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Bars on Oahu Can Now Stay Open Later As COVID-19 Infection Rate Declines


On Friday, Hawaii’s Governor, David Ige, held a press conference to report good news about the COVID-19 situation on Oahu.

Infection rates have decreased in recent weeks, and vaccination rates have increased, leading to the relaxation of restrictions as it relates to nightlife and large gatherings, which were previously banned in August.

Now, “professionally-managed events” of up to 1,000 people will be allowed on Oahu under certain circumstances.

The new rules are as follows:

  • Outdoor seated events, such as sporting events, can be held with up to 1,000 attendees, but venue capacities are still limited to 50%.
  • Starting Oct. 20, indoor events will be allowed with up to 500 attendees.
  • Other outdoor events, such as weddings or funerals, can also be held starting Oct. 20 with up to 150 people.
  • Indoors gatherings, including weddings, are still capped at 10 people.

While these relaxations don’t necessarily impact many visitors, another order issued last week certainly will: Now, bars are allowed to serve alcohol until midnight, whereas previously they were cut off at 10 p.m.

For night owls and entertainment seekers, this is certainly good news to hear. Though establishments are still capped at 50% capacity at this time, the extended hours show a sign of confidence going forward.

“We have a reasonably high level of confidence that we are through the worst of the pandemic and the delta surge,” said Hilton Raethel, President of the Healthcare Association of Hawaii.

To that, we certainly raise a glass. And if the current trends continue, it seems reasonable that the capacity restrictions on bars and restaurants could be completely lifted when they expire on November 13th.



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Bottoms up! S.F. bars reopen indoors at 25% capacity, no food required


For the first time in more than a year, San Francisco bars can serve drinks indoors without offering meals — and patrons slowly found their way to their favorite watering holes over the weekend.

The momentous change happened Friday, days after San Francisco reached the yellow tier, the least-restrictive in California’s color-coded reopening system. Until then, bars had been required to serve food in addition to drinks.

Many bars have been closed since the morning of St. Patrick’s Day last year, when the city started shelter in place, although some added food service in recent months, allowing them to reopen. For some, the latest change in rules did not make a difference because they are limited to 25% of their usual capacity, a threshold some said was too low to cover expenses. That limit will remain until June 15, when the entire state is expected to fully reopen.

At the Sea Star in San Francisco’s Dogpatch neighborhood, Sofia Padilla and German Rivera, both 29, ordered a white ale and tequila mixed drink directly from a bartender — a small yet significant step toward normalcy after more than a year without stepping foot inside a bar, they said. Patrons in the bar, which at 3 p.m. Saturday equated to just six, all wore masks when not drinking from perspiring glasses of cocktails and beers.





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Probably the best bar in the world: readers’ travel tips | Bars, pubs and clubs


We stumbled across Dulle Griet in Ghent last year. It is a fantastic traditional Flemish pub, serving over 500 beers from across the country. The decor was great and staff very friendly. The highlight of the bar is the MAX, a strong beer served in a huge two-litre glass. In an effort to stop people stealing or breaking their glasses, you must give a deposit of one shoe when ordering the MAX, a ceremonial bell is rung and the shoe is suspended in a basket above the bar until the glass is returned. They are limited to one per customer – definitely a wise choice!
Mike L

Surf lessons on the beach outside the Shack, near Galle.
Surf lessons on the beach outside the Shack, near Galle

The Shack’s unprepossessing entrance on the busy coast road between the fort and the entrance to the Southern Expressway, tucked in between local stores, belies its true location: walk through and it opens out onto the stunning Bonavista Bay with views over to the fort, the old lighthouse and the Unawatunapeninsula. A sandy beach and an extensive deck is popular with Galle’s British expat population, with cold beers, cocktails, a cool bites menu and wood-fired pizzas on offer. Add in plenty of local knowledge, surfing, tours, and a kid- and dog-friendly vibe, it’s a great place to discover the local scene.
Chris Devonshire-Ellis

De Zotte Amsterdam

De Zotte is a true locals’ bar that captures all the vibrancy and character of Amsterdam, but is not distorted by catering to stereotypes for tourists. It’s close enough to Leidseplein for late-night partying, but hidden enough to avoid the stag dos and pub crawls, and sells an astonishing array of Belgian and Dutch beers (and jenever gin) at an affordable, mid-range price. I found this place by asking a local to put a pin on my tourist map of the best pub in town. He showed me my favourite pub in Europe – an absolute gem.
Huw Swanborough

mykonos katerina’s bar with view of windmills
Photograph: Ruby

Katerina’s is perfectly located in Mykonos Town, in the area known as Little Venice. The area gets crowded, especially at night, but before sunset is the best time to be at the bar. We had a balcony seat overlooking the sea and the windmills. The cocktails are a bit pricy, but worth it, and if you don’t drink alcohol, like me, you can just order a mocktail. It was such a beautiful sunset.
Ruby

Cuates y Cuetes Mexico beach bar with sunset, sea and tower

Casual, rustic, open-sided beach bar next to the main pier in the Pacific-coast city of Puerto Vallarta. Great view of the lit-up pier and beach. Live bands that play a wide variety of Spanish and Portuguese music with a tropical flavour; wonderful selection of mixed drinks, as well as beer and wine. The rich coffee is always freshly made, and your cup will be topped up constantly. The guacamole, salsa and light snacks are excellent. The service is attentive, and the waiters are fun. You can sit inside or at a candlelit table on the shore. Watch the fishing boats bobbing on the water, sink your toes into the sand, gaze at the palm trees swaying in the breeze …
Janice

Mural and tables King Cole Bar, New York

The birthplace of the gin version of the bloody mary (first called the red snapper) appears often in films: the small bar, enveloped in dark wood, is graced by a huge Maxfield Parrish mural, Old King Cole, which has a dreamlike beauty and is a must-see on an NYC trip. It’s not cheap, but neither is it exclusive or pretentious. The staff are welcoming, even when I showed up rain-drenched and in shorts. It’s an indescribably beautiful refuge just off Fifth Avenue, where you will see regular NYers, plus occasional famous people (Brad Pitt among others). Hint: the beer is not expensive by NY standards, after that mandatory bloody.
Worth

Brewery Uerige people at outside tables

Photograph: Alamy

This is an amazing brewhouse in the Altstadt (old town), broken into smaller rooms, each with its own regulars – dark wood-panelled rooms through to larger enclosed spaces. Beer is filled fresh direct from the cask then carried to your table. When your glass is nearly empty, the bartender will replace it automatically, which makes it difficult to “drink up” and leave. Sadly, it took an hour to explain we did not want any more!
Keir

‘Take a chance’ bar, Barcelona

It’s a wonderful thing these days to drop into a bar and give it a try, not because review sites and social media instruct you to go there, but because it simply looks inviting. There is just such a bar on Carrer de Martínez de la Rosa in Barcelona. I can’t tell you its name because I’ve forgotten; it doesn’t have a website or any social media, and it isn’t on Google Maps. You’ll have to explore the street and look for a tiny bar with a cosy red hue where the staff all wear crisp white shirts, waistcoats and ties, and where they craft the most elegant cocktails. If you find it, I guarantee you won’t be disappointed. Like we did, you just have to take a chance.
Robert Cullen

Boat tied up at riverside bar, Vietnam

The most outstanding bar I’ve been to in Vietnam, possibly in Asia, is right on the Saigon river. Lychee martini, fish jumping, sun setting, whistle whetting. It doesn’t get more Somerset Maugham than this.
Jogn

tables with sea view under canopy

Walk across a gently rising grassy field that blocks a view of the sea. A small building that has a metal door. An elevator in the most unlikely of places. Down perhaps two or three floors. A musty-smelling tunnel with a bend. Intoxicating, garlicky aromas wafting along the tunnel. Suddenly, blinding sunlight. We have emerged halfway down the cliff. Salty sea mixed with proper cooking smells. Cava in an ice bucket. We are perched above sand and sea and waves and then out to open water. All squeezed between brown sandstone cliffs. This place is just not possible.
John Read

Because of the coronavirus crisis there is no prize on offer for the week’s best entry – though hopefully that will return at some point



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Tokyo 2020 Olympics Bars International Spectators


If you were looking forward to traveling to Japan for the Tokyo Olympics this year, you’re going to have to change your plans.

Organizers of the Tokyo 2020 Games — which had already been delayed by one year due to the pandemic — announced Saturday that international spectators will be barred from the Summer Olympics and Paralympics.

Citing the restrictions on international travel, organizers said in a statement there was no guarantee that Japan will be allowing international visitors to enter the country by the summer.

The decision to bar foreign fans was made “to give clarity to ticket holders living overseas and to enable them to adjust their travel plans at this stage,” the statement said.

Japan has barred most foreign entry into the country as part of its COVID-19 restrictions, and only recently lifted a state of emergency in some prefectures.

Tickets purchased by those overseas will be refunded. Organizers said 600,000 tickets were sold outside of Japan.

There had been speculation about whether the committee would allow foreigners at the games in the months leading up to the announcement. Tokyo committee president Seiko Hashimoto also hinted in early March that they would not.

That the games were scheduled to go ahead at all was contentious; a poll by national outlet NHK earlier this year found that a vast majority of Japanese wanted the games to be canceled or postponed again.

“In many ways the Tokyo 2020 Games will be completely different to any previous Games,” Hashimoto said in a statement Saturday. “We are currently working on specific plans to share support remotely from around the world and help bring people together in ways suited to our current times.”

The postponement of the 2020 Olympics last year was the first time in the modern era that the timing of the games was affected by an event other than war.

Organizers said it would still be called the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics.

There has been more than 455,000 COVID-19 cases in Japan to date, and 8,802 deaths. Its vaccine rollout is still in the early stages, with only frontline workers eligible to be vaccinated. As of Saturday, Japan has administered 0.46 doses per 100 people.



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The Latest: Czech govt bars travel to countries with variant



PRAGUE — The Czech government is barring its citizens and residents from traveling to countries hit by highly contagious coronavirus variants and is tightening rules for face coverings.

Starting Thursday, people are required to wear better masks in places where large numbers gather, including stores, hospitals and public transportation.

Cloth masks will no longer be good enough and medical-grade masks, safety respirators or two surgical masks will have to be used instead.

The changes come as one of the hardest-hit European Union countries faces a surge of a fast-spreading coronavirus variant originally found in Britain.

As of Friday, Czechs and foreign residents are not allowed to travel to 11 countries amid concerns over coronavirus variants first detected in South Africa and Brazil.


The Cabinet is also preparing new restrictions that Prime Minister Andrej Babis indicated should include limits on movement.

The country’s day-to-day increase in new confirmed cases reached 13,657 on Wednesday, about 2,700 more than a week ago. The nation of 10.7 million had almost 1.2 million cases with 19,835 deaths.



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THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:

— Medical oxygen scarce for coronavirus patients in Africa, Latin America


— Republicans solidly against $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill with decision looming on minimum wage increase

— Flu virtually disappears in U.S. this season, with COVID-19 precautions likely preventing both illnesses

— Qantas expects to resume international flights in October, after Australian population is vaccinated


— Follow all of AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic, https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

ISLAMABAD—Pakistan will resume regular classes five days per week at all schools from March 1 amid a steady decrease in COVID-19 deaths and cases from coronavirus.

Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood made the announcement Thursday on Twitter.

Pakistan closed cases in November amid a surge in infections. Later schools were opened in phases, but regular classes had not been allowed.

Authorities said Wednesday that they will allow opening of parks, cinemas and indoor dining and wedding receptions from March 15.

Pakistan has reported 12,772 deaths from the coronavirus.

Pakistan is currently vaccinating health workers and elderly people using the Sinopharm vaccine donated by China.

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TAIPEI, Taiwan — Taiwan will begin slightly easing restrictions on foreign visitors coming to the island beginning Monday.

The Central Epidemic Command Center says foreign nationals wishing to come to Taiwan for business can apply for special permission at the island’s representative offices abroad.

They will need to show negative coronavirus test results obtained three days before they travel and will be tested again after undergoing two weeks of quarantine. Travelers from a list of countries and regions classified as being of low or medium risk for COVID-19 can apply for shortened quarantine periods of between five and seven days.

Those include New Zealand, Macao, Australia, Singapore, Vietnam and Cambodia.

Rule changes will also allow for foreigners in travel groups to change flights in Taiwan, and make it easier for Chinese nationals to visit for personal reasons and for Chinese students to return to Taiwanese institutions of higher education.

Taiwan instituted stricter measures on Jan. 1 to guard against variants of the coronavirus. The island of 23 million has recorded just 946 cases and nine deaths from COVID-19.

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JUNEAU, Alaska — Alaska House Speaker Louise Stutes says a member of the Alaska House has tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19.

She asked members and staff not to enter the Capitol on Thursday unless necessary to allow for contact tracing and cleaning to occur. Further details weren’t immediately available.

The announcement came the same day that Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s office announced he had COVID-19. His office says the 59-year-old Republican is in quarantine at his home in the Wasilla area with mild symptoms.

A Dunleavy spokesperson says the governor will work from home as he has been since entering self-quarantine on Sunday because of an recent virus exposure.

At least nine U.S. state governors have tested positive for the coronavirus.

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WELLINGTON, New Zealand — New Zealand’s success in battling the coronavirus has unleashed an unanticipated problem: skyrocketing house prices.

When the pandemic first hit, most experts predicted house prices would fall. Instead, prices have risen by more than 19% over the past year, putting them out of reach for many people wanting to buy their first home.

The government, which has come under increasing criticism for its response to the housing squeeze, on Thursday announced the first of what it says will be a series of moves to address the issue by ordering the nation’s central bank to consider the impact on house prices when making decisions.

Reserve Bank Governor Adrian Orr said it welcomed the new directive, which is “in tune” with its own advice to the government.

New Zealand has managed to stamp out community spread of the virus, allowing most aspects of life to return to normal, and its economy has rebounded strongly as a result. GDP grew by a record 14% in the December quarter, erasing most of the virus-induced contraction from earlier last year. Unemployment remains at a relatively low 4.9%.

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LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles County is reporting another 806 deaths from coronavirus during the winter surge, pushing California’s toll above 50,000, or about one-tenth of the U.S. total from the pandemic.

The county, which has a quarter of the state’s 40 million residents, said Wednesday that it checked backlogged death records and found the deaths, most of which occurred between December and early this month.

Johns Hopkins University puts California’s overall COVID-19 death toll at 50,890. The grim figure comes just days after the U.S. recorded a half-million deaths.



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Coronavirus live updates: Germany to introduce more travel restrictions; Australia bars fans from Grand Slam tournament over virus fears


Here are some significant developments:

  • President Biden announced the vaccine deals Thursday in an emotional address in which he spoke through his mask as he called it a “patriotic responsibility” to wear one.
  • The Australian city of Melbourne will enter a five-day lockdown to curb a local outbreak involving the variant first detected in Britain. The restrictions include the barring of spectators from the Australian Open tennis tournament.
  • Health officials in D.C., Illinois and North Carolina announced the first known cases of the variant B.1.351, which was first identified in South Africa. As of this week, more than 30 states have reported cases of the B.1.1.7 variant.
  • Cash-strapped Venezuela is seeking a $300 million fund for vaccine supplies, including cash frozen in the United States by economic sanctions.
  • The United States has recorded more than 27.3 million coronavirus cases and more than 473,000 deaths. At least 35.4 million people have received one or both doses of the vaccine.





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New Orleans Shutting Down Bars for Mardi Gras


Normally this time of year in New Orleans means Bacchus, booze, beads and just a general bacchanal as tourists flock to The Big Easy for Mardi Gras.

Not this year.

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Not after what happened in 2020.

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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.

Officials in New Orleans have ordered a temporary shutdown of all bars in the city and will restrict access to the famous French Quarter starting on Friday, February 12 and running through Fat Tuesday on February 16.

The ability to grab take-out alcoholic beverages and drink them in the streets of the city, long a tradition in NOLA, is suspended. There will be no sales of liquor from liquor stores in the Quarter, all parades are canceled and police will man popular areas like Bourbon St. to help hold down crowds.

“To those that are upset about these restrictions, know that when it comes to the health of our people, I’d rather be accused of doing too much than not enough,” Mayor LaToya Cantrell said, according to Forbes.

While the measures might seem a tad draconian, Cantrell is hoping to avoid what happened last year at Mardi Gras. In late February 2020, just before COVID-19 became a full-on pandemic, some 1.4 million tourists descended on New Orleans for the festivities. It ended up becoming a super-spreader event, making New Orleans and the state of Louisiana one of the nation’s first hotspots for the coronavirus.





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China Temporarily Bars Entry of Foreigners Travelling From Canada | World News


BEIJING (Reuters) – China has temporarily banned entry of foreign nationals travelling from Canada, even if they hold valid Chinese residence permits for work, the Chinese consulate in Toronto said.

“All foreign nationals who hold valid Chinese residence permits for work, personal matters and reunion are temporarily not allowed to enter China from Canada,” the consulate said in a statement on its website on Saturday.

Entry with diplomatic and service visas will not be affected, it said.

The suspension comes as Canada clamps down on cross-border travel due to COVID-19 concerns. Canada reported 4,255 new cases on Saturday, with 19,942 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

All airline passengers arriving in Canada will be required to take a COVID-19 test at the airport and wait in a hotel for up to three days at their expense until the results arrive, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Friday.

In coming weeks Canadian vacationers returning from the United States by land will have to show a negative COVID-19 test result before being allowed entry.

(Reporting by Ryan Woo; Editing by William Mallard)

Copyright 2021 Thomson Reuters.



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