International Travel

Placeholder Content Image

Prince Harry wants to “return” to role after resigning as senior royal

<p>Prince Harry is reportedly interested in returning to a role he had to relinquish after stepping down as a senior member of the British royal family.</p> <p>The Duke of Sussex wanted to return to his role as the Captain General Royal Marines, a former soldier and friend has claimed.</p> <p>“He simply said he misses his role with the Marines and would like one day to return to the appointment,” the unnamed former Invictus Games soldier told <em><a href="https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/prince-harry-misses-role-ceremonial-22128440">The Mirror</a></em>.</p> <p>The conversation took place shortly after lockdown began, the outlet reported.</p> <p>Another military source said Harry’s departure was a “shock” to his colleagues.</p> <p>“Harry was a breath of fresh air, the lads could relate to him and he was a very popular figure who took a keen interest in his job,” the source said.</p> <p>Harry, who took over the ceremonial head role from Prince Philip in December 2017, left the appointment on March 31, his final day as a working member of the royal family.</p> <p>He also lost his positions as Honorary Air Commandant Royal Air Force Honington and Commodore-in-Chief of Small Ships and Diving, while retaining his rank of Major and honorary ranks of Lieutenant Commander and Squadron Leader.</p> <p>The Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s new roles would be reviewed in 12 months’ time.</p> <p>The Sussexes’ website stated: “During this 12-month period of review, The Duke’s official military appointments will not be used as they are in the gift of the Sovereign. No new appointments will be made to fill these roles before the 12-month review of the new arrangements is completed.”</p> <p>Harry’s military service began in 2005. He attended the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst for training before being commissioned into the Blues and Royals cavalry regiment.</p> <p>He also completed two tours in Afghanistan, for which he was awarded an Operational Service Medal.</p> <p>Harry and Meghan are now residing in California in the US.</p>

International Travel

Placeholder Content Image

Four countries offering incredible coronavirus travel deals

<p>With many industries being hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, it appears that the tourism industry is no exception. Although non-essential travel is currently prohibited, countries around the world are getting ready for visitors to appear on their shores this summer.</p> <p>In an impressive effort to entice tourists, some countries are offering discount vouchers for spas, museums and theme parks. Others are offering free hotel stays. Here are four countries that are offering incentives to travel there.</p> <blockquote style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/CA4YKXAnewW/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="12"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"></div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"></div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"></div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"></div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/CA4YKXAnewW/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank">A post shared by Discover our Sicily (@_discoveringsicily_)</a> on May 31, 2020 at 10:34pm PDT</p> </div> </blockquote> <p><strong>1.</strong><span> </span><strong>Sicily, Italy</strong></p> <p>The small southern Italian island has announced that the country is offering to pay half of visitors’ flight costs and a third of hotel expenses to entice tourists to return after the coronavirus pandemic.</p> <p>There are also free tickets being offered to many of the museums on the island as well as free tickets to archaeological sites.</p> <blockquote style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/B7rZVtnJpFK/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="12"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"></div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"></div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"></div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"></div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/B7rZVtnJpFK/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank">A post shared by Iceland Naturally (@icelandnatural)</a> on Jan 23, 2020 at 1:57pm PST</p> </div> </blockquote> <p><strong>2.</strong><span> </span><strong>Iceland</strong></p> <p>Iceland has a plan to entice tourists by offering travellers free COVID-19 tests upon arrival at the airport. If you test negative, you’re free to enjoy your time in the country. If not, you’re required to self-isolate for 14 days.</p> <p><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.insider.com/all-places-offering-discounts-freebies-incentives-entice-tourists-post-coronavirus-2020-6#iceland-free-coronavirus-tests-5" target="_blank"><em>Insider</em></a><span> </span>is aware that the new border process is still being finalised, so it’s not known whether the tests will remain free for an initial two week trial period or beyond that.</p> <blockquote style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/B_qKxMqJu6p/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="12"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"></div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"></div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"></div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"></div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/B_qKxMqJu6p/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank">A post shared by Cancun (@cancun)</a> on May 1, 2020 at 1:36pm PDT</p> </div> </blockquote> <p><strong>3.</strong><span> </span><strong>Cancun, Mexico</strong></p> <p>Mexico is very keen to welcome back tourists from mid-June, as a new tourism campaign called #Come2MexicanCaribbean or #VenAlCaribeMexicanoX2 has been launched. The campaign boasts a lot of perks for tourists.</p> <p>Some of these perks include two free nights for every two nights paid by guests, two free days of car rentals for every two days paid for, free stays for up to two children when two adults book as well as 20 per cent off at participating theme parks, golf courses and spas.</p> <blockquote style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/B_6oFguD4Rk/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="12"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"></div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"></div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"></div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"></div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/B_6oFguD4Rk/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank">A post shared by Visit Cyprus (@visitcypruscom)</a> on May 7, 2020 at 11:00pm PDT</p> </div> </blockquote> <p><strong>4.</strong><span> </span><strong>Cyprus</strong></p> <p>Cyprus is also being generous with their highly anticipated tourists, as the country has promised to cover the costs of tourists who fall ill with COVID-19 while visiting.</p> <p>Authorities of the island have said that they will pay for any accommodation, food and medicine used by patients and their families if any tourists test positive for the virus.</p>

International Travel

Placeholder Content Image

To Vietnam and back: Asian seafood journey dubbed "crazy"

<p>A surprised Coles customer has taken her voice to Facebook after discovering something interesting about her seafood. Avid shopper Bronwyn read the small print on a packet of Coles Australian Whiting Mini Fillets, only to discover that the fish was “filleted in Vietnam” despite being made in Australia from at least 95% Australian ingredients.</p> <p>She questioned why Australian fish is sent all the way to Vietnam to be prepared, only to be sent back to Australia.</p> <p>“Could someone please explain why this is necessary, to transport Australian fish thousands of kilometres to Vietnam to be filleted?” asked Bronwyn.</p> <p>“I bought these yesterday noting the Australian Whiting and 95% Aussie ingredients ... Then have just noticed the filleting in Vietnam.</p> <p>“Not so keen to eat them now. Fresh, I think maybe not. No way of knowing how old they might actually be!”</p> <p>A Coles spokesperson explained to<span> </span>7News<span> </span>that the fish has met its “country of origin” obligations with the products packaging.</p> <p>“All Coles Own Brand seafood including seafood available at the deli, canned Own Brand tuna in the grocery aisle and frozen Own Brand products such as fish fingers have been responsibly sourced since 2015,” the spokesperson said.</p> <p>“This product uses Australian whiting, which is filleted overseas, but is then crumbed and processed back in Australia.</p> <p>“In line with our Country of Origin obligations, this is clearly labelled on the front of the pack.</p> <p>“As always, customers who are unhappy with a Coles Brand product can return it to any store for a full refund.”</p> <p>Learning this information has put Bronwyn off, saying that the realisation was “crazy”.</p> <p>“Crazy isn’t it?” responded Bronwyn to Facebook users in disbelief at the new information.</p> <p>“But how old is the fish now, lol? And how many times has it been frozen?”</p> <p>Photo credits: <a rel="noopener" href="https://7news.com.au/lifestyle/food/its-crazy-coles-shoppers-outrage-over-new-asian-seafood-scandal-c-1071915" target="_blank">7news</a></p>

International Travel

Placeholder Content Image

Hidden talents of the British royal family

<p>You'll never guess which members of the British royal family possess these surprising hidden talents!</p> <p><strong>Guess who can change a spark plug?</strong></p> <p>Queen Elizabeth II got her hands dirty working on cars during World War II. After months of begging her father, King George VI, the 18-year-old then-Princess Elizabeth joined the Women’s Auxiliary Territorial Service. Known as “Elizabeth Windsor,” she trained not only as a mechanic but also as a truck driver.</p> <p><strong>Guess who can toot a flute?</strong></p> <p>When Kate Middleton was in college with her future husband, Prince William, she was playing flute in the St Andrews Inaugural Chamber Orchestra, as well as with a group known as the “Tootie Flooties.” Other musically inclined royals include:</p> <p>King Henry VIII – lute, organ, recorder, flute, harp and his own singing voice.</p> <p>Queen Elizabeth I – lute and harpsichord, which were also mastered by Queen Mary (also known as Bloody Mary) and Mary, Queen of Scots.</p> <p>Queen Victoria – piano, an instrument also played by her husband, Prince Albert.</p> <p>Prince Charles – cello, which he played in the Trinity College Orchestra.</p> <p><strong>Guess whose penmanship has no "Blurred Lines"?</strong></p> <p>Meghan Markle is a foodie and was an avid food blogger. But what might come as a surprise is Meghan’s talent for calligraphy, at which she became so proficient in the early 2000s that she was hired by Robin Thicke (performer of the song “Blurred Lines”), to address his wedding invitations.</p> <p><strong>Guess who's a talented children's book author?</strong></p> <p>Sarah, Duchess of York, the ex-wife of Prince Andrew, Duke of York, is an accomplished and prolific children’s book author. Her works include <em>Ballerina Rosie</em>, <em>Tea for Ruby</em>, and the Little Red series. She also wrote a memoir, <em>Finding Sarah</em>.</p> <p><strong>Guess who's a long-distance runner?</strong></p> <p>Princess Beatrice of York is the first member of the royal family to complete the London Marathon, which she did in 2010. The then-21-year-old princess ran the 42.2-kms race through London’s streets as part of a 34-person “human caterpillar” tied together with bungee cords. And she did it for charity.</p> <p><strong>Guess who does impressive impressions?</strong></p> <p>She has been played by many on screen, but if Queen Elizabeth were to meet you, she’d probably be able to do an astonishingly accurate impression of you and your accent. That’s right, Queen Elizabeth is an accomplished mimic. For that matter, so is her eldest son Prince Charles.</p> <p><strong>Guess who grows his own black truffles?</strong></p> <p>Only one person’s ever succeeded in cultivating black truffles on English soil, and that’s Prince Philip. A passionate and patient gardener, after toiling at truffle-coaxing since 2006, the Prince Consort has finally succeeded in producing the French Perigord black truffle, a rare and now highly-sought-after delicacy. That said, there are many gardening aficionados in the royal family, including Philip’s eldest son, Prince Charles.</p> <p><strong>Guess who's an Olympic athlete?</strong></p> <p>Princess Anne competed in the three-day equestrian event during the 1976 Montreal Olympics, making her the first royal to compete in the Olympics. Her daughter, Zara Phillips, competed in the same equestrian three-day event at the 2012 Olympics in London, in which Great Britain won the silver medal. Of course, many in the royal family are accomplished equestrians, including the Queen, Prince Philip and Princes William and Harry, both of whom are accomplished polo payers.</p> <p><strong>Guess who's a secret videographer?</strong></p> <p>Among her many talents, the Queen is an accomplished videographer, having received her first Box Brownie as a gift from her father, King George VI, before the start of World War II. Keeping pace with advancing technology, Queen Elizabeth II has become known for her “effortless knack of capturing her family at their most informal and most relaxed,” according to the <em>Daily Mail</em>.</p> <p><strong>Guess the royal with the diving skills?</strong></p> <p>In the more than two decades since the tragic, untimely death of Diana, Princess of Wales, lots of little-known facts about the People’s Princess have turned up. But what remains little-known about Diana is that she was an accomplished diver. Her “Spencer Special” was a dive into a pool that barely left a ripple, according to biographer Andrew Morton in <em>Diana: Her True Story</em>.</p> <p><strong>Guess who has a pilot's licence?</strong></p> <p>This one shouldn’t be that tough considering there are at least five that come to mind, right off the top of our heads. These include Prince Harry, Prince William, Prince Charles, Prince Andrew and Prince Philip.</p> <p><strong>Can you name the many talented royal painters?</strong></p> <p>We’re not talking about artists who painted members of the royal family, but members of the royal family who were actually quite good with a paintbrush. These include:</p> <ul> <li>King George III</li> <li>Queen Victoria</li> <li>Prince Albert</li> <li>King Edward VII</li> <li>Queen Alexandra (the Queen Consort of King Edward VII)</li> <li>Queen Elizabeth II</li> <li>Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh </li> </ul> <p><strong>Can you name the renowned royal sculptor?</strong></p> <p>The fourth daughter and sixth child of Queen Victoria, Princess Louise is widely considered Victoria’s most “unconventional” child. From an early age, Louise showed considerable talent in drawing and painting, but what she really wanted to do was sculpt. And she was incredibly talented at that as well, with her 1893 sculpture of her mother Queen Victoria on display in front of Kensington Palace.</p> <p><strong>Guess which royals were polyglots?</strong></p> <p>Both Prince George and Prince Charlotte are showing a knack for speaking French, but if they want to compete with the most accomplished royal polyglots (masters of many languages), they’ll need to study these as well:</p> <p>German – Queen Victoria’s first language (although she spoke English at Court and mastered many other languages).</p> <p>French – traditional “royal court” language in Europe, spoken now by the Queen, Prince Philip, Prince Charles, and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.</p> <p>Hindustani – After Queen Victoria became Empress of India in 1877, she grew fond of Indian culture and languages, which she learned through her many Indian servants.</p> <p>Mandarin, Arabic, Spanish, Swahili, and Vietnamese (which Charles and William have studied).</p> <p><em>Written by Lauren Cahn. This article first appeared in <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/culture/hidden-habits-of-the-british-royal-family?pages=2">Reader’s Digest.</a> For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, here’s our best <a href="https://readersdigest.innovations.com.au/c/readersdigestemailsubscribe?utm_source=over60&amp;utm_medium=articles&amp;utm_campaign=RDSUB&amp;keycode=WRA93V">subscription offer.</a> </em></p> <p><a href="https://readersdigest.innovations.co.nz/c/readersdigestemailsubscribe?utm_source=over60&amp;utm_medium=articles&amp;utm_campaign=RDSUB&amp;keycode=WRN93V"></a><img style="width: 100px !important; height: 100px !important;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7820640/1.png" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/f30947086c8e47b89cb076eb5bb9b3e2" /></p>

International Travel

Placeholder Content Image

The pure magic of Cardrona

<p>The first snow of the winter creates a kind of mass lunacy in a community like Wanaka in the deep south of New Zealand’s South Island. At the mere mention of those magical words, ‘snow-to-low-levels’, people’s behaviour changes. They gather in groups (socially-distanced this year) to sniff the air and study the cloud formations, making wise prognostications about how much of the precious white stuff will fall, from which direction, what field will get the most, whether it will suit skis or snowboards best, and how early to hit the slopes — before heading home to tune their gear.<br /><br />Far away in the North Island, I too sense a change in the air and start to study weather forecasts in great detail, wondering when the first snows will arrive. I look longingly at my ski gear and can't wait to pile on layers of merino wool and down, and head south to the place of my birth.<br /><br />This year, there’s been the added suspense of not knowing if New Zealand’s ski resorts would actually be able to operate due to the Covid-19 restrictions on social distancing and travel.<br /><br />But the great news is that now the country is at Alert Level 2, most fields are planning to open, including Cardrona Alpine Resorts which owns Cardrona and Treble Cone near Wanaka. By the time the season gets under way in late June, New Zealand will hopefully be at Alert Level 1 which should make life easier for ski field operators.<br /><br />There’s a high level of excitement at Cardrona this winter because the resort is due to celebrate its 40th anniversary. I’ve skied there almost every year since 1980 and have witnessed the field grow from a rope-tow and a tin shed to an internationally-renowned alpine resort. It’s my favourite winter playground. Everyone’s treated like a VIP at Cardrona — whether you’re a first-time skier or snowboarder, there on a ski holiday with your family, or training for the Olympics. No matter who you are, you’re welcomed with genuine Kiwi hospitality, like one of the family.<br /><br />The 40th will be a scaled-down version of the grand event they had planned before Covid-19 threw a giant spanner in the works but the milestone will not slip by unmarked. We’ll definitely be there to help them celebrate. Hopefully our Aussie mates will be able to join us too when our bubbles finally merge.<br /><br />This is also a landmark season for neighbouring resort Treble Cone which was purchased by Cardrona five months ago. The two fields are vastly different, “yin to each other's yang”, as Cardrona general manager Bridget Legnavsky said when the sale was announced in January this year. Trebles’s terrain is steep and challenging while Cardrona’s wide bowls are gentle and cruisy.<br /><br />In a few years, Soho Basin, a private field which adjoins Cardrona’s southern boundary, will also be added to the mix, effectively more than doubling the skiable terrain, creating New Zealand’s largest alpine resort. I had a fantastic day’s skiing at Soho last year. When development is complete, a network of lifts will unite the two fields but in the meantime, skiers are transported up the mountain by snowcat.<br /><br />While I wait for the snow to arrive, I’m tuning my skis and dreaming of my last day at Cardrona in 2019, a pristine blue-bird day after a massive spring dump. The day was pure magic, the stuff of legends.<br /><br />The mountain had a huge smile on its face — the sun was beaming down from a cloudless sky on slopes sparkling with late-season powder snow that squeaked underfoot. It was a week day outside of any holidays so the queues were non-existent and there was no wind, not even a zephyr, which is unusual for Cardrona. My new Dynastar skis, which just happened to match my jacket, were humming. There’s nothing to equal the euphoria of swishing through powder, silent except for the rhythmic whoosh of your skis floating lightly through weightless snow.<br /><br />The Eagles’ ‘Take it Easy’ was blasting from the PA system at Captain’s Express and the lifties were dancing while dispensing sunblock to skiers and boarders, in between sneaking off for a run or two.<br /><br />At Captains Café, a fancy-dress lunch was in full-swing. We sat in the sun drinking ice-cold cider, watching the shenanigans. They sure know how to party at Cardy.<br /><br />Super-relaxed, we skied better than ever in the afternoon, and kept going until the lifts stopped and there were only a handful of people left on the mountain. Our last run of the season, as always, was Queenstown Return — a scenic glide along the cat-track on Cardrona’s southern boundary, with breath-taking panoramas of row-upon-row of the Southern Alps, the entire Wakatipu Basin . . . and the vast untouched slopes of Soho Basin where we’ll be skiing in a few years’ time.<br /><br />Born a Southerner, I took lungfuls of pure mountain air and eyefuls of alps to sustain me in the tame, green North Island landscape I now call home.<br /><br />On the way back to Wanaka, we stopped off at the iconic Cardrona Hotel for glühwein beside the roaring outside fire. Wispy snowflakes began to fall from the darkening sky.<br /><br />"Snow-to-low-levels," the forecast said.<br /><br />"Let it snow so hard the airport will be closed for days and we’ll have to stay on," I prayed.<br /><br />No such luck...</p> <p><strong>If you go:</strong></p> <p><span>Everything you need to know is on the <a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="https://www.cardrona.com/winter/" target="_blank" data-auth="NotApplicable">Cardrona</a> website.</span></p> <p><span>Pick up a rental vehicle from <a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="https://www.jucy.com/nz/en/" target="_blank" data-auth="NotApplicable">JUCY</a> at Queenstown Airport.</span><span> </span></p> <p><span>Fly <a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="https://www.airnewzealand.co.nz/" target="_blank" data-auth="NotApplicable">Air NZ</a> direct to Queenstown. Check the latest timetable here: <a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="https://www.airnewzealand.co.nz/" target="_blank" data-auth="NotApplicable">https://www.airnewzealand.co.nz/</a></span></p>

International Travel

Placeholder Content Image

Irish locals "protecting Matt Damon like a glorious gem"

<p>Matt Damon has been quarantining in a tiny Irish village with his wife and children, and it seems everyone including the locals are loving it.</p> <p>The Hollywood heavyweight has become one of the world’s “nicest” celebrities and while living in Ireland to wait out the coronavirus, the star says it has been a “fairy-tale”.</p> <p>The US-based actor has been renting out a home in Dalkey, Ireland, on the outskirts of Dublin, since early March when he arrived with his family to finish shooting <em>The Last Duel</em> with Ridley Scott.</p> <p>However, the star, his wife and his three younger daughters chose to stay put rather than rush home on a private jet when the world plunged into a pandemic.</p> <p>While his presence in the small town was a tightly-kept secret, he was pictured taking a swim with his towel in a supermarket bag.</p> <p>The sight was quickly reported to a local radio station.</p> <p>“I honestly feel like I’m about to throw up … this doesn’t seem real,” said Nathan, of the <em>Fully Charged with Graham and Nathan</em> show.</p> <p>“I don’t know if you are aware but the Dalkey people are protecting you like a glorious gem,” he said. </p> <p><span>Damon laughed at the news and said he had “no idea” but it made him “realise how great this place was.”</span></p> <p>“It’s incredible, this is one of the most beautiful places we’ve ever been. Obviously what’s going on in the world is horrible but for my family it timed out.”</p> <p>The star explained that he moved there for what the family thought would be just eight weeks to shoot the movie.</p> <p>He and his wife also brought teachers for their three younger children as they would be out of school.</p> <p>“We’ve got what nobody else has which is actual live human beings teaching our kids. We feel guilty. We’ve got this kind of incredible set up in this place.”</p> <p>“It feels a little like a fairytale here.”</p> <p>The woman behind the photo of Damon explained excitedly what happened the day she bumped into him having a swim at a local beach.</p> <blockquote style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/CAIKcAKnBIY/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="12"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"></div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"></div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"></div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"></div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/CAIKcAKnBIY/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank">A post shared by Siobhan Berry (@mummycooks)</a> on May 13, 2020 at 5:10am PDT</p> </div> </blockquote> <p>“We were out for a family swim and we bumped into Matt and his family. It was all very cool – no one else around … just his (and my family) enjoying the freezing cold water and having a laugh!” Siobhan Berry of Mummy Cooks wrote on Instagram.</p> <p>“As we were all leaving, he very politely obliged for a photo, leaning in with his @supervalu_irl bag keeping the social distance!”</p> <p>“As he confirmed on the radio, he was holding a bag of swim gear and towels – not cans!!”</p> <p>She said the pair had initially agreed not to share the photo, but it leaked out via a family WhatsApp group.</p> <p>“We felt awful and really sorry about the whole situation; we wrote an apology letter to him but never got to deliver it. After hearing him on radio today, he obviously sees the funny side and the fact that the photo ultimately turned into one of the feel-good stories of the early summer.”</p>

International Travel

Placeholder Content Image

Passengers “break every rule” in flight amid pandemic

<p><span>After two months of strict social distancing and quarantine measures, a number of impatient passengers flying on an Air New Zealand flight have been photographed completely disregarding the rules set in place amid the coronavirus pandemic.</span><br /><br /><span>A passenger who sat in on the flight going from Auckland to Queenstown showed other flyers purposefully breaking social distancing rules.</span><br /><br /><span>The man told the NZ Herald that while he remained firmly sat in his seat after landing, other passengers on flight NZ369 were caught on camera shoulder to shoulder in the aisle.</span><br /><br /><span>“I felt vulnerable, really unsafe,” the passenger admitted.</span><br /><br /><span>“Everyone got up and stood in the aisle while we waited for the bridge to be attached.</span><br /><br /><span>“That disembarkment ruined everything I’ve been doing for the last two months. The whole thing flew out the window, it’s been so difficult these past two months.</span><br /><br /><span>“Every rule has been broken in this five minutes of disembarking the plane. That one process could restart the whole thing.”</span><br /><br /><span>An Air New Zealand spokesman says the flight must not have followed the disembarkation process in this particular circumstance.</span><br /><br /><span>He said the airline has amended its boarding and disembarkation procedures to introduce social distancing during these stages of the journey.</span><br /><br /><span>“Air New Zealand is following Ministry of Health and WHO guidance to ensure flights are safe for crew and our customers. This includes supporting physical distancing on-board by allocating seating where we can to allow for extra space between passengers,” he said.</span><br /><br /><span>“Blocks are currently in place for the middle seats on our domestic jets and aisle seats on turboprop services. We're allowing groups of people or families travelling together to be seated together, but if they wish to be seated separately, we will provide for this.”</span><br /><br /><span>The brazen act by passengers on flight NZ369 follows as the Ministry of Health confirmed on Saturday there were 28 active cases of COVID-19 in New Zealand.</span><br /><br /><span>One person is in the hospital with COVID.</span><br /><br /><span>There were also no new cases or deaths announced yesterday.</span><br /><br /><span>"This is a pretty unique situation where we're not meant to be close to people," the man who shot the picture of passengers shoulder to shoulder on the Air New Zealand flight said.</span><br /><br /><span>"That was the first time I've travelled since lockdown and I felt like we were so exposed. It didn't feel any different from before (COVID-19)."</span></p>

International Travel

Placeholder Content Image

New Zealand’s COVID-19 Tracer app won’t help open a ‘travel bubble’ with Australia anytime soon

<p>New Zealanders finally have access to the government’s new tracing app to help people monitor their movements as lockdown continues to ease.</p> <p>As businesses can now open, the <a href="https://www.health.govt.nz/our-work/diseases-and-conditions/covid-19-novel-coronavirus/covid-19-health-advice-general-public/contact-tracing-covid-19/nz-covid-tracer-app">NZ COVID Tracer app</a> allows people to keep a register of the places they visit. This “digital diary” can be used to contact people if it finds they have been in the same place as someone infected with COVID-19.</p> <p>But the app has some significant shortcomings. These won’t be addressed until at least June, which raises questions about whether it has been released too soon.</p> <p><strong>How do you set up and use the app?</strong></p> <p>Registering for the app is a four-step process. When you sign up for an account you are presented with a privacy statement. This tells you your personal information is securely stored by the Ministry of Health.</p> <p>The app then asks you to enter your email address and pick a password.</p> <p>Some may find the password requirements too difficult to meet, especially if you struggle to remember a password of at least ten characters of mixed lower and uppercase letters and numbers.</p> <p>After entering your email, you will receive a verification code via email to complete the registration.</p> <p>In step 4, the app asks you to enter your name and a phone number. The phone number is not mandatory as I was able to create an account using just my first and last names.</p> <p>An “Account created” message will then appear before you get to a home page with three navigational items:</p> <ul> <li>dashboard (this is the current home page)</li> <li>scan (where you can scan the QR code, I’ll explain why in a moment)</li> <li>my profile (where you can log off, update your contact details and address, provide feedback and access a range of other general services such as privacy and security statements).</li> </ul> <p>By scrolling down the dashboard page, you are presented with features to register your details, update your address and “do a daily self-isolation checking” – this last feature is labelled as coming soon.</p> <p><strong>Two types of registrations?</strong></p> <p>The register option asks you to enter your first name, any middle name, last name, phone number, date of birth, gender and ethnicity.</p> <p>This seems confusing as you must go through two forms of registration. First when registering for an account, as we saw earlier, and second when registering your details here.</p> <p>These two processes should have been streamlined into one. The app also asks for gender and ethnicity details, but the justification provided is too generic, saying this “helps us confirm we are serving all New Zealanders”.</p> <p><strong>So how does the app work?</strong></p> <p>The app helps you keep track of the places you visit, like checking in to a restaurant on Facebook. But this process is not done automatically.</p> <p>To add a place you visit to your digital diary, you must scan a QR code available at that location. It should be in the form of a poster advertised at the entrance of a business.</p> <p>But this means businesses must register for a QR code, via <a href="https://www.business.govt.nz/covid-19/contact-tracing">Business Connect</a>, and have it clearly advertised at their premises.</p> <p>By scanning the QR code, the app will then log the location, date and time you visit this business. You can’t manually enter the details of places you visit.</p> <p><strong>How will authorities contact you?</strong></p> <p>The information provided during registration will be sent to a National Close Contact Service (NCCS) so it can contact you if you are identified as having been in close contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19.</p> <p>An update is expected in June, to allow you to transmit your digital diary of the locations you have visited to the NCCS.</p> <p>Until this function is implemented, if the NCCS contacts you, you will have to read out the locations you have signed into with the app.</p> <p>How will they know if you have been in contact with someone infected? Not via the app but through <a href="https://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/GE2005/S00123/nz-covid-tracer-app-released-to-support-contact-tracing.htm">contact tracing procedures</a> already in place. Until the auto upload is implemented, I don’t believe they should have released the app.</p> <p>This approach is a workaround for not using GPS to log your locations, as in the Facebook restaurant check-in scenario. This could be to avoid issues pertaining to location privacy.</p> <p>But this approach has shortcomings.</p> <p>It is not reliable to use in commonly used or open spaces, such as food courts, school entrances, airports, train stations or any other places where you could come in contact with other people. This will require the use of lots of QR codes and lots of scanning.</p> <p>The app is not useful when visiting friends and family. You don’t expect them to have QR codes at their houses, and they can’t actually get one.</p> <p><strong>Comparing the NZ and Australian apps</strong></p> <p>So how does the New Zealand app compare to Australia’s <a href="https://www.health.gov.au/resources/apps-and-tools/covidsafe-app?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIqJCL0-XB6QIViw4rCh0XKAWfEAAYASAAEgJyOfD_BwE">COVIDSafe</a> app?</p> <p>The New Zealand app is not scalable to use in Australia as it would require Australian businesses to register for a Business Connect QR code, which they can’t. Likewise, Australia’s app is not for New Zealand.</p> <p>Visitors to either country would need to use the app specific to that country.</p> <p>Countries such as Iceland, Italy and Norway have not shied away from using GPS to track their citizens’ whereabouts. Australia and Singapore opted to use Bluetooth technology for contact tracing without accessing people’s location information.</p> <p>New Zealand has opted for a softer approach to COVID-19 contact tracing by using only a digital diary. But the director-general of health, Ashley Bloomfield, <a href="https://www.hinz.org.nz/news/508335/Bluetooth-functionality-to-be-added-to-contact-tracing-app.htm">told Radio NZ Bluetooth technology</a> should be added as an optional extra feature in June.</p> <p>So, at this stage, the NZ COVID Tracer app seems to be a work in progress. It tries to balance or makes some trade-offs between privacy and usability. But this adds to the burden on businesses (the need to set up QR codes) and limits scope when visiting friends or relatives in New Zealand.</p> <p>On May 5 this year, the New Zealand and Australian prime ministers released a <a href="https://www.beehive.govt.nz/release/prime-ministers-jacinda-ardern-and-scott-morrison-announce-plans-trans-tasman-covid-safe">joint statement</a> to say they had:</p> <p><em>[…] agreed to commence work on a trans-Tasman COVID-safe travel zone – easing travel restrictions between Australia and New Zealand. Such an arrangement would be put in place once it is safe to do so and necessary health, transport and other protocols had been developed and met.</em></p> <p>If the Australian COVIDSafe and NZ COVID Tracer apps are to be part of the solution in opening up travel between the nations, much more work will be needed to make the two apps far more compatible with each other.</p> <p><em>Written by Mahmoud Elkhodr. Republished with permission of </em><a href="/New%20Zealanders%20finally%20have%20access%20to%20the%20government’s%20new%20tracing%20app%20to%20help%20people%20monitor%20their%20movements%20as%20lockdown%20continues%20to%20ease."><em>The Conversation.</em></a></p>

International Travel

Placeholder Content Image

Why weather forecasts could become more challenging during the coronavirus storm

<p>The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted several sectors and meteorology is no exception. The quality and quantity of the observational data that feed into weather forecasting models could well be affected by the pandemic, according to the <a href="https://public.wmo.int/en/media/press-release/wmo-concerned-about-impact-of-covid-19-observing-system">World Meteorological Organization (WMO)</a>.</p> <p>Knowing the state of the atmosphere is essential for good weather forecasting. In addition to announcing rain or sunshine, weather forecasts allow us to better prepare for risks and other weather hazards such as <a href="https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/article-communities-across-canada-prepare-for-doubled-crises-of-flooding-in-a/">spring flooding</a> and hurricanes.</p> <p>The pandemic has curtailed a number of these observations in a variety of ways. But scientists around the world are finding ways to fill some of those gaps.</p> <p><strong>International collaboration</strong></p> <p>The <a href="https://public.wmo.int/en/programmes/global-observing-system">WMO Global Observing System</a> provides observations of the atmosphere, such as wind speed, and the ocean surface, namely sea surface temperature. The system comes from the close collaboration between national and international agencies that provide measurements from different observing instruments.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/330858/original/file-20200427-145566-1ccwtmw.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /> <span class="caption">The World Meteorological Organization’s (WMO) Global Observing System is composed of a large number of <em>in situ</em> and satellite observing systems.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">(World Meteorological Organization)</span></span></p> <p>The <a href="https://public.wmo.int/en/our-mandate/what-we-do/observations">WMO Global Observing System</a> relies on observations taken on land, in the air, on the ocean and from space. More than 10,000 surface-based stations, 1,000 weather balloon stations, 3,000 commercial aircraft, 7,000 ships, 100 moored buoys, 1,000 drifting buoys, 30 meteorological satellites and 200 research satellites gather information about the Earth.</p> <p>The frequency and spatial distribution of these measurements vary enormously depending on the type of observation. For example, a surface weather station can collect precipitation measurements every five minutes, while the <a href="https://cloudsat.atmos.colostate.edu/education/faq">CloudSat</a> satellite, dedicated to global cloud observation, takes measurements covering the same geographical area every 16 days.</p> <p><strong>How forecasts are made</strong></p> <p>Atmospheric models are a set of equations that describe the changing state of the atmosphere. They require information about the initial state of the atmosphere and the Earth’s surface (land and ocean) in order to provide weather forecasts.</p> <p>Unfortunately, observational data alone are not sufficient to provide a complete picture of the state of the atmosphere because they are distributed irregularly over space and time, and sometimes contain errors.</p> <p>This is where a technique known as “<a href="https://research.reading.ac.uk/met-darc/aboutus/what-is-data-assimilation/">data assimilation</a>” comes into play. It involves combining observational data with data obtained from an atmospheric model to get the best estimate of the state of the atmosphere. In other words, one starts from a weather forecast made with the model and corrects it with the observational data.</p> <p>The result of the data assimilation is a coherent complete image of the atmosphere and the Earth’s surface at a given time. Once the initial state of the atmosphere and Earth’s surface is known, an atmospheric model can be applied to predict its evolution.</p> <p><strong>The impact of the pandemic</strong></p> <p>The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a <a href="https://public.wmo.int/en/media/press-release/wmo-concerned-about-impact-of-covid-19-observing-system">decrease in observations</a> made by commercial aircraft, due to the decrease in air traffic. In Europe, for example, there has been a <a href="https://www.eurocontrol.int/Economics/DailyTrafficVariation-States.html">90 per cent</a> decline in the daily number of flights.</p> <p>There has also been a drop in manual observations at surface weather stations in several developing countries, which have not switched to fully automated measurements. In the long term, other components of the observing system could be negatively affected if maintenance, repair and replenishment work cannot be done.</p> <p>Each type of observation has a different impact on the quality of forecasts. <a href="https://www.ecmwf.int/en/about/media-centre/news/2020/drop-aircraft-observations-could-have-impact-weather-forecasts">Studies</a> conducted by the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) have shown that in the absence of aircraft meteorological data, the quality of short-term wind and temperature forecasts at cruising altitude decreases by 15 per cent, which can affect the prediction of the jet stream and, consequently, forecasts of winter storms and heat waves. The quality of near-surface forecasts also decreases, but not as much.</p> <p>Ironically, the importance of aircraft observation data was highlighted in mid-February 2020 at an ECMWF <a href="https://www.ecmwf.int/en/learning/workshops/workshop-aircraft-weather-observations-and-their-use">workshop on the state of aircraft observations</a>. Fortunately, the impact of satellite observations on forecast quality is greater than that of aircraft meteorological data.</p> <p><strong>Mobilizing scientists</strong></p> <p>The scientific community is trying to ease the impact of the decrease in observational data collected by aircraft. As a result, European national meteorological services are <a href="https://www.ecmwf.int/en/newsletter/163/editorial/ecmwf-and-covid-19">launching more weather balloons</a>.</p> <p>Observations from recently launched satellites can also help to fill the gap left by declining observations. This is the case of the <a href="https://www.esa.int/Applications/Observing_the_Earth/Aeolus/COVID-19_Aeolus_and_weather_forecasts">European Space Agency’s Aeolus satellite</a>, which provides wind data at different altitudes.</p> <p>The declining quality of weather forecasts adds to the many challenges posed by the pandemic. With the <a href="https://tropical.colostate.edu/media/sites/111/2020/04/2020-04.pdf">Atlantic hurricane season</a> expected to be more active than usual, it is even more important to correctly forecast the trajectory and intensity of hurricanes. Indeed, for <a href="https://www.undrr.org/news/covid-19-risks-complicating-caribbean-hurricane-season">Caribbean countries</a>, where the peak of COVID-19 cases is expected just before the start of the hurricane season, the pandemic is a major obstacle in preparing for this meteorological hazard.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/137585/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><em><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></em></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/marta-moreno-ibanez-819679">Marta Moreno Ibáñez</a>, PhD candidate in Earth and atmospheric sciences, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/universite-du-quebec-a-montreal-uqam-2410">Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM)</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/weather-forecasts-could-become-more-challenging-during-the-coronavirus-storm-137585">original article</a>.</em></p>

International Travel

Placeholder Content Image

How plane cabins can clean up their act

<p>Qantas has <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-05-19/qantas-social-distancing-coronavirus-covid19-measures/12263242">unveiled a range of precautions</a> to guard passengers against COVID-19. The safety measures expected to be rolled out on June 12 include contactless check-in, hand sanitiser at departure gates, and optional masks and sanitising wipes on board.</p> <p>Controversially, however, there will be no physical distancing on board, because Qantas claims it is too expensive to run half-empty flights.</p> <p>The COVID-19 pandemic is forcing airlines to look closely at their hygiene practices. But aircraft cabins were havens for germs long before the coronavirus came along. The good news is there are some simple ways on-board hygiene can be improved.</p> <p><strong>Common sense precautions</strong></p> <p>As an environmental microbiologist I have observed, in general, a gradual loss of quality in hygiene globally.</p> <p>Airports and aircrafts have <a href="https://abcnews.go.com/WNN/video/overcrowding-concerns-planes-70616212">crammed ever larger numbers</a> of passengers into <a href="https://time.com/5636154/airplane-legroom-shrinking-asia/">ever smaller economy-class seats</a>.</p> <p>Although social distancing can’t do much in a confined cabin space – as the virus is reported to be able to travel <a href="https://academic.oup.com/jid/advance-article/doi/10.1093/infdis/jiaa189/5820886">eight metres</a> — wearing face masks (viral ones in particular) and practising hand hygiene remain crucial.</p> <p>Since microorganisms are invisible, it is hard to combat such a powerful enemy. During flights, I have observed a vast array of unwitting mistakes made by flight crew and passengers.</p> <p>Some crew staff would go to the bathroom to push overflowing paper towels down into the bins, exit without washing their hands and continue to serve food and drinks.</p> <p>We have the technology for manufacturers to install waste bins where paper towels can be shredded, disinfected and disposed of via suction, as is used in the toilets. Moreover, all aircraft waste bins should operate with pedals to prevent hand contamination.</p> <p>Also, pilots should not share bathrooms with passengers, as is often the case. Imagine the consequences if pilots became infected and severely ill during a long flight, to the point of not being able to fly. Who would land the plane?</p> <p>For instance, the highly transmissible <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/norovirus/about/symptoms.html">norovirus</a>, which causes vomiting and diarrhoea, can manifest within 12 hours of exposure. So for everyone’s safety, pilots should have their own bathroom.</p> <p><strong>Food and the kitchen</strong></p> <p>Aircraft kitchen areas should be as far as possible from toilets.</p> <p>Male and female toilets should be separated because, due to the way men and women use the bathroom, male bathrooms are more likely to have droplets of urine splash outside the toilet bowl. Child toilets and change rooms should be separate as well.</p> <p>Food trolleys should be covered with a sterile plastic sheet during service as they come close to seated passengers who could be infected.</p> <p>And to allow traffic flow in the corridor, trolleys should not be placed near toilets. At times I have seen bread rolls in a basket with a nice white napkin, with the napkin touching the toilet door.</p> <p>Also, blankets should not be used if the bags have been opened, and pillows should have their own sterile bags.</p> <p><strong>Mind your luggage</strong></p> <p>In March, luggage handlers <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-03-31/qantas-baggage-handlers-test-positive-to-coronavirus-in-sa/12107258">were infected</a> with COVID-19 at Adelaide Airport.</p> <p>As a passenger, you should avoid placing your hand luggage on the seats while reaching into overhead lockers. There’s a chance your luggage was placed on a contaminated surface before you entered the plane, such as on a public bathroom floor.</p> <p>Be wary of using the seat pocket in front of you. Previous passengers may have placed dirty (or infected) tissues there. So keep this in mind when using one to hold items such as your passport, or glasses, which come close to your eyes (through which SARS-CoV-2 <a href="https://www.health.qld.gov.au/news-events/news/novel-coronavirus-covid-19-how-it-spreads-transmission-infection-prevention-protection">can enter the body</a>).</p> <p>Also, safety cards in seat pockets should be disposable and should be replaced after each flight.</p> <p>In facing the COVID-19 crisis, it’s important to remember that unless an antiviral drug or a vaccine is found, this virus could come back every year.</p> <p>On many occasions, microbiologists have warned of the need for more <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30912268/">microbiology literacy</a> among the public. Yet, too often their calls are dismissed as paranoia, or being overly cautious.</p> <p>But now’s the time to listen, and to start taking precaution. For all we know, there may be even more dangerous <a href="https://theconversation.com/coronavirus-pandemic-is-paving-the-way-for-an-increase-in-superbugs-135389">superbugs</a> breeding around us – ones we’ve simply yet to encounter.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/134552/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><span><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/ipek-kurtboke-1006582"><em>Ipek Kurtböke</em></a><em>, Senior Lecturer, Environmental Microbiology, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-the-sunshine-coast-1068">University of the Sunshine Coast</a></em></span></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/plane-cabins-are-havens-for-germs-heres-how-they-can-clean-up-their-act-134552">original article</a>.</em></p>

International Travel

Placeholder Content Image

The countries with no coronavirus cases and how they did it

<p>Cambodia’s last coronavirus patient was discharged from a hospital in Phnom Penh over the weekend, meaning the country now officially has zero active patients with the disease.</p> <p>The Southeast Asian country has reported a total of 122 coronavirus cases but has officially recorded no deaths from the virus.</p> <p>Cambodia is one of the very few countries around the world who are coronavirus free – most of them in the Pacific Islands – but senior lecturer at Griffith University, Lee Morgenbesser who studies Cambodia, is sceptical about the government’s figures.</p> <p>“The government there has a documented history of lying and deception over a very long period of time,” he told<span> </span><em>SBS News</em>.</p> <p>“They have passed laws that make it a jailable offence to disprove the government when it comes to COVID-19. You aren’t going to get people coming out and saying the government is lying,” he added.</p> <p>He revealed the due to government restrictions on free press and opposition parties that were put in place recently, there was no alternative source of information coming out of the country to challenge the government’s narrative.</p> <p>“There is a long history of lying to outside audiences and to other organisations. There are no checks and balances anymore, so there is no one to come out and challenge the lies,” he said.</p> <p>He also noted the county had done an “insufficient” number of tests given the size of its population and cautioned against declaring the country COVID-free.</p> <p>According to the health ministry in Cambodia, 14,684 tests had been conducted since January among the country’s 16 million people. In Australia, with a population of 25 million, over one million tests have been conducted.</p> <p>But disputing those claims is Associate Professor Peter Annear from Melbourne University, saying the stats coming out of Cambodia were just as believable as any other country’s.</p> <p>He says the country likely owes its success to the fast and dramatic measures put in place by the government early in the pandemic.</p> <p>"They shut down the borders to international tourists early, even though it is a large part of the economy. They also cancelled new year celebrations and limited travel between provinces," he said. </p> <p>He also noted that 80 per cent of its population lived in rural areas so it was a lot less dense than many of the urban countries that had experienced major outbreaks.</p> <p>Other places with zero cases include Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Mauru, Palau, Samoa, Soloman Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.</p>

International Travel

Placeholder Content Image

Man makes “cuddle blanket” to hug his gran amid coronavirus pandemic

<p><span>A man in the United Kingdom has shown he will go to great lengths to make sure his loved ones still get their daily dose of happiness despite the strict social distancing measures in place due to coronavirus.</span><br /><br /><span>29-year-old plasterer Antony Cauvin’s came up with an innovative method to maintain social distancing rules by placing a humble shower curtain between him and his granny.</span><br /><br /><span>Antony altered the curtain to have arms so he could still hug his nana without touching her.</span><br /><br /><span>He dubbed his ingenious invention as the “Cuddle Curtain” with his wife posting a video of it in use on Facebook on the weekend.</span><br /><br /><span>Since then the clip has gone viral, with over 68,000 likes.</span><br /><iframe src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fmiriam.butt.92%2Fvideos%2F10163787073690551%2F&amp;show_text=0&amp;width=267" width="267" height="476" style="border: none; overflow: hidden;" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" allowtransparency="true" allowfullscreen="true"></iframe> <br /><span>Cauvin explained to Sky News that he first tested the idea with his parents.</span><br /><br /><span>“We giggled about it but thought, “this could actually work”,” he said.</span><br /><br /><span>In the touching video, Cauvin gets to hug his gran Lily for the first time in months.</span><br /><br /><span>Cauvin disinfects the sleeves after every hug and requires that he and his grandma wear gloves for hygiene purposes.</span><br /><br /><span>“We never touched any part of Grannan at all – I’m a believer in social distancing and don’t want to put anyone at risk,” he said.</span><br /><br /><span>“When you’ve known someone all your life, to be able to hug that person again… it brought a tear to everybody’s eye.”</span></p>

International Travel

Placeholder Content Image

Driving along Central Otago highway

<p><em>Justine and Chris Tyerman continue their ‘age-inappropriate’ road trip in a mini campervan, revisiting places in Central Otago Justine last travelled as a child...</em></p> <p><span>Driving along magnificent stretches of Central Otago highway without a care in the world, the sun streaming down from a clear, blue, autumn sky, we encountered some extraordinarily-friendly gestures from the occupants of other bright green and purple rental vehicles approaching or passing us on the open road — waves, thumbs-ups and beaming smiles. We reciprocated, being careful to arrange our fingers in a non-offensive configuration, of course. We had such enthusiastic responses it inspired us to be even more inventive so I held up a “Kia Ora” sign, assuming most of them were visitors to Aotearoa.</span></p> <p><span>After many such greetings over the next few hours, we decided to call this phenomenon the “JRW”, the JUCY Recognition Wave, brand recognition and brand bonding on a grand scale.<br />I also detected expressions of surprise and/or amusement on the faces of the invariably young occupants of the other vehicles as they glimpsed a couple of oldies travelling in a mini-camper. Did they think we were cool... or crazy? And did we care? Not two hoots! We were like a couple of teenagers on their first roadie as we meandered our way from Wanaka to the Catlins, revisiting places in Central Otago last travelled as a child.</span></p> <p><span>In those days, the narrow, winding Cromwell Gorge road was just another obstacle to endure on our long car trips from Dunedin to our little crib in Arrowtown. But the old road is long gone now, submerged by Lake Dunstan — and the new road is straighter and much higher up the side of the gorge wall, closer to the craggy, weathered mountain tops that used to tower above us.</span></p> <p><span>Fifteen minutes from Cromwell, the curved rim of the Clyde Dam loomed into view, the 103m-high concrete gravity structure that holds back the 26 sq km hydro-power storage reservoir of Lake Dunstan. Shortly after the completion of the Clyde Dam in 1993, we had a guided tour of the power station including a walk-through of the dimly-lit, vibrating interior corridor of the dam wall. I doubt I would do that now having researched the history of the dam construction in PM Robert Muldoon’s “Think Big” era, the discovery of fault lines above the one million cubic metres of concrete and steel dam and the safety compromises made back then.</span></p> <p><span>Clyde has transformed itself into a seriously-classy village since the days we used to drive through the sleepy settlement stopping for a cuppa beside the river. Now the start and end point of the immensely-popular 152km Otago Central Rail Trail, Clyde has a great range of accommodation and eateries including Olivers, an upmarket craft brewery, bar, bakery-café, and gourmet restaurant with boutique accommodation, located in the old stone, gold rush-era general store.</span></p> <p><span>Six or seven minutes further on is Alexandra whose claim to fame in my teenage years was the October Blossom Festival. I seldom managed to get there because I was always in Dunedin, buried in my books, studying for end-of-year exams.</span></p> <p><span>Alexandra reached its heyday during the late 1800s when huge gold dredges worked the mighty Clutha River/Mata-Au. The most successful dredge was the “Dunedin”, which extracted around 528kg of gold. Today Alexandra is known for its pinot noir vineyards and apricots, peaches, cherries and apples.</span></p> <p><span>In mid-winter, we used to go ice skating on nearby Manorburn Dam, the largest natural ice skating area in the Southern Hemisphere. The dam has been a popular place to skate and play ice hockey and the game of “curling” since the late 1880s. Parts of the dam still freeze over but most people now go to the artificial rink in town.</span></p> <p><span>They sure knew how to build beautiful bridges in the old days. The graceful stone towers of the historic bridge over the Clutha River/Mata-Au, built from 1879 to 1882, still stand strong and proud in New Zealand’s swiftest river. The vivid turquoise of the Clutha against the bright gold of the autumn poplars and willows on the riverbank, with the deeply-weathered rocks on the hillsides above, is stunning. The replacement bridge, built in 1958, looked so utilitarian and ordinary by comparison.</span></p> <p><span>We stopped for morning tea beside the river, soaking up the warm autumn sun. The little kitchen with its gas cooker, fridge and sink tucked into the back of the JUCY Cabana was incredibly convenient when we wanted to take a break in a beautiful spot.</span></p> <p><span>Near the bridge, van-loads of excited cyclists were setting off to do the Roxburgh Gorge Trail, a 34km ride along the Clutha River from Alexandra to Lake Roxburgh Dam with a boat link in the middle. Combining fascinating goldmining era history, stunning scenery and wildlife, this is definitely top of my must-do list. A remote wilderness experience with no road access, the trail passes through what’s described as New Zealand’s “Grand Canyon” with rocky bluffs 350m high on both sides of the river.</span></p> <p><span>I’ve always regarded Roxburgh as the heart of Central Otago, “well-suited to the making of Westerns”, my father used to say whenever we drove over the wild, barren landscape scattered with jagged, grey-brown rocks. Roxburgh’s hot, dry summers and cold winters are ideal for growing apricots, apples, pears, raspberries and strawberries. We used to stop to pick sturmer apples at a friend’s orchard there.</span></p> <p><span>Roxburgh is near the site of the earliest of the large hydroelectric projects in the South Island. Opened in 1956, the concrete gravity structure dams the Clutha River/Mata-Au, 9km to the north of the town of Roxburgh creating a lake 30km long.</span></p> <p><span>The land flattens out towards Raes Junction so we took a detour just before Lawrence, opting for the Tuapeka West Road to Balclutha. What an incredible contrast. Suddenly we were surrounded by rolling green pastures populated with well-fed sheep and cows and barely a rock or weed in sight.  A huge dairy factory stood in the middle of nowhere.</span></p> <p><span>At Balclutha, we headed towards Kaka Point and the much-anticipated start of our Catlins adventure, all new territory for us. I stood there gazing at the silvery sea and white sands of Molyneux Bay on New Zealand’s south-east coast. It all seemed far too easy to have left the snow-capped mountains of Wanaka in the morning, traversed the wild and arid heart of Central Otago and the verdant pastures of Tuapeka, and arrived at the seaside by lunchtime. That’s one of a myriad of things I love about our Aotearoa backyard. The contrasts are huge but the distances are not...</span></p> <p><span><em>Next story: The Catlins</em></span></p> <p><em>Read the first of Justine’s road trip stories <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/travel/international-travel/exploring-our-own-backyard" target="_blank">here</a>.</em><span><br /></span></p> <p><span><strong>Factbox:</strong><br />• Pick up a JUCY campervan, 4WD, people-mover or car from <a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="http://www.jucy.com/" target="_blank" data-auth="NotApplicable">JUCY</a> Rentals at Queenstown Airport. We’ve tried them all but this time we had a two-berth JUCY Cabana mini campervan with a double bed and a little kitchen, which gave us the freedom to camp out whenever we felt like it. The Cabana is not self-contained so we stayed at camping grounds and met some awesome people along the way. We liked the ease and manoeuvrability of the basic little campervan and the freedom of not being tied to an itinerary or pre-booked accommodation.</span></p>

International Travel

Placeholder Content Image

Shanghai Disneyland reopens with social distancing measures

<p>Shanghai Disneyland reopened on Monday after 107 days of closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic.</p> <p>The park is now open to public with 30 per cent capacity. Visitors are required to book tickets online, have their temperatures checked ahead of entry and wear face masks. Hand sanitisers are also made available at queue entries and attraction exits.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p dir="ltr">Tears! Long time no see my pals! <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ShanghaiDisneyland?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#ShanghaiDisneyland</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SHDL?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#SHDL</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/%E4%B8%8A%E6%B5%B7%E3%83%87%E3%82%A3%E3%82%BA%E3%83%8B%E3%83%BC%E3%83%A9%E3%83%B3%E3%83%89?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#上海ディズニーランド</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Disney?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Disney</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Disneypark?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Disneypark</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Disneyland?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Disneyland</a> <a href="https://t.co/Bsv51z84Ha">pic.twitter.com/Bsv51z84Ha</a></p> — DONGDONG (@gourmetdyy) <a href="https://twitter.com/gourmetdyy/status/1259672695668539392?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">May 11, 2020</a></blockquote> <p>The park also features yellow tape markers as part of social distancing efforts. Most of the park’s attractions – including rides, live shows, stores and restaurants – are accessible, but theatre shows are cancelled and the daily float parade is downsized.</p> <p>Cast members have also reportedly been trained to carry out <a href="https://deadline.com/2020/05/disneyland-shanghai-reopen-date-may-11-coronavirus-1202926767/">contactless guest interaction</a>.</p> <p>“We have cast members throughout the park. They’re continuously wiping down and making sure that everything is as disinfected and sanitized,” Andrew Bolstein, senior vice president of operations at Shanghai Disney Resort, told <a href="https://www.goodmorningamerica.com/travel/story/opening-day-disney-shanghai-looked-70613135"><em>Good Morning America</em></a>.</p> <p>The reopening came after Disney reported a $1 billion hit on its parks, experiences and products segment during the second quarter “primarily due to revenue lost as a result of the closures”. All other parks remain closed.</p>

International Travel

Placeholder Content Image

Queen Elizabeth stepping back from royal duties “indefinitely”

<p>Buckingham Palace has announced the Queen will remain confined to Windsor Castle indefinitely with all her public engagements postponed until the coronavirus threat in the UK clears.</p> <p>It is the first time in what is believed to be 27 years that Buckingham Palace will be closed.</p> <p>Events including Trooping the Colour and the extravagant garden parties hosted by Her Majesty have also been cancelled.</p> <p>The 94-year-old is not expected to return to her normal schedule until autumn, at the earliest and is currently bunkered down in Windsor Castle with her husband Prince Philip, who is turning 99 in May.</p> <p>The royal’s last public engagement was the Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey in March – the Duke and Duchess of Sussexes last official appearance as senior members of the royal family as well.</p> <p>Gun salutes could not be heard last month to mark the Queen’s 94th birthday, which is the first time since the royal was crowned that this has not happened.</p> <p>Elizabeth II said she did not feel gun salutes would be appropriate in the circumstances of the crisis. </p> <p>The COVID-19 pandemic also moved Her Majesty to deliver a rare speech, which carried a resolute message.</p> <p>“We know that coronavirus will not overcome us,” she’d said at the time of her Easter address.</p> <p>Her VE speech also carried a moving few words about how the UK is handling the pandemic, to which she said: “When I look at our country today, and see what we are willing to do to protect and support one another, I say with pride that we are still a nation those brave soldiers, sailors and airmen would recognise and admire. Never give up, never despair - that was the message of VE Day.”</p> <p>The Chelsea Flower Show which the Royal Horticultural Society's flagship event of the summer has also been called off along with the Royal Ascot which takes place in June.</p>

International Travel

Placeholder Content Image

Why a trans-Tasman travel bubble makes a lot of sense for Australia and New Zealand

<p>We are hearing <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/radio/adelaide/programs/am/nz-and-australia-discuss-trans-tasman-bubble/12214452">increasing talk about a trans-Tasman “travel bubble”</a>, which could see Australia and New Zealand open their borders to each other.</p> <p>New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was a special guest at Australia’s national cabinet meeting on Tuesday, which discussed the possibility of setting up a travel safe zone.</p> <p>Both Ardern and Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison have cautioned a travel bubble will not happen immediately. After the meeting, Morrison said a safe zone is “still some time away”. But he also stressed, “it is important to flag it, because it is part of the road back”.</p> <p>What would a travel bubble mean in practice for Australia and New Zealand?</p> <p>As tourism researchers in both countries, we see a travel bubble as a great opportunity to kick-start the post-COVID economic recovery, while also focusing on more sustainable tourism.</p> <p><strong>Why the trans-Tasman bubble makes sense</strong></p> <p>A travel bubble would see quarantine-free travel allowed between Australia and New Zealand.</p> <p>The two neighbours have a unique opportunity to do this. Not only are they geographically isolated, both have so far had success containing - perhaps even eliminating - COVID-19 cases within their borders.</p> <p>It is not yet known when international flows of tourists will be possible again. But <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/08/lockdowns-cant-end-until-covid-19-vaccine-found-study-says">it is understood</a> that global tourism as we once knew it will not be possible until a COVID-19 vaccine is widely available.</p> <p>Historically, limited travel circuits have been associated with former and current Communist states. Nevertheless, for Australia and New Zealand in 2020, the idea of a travel safe zone makes a lot of sense.</p> <p>In 2018, <a href="https://www.tourism.australia.com/en/markets-and-stats/market-regions/new-zealand.html">New Zealand was Australia’s second largest inbound market for visitor arrivals and fourth largest market for visitor nights and total visitor spend</a>. Australia is New Zealand’s <a href="https://www.mbie.govt.nz/assets/5c05b7bfce/nz-tourism-forecasts-2018-2024-report.pdf">largest visitor market</a>, generating 1.5 million visitors a year as of 2017.</p> <p>The beauty of our shared travel markets is our visitors are generally repeat visitors who head to diverse regions. Because more than <a href="https://www.tourismnewzealand.com/markets-stats/markets/australia/">70% of Australians book self-drive holidays</a>, for example, their spending spreads more widely than some other visitors.</p> <p>Australians seek skiing and adventure in Queenstown, wine in the Martinborough or Waiheke Island regions. They also support Australian sports teams competing in Auckland, Wellington and Dunedin. In reverse, lots of Kiwis head to the Gold Coast but also visit the Hunter Valley for wine or Melbourne, Sydney or Brisbane for sports events.</p> <p>Starting to rebuild these markets while the rest of the world remains in lockdown would represent a huge boost to both economies.</p> <p><strong>What is needed to make a bubble work?</strong></p> <p>After the national cabinet meeting, <a href="https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/a-lot-of-work-before-there-s-a-trans-tasman-bubble-ardern-says-20200505-p54pxf.html">Ardern stressed “there is still a lot of work to be done”</a> before the travel safe zone idea can progress.</p> <p>The key to a successful trans-Tasman travel arrangement will be sound planning and implementation.</p> <p>Rigorous public health measures to facilitate safe travel will be essential, including being prepared for all travel to be halted again if the situation changes.</p> <p> </p> <p>Broad stakeholder involvement and coordination will be necessary, including between tourism commissions, airlines and airports, industry associations and a range of government agencies, to ensure any reopening is managed well.</p> <p>Local councils and businesses must also be involved to ensure that the tourism restart is planned, coordinated and controlled.</p> <p><strong>A chance for greener travel</strong></p> <p>A trans-Tasman travel bubble could also lead to a change in both countries’ tourism strategies.</p> <p>Like other countries, Australia and New Zealand have historically prioritised international tourists, particularly <a href="https://www.tourism.australia.com/content/dam/assets/document/1/c/1/3/v/2240923.pdf">“high value travellers”, who spend more and stay longer</a>.</p> <p>A COVID-era focus on domestic and trans-Tasman travel will likely result in lower yield but could also lead to a more sustainable tourism future. Trans-Tasman travel is the least carbon emitting of our international markets, because it does not rely on long-haul flights.</p> <p>Trans-Tasman visitors also tend to have a lower carbon footprint at their destinations. In 2018, <a href="https://www.tourismnewzealand.com/markets-stats/markets/australia/">more than half of all Australian visitors to New Zealand (57%) were repeat visitors</a>. Repeat visitors tend to spend more of their time at regional destinations, and less time incurring the carbon costs of transporting themselves around the country.</p> <p>New Zealand has already begun to <a href="https://www.pce.parliament.nz/our-work/news-insights/media-release-pristine-popular-imperilled">rethink its tourism economy</a> to establish greater sustainability. A trans-Tasman bubble presents an opportunity to foster tourism with a lighter footprint.</p> <p><strong>Could the bubble be expanded?</strong></p> <p>There is a call for an extension of this travel bubble to the <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/commentisfree/2020/may/01/if-australia-and-new-zealand-restart-travel-they-should-include-the-pacific-in-their-bubble">Pacific neighbourhood</a>, where there are also low infection numbers.</p> <p>Such a move would not only provide economic support to the Pacific community, it would also represent another step in the long process of restoring normality in different regions of the world.</p> <p>Ardern has kept the door open on this aspect, but noted “at the moment, we are focused on Australia”. She has <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/radio-australia/programs/pacificbeat/should-pacific-countries-be-included-in-transtasman-travel/12214462">also cautioned</a> about not introducing COVID-19 to parts of the Pacific untouched by coronavirus.</p> <p>Even if it remains just Australia and New Zealand, any travel bubble will obviously elevate the risk of COVID-19 reinfection. So, public health priorities must trump the desire to kick-start economies, to make sure we don’t squander our success against coronavirus so far.</p> <p>But if the governments and tourism industries can find the right balance between public health and economic needs, then Australia and New Zealand stand to benefit from a head start on the long road to economic recovery.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/137878/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/freya-higgins-desbiolles-181651">Freya Higgins-Desbiolles</a>, Senior Lecturer in Tourism Management, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-south-australia-1180">University of South Australia</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/james-higham-134567">James Higham</a>, Professor of Tourism, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-otago-1304">University of Otago</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/why-a-trans-tasman-travel-bubble-makes-a-lot-of-sense-for-australia-and-new-zealand-137878">original article</a>.</em></p>

International Travel

Placeholder Content Image

Warnings over Australia Post scam amid coronavirus delivery rush

<p>Australia Post has warned customers of online scams as the postal service continues to struggle with unprecedented demand during the coronavirus pandemic.</p> <p>A fraudulent email is circulating which prompts the recipients to click on a phishing link. The link leads to a fake Australia Post website, which requests personal and financial information.</p> <p>“The email claims that your parcel was unable to be delivered and overweight, and asks for a payment to retrieve your package,” the company said.</p> <p><iframe src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Faustraliapost%2Fposts%2F10158359308595667&amp;show_text=true&amp;width=552&amp;height=482&amp;appId" width="552" height="482" style="border: none; overflow: hidden;" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" allowtransparency="true" allow="encrypted-media"></iframe></p> <p>A previous alert also warned customers against fake websites branded with the Post Billpay logo.</p> <p>“Please note that Australia Post will never email or text message you asking for personal information, financial information or a payment.”</p> <p>Australia Post advised customers who have sent any personal or financial information to a scam email address or website to call ID CARE on 1300 432 273.</p> <p>The scam alerts came as Australia Post continues to deal with increased parcel volumes. In late April, the postal company said its parcel deliveries had <a href="https://thenewdaily.com.au/finance/consumer/2020/04/22/australia-post-parcels-coronavirus/">doubled in the past month</a> as online department store purchases rose <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-04-22/waiting-on-a-parcel-from-australia-post-why-its-taking-so-long/12172772">473 per cent</a>.</p> <p>Many Australians waiting for deliveries at home have seen their online orders delayed for weeks.</p> <p>“We are doing everything possible to keep delivering during the Coronavirus pandemic,” Australia Post said on its website.</p> <p>“The challenges presented by the pandemic mean there are delays as our business adopts additional safety measures to protect our people and customers.</p> <p>“Other factors contributing to delays include fewer domestic flights, international delays and increased volumes as more people start shopping online.”</p>

International Travel

Placeholder Content Image

Queen very pleased after phone call to Scott Morrison

<p>The Australian Prime Minister has received a phone call from Queen Elizabeth II.</p> <p>Her Majesty sent her well wishes to Scott Morrison and Australia during a phone call that took place on Tuesday evening, the PM revealed.</p> <p>The 94-year-old royal received an update on the condition of Australia during the coronavirus pandemic, and the country’s recovery after the bushfires that ravaged massive parts of the country’s east.</p> <p>Mr Morrison revealed the royal wanted to hear about how he and the rest of the nation was tackling recent crises and was said to be pleased after hearing that horse racing was still able to continue amid the COVID-19 pandemic.</p> <blockquote style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/B_zhjK2HvMm/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="12"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"></div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"></div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"></div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"></div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/B_zhjK2HvMm/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank">A post shared by Scott Morrison (@scottmorrisonmp)</a> on May 5, 2020 at 4:48am PDT</p> </div> </blockquote> <p>"Was very kind to receive Her Majesty's call this evening to check in and see how we're all getting on in Australia," Mr Morrison wrote on Instagram on Tuesday night.</p> <p>"The Queen was very interested to hear about our progress in combating COVID-19 and was so pleased we have managed to prevent the terrible impacts.</p> <p>"Our recovery from the bushfires was also a key area of interest for her as well as the ongoing drought.</p> <p>"Her Majesty was also pleased to hear our horse races were still running in Australia and sent her very best wishes to all Australians."</p> <p> </p>

International Travel

Placeholder Content Image

Experts call for more safe walking and cycling space

<p>The coronavirus pandemic has dramatically shifted our lives and the ways we move about our cities. Despite tight restrictions on non-essential work and outings, and on social gatherings in every state and territory, governments have listed exercise as one of four essential activities. As a result, we have seen increases in the number of people walking and cycling, including children.</p> <p>Physical activities such as walking and cycling are perfectly compatible with physical distancing – but only with the right infrastructure. More than 100 Australian health and transport experts have signed an <a href="https://drive.google.com/file/d/1-dBhS2mhOX6y8aH6MWYfg1J483Bz8o8j/view">open letter</a> calling on governments to enact urgent measures to support safe walking and cycling and social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.</p> <p><strong>Increased numbers lead to crowding</strong></p> <p>If you have walked or ridden around your neighbourhood, you have probably noticed more people on footpaths and shared walking and cycling paths. This increase in numbers is exposing much of our walking and cycling infrastructure as inadequate. It simply doesn’t provide enough space to follow physical distancing rules, leading to <a href="https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/too-close-for-comfort-when-a-walk-in-the-park-is-no-walk-in-the-park-20200415-p54k46.html">reports</a> of overcrowding on these paths.</p> <p>The pandemic has highlighted the volume of street space given to motor vehicles, at the cost of space for people to walk and cycle. Given the <a href="https://www.arrb.com.au/latest-research/data-sheds-new-light-on-covid-19-effects?fbclid=IwAR2C37MlfBfz_qB6Ip6xfb2Tu5pTeYGj6baIXvKqlHA3NsMd8szdgPlmExk">far lower traffic volumes</a> on roads, cities across the globe have been reallocating road space to enable people to walk and cycle safely while adhering to physical distancing. Australian cities appear to have lagged behind.</p> <p>The pandemic has highlighted the <a href="https://theconversation.com/coronavirus-reminds-us-how-liveable-neighbourhoods-matter-for-our-well-being-135806">importance of our local neighbourhoods</a> and the need to provide safe space locally for walking and riding, particularly for our children. As many Australians are staying home, most of our physical activity occurs on the streets and paths around our homes.</p> <p>Therefore, we must focus our efforts on our neighbourhoods, local streets and shopping centres, where residents need safe and easy opportunities to be active. This includes providing safe routes to children’s schools, activity centres and other hubs.</p> <p><strong>Experts call for action</strong></p> <p>The call by more than 100 health and transport experts for infrastructure to enable safer walking and cycling has been supported by key organisations including the Heart Foundation, Public Health Association of Australia, the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine, the Australasian College of Road Safety, the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons Trauma Committee, Kidsafe, the Australasian Injury Prevention Network, Doctors for the Environment Australia, The Committee for Sydney and The Committee for Adelaide.</p> <p>Across the world we see many examples of the rapid roll-out of social distancing infrastructure to support cycling and walking during the COVID-19 pandemic:</p> <ul> <li> <p><a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/carltonreid/2020/04/22/paris-to-create-650-kilometers-of-pop-up-corona-cycleways-for-post-lockdown-travel/#995399754d40">Paris</a> is rolling out 650km of emergency bicycle lanes</p> </li> <li> <p><a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/21/milan-seeks-to-prevent-post-crisis-return-of-traffic-pollution">Milan</a> has announced 35km of streets will be transformed for walking and cycling</p> </li> <li> <p><a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/10/oakland-california-slow-streets-coronavirus-us">Oakland</a> is allocating 10% of the city’s streets for walking and cycling</p> </li> <li> <p><a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/carltonreid/2020/04/13/new-zealand-first-country-to-fund-pop-up-bike-lanes-widened-sidewalks-during-lockdown/#5aad1f07546e">New Zealand</a> has announced significant funding to help councils create more people-friendly spaces in towns and cities.</p> </li> </ul> <p>These are just a few examples. We must also consider lowering the default urban speed limit to 30km/h and reducing traffic on residential streets and around local business areas.</p> <p><strong>Australia lagging behind</strong></p> <p>Despite the urgent need for connected networks of walking and cycling infrastructure in Australia, we have not seen a similar response from federal, state and territory governments.</p> <p>At the moment, local councils often don’t have the authority to make changes locally or take road space without the approval of the state or territory government. We need these governments to recognise the need for rapid action and provide temporary delegation powers to local councils to enable quick infrastructure changes to support safe walking and cycling. This has happened in New Zealand and the UK.</p> <p>The roll-out of this infrastructure will also be critical in reactivating the economy when physical-distancing measures are relaxed.</p> <p>Financial and planning experts have <a href="https://www.theage.com.au/politics/victoria/the-road-to-recovery-are-victoria-s-mega-projects-still-worth-it-20200423-p54mja.html">recommended against investing in major road projects</a>. Instead, they recommend smaller-scale projects that focus on sustainable modes of transport. Such projects will enable people to travel to work and school using transport modes that are both safe and healthy.</p> <p><strong>A turning point for our cities</strong></p> <p>Public transport typically <a href="https://www.infrastructure.gov.au/infrastructure/pab/soac/files/2015_SoAC_full_report.pdf">moves up to half of all people</a> travelling to work in some city centres. However, physical distancing is often a challenge on public transport. As restrictions are eased, shifting even a proportion of these passengers to walking or cycling trips will have infection-control advantages that limit transmission.<a href="https://theconversation.com/for-public-transport-to-keep-running-operators-must-find-ways-to-outlast-coronavirus-134224"></a></p> <p>If there is not a significant shift to cycling or walking, private car use is likely to increase. The results will be increased congestion and pollution and reduced community amenity.</p> <p>Never before have we seen such a shift to active modes as our population has sought to stay healthy and active during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our immediate priority must be to tackle the inadequacies of current walking and cycling infrastructure to enable physical distancing.</p> <p>Beyond this, we must look to the future. To promote active transport, we need more space that encourages these modes. We need space for health.</p> <p>This is one moment in time to undo the wrongs of past transport policies that promoted the use of private cars and harmed population health and the environment. We must use this opportunity to future-proof our cities, invest in active modes of transport and ensure we provide safe and equitable mobility solutions for people today and for generations to come.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/137374/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><em><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></em></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/ben-beck-54">Ben Beck</a>, Senior Research Fellow, School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/monash-university-1065">Monash University</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/billie-giles-corti-4363">Billie Giles-Corti</a>, Distinguished Professor and Director, Urban Futures Enabling Capability Platform, and Director, Healthy Liveable Cities Group, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/rmit-university-1063">RMIT University</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/rebecca-ivers-137088">Rebecca Ivers</a>, Professor of Public Health; Head of School, Public Health and Community Medicine, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/unsw-1414">UNSW</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/physical-distancing-is-here-for-a-while-over-100-experts-call-for-more-safe-walking-and-cycling-space-137374">original article</a>.</em></p>

International Travel

Placeholder Content Image

Coronavirus: Jacinda Ardern to join national cabinet meeting

<p>Travellers could soon <a href="https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/trans-tasman-flights-on-the-agenda-when-jacinda-ardern-joins-national-cabinet-20200504-p54pnn.html">fly between Australia and New Zealand without undergoing 14 days of quarantine</a> at either ends of the trip as New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Australia’s National Cabinet are set to discuss the potential of the ‘trans-Tasman bubble’ on Tuesday.</p> <p>Prime Minister Scott Morrison invited Ardern to the meeting with all state and territory premiers and chief ministers to discuss resuming flights between the two countries.</p> <p>“If there is any country in the world with whom we can reconnect with first, undoubtedly that’s New Zealand,” Morrison said last week.</p> <p>Ardern said the easing of travel restrictions is on the agenda, but the process would take time.</p> <p>“Don’t expect this to happen in a couple of weeks’ time,” she said on Monday.</p> <p>“As you can imagine, we need to make sure that we’re locking in the gains that all New Zealanders have helped us achieve, and make sure that we have health precautions in place to make sure we do this safely and well.”</p> <p>New Zealand’s Foreign Minister Winston Peters previously said he had been in constant contact with his Australian counterparts.</p> <p>“We are part of the wider Pacific where we don’t seem to have the kind of chaos that you’re getting in other parts of the world because of Australia’s and New Zealand’s influence in this part of the world at the same time,” he said in April.</p> <p>“So thinking out loud, if we can get this system going with equivalence and where we represent a safeguard for both countries then it is something that we can in the long term be working on.”</p> <p>Australia has 966 active coronavirus cases and New Zealand has 211 at the time of writing.</p> <p>On Monday, New Zealand celebrated its first day without new COVID-19 cases since the peak of the pandemic on March 16.</p>

International Travel