More than half of skiers are willing to accept the Government’s new five-day quarantine rule in exchange for the chance to go on a ski holiday this winter, reports Lucy Aspden.
A survey carried out by ski equipment rental company Intersport, which has shops all over Europe, found that 80 per cent of skiers still hope to be able to hit the slopes this season, wth the majority (59 per cent) happy to quarantine for five days on their return.
However, there are a number of hurdles these determined skiers will face before they hit the slopes. Lack of travel options and insurance cover are two of the main reasons skiers are holding off booking their trips just yet. The majority haven’t yet secured a holiday, with over 41 per cent intending to leave it until the last minute, once their safe in the knowledge resorts in Europe will reopen.
“Of course we all want to see British skiers out here this winter,” said Arnaud Coppell, head of Intersport Rent in France.
“We know that the quarantine on the way back into the UK is a real problem for our British friends. We welcome the UK Government’s change in the number of quarantine days, and we can assure our customers that our shops are ready for this unusual winter, with a virtual queueing system, obligatory alcohol gel and masks and a no-questions-asked refund policy. To our friends in Great Britain we say this: whenever you can get here – no matter how late in the season – we’re ready!” he added.
The brand’s ambassador and Ski Sunday presenter Ed Leigh predicts increased demand for spring ski holidays. “I’ve been pushing Easter as the best time to go skiing regardless of Covid. But with this change in quarantine regs, it actually means that for 2021 there’s actually a perfect week lining up.”
Canberra is normally the go-to destination for school trips, to the point that it’s almost a rite of passage for students around Australia.
Canberra’s reputation as a school excursion destination is slowly returning
Visits by students are estimated to be down by more than 100,000
This week students from South Australia were treated to some parliamentary sledging, and a meeting with the Governor-General
But the $130-million-a-year booster shot to the ACT’s economy has mostly dried up, with coronavirus border closures keeping tens of thousands of students who were expected to visit this year at home.
In recent weeks, as the country has begun to recover from the pandemic, so too has domestic tourism, and pupils’ pilgrimages to the capital.
Garry Watson, from the National Capital Educational Tourism Project, said things were getting better, but there was still a long way to go.
“In 2019 around 173,000 school children came to visit Canberra,” he said.
About 100,000 students were booked in to come to Canberra between July to November — but most of them cancelled.
“We might get another 20 schools before Christmas — maybe,” Mr Watson said.
Accommodation businesses still have a long road to recovery ahead
YMCA Canberra has two venues often used to house visiting students, but as the pandemic hit, it was forced to close one, with the other operating at around 5 per cent capacity.
“It entirely wiped out our revenue and put us backwards quite significantly — we virtually had no revenue for the past six months,” executive manger Adam Horner said.
“We have fixed costs that need to be covered regardless of the number of people through, and they are not covered at the moment.”
This week, the YMCA welcomed students back for the first time since March, but business is not exactly booming.
“Business is starting to return, but very slowly,” Mr Horner said.
“The groups are small and nowhere near close to the number or the size that we normally have. But it is a really good sign that we at least have the confidence back to at least see a few groups return.”
JobKeeper payments have meant the YMCA has kept staff, but of the 50 on the books, just two have been working.
In the past week some of those on zero hours have been able to return.
A welcome treat for students in a difficult year
For interstate students who have been stuck at home, seeing some different sights makes for a very welcome change.
Redha Rikaby, a student from Playford College in South Australia, said he loved his visit to the capital.
“It has been really interesting learning about how Canberra was created,” he said.
During their time, students visited the Parliament House, the National Gallery, the War Memorial and Government House, where they met Governor-General David Hurley.
“My favourite part of the trip was that went to Parliament House and watched the House of Representatives doing Question Time,” student Sana Ahmadi said.
Jens Wohltorf, CEO of German chauffeur service Blacklane is pictured in front of a limousine at the company’s headquarters, as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, in Berlin, Germany, October 28, 2020. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch
October 31, 2020
BERLIN (Reuters) – German chauffeur service Blacklane, specialised in airport transfers, is looking to tap into demand for relatively safe intercity travel to grow revenue hit by COVID-19 which also derailed its plans for a 2022 stock market listing.
The startup, which operates in more than 300 cities in 50 countries and saw revenue crumble as the pandemic halted air travel earlier this year, now takes customers from their offices or homes directly to the cities they used to fly to.
“Our bread and butter business was the airport transfer, often at both destinations,” said Chief Executive Jens Wohltorf. “In April, revenues slumped to 1%, and since then we have started to reinvent ourselves, roll up our sleeves and fight our way out.”
Blacklane advertises its intercity rides, which are currently available in Britain and Germany, with a safety promise and fair prices.
“You are alone (in the car), you have the social distance, you know it is much more comfortable,” Wohltorf said.
A one-way trip in a limousine from Berlin to Frankfurt costs from around 50 euros ($59), to Hamburg from around 180 euros and to Munich from around 350 euros. This compares with train ticket prices to Frankfurt, for instance, of 23-200 euros.
Revenue is now back between 30% and 50% of pre-crisis levels depending on the cities, the group, which had initially planned to break even this year, said.
It will take time to reach last year’s revenue of around 100 million euros, but the company still hopes for fresh money from investors and a future stock market listing.
($1 = 0.8461 euros)
(Reporting by Kirsti Knolle; editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)
Logbook records show senior Liberal MP Terry Stephens made no trips to or from his Victor Harbor home in his chauffeur-driven taxpayer-funded car between mid-February and mid-May.
The ABC has obtained logbook records of MP Terry Stephens’s chauffeur-driven government car under FOI
The records show Mr Stephens was picked up and/or dropped off at his Norwood residence on more than 60 days in a 90-day period
Mr Stephens says he drove himself between Adelaide and his primary residence in Victor Harbor
The former Legislative Council President says he drove himself there instead, and the records should not be used to infer how many nights he has spent in Adelaide.
The logbook, provided to the ABC under Freedom of Information, shows Mr Stephens was picked up and/or dropped at his second residence in suburban Norwood on more than 60 days in the 90-day period.
The living arrangements of Mr Stephens and other regional MPs have been under scrutiny in recent months amid the release of documents detailing the Country Members Accommodation Allowance worth more than $30,000 a year to MPs who live more than 75 kilometres from Adelaide.
Mr Stephens says his principal place of residence is a rented apartment at Victor Harbor.
“The chauffeured vehicle log books do not allow an inference to be drawn as to the nights I spent in Adelaide.
“I continue to vehemently deny all allegations of impropriety.”
He said he needed to be in his Parliament House office to manage the sitting of the Legislative Council safely through the height of South Australia’s COVID-19 pandemic.
“We did not suspend the sitting of the Parliament as other states chose to do.
The senior Liberal MP relinquished access to the chauffeured vehicle when he resigned from the Presidency in September, amid a deepening scandal over country MPs’ expense claims.
Ministers Tim Whetstone and Stephan Knoll and Government Whip Adrian Pederick also resigned their positions amid questions over their claims for the $234-a-night scheme.
Mr Whetstone, Mr Knoll and backbencher Fraser Ellis agreed to repay more than $70,000 in claims.
The state’s Independent Commissioner Against Corruption is investigating the use of the allowance by all country MPs over the past decade.
Rules for the allowance have recently been changed following the scandal.
Details raise questions
The logbook details show Terry Stephens’s chauffeured vehicle visited his property at Norwood on 64 days in the 90-day period.
The car was not used on 23 days in the logbook period, with most of them weekends or public holidays.
The ABC observed Mr Stephens at Norwood on several days the car wasn’t used, including on the Easter long weekend and ANZAC Day.
While the records show no trips to Victor Harbor, they show Mr Stephens did use his driver to travel to McLaren Vale, Whyalla, and Kadina on Yorke Peninsula for business-related travel.
He did not answer specific questions on what business he was attending to on these regional trips, or if he was dropped home to Victor Harbor after them.
The logs reveal Mr Stephens’s car also dropped another unnamed MP home.
There are also several trips noted to and from Littlehampton in the Adelaide Hills, where the ABC understands Mr Stephens’s office manager lives. One of those trips is marked “picked up staff member” while on another day, a trip is marked “drive staff member home”.
The rules governing the chauffeured car fleet are managed by state cabinet and are widely drawn, allowing them to be used for business and private use.
There is no suggestion Mr Stephens misused his parliamentary vehicle under the rules at any time.
Who gets a chauffeured car?
Cars are available to government ministers, the Leader of the Opposition, Deputy Leader of the Opposition, lower house Speaker, President and Leader of Opposition Business in Upper House.
Logbooks are required to be kept by drivers for 12 consecutive weeks for Fringe Benefits Tax purposes.
The Department of Treasury and Finance’s (DTF) documents relating to car use and the keeping of logs by ministerial drivers states: “The percentage derived in the continuous 12-week period must be reflective of the vehicle’s ongoing use.”
No other logbook records were held by the DTF, with rules stating that new three-month logbook records were only required if substantial changes were made to an MP’s travel.
Mr Stephens’s car log was started by his chauffeur on February 14 — he was elected president on February 5.
British holidaymakers have been left bewildered by Italy’s new Covid testing rules for arrivals from the UK with some planning to cancel holidays to the country.
“I’ll have to cancel the whole trip now. I can’t take [the] risk of [a positive’ test and quarantining on arrival, and no time to get test here now before. GUTTED,” wrote one Twitter user in response to the rule, which was announced by Italy’s Minister of Health, Roberto Speranza, on Wednesday.
Britons arriving in Italy must now present evidence of a negative Covid test – or agree to take a test on arrival. “We were due to fly to Bologna tomorrow but [the] airport told us need to stay in hotel room til result of covid test through which can take up to 72 hours; only there 7 nights we’ve cancelled trip today,” tweeted Julia Carr.
Mr Speranza announced the rule change on Twitter, explaining that it would come into effect from Wednesday. However, Britons were landing at Rome’s Ciampino airport that evening without facing any health checks.
The rule change, which was confirmed by the UK’s Foreign Office on Thursday, means that if a UK traveller were to test positive after arriving in Italy they could face several weeks of quarantine.
Meanwhile, not all Italian airports have testing facilities on site and a private test in the UK can cost around £150 with labs saying they cannot guarantee results within 72 hours (UK arrivals to Italy must have evidence of negative results from a test taken within this time frame).
Italy’s growing list of high-risk destinations already included Spain, Croatia, Greece and Malta, based on infection rates – the UK’s seven-day rate is now 136.8 per 100,000 people, compared to Italy’s 31.5.
Andrew Flintham, managing director of Tui UK and Ireland, said anyone who had booked to go Laganas after 3 September would be refunded for the cancellation, but that trips to all other resorts on Zante would continue as normal.
“Laganas is a popular resort with young people who traditionally holiday in large groups of friends,” he said.
“The health and safety of our colleagues and customers is our primary concern and recent cases shows that some customers are not following social distancing and Covid safety measures.
“It is therefore the right thing to do to protect and reduce a now identified potential risk to others by no longer offering holidays to this specific resort.”
Nearly 200 people faced self-isolation after at least 16 passengers on a Tui flight from Zante to Cardiff Airport tested positive for the virus. Some people claimed passengers were not following Covid-19 rules.
Wales’ Health Minister Vaughan Gething said there were six clusters of cases, amounting to more than 30 infections, linked to flights from the Greek island in the past week – including two flights which landed in England.
Mr Gething called on the UK government to agree to meeting the devolved nations on Wednesday to urgently discuss removing Greece from the nations’ quarantine exemptions lists. The meeting usually goes ahead on Thursdays.
His comments came shortly after the Scottish government announced its own decision.
Tui said customers due to travel to Greece from Scotland would be able to amend or cancel their holiday in light of the quarantine announcement.
Meanwhile, ministers are considering reimposing quarantine measures for those arriving in the UK from Portugal as coronavirus cases rise, sources have told the BBC.
It has been less than two weeks since a travel corridor was established between Portugal and the UK, following a sustained period of falling cases in the country that put it below 20 cases per 100,000 people.
Collingwood and Geelong are set to commit far more than 3 months on the highway from July, with much more matches possible to be performed in other states after they entire their stint in Western Australia.
AFL fixtures boss Travis Auld said all clubs would have to spend extended time on the street this period
Auld claimed Collingwood and Geelong would be the initially two groups to commit time away from Victoria
Geelong coach Chris Scott mentioned the Cats would be keen to “spend the cost” of staying absent from house to hold the time alive
AFL fixtures manager Travis Auld claims all golf equipment facial area the prospect of paying four or 5 months away from residence at some phase this time, very similar to the time WA clubs West Coast and Fremantle will provide in Queensland.