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Hotel guards not my decision: Vic premier | The Canberra Times

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Premier Daniel Andrews has again said he played no role in deciding to use private security guards for Victoria’s hotel quarantine program, that led to the state’s deadly second coronavirus wave. In a fresh sworn statement tendered to the Hotel Quarantine Inquiry on Friday, Mr Andrews said he gave no advice or direction to the then-secretary of the Department of Premier and Cabinet Chris Eccles. “I expressed no view at all about the use of private security as part of the hotel quarantine program,” Mr Andrews wrote. “Decisions of that kind are of an operational nature in which I do not play a role.” The premier also said he was unaware at the time that Mr Eccles had spoken to then police commissioner Graham Ashton. He said none of the staff in his office could shed any light on who made the decision to use private security. The premier’s new affidavit to the hotel inquiry on Friday was part of a raft of new documents, including also those relating to Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton’s knowledge of the botched program. Professor Sutton was asked to provide a second sworn statement to the inquiry, after he at first gave evidence that he didn’t remember an email exchange with Euan Wallace about the quarantine program. In his new statement, Prof Sutton said he did recall emailing Professor Wallace on April 13, but he did not remember this when giving sworn evidence on September 16. “I now also have some recollection of speaking to Prof Wallace on the matters raised in those emails but do not recall that we came to any resolution or conclusion,” he said. Prof Sutton maintained that his public health team was not involved in the quarantine program and that they “did not have operational control” over parts of the public health response “for which they had a moral and perhaps legal responsibility.” He says the emails “highlight that public health were not in day-to-day decision making roles.” Victoria’s hotel quarantine program was established within 36 hours of a national cabinet meeting on March 27. Mr Ashton told the inquiry he learned private security would be used in the program sometime between 1.16pm and 1.22pm on March 27, but couldn’t recall who told him. Phone records established Mr Eccles spoke to Mr Ashton at 1.17pm. Mr Eccles resigned after the revelation, although he emphatically denied, and again in Friday’s documents, that he spoke to Mr Ashton about security. Outbreaks among security and hotel staff at Rydges and Stamford Plaza have been blamed for 99 per cent of Victoria’s COVID-19 second wave. The second wave resulted in more than 18,000 new infections and 750 deaths. Australian Associated Press


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Quarantine Aussie tells of hotel ‘debacle’ | The Canberra Times

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A returned Australian quarantining in a COVID-19 hotel in Adelaide has told of feeling “a bit like a leper” and of being treated “worse than prisoners” after being forced to endure four weeks in isolation. Alex Tweedie has been in the Peppers Hotel since arriving from South Africa late in October. She had been due to leave and return to Victoria earlier this month, but was told she had to stay another two weeks when a security guard at the hotel tested positive for the virus, triggering a cluster of cases. She described a shocking lack of communication from health officials in the reasons for her second stint in quarantine and said she was yet to receive written confirmation she would not be charged for the extra two weeks. Ms Tweedie said she, and other guests, were also concerned over what the problems surrounding the Peppers Hotel would mean for them when they returned to their home states. “It makes you feel a bit like a leper in all honesty,” she told an SA parliamentary inquiry on Friday. “I’ve had six tests, all of which were negative. There’s no threat to society as far as I’m concerned. “And there is going to be that same problem when we’re all going away on Monday. “How are people going to think about (us) when we return to our homes.” Ms Tweedie said she had three flights from South Africa cancelled before she eventually made it back to Australia in a process which she began in June. She told the inquiry that Australians returning from all over the world during the pandemic had been left to feel like second-rate citizens, prompting feelings of rejection from both the federal and state governments. While in quarantine she said there were people with food allergies being served meals they could not eat and, in her own case, the vegetarian diet provided was lacking in iron and protein. But she said the biggest problem with the issues surrounding the Peppers Hotel was a lack of communication with more information available through social media and the mainstream media than from authorities. “This lack of communication has been the biggest downfall in the whole debacle,” she said. “Lack of communication allows for false information and mistrust and that’s exactly what’s happened. You’ve lost our trust. “For nearly a week, we were not given a departure date, when we would be retested. “Essentially, during our additional quarantine, we were treated worst than prisoners.” Australian Associated Press


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US number of cases 8 times bigger than reported, CDC says; AstraZeneca vaccine faces questions; WHO encourages exercise

Like pretty much everything in 2020, Thanksgiving looks a lot different due to COVID-19.

New COVID-19 vaccine candidate up to 90% effective and different from others



Many are spending their first Thanksgiving alone or without loved ones. Families are turning video calls into the dinner table. Even the Thanksgiving Day Parade balloons are social distancing. 

“I know the country has grown weary of the fight,” President-elect Joe Biden said in a Thanksgiving eve address urging unity. “We need to remember we’re at war with the virus, not with one another. Not with each other.”

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Biden gave his address a day after the U.S. reported its deadliest day since May, with more than 2,000 new fatalities due to the virus. It could get worse: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday published a national ensemble forecast that predicts 294,000 to 321,000 coronavirus deaths by Dec. 19.

a group of people performing on stage in front of a building: Masked handlers wait to raise and fly large balloons at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on November 26, 2020 in New York City. While the the annual holiday parade usually draws thousands of onlookers, much of the celebration was prerecorded and scaled back due to the continuing COVID-19 pandemic.

© Scott Heins, Getty Images
Masked handlers wait to raise and fly large balloons at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on November 26, 2020 in New York City. While the the annual holiday parade usually draws thousands of onlookers, much of the celebration was prerecorded and scaled back due to the continuing COVID-19 pandemic.

In Los Angeles County, the nation’s most populous, public health officials said infections are skyrocketing, with approximately one out of every 145 people infected with the virus. That estimate was at 1 in 880 residents two months ago, according to the Los Angeles Times.

📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has reported more than 12.8 million cases and over 263,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: 60.8 million cases and 1.42 million deaths.

🗺️ Mapping coronavirus: Track the U.S. outbreak in your state.

This file will be updated throughout the day. For updates in your inbox, subscribe to The Daily Briefing newsletter.

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Competitions | The Irish Times

Win a relaxing escape with The Flynn Hotel Collection


To celebrate The Flynn Hotel Collection’s Green Friday campaign taking place this week across the country, we are giving you the chance to staycation in style in 2021 with a weekend break to any one of the four Flynn Hotel Collection locations across the island of Ireland.

You and one lucky guest will have the chance to enjoy a two night stay in the elegant, boutique style Imperial Hotel in Cork City, The Newpark Hotel in Kilkenny set on 40 acres of beautiful parkland, The Park Hotel in the harbour town of Dungarvan or The Old Ground Hotel in the heart of Ennis, an ideal base from which to explore the stunning west coast of Ireland. Whether you are looking for a city break, a relaxing spa escape or a romantic weekend away together, The Flynn Hotel Collection has you covered with something extra special to be found at each of the group’s four charming properties. Once you’ve selected your hotel of choice you’ll check in for a two night stay with delicious breakfast each morning and dinner on one evening in the hotel’s restaurant, as well as access to the hotel’s local amenities.

This week The Flynn Hotel Collection are turning Black Friday into Green Friday and helping to support a variety of local producers in their hotel locations by purchasing a special green gift for guests when they book an overnight stay at any one of the four hotels, checking in before the end of March 2021. As well as enjoying 20% off this overnight package, which includes bed & breakfast, guests will receive one of the following: a bottle of Killahora Orchards Poiré Fine Perry on arrival at The Imperial Hotel in Cork, a bottle of organic Highbank Apple Gin at The Newpark Hotel in Kilkenny and JJ Corry Whiskey and a box of Wilde Irish Chocolates in your room when you arrive at The Old Ground Hotel in Ennis. And for some extra rest and relaxation, guests to The Park Hotel Dungarvan will receive a seaweed bath pack from The Seagardener, a local business owned by seaweed educator and forager Marie Power.

The Flynn Hotel Collection Green Friday initiative is available to book until Monday 30th November by calling any of the hotels direct and quoting ‘Green Friday’ or see www.flynnhotels.com 

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SA Labor wants halt to hotel quarantine | The Canberra Times

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The South Australian opposition has reaffirmed calls for an end to the hotel quarantine system in Adelaide until a safer option can be found. The use of city hotels to keep returning Australians isolated during the COVID-19 pandemic has come in for criticism recently after a cluster of cases in Adelaide was linked back to one facility. A cleaner at the hotel picked up the virus and spread it to other members of her family. Opposition Leader Peter Malinauskas says with the number of coronavirus cases surging overseas, the number of infections among returned travellers has also increased. “Continuing to accept international arrivals and putting them in CBD medi-hotels staffed by casual labour puts our state at greater risk of another outbreak,” Mr Malinauskas said. “This level of risk is simply unacceptable. “The only way to alleviate this risk is the immediate and indefinite end of the medi-hotel system in its current format until a safer solution is found.” But Premier Steven Marshall said other ideas, such as sending returned travellers to places like Christmas Island, was logistically impractical. As the so-called Parafield cluster emerged in Adelaide last week, the state government did put overseas flights on hold until at least December. On Sunday, SA had 37 active cases of COVID-19 but only 11 of those were returned travellers in hotel quarantine. Australian Associated Press


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Covid-19 News: Live Updates – The New York Times

Here’s what you need to know:

Credit…Annie Flanagan for The New York Times

As the United States struggles with surging coronavirus cases and hospitalizations, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday urged Americans not to travel during the Thanksgiving holiday and to consider canceling plans to spend time with relatives outside their households.

The new guidance states clearly that “the safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving is to celebrate at home with the people you live with,” and that gathering with friends and even family members who do not live with you increases the chances of becoming infected with Covid-19 or the flu or transmitting the virus.

Officials said they were strengthening their recommendations against travel because of a startling surge in infections in just the past week. As of Wednesday, the seven-day average of new cases across the country had surpassed more than 162,000, an increase of 77 percent from the average two weeks earlier.

“Amid this critical phase, the C.D.C. is recommending against travel during the Thanksgiving period,” said Dr. Henry Walke, Covid-19 incident manager at the agency, during a news briefing.

“We’re alarmed,” he added, citing an exponential increase in Covid-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths. “What we’re concerned about is not only the actual mode of travel — whether it’s an airplane or bus or car, but also the transportation hubs we’re concerned about, as well.”

“When people are in line” to get on a bus or plane, social distancing becomes far more difficult and viral transmission becomes more likely, he said.

The agency’s overriding concern is that the holidays may accelerate the spread of the virus, C.D.C. officials said. Older family members are at great risk for complications and death should they contract the virus.

Officials made the pleas to avoid travel even as they acknowledged that the prolonged outbreak has taken a toll on families, and that people are craving connection after months of isolation.

But Dr. Walke warned family get-togethers — especially those that bring different households together — could inadvertently lead to tragic outcomes.

“The tragedy that could happen is one of your family members, from coming together in a family gathering, could wind up hospitalized and severely ill and could die. We don’t want to see that happen,” Dr. Walke said. “This year we’re asking people to be as safe as possible.”

College students returning home for the holiday should isolate themselves and limit interactions with friends on campus before their return, and once home, they should try to limit interactions with family members, trying to interact outside rather than indoors and wear masks indoors if a family member has a chronic condition that places them at risk.

Dr. Walke said he himself is not going to visit his parents, though he has not seen them in many months and they are imploring him to come home, and he has encouraged his own adult and

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Desperate times birth the new flexi hotel

Over the weekends, the resort’s 31 rooms are nearly all booked. The occupancy drops to a third on weekdays. It has been this way since August. When the resort restarted after the lockdown in June, the rooms were discounted. A confident management firmed up prices over the next several weeks. Now, a room can cost 10,000 a night over the weekends.

“We have recruited 13 people since August 15. We declared a bonus for the months of July and August for every employee, right from the gardener to the vice president,” Nath, a director at Karma Chalets said. “However, we still haven’t prepared a budget for the year. We are just going with the flow,” he added.

The resort may seem like an aberration, but it is not. Resorts and branded hotels that are at motorable distances from cities are seeing a huge spike in demand driven by a phenomenon called ‘revenge tourism’. After being locked up for six months, people want to splurge — in places that are perceived to be safer.

So, WelcomHeritage’s resort in Coorg, Ayatana, about five hours drive from Bengaluru, is running at 80% occupancy. Aurika, Udaipur, a resort by Lemon Tree Hotels, has good demand from denizens of Ahmedabad. Resorts run by The Indian Hotels Company Limited (IHCL) in Rishikesh, Jaipur, Goa, Madh Island (Mumbai), and Lonavala have gained as well.

City hotels have no such luck. There are no international tourists and no corporate travellers. Conferences and exhibitions haven’t re-started yet. And while occupancies and room rates are improving every month, they are still several notches below what it was in the same period last year.

Hotel occupancies averaged about 65% in 2019, a report from Noesis Capital Advisors, a hotel transaction advisory company, and Ngage Hospitality stated. The average occupancy dropped to 9% during the first half of 2020-21. Between March and June, branded hotels lost 80 billion in revenues, the report added.

Leisure destinations seeing demand spikes post the lockdown also have many miles to go. Take Goa and Jaipur, two popular leisure destinations, for instance. Hotel occupancy in Goa averaged about 26% in September 2020 versus 61% in the year ago month. Occupancy in Jaipur averaged 27% in September this year compared to 66% the year ago, data from HVS Anarock, a hospitality advisory group, showed.

To survive, branded hotels are picking up all sorts of business and are exploring revenue streams that did not exist earlier. Milking domestic tourists is high on the agenda. So is monetising real estate, focusing more on high-value Indian marriages, making digital pivots when it comes to food services.

All five-star hotels were wary about home delivery of food. The lockdown has changed all this. Luxury hotels now have their own food delivery apps. Some have opened the doors to laundry services for anyone in the city, even.

Meanwhile, undercutting of room rates is rampant in city hotels. All of a sudden, those who could afford three or four-star hotels in good

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3 Times Katrina Kaif’s beachy bikini pictures gave us major vacation wardrobe goals

In the last 8 months of home quarantine, the one thing we’ve missed the most is travelling to new places and making the most of our vacation wardrobe. However, while our travel goals have gone down the drain, all we have is to look back at our past pictures and make the most of those memories. But, when it comes to Katrina Kaif, she’s making sure to never tame that travel bug in her as she’s off to the Maldives looking her best self. 

When it comes to Kat, you know she’s about to bring colour to your life with a side of suntan and bikinis. So while there are fewer chances of us travelling for at least the next few months, we’re letting some of the most stunning bikinis look by Katrina Kaif keep us company! 

First up we have one of our favourite beachy looks by the diva. This scalloped hem red bikini is the perfect one when you wish to have all eyes on you. The actress let her glowing skin shine under the sun as she let her textured mane down for a beachy day! 

a person looking at the camera

© Provided by Pinkvilla

Now, what’s a beach day without playing in the sand? Yellow is what she chose this time around as she made the most of her wardrobe in the bright yellow bikini. With cut out details and her gorgeous curves at the display, she surely looks stunning under the shadows!

a man jumping into the water: katrina kaif bikini

© Provided by Pinkvilla
katrina kaif bikini

Last on our favourites list is this recent bikini picture in white. The actress glowed under the sun as she smiled her way through the day. With no makeup on and a gorgeous flush of suntan, the actress’ pictures were a treat to sore eyes! 

a woman standing next to a body of water

© Provided by Pinkvilla

What are your thoughts about it? Let us know in the comments section below.

For more Fashion & Beauty updates: Follow @pinkvillafashion

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COVID-19 travel restrictions scrapped in Victoria | The Canberra Times

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For the first time in months Melburnians will be free from COVID-19 travel restrictions within Victoria. Premier Daniel Andrews on Sunday announced “families will be able to be together again” as he scrapped Melbourne’s 25km-from-home metropolitan travel limit and removed the city’s ‘ring of steel’ which had prevented people from visiting regional areas. The new rules start from midnight. “Both the 25km limit and the ring of steel, the metropolitan regional Victoria border, comes down as well,” he said. Travel freedom is set to expand again when the NSW border reopens to Victorians on November 23. Mr Andrew’s announcement coincided with the state’s ninth straight day without a new COVID-19 case. The 14-day average for daily cases in Melbourne sits at 0.4 and there are two cases with an unknown source. A number of other restrictions will also ease from Monday, including hospitality numbers increasing to 40 indoor patrons and 70 outdoor patrons. Health Minister Martin Foley on Saturday announced an enforcement blitz on businesses and workplaces posing a high risk of COVID-19 transmission would be conducted over the weekend. Compliance checks by police, Work Safe and the Department of Health and Human Services could see offenders hit with fines of up to $10,000. “Overwhelmingly Victorian businesses are doing the right thing,” Mr Foley told reporters on Saturday. The run of low or zero cases has allowed Victoria to welcome the first international flights to Melbourne since June 30, with the resumption of flights from New Zealand from Monday. Victoria’s COVID-19 death toll is 819, and 907 people have died from the virus across Australia. Australian Associated Press


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Travel Goes Members-Only – The New York Times

Wyndham Destinations is one of the world’s largest time-share companies. At its Wyndham Vacation Clubs, which include four different brands, 900,000 owners, 230 Wyndham club resorts and 4,300 affiliated properties, online bookings for Club Wyndham (the flagship of the four brands) were up 18 percent in July, and 80 percent of resorts were seeing longer stays from guests, according to Noah Brodsky, chief brand officer of Wyndham Destinations. Mr. Gamel speculated that, in lieu of bigger, international trips, timeshare members are opting to splurge on travel within their clubs, instead.

Newer membership companies are making health and safety factors a core part of their pitch, if not the entirety of it. Manifest Travel opened its doors in August, centering on high-end, small group trips based out of local chapters in San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Phoenix and Denver. All of the club’s curated itineraries are to nearby, domestic destinations and include travel via private plane (Jeff Potter, the founder, conceived of the idea pre-Covid, but acknowledges that the model is particularly appealing).

Again, safety and security don’t come cheap. A Manifest membership is $2,500 per year, plus individual trip costs, which may range from $5,000 to $7,000.

The ability to pay for membership, and therefore, a kind of peace of mind, is and has always been a privilege. But it’s a highly appealing one in uncertain times.

“In the short term, I think this focus on safety has increased the profile of clubs like ourselves,” Mr. Henderson said. “But I don’t necessarily think that this is the only way people are going to travel in the future. We have very specific types of offerings and we’re not looking to change that. Plus, our members also join for a sense of community.”

Follow New York Times Travel on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. You can also sign up for our Travel Dispatch newsletter: Each week you’ll receive tips on traveling smarter, stories on hot destinations and access to photos from all over the world.

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