained optimistic about the planned opening of The Sable Hotel, built atop an existing pier building. So did the hotel’s developer.

“As of today our goal is to open the hotel on time Nov. 1,” the developer, Robert Habeeb, CEO of Maverick Hotels, Restaurants, told the Tribune at the time.

Now, in the latest blow to the Chicago area’s reeling hotel market, the opening of the 223-room hotel has been put off until March “because of the relentless nature of COVID and the market is in the doldrums,” Habeeb said Monday.

Asked if a March 1 hotel opening was unrealistic, given the current COVID surge, Habeeb said: “We’re hoping that, by then, there’s going to be medicine and vaccines. We have to open. We can’t stay closed forever.”

The hotel’s website, which said Monday that bookings are available for April 1 and beyond, will be changed to reflect the new opening date, he said.

Hotel occupancy in the Chicago metro area was 36.6% for the week ending Oct. 17, according to hotel industry market research firm STR. Last year, the figure was 84% for the week of Oct. 13-19.

In August, when officials announced the temporary closing of the pier, whose Ferris wheel and lakefront promenade have made it one of the Chicago’s top tourist attractions, they aimed to limit losses due to a lack of attendance. The pier, a not-for-profit entity, already was anticipating revenues falling $20 million short of projections.

It’s possible the closure, which originally was to last until April, could be extended, depending on the status of the pandemic.

“We’ve been targeting April [for reopening], but obviously we’ll keep an eye on what’s happening with the pandemic and, particularly, government restrictions,” Marilyn Kelly Gardner, president and CEO of Navy Pier, said Monday.

The pier could reopen in phases, she said.

The postponement of the hotel’s opening mark the latest setback for the city’s hospitality industry.

In August, the owner of the historic Palmer House Hilton, New York-based Thor Equities, was sued for almost $338 million in missed loan payments, in the largest Chicago foreclosure case to emerge from the pandemic.

At Willis Tower, the Skydeck observation area on the 103rd floor is open just three days a week instead of the usual seven.

The Sable operates under the Curio Collection by Hilton umbrella.

Designed by Chicago’s Koo architects, the hotel has been built atop an existing structure near the pier’s east end. Its name honors a World War II training ship, an aircraft carrier, that docked at Navy Pier.

Blair Kamin is a Tribune critic.

[email protected]

Twitter @BlairKamin


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IMPORTANT NOTICE Several Parks amp Recreation Facilities and Amenities are Closed, and Recreation Programs and Events are Cancelled or Postponed Due to the COVID 19 virus, the City of Cedar Rapids has closed facilities and several amenities in the parks

Due to the COVID-19 virus, the City of Cedar Rapids has closed facilities and several amenities in the parks. Recreation programs have been cancelled or postponed. For a list of the affected facilities, amenities, events and programs, click on the link below. 

Cedar Rapids Parks & Recreation Updates

The Parks and Recreation Department manages over 4,171 acres of city-owned property. In addition to 96 areas formally named, there are hundreds of acres held in reserve as undeveloped green space for future park expansion and flood control. We operate and maintain facilities for public use including four municipal golf courses, six swimming pools, splash pads, 25 pavilions, Ushers Ferry Historic Village, Old MacDonald’s Farm in Bever Park, Tuma Sports Complex, Tait Cummins Sports Complex, Noelridge Park Greenhouse, and trails. The parks system receives countless visits each year.

We offer more than 1,500 recreation programs annually. There is something of interest for every age and ability level. Programs are listed in the Play! guide which appears in the March, August and November issues of Our CR magazine. Attendance for aquatic and recreation programs totals more than 300,000 annually.

Meet Scott Hock, Parks & Recreation Director.

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