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UK will temporarily close trips

The UK will temporarily close all travel corridors from Monday, January 18, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Friday.

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

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Concerned about the spread of COVID-19, as well as “new yet unidentified strains” of the virus, Johnson said the ban will run until at least February 15, although anyone flying into the country from abroad can demonstrate a negative test. Test COVID and you will be allowed in.

A new strain of the virus was first discovered in England last month and, while it is no more deadly than the first strain to invade the entire world, it is more contagious. The latest government figures on Friday showed another 55,761 new cases had been reported, up from 48,682 the day before.

“It is vital to take additional steps now that we are making great strides in protecting the population every day,” Johnson said. “It is precisely because we are hopeful of that vaccine and the risk of new strains coming from abroad that we must take additional measures now to prevent those strains from entering the country.”

All travel corridors will close on Monday. After that, arrivals to the UK will need to be quarantined for up to 10 days unless they test negative after five days. Johnson said that once the most vulnerable have been vaccinated in mid-February “we will think about the steps we could take to lift the restrictions.”

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Christmas is coming. Cue the trips of guilt and tears.

These are tense conversations, some ending with a desperate “it’s OK” or a vague promise to come together for the New Year. Others end in frustration, even in tears.

Weeks after Thanksgiving celebrations were turned upside down by the coronavirus pandemic, the winter break ushered in another round of emotionally charged exchanges between families who want to be together but are forced to listen to experts in the health tell them to do otherwise.

For many, the very thought of bringing up the subject arouses feelings of dread.

Zachariah Robinson, a junior at North Central College in Naperville, Ill., Said he’s trying to figure out how to tell his mother he’s planning to stay on campus this Christmas. Mr Robinson, 20, returned home to Antioch, Ill., For Thanksgiving, but said he was increasingly worried about passing the virus to him.

“I don’t know how she’s going to take it,” he said. “We’ll try to use some of our tactics to try and get her to understand a little better – speak nicely, just use some basic logic against her, letting her know there’s no other option for her. me.

Carolyn Cohn, 71, knew it would be difficult to persuade her daughter, Kristin Kiely, to visit her and her husband, Marty, in Florida for Hanukkah and Christmas. Ms Kiely, a Spanish teacher in Florence, SC, is an administrator of the Fan Club Dr. Anthony Fauci Facebook page and has lectured to her mother for inviting friends over for dinner.

But Ms Cohn, a retired computer programmer, said she spent another three months cuddling and negotiating with her only child.

“I kept thinking that she might change her mind,” she said. “Kristin is 41 now and it will be the first time in her life that I don’t see her for Christmas, and I think ‘it’s all because of this Covid’.”

The loneliness caused by the pandemic and the temptation to carry on with the rituals of the holiday season have led some people to consider taking more risks.

More than half of parents said it was “very important” for their child to see their extended family while on vacation, according to a child health survey from the CS Mott Children’s Hospital at the University of Michigan on last month. According to the poll, one in three parents said the benefits of getting together for Thanksgiving outweighed the risk of spreading or contracting Covid-19.

For Thanksgiving, Denise Herrick, 66, and her husband, Stan, gathered on their Iowa farm with three of their grown children and five of their grandchildren. Their fourth child, Annie Boyd, who lives in California with her husband and five children, had planned to come for Christmas, but the airline canceled their flight. They plan to visit in January, when they hope it will be safer, Ms Boyd said.

“The anticipation of a vacation, that special meal, is so wonderful,” Ms. Herrick said. “We need it more than ever this year.”

She added, “What are you doing? Do we squat for months and months and then get back together?

Health experts would say yes, but the holidays can make it difficult for many people to overcome their guilt and fear of hurting the feelings of a loved one.

“Stay firm, consistent, and polite and don’t falter,” said C. Vaile Wright, a psychologist in Chicago. “You made the decision. Stick to it. “

Bill Marshall, 63, of Scottsdale, Ariz., Said his mother did her best to hide her disappointment when he told her he couldn’t visit her in Florida for Thanksgiving. He also won’t see his mother, who is 87, at Christmas, although he hopes his sister, who lives in Miami, can see her.

“When I call her she does her best to be optimistic, but she says things like, ‘This is really no way for anyone to face the last years of their life,” Mr. Marshall said. . “When you pick up the phone and call your loved ones, you want to be optimistic. After 20 minutes of trying to help them come up with things to do, you’re out of ideas. Then you just say, “I know. It’s horrible. ”

Horacio Sierra, 37, said he normally celebrates Christmas with dozens of parents at his parents’ house just outside Miami, where they roast a pig in the backyard. This year, he said, Christmas will be like Thanksgiving – with far fewer people and empty chairs as a visual reminder of parents who couldn’t be there.

“It’s a little bit of anger and sadness in one, a year younger with Abuela and not being able to be physically together,” Sierra said, using the Spanish word for grandma. “A year lost overall.”

People need to be reminded that there is nothing wrong with crying, said Lori Brown, professor of sociology at Meredith College in Raleigh, North Carolina.

“Of course we have to mourn the loss of people, the loss of the sense of security, the loss of time with others,” she said. “We have lost businesses and jobs, all of which should be mourned.”

This advice may resonate with people like Cheryl Lee, a Chicago hospital doctor, who told her 6-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son last summer that they wouldn’t see their grandparents on Thanksgiving or at Christmas.

It was an abstraction then, but on Thanksgiving, reality hit them. Her husband, who is also a doctor, worked nights. Dr. Lee sat down at the table, staring at the containers of takeout turkey breast and stuffing, and tried not to cry.

His daughter, realizing something was wrong, took a huge bite of turkey, Dr Lee recalls, and said briskly, “Wow, this is so good. This is the best turkey ever. “

“But it wasn’t his voice,” Dr Lee said. “It was her kind of voice when she played with a princess.

Arlo Simmerman, 20, a junior at the University of Denver, said his mother cried when he told his parents returning to Michigan for Christmas was too risky.

They’ve been tapping into FaceTime since then, and Mr Simmerman said his mom was doing her best to look upbeat. But it’s clear, he says, that she’s still upset.

“It’s usually around the time we sign that you can hear tears rising in the sound of her voice,” he says.

Ms Kiely, the administrator of Dr. Fauci’s fan club, said she told her mother that she might be willing to go to Florida if Ms Cohn promised to avoid activities that could put her off. in contact with other people for two weeks in advance.

“She said, ‘Does that even mean golf? ”Ms. Kiely said.

Ms Cohn, who protests that she is wearing a mask and bangs her elbows instead of shaking hands, said it had been difficult to hear her daughter disapprove of her behavior.

“It’s hard not to say, ‘Hey, I’m the mom,’” Ms. Cohn said. “‘I respect what you do, but you have to respect what i do. ”

However, Ms Cohn said she accepted her daughter’s decision not to come, and even supported her.

“The numbers are higher than I thought,” she says.

Ms Cohn said she had also reflected on how she would feel if her daughter fell ill after a vacation visit.

“I would feel bad,” she said. “I thought, ‘It wouldn’t have happened if you hadn’t been pushy.'”

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Trump’s EPA chief plans 2 overseas trips before stepping down

WASHINGTON – Environmental Protection Agency administrator Andrew Wheeler plans to organize two taxpayer-funded trips abroad – to Taiwan next month and to four Latin American countries in January – before President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. took over and moved to overturn most of his policies.

Both trips raised concerns about taxpayer spending at a time when Mr. Wheeler no longer represents the policy direction of the EPA, and he and his top aides are expected to help with the transition to the Biden administration.

Traveling to Taiwan is expected to require a chartered flight costing more than $ 250,000 to avoid coronavirus risks and due to the long quarantines required for business travelers, according to three people knowledgeable about the trip. The three-day visit, scheduled for the week of Dec. 5, will cost around $ 45,000 for a 10-person delegation, according to documents from the EPA and the American Institute of Taiwan as well as people familiar with planning, who spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to discuss the preparations.

James Hewitt, a spokesperson for Mr Wheeler, said the agency was still working on logistics, but said the administrator had been invited to Taiwan “to collaborate on issues such as the Save our Seas initiative. and marine litter, air quality and children’s health. ” Mr Wheeler called plastic waste a “top priority” and the EPA recently released a global strategy to tackle marine litter.

Mr Hewitt did not acknowledge Biden’s incoming administration or the transition, and added, “Administrator Wheeler remains as the head of the agency and will continue to advance environmental progress at home and abroad. “

EPA officials noted that Gina McCarthy, who led the EPA under the Obama administration, had also visited Taiwan, and the total cost was over $ 68,000. This trip took place in 2014, two years before Mr. Trump’s election, and did not involve a charter flight.

Besides Mr. Wheeler, the delegation to Taiwan should include Mandy Gunasekara, his chief of staff, and Michael Molina, his deputy chief of staff.

Two people knowledgeable about the trip said meetings with senior Taiwan officials were not planned well in advance, as is typical of such trips, and were instead hastily cobbled together. The same people said there had been no political goals or declared events for the trip to Latin America, only a preference for which countries to visit.

Aides said they were tasked with planning visits for Mr Wheeler to visit Panama, Costa Rica, Ecuador and the Dominican Republic – but to make plans for other countries in the region if those four are not possible.

No international environmental conferences or events are planned in these countries in January.

Hewitt said in a statement about the trip to Latin America “nothing has been planned yet”.

Mr. Wheeler isn’t the only senior Trump administration official preparing for a lame duck trip. Chad F. Wolf, Secretary of Homeland Security, is planning a trip to Latin America in December, a homeland security official familiar with the matter confirmed. The date and countries are still under development but could include El Salvador, Panama, Brazil and Ecuador. This trip was first reported by the Washington Post.

Noah Bookbinder, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a liberal-leaning watchdog group, said Mr. Wheeler’s trips are legal as long as they have an official purpose. But, he said, “ethically it seems deeply problematic,” especially as coronavirus infections are at record levels in the United States and remain high in South America.

“The pandemic adds expense and hardship to almost everything, but certainly to any type of official travel. When this travel is necessary for government business, people understand that whatever resources are needed, it probably would not cost them additional expenses, ”Mr. Bookbinder said.

But, he added, “it’s hard to imagine a situation in a non-emergency scenario where a cabinet official’s time will be better spent traveling abroad than here in Washington,” to prepare for an orderly transition.

Taiwan has been widely praised for quickly containing the coronavirus pandemic, but in recent weeks it has been concerned about an increase in cases of travelers entering the country. Foreigners traveling to Taiwan are tested for the coronavirus before being allowed entry, and people familiar with Mr Wheeler’s trip have said the chartered flight was necessary to avoid a long and expensive quarantine.

Alex Azar, the secretary of the US Department of Health and Human Services, flew to Taiwan this summer, also flying on a charter flight.

Zolan Kanno-Youngs contributed reporting.

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New York City Mayor advises NYC residents to skip vacation trips

The mayor of New York City has asked residents to avoid travel during the upcoming Thanksgiving and winter break seasons due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.

According to FOX5NY.com, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday during a City Hall news conference that New Yorkers should not travel out of state during the holidays.

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

“I have to urge all New Yorkers not to travel out of state during the holidays,” de Blasio said. “Don’t travel to a state with a high infection rate. Do not travel to a country with a high infection rate. “

De Blasio called on the federal government to get involved and require that incoming air passengers be screened for COVID-19 and have a negative result within 72 hours of entering the state. He also said that testing at JFK and La Guardia airports should be expanded.

“For those who travel, recognize how important it is to get tested and recognize that there is a very strict quarantine in New York State and if they go elsewhere, they will have to observe a two-week quarantine upon return,” continued de Blasio . “There are some states that is not true for some states; the vast majority of US states are now on the New York state quarantine list. “

New York’s travel advisories list currently includes 40 states and jurisdictions and requires anyone arriving in the tri-state area (New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut) to self-quarantine for 14 days.

Earlier this week, NYC & Company launched a new neighborhood-oriented trip to Times Square and the surrounding neighborhoods as part of a larger effort to help attract tourists and locals back to New York City.

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