The difference between the Australian Open COVID plan and rules at other international tournaments


The world’s best tennis players have had an abrupt introduction to the world of hotel quarantine and isolation upon their arrival into Australia.

Of all the players set to compete in the first major of the season, 72 are now in hard quarantine after three of the 17 charter flights were impacted by positive COVID tests.

Some players have criticised the hard quarantine, saying they did not know that everyone on a flight would have to quarantine in the event of a positive test, although that has been contradicted by some other players.

Regardless, the increase in restrictions the players are facing has come as a shock to their collective systems. So why is that?

What have the rules been at other tournaments?

Like most sports around the world in 2020, tennis endured a hiatus of several months, with tournaments, including Wimbledon, cancelled across the world.

However, after that period off, tennis got back underway, with the US and French Opens both taking place, in conjunction with their associated warm-up tournaments.

Those tournaments used very similar protocols to those being used in Australia.

At the US Open, players were placed in a bio-secure bubble, with allocated hotels close to the National Tennis Centre site at Flushing Meadows.

Naomi Osaka wore masks with names of people killed as a result of police brutality in America during the US Open.(AP: Frank Franklin II)

Players were regularly tested, twice within 48 hours of arriving in New York before being accredited, and then re-tested every four days after. At the Australian Open, players will be tested every day.

Heading off site, including visiting Manhattan, was banned and players had to wear masks when not on court.

The US Open even moved a warm-up event, the Cincinnati Open, to Flushing Meadows to reduce the amount of travel for players, much in the same way that the pre-Australian Open tournaments were moved from Perth, Brisbane and Sydney to Melbourne.

Players were told to wear masks at all times apart from playing, as well as subjecting themselves to daily temperature testing and a questionnaire before being allowed access.

The rules around the French Open, which took place two weeks after the conclusion of the US Open, were similar.

Simona Halep holds a trophy and a bunch of flowers while wearing a mask
Simona Halep won the Italian Open, prior to the French Open.(LaPresse via AP: Alfredo Falcone)

Were the players OK with that?

There was some dissent at the conditions imposed on players for the return to tennis.

Novak Djokovic, who has also called for changes in quarantine for players in Australia, criticised the conditions that were imposed for the US Open, saying it would be “impossible” to play tennis.

“The rules that they told us that we would have to respect to be there, to play at all, they are extreme,” Djokovic said in an interview with Serbian TV prior to the tournament.

“We would not have access to Manhattan, we would have to sleep in hotels at the airport, to be tested twice or three times per week … we could bring one person to the club which is really impossible. I mean, you need your coach, then a fitness trainer, then a physiotherapist.”

An image posted to Rafa Nadal’s Facebook account on September 2, 2020.
Rafael Nadal did not travel to the US Open, but won the French Open.(Facebook: Rafa Nadal)

Rafael Nadal also didn’t travel, questioning the safety of travelling during the pandemic.

“The situation is very complicated worldwide, the COVID-19 cases are increasing, it looks like we still don’t have control of it,” Nadal tweeted ahead of the Open.

“This is a decision I never wanted to take but I have decided to follow my heart this time and for the time being I rather not travel.”

He had no such qualms about travelling to France though, where he won a record-extending 13th French Open title.

Lack of quarantine around the world

Normally, the life of a tennis pro involves multiple smash-and-grab raids around the world — players fly in to a city, play and then fly out again once they’re done.

However, that’s not possible in Australia due to the federal requirement to quarantine.

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OUR SAY: Victorian government must back visionary plan for Wodonga students | The Border Mail


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It has forever been the case that our young people are everyone’s future. It was the same when those longer in the tooth were at that exciting stage of their lives, and for untold generations stretching back in time. Making that progression through the teenage years to early adulthood is a crucial part of anyone’s life. IN OTHER NEWS: Often this is when young people get an inkling, or even a far clearer realisation, of what they want to do with their future. That in turn begins to carry considerable weight in decisions being made as to what to do with study options, in particular around Year 9 when electives become available in the curriculum. MORE OPINION It’s not always so easy, especially when – like many other teenagers – you don’t know what you want to do. Regardless, those secondary school years are of great importance, at the very least in creating a solid base of learning from which students can later tailor their future studies. It is a time too when teenagers get their first taste of what it actually means to be an adult; in everything from self-discipline to learning how to work effectively with others. All of that is a given, but not for all. If there’s stability at home, a sense of being loved and supported in a safe haven, students can thrive. They can put their all into their studies free of the worry that comes if you haven’t got such certainty in their lives. For many though, uncertainty prevails. When you come from great disadvantage, being an effective learner can be a challenge of the higher order. This is why a project now being planned for Wodonga is so crucial. The idea is that 40 self-contained units would be built for vulnerable youth, on a site next to La Trobe University. As BeyondHousing’s Celia Adams says, this could help “break the cycle of homelessness and disengagement for young people in our region”. On that score alone it is vital that this visionary project becomes a reality. And for that to occur, the Victorian government must provide financial backing – and in a timely manner.

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Canada’s Couche-Tard drops $20 bln Carrefour takeover plan after French govt opposition-sources


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The plan included a pledge to keep the new entity’s global strategic operations in France and having French nationals on its board, he said.

Couche-Tard, advised by Rothschild, was also going to pump about 3 billion euros of investments into the French retailer which was working on the deal with Lazard.

The proposal was widely backed by Carrefour which employs 105,000 workers in France, its largest market, making it the country’s biggest private-sector employer.

France’s rejection of the deal less than 24 hours after talks were confirmed sparked grumbling in some business circles over how French President Emmanuel Macron, a former investment banker, is turning away foreign investment.

Some politicians and bankers said the pushback could tarnish Macron’s pro-business image, while others highlighted that the COVID-19 crisis had forced more than one country to redefine its strategic national interests.

WHITE FLAG

Amid a trans-Atlantic flurry of lobbying, Couche-Tard’s Bouchard – who started his convenience store operations in 1980 – flew to Paris to explain the merits of the deal to Le Maire, the source said.

But the finance minister reiterated his opposition without listening to the terms of the transaction and said any such deal should not be revisited before France’s presidential elections in 2022, the sources said.

Couche-Tard initially explored the possibility of pursuing its offer despite the government’s stance on the deal, but later decided to raise the white flag and avoid a political storm, one of the sources said.

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America has ‘become an ATM machine’ with Biden’s mass stimulus plan



Director of The Finance Guru Scott Haywood says “America has become an ATM machine” after President-elect Joe Biden’s COVID relief package was announced.

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Joe Biden launches $US1.9 trillion America Rescue Plan to stem COVID-19


And it shoehorns in long-term Democratic policy aims such as increasing the minimum wage to $US15 an hour, expanding paid leave for workers, and increasing tax credits for families with children. The last item would make it easier for women to go back to work, which in turn would help the economy recover.

The political outlook for the legislation remained unclear. In a joint statement, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer praised Biden for including liberal priorities, saying they would move quickly to pass it. But Democrats have narrow margins in both chambers of Congress and Republicans will push back on issues that range from increasing the minimum wage to providing more money for states, while demanding inclusion of their priorities, such as liability protection for businesses.

The emergency legislation would be paid for with borrowed money, adding to trillions in debt the government has already incurred to confront the pandemic. Aides said Biden will make the case that the additional spending and borrowing is necessary to prevent the economy from sliding into an even deeper hole. Interest rates are low, making debt more manageable. The aides spoke on condition of anonymity to describe the plan ahead of his speech Thursday night.

Biden has long held that economic recovery is inextricably linked with controlling the coronavirus. “Our work begins with getting COVID under control,” he declared in his victory speech. “We cannot repair the economy, restore our vitality or relish life’s most precious moments until we get it under control.”

The plan comes as a divided nation is in the grip of the pandemic’s most dangerous wave yet. So far, more than 385,000 people have died of COVID-19 in the US. And government numbers out Thursday reported a jump in weekly unemployment claims, to 965,000, a sign that rising infections are forcing businesses to cut back and lay off workers.

Under Biden’s multi-pronged strategy, about $US400 billion would go directly to combating the pandemic, while the rest is focused on economic relief and aid to states and localities.

About $20 billion would be allocated for a more disciplined focus on vaccination, on top of some $US8 billion already approved by Congress. Biden has called for setting up mass vaccination centres and sending mobile units to hard-to-reach areas.

The plan provides $US50 billion to expand testing, which is seen as key to reopening most schools by the end of the new administration’s first 100 days. About $US130 billion would be allocated to help schools reopen without risking further contagion.

The plan would fund the hiring of 100,000 public health workers, to focus on encouraging people to get vaccinated and on tracing the contacts of those infected with the coronavirus.

There’s also a proposal to boost investment in genetic sequencing, to help track new virus strains including the more contagious variants identified in the United Kingdom and South Africa.

Throughout the plan, there’s a focus on ensuring that minority communities that have borne the brunt of the pandemic are not shortchanged on vaccines and treatments, aides said.

With the new proposals comes a call to redouble efforts on the basics.

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Biden is asking Americans to override their sense of pandemic fatigue and recommit to wearing masks, practising social distancing and avoiding indoor gatherings, particularly larger ones. It’s still the surest way to slow the COVID-19 wave, with more than 4400 deaths reported just on Tuesday.

Biden’s biggest challenge will be to “win the hearts and minds of the American people to follow his lead,” said Dr Leana Wen, a public health expert and emergency physician.

With the backing of Congress and the expertise of private and government scientists, the Trump administration has delivered two highly effective vaccines and more are on the way. Yet a month after the first shots were given, the nation’s vaccination campaign is off to a slow start with about 10.3 million people getting the first of two shots, although more than 29 million doses have been delivered.

Biden believes the key to speeding that up lies not only in delivering more vaccine but also in working closely with states and local communities to get shots into the arms of more people. The Trump administration provided the vaccine to states and set guidelines for who should get priority for shots, but largely left it up to state and local officials to organise their vaccination campaigns.

“This is going to entail coordination at all levels, as well as resources,” said Dr Nadine Gracia, executive vice president of the nonpartisan Trust for America’s Health. “There is a commitment the [incoming] administration has articulated to address the needs of communities.”

Biden has set a goal of administering 100 million shots in his first 100 days. The pace of vaccination is approaching 1 million shots a day, but 1.8 million a day would be needed to reach widespread or “herd” immunity by the summer, according to a recent estimate by the American Hospital Association. Wen says the pace should be even higher — closer to 3 million a day.

It’s still unclear how the new administration will address the issue of vaccine hesitancy, the doubts and suspicions that keep many people from getting a shot. Polls show it’s particularly a problem among Black Americans. “It’s important to acknowledge the reasons why it exists and work to earn trust and build vaccine confidence in communities,” said Gracia.

Next Wednesday, when Biden will be sworn in as president, marks the anniversary of the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in the United States.

AP

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Independent panel to examine pension plan for Nova Scotia teachers – Halifax


An independent three-person panel has been appointed to examine ways of strengthening the pension plan for Nova Scotia’s teachers, which had a massive unfunded liability of $1.5 billion as of 2019.

The province says while there is no immediate risk the plan will be unable to meet its pension obligations, it has a shared obligation with the Nova Scotia Teachers Union to address the liability issue.

READ MORE: N.S. teachers’ union says schools ‘in chaos,’ asks government to delay reopening

The teachers’ pension plan is one of the largest public sector plans in the province, with 32,647 members, including 13,705 retirees and survivors, 12,979 active members and 5,963 inactive members as of 2019.

Agreed to in October, the panel is to consult with teachers and other plan members before submitting recommendations to make the plan fully funded by Dec. 31.

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Members include Elizabeth Brown, a Toronto-based pension lawyer at Brown Mills Klinck Prezioso LLP, Gale Rubenstein, a lawyer at Goodmans LLP in Toronto and Conrad Ferguson, an actuary based in Fredericton.










Schools in parts of Canada resume in-person learning


Schools in parts of Canada resume in-person learning

In a news release Wednesday, Labour Relations Minister Mark Furey said both government and the union want to ensure pensions are there for teachers when they retire.

“The plan deficit is a serious and complex issue,” said Furey. “The panel process will allow teachers and other plan members to better understand the challenges and range of solutions and provide their input.”

Union president Paul Wozney said having an arm’s-length group of experts develop a strategy for the short- and long-term health of the plan is the appropriate approach.

READ MORE: N.S. to spend another $14.3 million on school programs, drinking water

“Restoring the plan’s stability in a manner that is manageable for both its members and the province is imperative to the success of this effort,” Wozney said in a union news release.

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The plan is a defined benefit registered pension plan that provides a lifetime pension benefit upon retirement.

Members include active and retired teachers, as well as members of the Public School Administrators Association of Nova Scotia and Nova Scotia Community College Academic Union.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 13, 2021.




© 2021 The Canadian Press



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First draft picks sorted as Big Bash captains plan squads



NOMINATIONS have closed for the inaugural Barrier Reef Big Bash, with discussion to now shift to who will be first drafted by the four franchises.

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US Democrats step up Trump impeachment plan as FBI warns of more armed protests


Poised to impeach, the House sped ahead Monday with plans to oust President Donald Trump from office, warning he is a threat to democracy and pushing the vice president and Cabinet to act first in an extraordinary effort to remove Trump in the final days of his presidency.

Trump faces a single charge — “incitement of insurrection” – after the deadly Capitol riot in an impeachment resolution that the House will begin debating Wednesday.

At the same time, the FBI warned ominously on Monday of potential armed protests in Washington and many states by Trump loyalists ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration, Jan. 20. In a dark foreshadowing, the Washington Monument was being closed to the public amid the threats of disruption.

It all adds up to stunning final moments for Trump’s presidency as Democrats and a growing number of Republicans declare that he is unfit for office and could do more damage after inciting a mob that violently ransacked the U.S. Capitol last Wednesday.

“President Trump gravely endangered the security of the United States and its institutions of Government,” reads the four-page impeachment bill.

“He will remain a threat to national security, democracy, and the Constitution if allowed to remain in office,” it reads.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is summoning lawmakers back to Washington for votes, and Democrats aren’t the only ones who say Trump needs to go. A number of House Republicans may vote to impeach him, while others at least want to vote for censure. Former GOP Speaker John Boehner said “it’s time” for Trump to resign.

Republican Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, joined GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska over the weekend in calling for Trump to “go away as soon as possible.”

As security tightened, Joe Biden said Monday he was “not afraid” of taking the oath of office outside — as is traditionally done at the Capitol’s west steps, one of the areas where people stormed the building.

As for the rioters, Biden said, “It is critically important that there’ll be a real serious focus on holding those folks who engaged in sedition and threatening the lives, defacing public property, caused great damage — that they be held accountable.”

Biden said he’s had conversations with senators ahead of a possible impeachment trial, which some have worried would cloud the opening days of his administration. The president-elect suggested splitting the Senate’s time, perhaps “go a half day on dealing with impeachment, a half day on getting my people nominated and confirmed in the Senate, as well as moving on the package” for more COVID relief.

As Congress briefly resumed on Monday, an uneasiness swept government. More lawmakers tested positive for COVID-19 after sheltering during the siege. And new security officials were quickly installed after the Capitol police chief and others were ousted in fallout from the extraordinary attack on the iconic dome of democracy.

Pending impeachment, Democrats called on Vice President Mike Pence and the Cabinet to invoke constitutional authority under the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office before Inauguration Day.

Their House resolution was blocked by Republicans. However, the full House is to hold a roll call vote on it Tuesday, and it is expected to pass.

After that, Pelosi said Pence will have 24 hours to respond. Next would be the impeachment proceedings.

Pence has given no indication he is ready to proceed on a course involving the 25th Amendment and a vote by a majority of the Cabinet to oust Trump before Jan. 20. No member of the Cabinet has publicly called for Trump to be removed from office in that way.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., offered the resolution during Monday’s brief session. It was blocked by Rep. Alex Mooney, R-W. Va., as other GOP lawmakers stood by him.

Pelosi said the Republicans were enabling Trump’s “unhinged, unstable and deranged acts of sedition to continue. Their complicity endangers America, erodes our Democracy, and it must end.”

The impeachment bill from Reps. David Cicilline of Rhode Island, Ted Lieu of California, Jamie Raskin of Maryland and and Jerrold Nadler of New York draws from Trump’s own false statements about his election defeat to Biden.

Judges across the country, including some nominated by Trump, have repeatedly dismissed cases challenging the election results, and Attorney General William Barr, a Trump ally, has said there was no sign of widespread fraud.

The impeachment legislation also details Trump’s pressure on state officials in Georgia to “find” him more votes, and his White House rally ahead of the Capitol siege, in which he encouraged thousands of supporters last Wednesday to “fight like hell” and march to the building.

The mob overpowered police, broke through security lines and windows and rampaged through the Capitol, forcing lawmakers to scatter as they were finalizing Biden’s victory over Trump in the Electoral College.

While some have questioned impeaching the president so close to the end of his term, Democrats and others argue he must be held accountable and prevented from holding future public office. He would be the only president twice impeached.

House Democrats have been considering a strategy to delay for 100 days sending articles of impeachment to the Senate for trial, to allow Biden to focus on other priorities.

There is precedent for pursuing impeachment after an official leaves office. In 1876, during the Ulysses Grant administration, War Secretary William Belknap was impeached by the House the day he resigned, and the Senate convened a trial months later. He was acquitted.

Some Republicans warn against impeachment. “They’re not only going to create bad feelings in Congress, they’re really going to create tremendously bad feelings in America,” said Rep. Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey.

Still, other Republicans might be supportive.

Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse said he would take a look at any articles that the House sent over. Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger, a frequent Trump critic, said he would “vote the right way” if the matter were put in front of him.

Cicilline, leader of the House effort to draft impeachment articles, tweeted Monday that “we now have the votes to impeach,” including 213 cosponsors and private commitments.

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The Build Muscle, Stay Lean Meal Plan


Bulking up: It’s a scary thought for many guys at the gym because it seems like there’s always a string attached. Everyone wants to add lean mass, but—and it’s a big but—a lot of us don’t like the idea of gaining body fat, even as little as a couple of pounds, which is the norm with most mass-gaining meal plans.

Seriously, what’s the point of gaining 20-30lbs if a good portion of that is fat? If you can’t see the muscle you’ve added, is it even worth having? In this case, we say no, which is why we provide you with the tools you need to add muscle while maintaining, not increasing, your current level of body fat.

So the question is, how do I bulk up without adding unwanted pounds of fat? The answer: By being careful, precise, and paying close attention to food timing. Whether on this page or on Instagram memes, you’ve heard the expression “bodies are built in the kitchen, not the gym.” Too often, you associate lifting weights and doing cardio with crafting a great physique—and don’t get us wrong, that’s an important aspect of it, too.

But if we were to compare bodybuilding to building a house, our diets are the foundation, walls, and support beams. Without those, it doesn’t matter how pretty we make our bedrooms and living rooms—you need to start from the ground up. To use another cliche, you can’t out-exercise a bad diet.

That’s why we’ve laid out this simple and effective meal plan to help you put on mass while staying lean.

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Victorians embrace holiday plan B – and sweat on refunds for plan A


“We spoke to [NSW] Fair Trading and just got to the point where we didn’t know what we could do.”

The group secured the boat after a family from NSW cancelled due to the pandemic – though, of course, Victoria’s restrictions mean it cannot be moored on the NSW bank.

The family made good on their deal to rent their own home, in Bells Beach, to another family. (They spent the night before their Echuca escape at a friend’s). Ms Meagher fully refunded several others who had to cancel stays in the small Airbnb they have on their property.

While people who have lost sometimes thousands of dollars to holiday service providers struggling with their own financial pain, those who spoke to The Sunday Age said they are well aware 3000 Victorians stranded in NSW are worse off.

Nevertheless there is frustration and confusion at the lack of consistent policies.

The Corsham family, from Melbourne, booked two short holidays for January, a week in a two-bedroom Airbnb in Coogee and another in Byron Bay. The Byron provider immediately offered a credit note but the Coogee owner said the booking was “non-cancellable”.

They amended this to an offer of a 50 per cent refund minus an admin fee.

“I decided we were better off cutting our losses and asked for the refund, which turned out to be 50 per cent of $3900 minus a ‘management fee’ of another 22 per cent. So they were keeping 72 per cent,” said Harry Corsham.

“Nobody’s a winner here, pretty much everyone’s a loser; the way the state governments are responding is very unpredictable when it comes to border closures.”

He was eventually offered a credit and the family of five will go next year. Meanwhile, as plan B, they found a house to let in Jan Juc for a week with friends.

A spokeswoman for Consumer Affairs Victoria said it had been receiving increased reports regarding holiday accommodation since mid-December.

In Victoria if travel or accommodation cannot be provided for reasons beyond both parties’ control providers must refund money, minus reasonable expenses.

A spokesman for NSW Fair Trading said since both providers and would-be holidaymakers were doing it tough in the pandemic, it was trying to balance the interests of both.

Sue Albert, of Surrey Hills, was pleasantly surprised to be given money back voluntarily by the NSW owner of a property in Jindabyne, which her family and another were using as a base for five days of cycling adventures around Thredbo over the New Year’s break.

On day three, some of the group were cycling and some were making a New Year’s Eve spread when frantic relatives began contacting them saying they had to get back to Victoria.

“The phone started and just didn’t stop with people saying, ‘You’ve got to get out of NSW before midnight’ … It felt like an emergency evacuation,” she said.

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“There was a huge thunderstorm predicted … we had to pack up, leave $100 worth of half-prepared food for New Year’s Eve there, throw everything into suitcases and load two cars up with nine people and seven bikes and drive two hours over the top of Mount Kosciuszko through torrential rain.”

They made it to the border after a harrowing drive but could not find anywhere to stay in or around Beechworth so drove to Melbourne, arriving at 2.45am.

The riders arrived “with mud still all up their legs”, such was the haste of the departure.

“It was probably 48 hours before we felt like, ‘OK, what just happened?’ The people who rented us the house for $2500 for five nights were lovely enough though to give us $1000 back.” The gesture was appreciated as the family headed off for a less eventful second holiday, at more accessible Ocean Grove.

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