Impacting Travel

Tahiti’s tourism closure is expected to be very temporary

January had been a good month for Tahiti Tourisme.

The Destination Marketing Organization for French Polynesia (which markets itself as The Islands of Tahiti) had a lot to be proud of and a lot to look forward to. After a complete shutdown of North American air traffic at the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak in the spring of 2020, French Polynesia reopened to visitors on July 15 with contact tracing and testing protocols, easily the standard of gold for safe pandemic tourism. .


The resorts reopened and visitors began to slowly return. Even when the United States Centers for Disease Control announced that travelers returning from international destinations would have to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test, French Polynesia set up rapid test stations at the airport and made plans to cover quarantine expenses of travelers who tested positive. before your return flights.

Then he lowered the hammer. On January 31, French Overseas Minister Sebastian Lecornu appeared on Tahitian television with the news that the ministry had closed the borders of France to all but travelers with specific imperatives; economic support through tourism is not among them. The directive also applies to travel between metropolitan France and French Polynesia, which is part of the French Republic but has a separate customs union.

The announcement came as a surprise in Tahiti, where new infections had slowed since the late fall peaks. The testing program implemented at the reopening had proven to be so effective that there was debate in local government about whether the expense justified its continuation. Of the 51,000 tests returned by incoming travelers on their fourth day after arrival (which had a return rate of over 90 percent), only 275 were positive, leading government ministers to question whether the capabilities of country test were being deployed effectively.

Being a trend now

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in many different species of animals, including camels, cattle, cats, and bats.

The message also landed on the country’s tourism industry with the frustration of an edict from afar. French Polynesia is a semi-autonomous region of France with its own assembly; the ordinances here are often promoted by local government and jointly announced by the President of French Polynesia and the French High Commissioner, who is a representative of the French Republic (similar to a regional prefect in metropolitan France).

This time, the announcement came directly from Paris, nearly 10,000 miles from Tahiti.

“Today, the threat is great for French Polynesia: if one of the [new virus] If variants were detected, we could face an explosion of cases and a complete embolism of your hospital system. [in Tahiti]”Lecornu told viewers, in French with Tahitian subtitles.

“If the variants were actively circulating in France and in some overseas territories at the same time, we may not be able to support French Polynesia as we did before.”

The policy went into effect on February 3. Visitors already in French Polynesia were not necessarily required to end their visits earlier, but the vast majority of tourist hotels in the country were closed the following week. Only a handful of hotels and guesthouses (mainly on islands where they are the only lodging option) and the InterContinental in Tahiti remain open for the handful of travelers needed, such as government workers, students, healthcare workers, and airline crews who they operate with “territorial continuity”. ”Flights from Paris.

Frustratingly for many tour operators, the Overseas Minister did not mention any threshold for when the country could reopen to tourism and only made vague promises of financial support. Financial support for tourism and related industries came in the following days, with direct payments and loan guarantees planned for tourism industry businesses and their displaced employees.

French Polynesian President Edouard Fritch has asked the Overseas Ministry to limit the closure to three months, as French Polynesia’s economy is overwhelmingly dependent on open borders and inbound international tourism. Almost fortunately, the announcement came in the middle of French Polynesia’s off-season, which spans the first three months of the year.

Air Tahiti Nui, the national carrier of French Polynesia, had seen improvements in booking trends prior to the announcement, noted the airline’s vice president for the Americas, Nick Panza: “[we] They have enjoyed a good period of travel from the US market since July 2020, when the destination reopened. There was a new spike in bookings starting in January this year. Agents and consumers trusted the destination and its testing protocol. “

Air Tahiti Nui, which primarily attracts leisure visitors among US-origin passengers, suspends service to Los Angeles from February 14 through the end of March, reflecting the current resort closures. United Airlines also suspended service from San Francisco to Papeete.

Both Air Tahiti Nui and Air France typically operate services to Paris via Los Angeles and will continue to operate their Paris flights via Vancouver as the US does not allow EU citizens to transit the country en route from Paris to Tahiti. In addition to passengers, the flights also carry vital cargo, including vaccines.

As for travelers planning to visit French Polynesia in 2021, Tahiti Tourisme expects the closure to be “as temporary as possible to allow further adaptations to ensure the safety of our local population.”

Travelers who have already booked with plans for the affected dates can rebook for later in 2021 using common cancellation policies agreed between all operators in the Islands of Tahiti, and most importantly, those who plan to visit later in the year you can rely on those cancellation policies to reserve with confidence.

Panza also has a positive outlook: “There is good demand for the islands of Tahiti. From May, June onwards, we have an increase in reserves and April remains stable. “

To plan a visit to the islands of Tahiti later in 2021, visit the Tahiti Tourisme website.


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Tim Ryan, one of Ohio’s top Democrats, expected to plan his Senate bid

Mr. Ryan is from Niles, Ohio, just north of Youngstown, an area filled with voters who are actually Trump Democrats, many of whom are union members or retirees. He outperformed Mr. Biden in his district, but Democrats suffered a string of losses in other top-down ballot races.

The question, if Mr. Ryan becomes his party’s candidate, is whether he can win back those predominantly white voters.

Mr Ryan has long considered running statewide, but in the past he has opted for re-election to the House seat which he first won in 2002, when he succeeded the famous fiery and corrupt James Traficant.

Mr Ryan launched a long-term bid for the presidency in 2019 with the same message that he expects Democrats to build lasting majorities only if they win back the support of a multiracial coalition of voters from working class.

Beyond elevating that argument, Mr. Ryan, 47, has another compelling reason to run for the Senate: As Republicans get stronger in eastern Ohio, his district has grown from increasingly competitive and the Republican Party could redesign districts of the state to make it even more banning it in 2022.

Despite rising to the Appropriations Committee, Mr Ryan has for the most part given up his hopes of joining the House leadership, after being rejected in his 2016 challenge against then-minority leader Nancy Pelosi.

In Congress, Mr Ryan has been a close ally of the unions and has generally adhered to the Democratic line, evolving towards a position in favor of abortion rights in recent years. Even before officially announcing his candidacy, Ryan garnered support from the national chapter of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, which released a letter on Monday approving his undeclared candidacy.

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Powerful snowstorm expected to affect much of the east

Winter storm warnings were in place on Sunday for much of the eastern United States, from northwestern North Carolina to New York City, with up to two feet of snow and dangerous travel conditions expected in some places until Tuesday, forecasters said.

The storm brought snow and rain to California last week before traversing the Midwest, leaving about eight inches of snow in Chicago, the National Weather Service said.

“It’s pushing east and it’s starting to snow in the mid-Atlantic to the northeast, and we’re forecasting a fairly large area of ​​potentially heavy snow,” said Bob Oravec, senior forecaster with the National Weather Service. based in Baltimore.

Snow was expected in major metropolitan areas, Washington, DC, Philadelphia, New York and Boston, as well as inland in northeastern Pennsylvania, upstate New York and most of New England, Mr. Oravec said.

The heaviest snow would likely fall in northeastern Pennsylvania and northwestern New Jersey.

“Anytime you have a storm going through these areas, you usually get your usual high impacts, especially with travel, both by car and by plane,” he said.

Heavy snowfall is expected to develop north from Pennsylvania to Massachusetts from Sunday evening through Monday and continue in Maine on Tuesday.

Travel along and west of the Interstate 95 corridor from Pennsylvania to Maine would likely be affected, the National Weather Service said.

This is a “relatively slow storm,” Oravec said, but forecast snowfall is average for a winter storm at this time of year.

In New York City, 12 to 18 inches of snow was expected for much of the Tristate area, the National Weather Service said, with up to 24 inches possible in some spots. Near snowstorm conditions were possible along the coast on Monday.

In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio said in-person schools would be closed on Monday due to the snowstorm.

A warning issued for metro Washington and Baltimore predicted up to nine inches of snow in some locations. The expected snowfall would break 709 days without more than an inch of snowfall recorded at Washington’s Ronald Reagan National Airport, Oravec said.

In Pennsylvania, forecasters said travel might be impossible and predicted 11 to 15 inches of snow in places. Parts of central, northern and northwestern New Jersey and southeastern Pennsylvania could receive up to 18 inches of snow, with winds up to 35 mph

Freezing rain was also likely in North Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia, the National Weather Service said.

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Biden is expected to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline license on his first day in office.

President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. is expected to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline license on day one of his term in office, quickly overturning his predecessor’s approval of a project to transport oil from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico, according to someone familiar with Mr. Biden’s plans for his early days in office.

Environmentalists have long targeted the nearly 1,200-mile pipeline as both a contributor to climate change and a physical symbol of the country’s reluctance to move away from an oil-based economy. Many Republicans, including President Trump, have argued that the pipeline will create jobs and help local economies.

At the end of 2015, former President Barack Obama rejected the permit for the project, arguing it would undermine US leadership in the transition to sustainable fuels. Mr. Trump’s administration reversed that decision in early 2017, giving the green light for construction on the project to begin.

Construction has hit other economic and legal hurdles since then, but environmentalists were happy when Mr Biden said during the presidential campaign that he intended to cancel the permit again.

This is expected to happen on January 20, amid a wave of other actions from the leadership Mr. Biden plans to take to demonstrate his determination to reverse Mr. Trump’s legacy. The end of the Keystone project would send such a signal.

If completed, the pipeline was designed to transport up to 830,000 barrels per day of Canadian and North Dakota crude to refineries in Texas and Louisiana to turn it into oil that could be exported to the ‘foreign or used to improve domestic supplies.

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A joint session of Congress is expected to last overnight as Republicans attempt to overturn the election.

The House and Senate will meet Wednesday afternoon for a remarkable joint session to formalize President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory in the Electoral College, with President Trump and his allies plotting to turn the counting session into a last futile attempt to overthrow. The results.

Biparty majorities from both houses are ready to meet late into the night to push back the challenges and confirm that Mr Biden is the winner. But by using what is generally a ceremonial procedure as a forum to attempt to subvert a democratic election, Mr. Trump and his allies are going where no party has since the era of 19th-century reconstruction, when the Congress negotiated the presidency.

Its implications, for future elections and the Republican Party, could be significant.

At least four Republican Senators – Ted Cruz of Texas, Josh Hawley of Missouri, Kelly Loeffler of Georgia and Tommy Tuberville of Alabama – have agreed to join members of the House in contesting the results of three battlefield states won by Mr. Biden: Arizona, Georgia and Pennsylvania. . Senators still wondered whether they should join members of the House in similarly challenging the result in Michigan, Nevada and Wisconsin.

In each case, their objections will force the House and Senate to debate baseless allegations of Mr. Trump’s electoral fraud for up to two hours, then vote to accept or reject the state-certified results. A process that typically consists of less than an hour of glorified paperwork can take anywhere from nine to 24 hours, starting at 1 p.m. EST.

Before it even began, the session was already driving sharp divisions in the Republican Party, which threatened to permanently damage its cohesion, as lawmakers decided to cast their spell with Mr. Trump or the Constitution. The main party leaders in the House and Senate appeared to be heading for a high-profile split. And while only a dozen senators were expected to vote to reject the result in key states, up to 70% of House Republicans could join the effort, fueling the dangerous belief of tens of millions of voters according to which Mr. Biden was illegally elected. .

Vice President Mike Pence, whose status and tradition dictates, must ultimately declare Mr. Biden the winner. Mr Trump is pressuring him to become a thug and rejecting voters in the major battlefield states he has lost, giving them a second term.

The demand ensures that Mr. Pence must also choose between the Constitution and his loyalty to Mr. Trump. The answer could shape its own political future.

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Unemployment claims are expected to remain high last week

New clues about the economy’s path to 2021 will come on Thursday morning when the government releases the latest data on initial claims for unemployment benefits.

While the Christmas holidays could lead to a drop in numbers, with national unemployment bureaus that process claims closed for at least one day last week, new deposits are expected to remain at a very high level, in the range of over 800,000 a week said Greg Daco, chief economist at Oxford Economics. “It is very high and we are facing an economy which has slowed down considerably.”

Claims for benefits were turned down during Thanksgiving week, only to pick up later, and a similar catch-up phenomenon could also occur after Christmas and New Years.

In California, widening restrictions on restaurants and other businesses and an increase in coronavirus infections could lead to increased deposits, said Scott Anderson, chief economist at Bank of the West in San Francisco.

“California has locked down even more, and there is no end in sight in terms of cases and hospitalizations,” he said. “We are seeing more layoffs and that has yet to show in the numbers.

The $ 900 billion stimulus package President Trump enacted on Sunday comes too late to affect unemployment claims data. It will take months for the impact of aid to be felt, and most economists expect the layoff rate to remain high.

When new monthly employment data is released by the Labor Department next week, Anderson expects it to show an increase in the unemployment rate to 6.9% in December from 6.7 % last month. The unemployment rate has fallen sharply from its peak of 14.7% in April, but hiring has slowed as the economy has weakened in recent months.

Additionally, the pace of layoffs has been consistently high as industries like food service, travel and entertainment struggle as the pandemic has left many people at home.

The introduction of vaccines is a positive, as are the positive economic signs, such as soaring stock prices and a booming real estate market. But it will be months before enough Americans can be vaccinated to allow people to go to restaurants, events and theaters without fear of being infected.

“The trend is not good with the additional closures being implemented across the country,” said Carl Tannenbaum, chief economist at Northern Trust in Chicago.

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Home orders expected to continue amid ‘outbreak after outbreak’


Stay-at-home orders in place for Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley were theoretically eligible to expire on Monday, but in a grim post-Christmas reality test, Gov. Gavin Newsom said he was ” obvious ”that the restrictions must be extended.

“Things, unfortunately, will get worse before they get better,” the governor said at a press conference on Monday.

[Track coronavirus cases, as well as hospitalizations and deaths, by county in California.]

Hospitals – already overwhelmed in much of the state – must prepare for what experts have projected to be a “surge in more than one wave, arguably on top of another wave,” resulting from the holidays Mr Newsom said.

And the state sent a team to Los Angeles County to help cope with an influx of patients, which led to people being discharged from emergency rooms at alarming rates over the weekend.

“Routine emergency care is slowed down,” Newsom said. “The impact of this pandemic is being felt throughout the hospital system and could impact any of us – God forbid.”

California has become the epicenter of the pandemic in recent weeks, with more than two million confirmed cases of the virus and 24,331 deaths, according to a New York Times database.

Intensive care units have been at or near full capacity for weeks in Southern California and the Central Valley. Doctors and nurses were forced to treat patients in the halls and corridors. Tents were erected to serve as waiting rooms and, in some cases, field hospitals.

And even if most healthcare providers haven’t officially started rationing care, experts said full hospitals would likely result in fewer people seeking the care they need, which is likely already. causing more deaths.

[See how full intensive care units are at hospitals near you.]

The current tidal wave of infections in the state, the most populous in the country, began to increase before Thanksgiving. As the number of cases continued to skyrocket earlier this month, state leaders announced a plan for regional stay-at-home orders tied to the capacity of intensive care units.

The restrictions, officials said at the time, could expire in three weeks, provided intensive care units have 15% of their available capacity. The idea that trends would reverse – or at least stabilize – within this time frame seemed optimistic, but theoretically possible.

But capacity in the Southern California region, which includes Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties, dropped below the 15% threshold to trigger the restrictions almost immediately. The same was true for capacity in the San Joaquin Valley, which has been particularly affected throughout the pandemic.

Today, about 98% of Californians live under the restrictions, which ban gatherings of people from different households and force restaurants to only serve take-out.

Mr Newsom said the state would most likely make the extension of orders official today.

(This article is part of California today newsletter. Register to have it delivered to your inbox.)

Here are a few other things to know:

  • The governor said California hopes to have received just over two million doses of the vaccine by the end of the year. But at the end of the week state expects to have received only 1.76 million doses. Yet Mr Newsom said the effort had been monumental.

  • From Monday, nursing home residents were to start receiving doses of Pfizer vaccine administered by CVS and Walgreens under a federal partnership, Newsom said. However, Los Angeles County has pulled out, as the Wall Street Journal recently reported.

  • Mr Newsom said the plan for the the next phase of vaccine distribution should be finalized in the coming days. After healthcare workers and nursing home residents, the expected guidelines would prioritize people aged 75 and over, as well as education and child care workers, service workers emergency workers, grocery store workers and other workers in the food supply chain.

  • As cases in Los Angeles reach crisis levels, public health officials demand anyone who has traveled outside of Los Angeles County and recently returned to quarantine for 10 days.

On Sunday night, Southern California experienced its first real storm in months. Lightning. Thunder applauded. Angelenos (like me) were torn from a deep sleep by the sound of the pouring rain. Many people felt obligated tweet about it.

Monday he greeted. According to the National Weather Service of Los Angeles, some mountain areas have received about a foot of snow.

Although weather conditions prompted warnings of debris flows, light flooding and misconduct, the news was generally met with joy. Rain, of course, mitigates the risk of fire and helps stimulate plant growth in areas that have burned down.

Tuesday must have been sunny.

California Today goes live at 6:30 a.m. PT on weekdays. Tell us what you want to see: Have you been forwarded this email? Sign up for California Today here and read each edition online here.

Jill Cowan grew up in Orange County, graduated from UC Berkeley, and has reported all over the state, including the Bay Area, Bakersfield and Los Angeles – but she always wants to see more. Follow us here or on Twitter.

California Today is edited by Julie Bloom, who grew up in Los Angeles and graduated from UC Berkeley.

Travel News

Biden is expected to receive the coronavirus vaccine on live television on Monday.

President-elect Joseph R. Biden, Jr. and new first lady Jill Biden are set to receive the coronavirus vaccine on live television Monday in Delaware, sending a message to Americans across the country that the vaccine is safe to take.

Since March, Mr. Biden’s team has taken the public health guidelines on social distancing and masks seriously because President Trump and his aides have deliberately ignored them. But even Mr. Biden’s more cautious circle has been infiltrated by the virus. Representative Cedric L. Richmond, Democrat of Louisiana and one of Mr Biden’s closest advisers, tested positive for the coronavirus last week, the transition team said.

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris is expected to receive her vaccine after Christmas, a spokeswoman said, following advice from doctors who recommended that Mr Biden and Ms Harris schedule their first vaccines rather than receive them together.

Vice President Mike Pence, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, all received the first dose of the vaccine on Friday.

Mr. Trump, however, has neither participated in nor supported the public health campaign to reassure vaccine skeptics worried about its dangers.

He did nothing to promote Mr Pence’s taking of the vaccine on Friday, a White House event in which officials asked all TV networks to broadcast live on TV for maximum exposure. . Instead, Mr. Trump tweeted anti-mask claims minutes after Mr. Pence received his vaccine.

Some of Mr. Trump’s advisers have defended his decision to postpone his own vaccination, arguing that he still had the protective effects of the monoclonal antibody cocktail that was used to treat him against the virus in October.

But doctors said it would set a good example for Americans who have recovered from Covid-19 by saying they should still get the vaccine.

“We know that the infection does not induce a very strong immune response and that it decreases over time,” Moncef Slaoui, chief advisor of Operation Warp Speed, said on Sunday on “The state of the world. ‘Union’ by CNN. “So I think, as a precaution, it’s appropriate to get the vaccine because it’s safe. I think people should be vaccinated, indeed.

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Video: America’s first coronavirus vaccines are expected to be delivered on Monday

new video loaded: America’s first coronavirus vaccines are expected to be delivered on Monday



America’s first coronavirus vaccines are expected to be delivered on Monday

General Gustave F. Perna, head of Operation Warp Speed, said boxes of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine were being prepared for shipment with an emphasis on quality control.

“We have achieved the largest public-private partnership of modern times: doctors, scientists, researchers, factory workers, logisticians and hundreds of others all came together for a single purpose. This goal: save lives and end the pandemic. We checked our ego at the door. We worked collectively to resolve the issue. And we have achieved success as was identified last night by the FDA when it approved the Pfizer vaccine EUA. “Make no mistake, the distribution has started. At present, the boxes are packed and loaded with vaccines with an emphasis on quality control. Within the next 24 hours, they will begin moving the vaccine from Pfizer’s manufacturing facility to UPS and FedEx hubs, and then it will flow to the 636 sites nationwide, which have been identified by states and territories. We expect 145 sites in all states to receive the vaccine on Monday, another 425 sites on Tuesday and the final 66 sites on Wednesday, completing the initial delivery of Pfizer vaccine orders. “We remain nimble and adaptable to whatever the situation brings us as we work across many time zones, many areas of concern. We will manage the distribution on a daily basis. “

Recent episodes of Coronavirus pandemic: latest updates


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Iowa officials are expected to certify that a Republican won a House seat by six votes.

There is a close election, then an incredibly close election. A state canvassing board in Iowa is expected to certify Monday that Mariannette Miller-Meeks, a Republican, won an open seat in Congress by just six votes.

If the board certifies the results, after a recount that narrowed the race down from Ms Miller-Meeks’ lead on Nov. 12 out of 47 votes, Democratic candidate Rita Hart is likely to challenge the result before a judicial panel .

Ms Hart’s campaign manager Zach Meunier said over the weekend, after all counties in the district completed the accounts, that Ms Hart would reconsider the state council’s decision “with a view to ensuring that all voices in Iowa are fully and fairly heard.

Ms Miller-Meeks, a state senator making her fourth congressional run, declared victory after accounts from 24 counties in the district. A victory for her would further erode the Democrats’ majority in the House, after Republicans spilled a net of at least nine seats previously held by Democrats.

The Hart campaign said the six-vote margin was the thinnest in any congressional race since 1984, when an Indiana race narrowed to just four votes.

Both candidates attended the orientation in Washington for new members of Congress as the race – to replace an outgoing Democrat, Rep. Dave Loebsack – was undecided.

Although numerous Iowa polls have shown Joseph R. Biden Jr. and other Democrats to be competitive ahead of the election, the party suffered heavy losses in the state. President Trump increased it by 8.2 percentage points. And in Iowa’s First District, Representative Abby Finkenauer, a first-term Democrat, was ousted by Ashley Hinson, a Republican.