NBL fixture: Perth Wildcats avoid early travel to COVID hotspots as schedule gets pushed back


The NBL have delayed the start of the season until December 3 and ensured the Perth Wildcats will avoid the nation’s major COVID hotspots until January 30.

And all Wildcats players will be vaccinated for the start of the season, avoiding any potential issues with changing laws.

The league has today released a fixture heavily designed around playing at venues with fans in attendance while avoiding border closures.

SCROLL DOWN FOR THE FULL FIXTURE

Matches were initially scheduled to start on November 18 but the later tip-off has eased the COVID-19 pressures on the NBL.

The fixture will see the Wildcats playing seven of their first nine games at home, with their only travel to Adelaide and Brisbane during that time.

The 36ers, Brisbane and New Zealand will all play in Perth twice in the early rounds.

Perth won’t play in NSW until January 30 and their first match in Victoria isn’t until February 26.

“It’s a credit to the league that they have been able to put together a fixture that presents the least amount if interruptions that seems possible,” Wildcats CEO Troy Georgiu said.

“Our priority was for our members to be able to attend games. The fact that we have a lot of home games during school holidays is great. People can watch summer hoops at night and we have some mouthwatering games during that time.

“We’ve got early games like Vic Law playing against his former team and a new JackJumpers team that is filled with former Wildcats.”

Perth's 2021-22 fixture.
Camera IconPerth’s 2021-22 fixture. Credit: The West Australian

With 28 games scheduled across a 10-team competition, the Wildcats will play Adelaide four times and the remaining teams on three occasions. They won’t play any of the Victorian or NSW teams more than once at RAC Arena.

While that will require them to spend time in the nation’s most COVID-impacted states, Georgiu said the entire squad would be vaccinated.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MAY 05: Bryce Cotton of the Wildcats runs with the ball under pressure from Sam McDaniel of United during the round 16 NBL match between Melbourne United and the Perth Wildcats at John Cain Arena, on May 05, 2021, in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)
Camera IconAll of Perth’s players will be vaccinated this season. Credit: Daniel Pockett/Getty Images

“We didn’t mandate it so we are pleased that our players put themselves into a position where they can play even if laws come into place at some point during the season,” Georgiu said.

The NBL has planned for all teams to have four practice matches but an NBL Cup has not been announced.

NBL Commissioner Jeremy Loeliger said the fixture could change if required, but everyone was looking forward to a more normal season.

“We are confident that as the country opens back up, our schedule will open up with it and we will get back to running the competition like we used to,” he said.

PERTH WILDCATS 2021/22 SCHEDULE

(Home games in bold)

Fri Dec 3 v Brisbane Bullets at RAC Arena

Sun Dec 12 v Adelaide 36ers at Adelaide Entertainment Centre

Fri Dec 17 v Tasmania JackJumpers at RAC Arena

Thurs Dec 23 v Brisbane Bullets at RAC Arena

Sat Jan 1 v Brisbane Bullets at Nissan Arena

Sat Jan 8 v New Zealand Breakers at RAC Arena

Fri Jan 14 v New Zealand Breakers at RAC Arena

Thurs Jan 20 v Adelaide 36ers at RAC Arena

Fri Jan 28 v Adelaide 36ers at RAC Arena

Sun Jan 30 v Sydney Kings at Qudos Bank Arena

Fri Feb 4 v Cairns Taipans at RAC Arena

Sun Feb 6 v Sydney Kings at Qudos Bank Arena

Sun Feb 13 v Illawarra Hawks at WIN Entertainment Centre

Fri Feb 18 v Melbourne United at RAC Arena

Sun Feb 20 v Adelaide 36ers at Adelaide Entertainment Centre

Thurs Feb 24 v Tasmania JackJumpers at RAC Arena

Sat Feb 26 v South East Melbourne Phoenix at John Cain Arena

Sat Mar 5 v Tasmania JackJumpers at venue TBA

Sat Mar 12 v Illawarra Hawks at RAC Arena

Sun Mar 20 v Melbourne United at John Cain Arena

Thurs Mar 24 v Sydney Kings at RAC Arena

Sun Mar 27 v Melbourne United at John Cain Arena

Sat Apr 2 v Cairns Taipans at Cairns Convention Centre

Tues Apr 5 v Illawarra Hawks at WIN Entertainment Centre

Fri Apr 8 v South East Melbourne Phoenix at John Cain Arena

Thurs Apr 14 v Cairns Taipans at RAC Arena

Sat Apr 16 v South East Melbourne Phoenix at RAC Arena

Sat Apr 23 v New Zealand Breakers at venue TBA



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NBL fixture: Perth Wildcats avoid early travel to COVID hotspots as schedule gets pushed back


The NBL have delayed the start of the season until December 3 and ensured the Perth Wildcats will avoid the nation’s major COVID hotspots until January 30.

And all Wildcats players will be vaccinated for the start of the season, avoiding any potential issues with changing laws.

The league has today released a fixture heavily designed around playing at venues with fans in attendance while avoiding border closures.

SCROLL DOWN FOR THE FULL FIXTURE

Matches were initially scheduled to start on November 18 but the later tip-off has eased the COVID-19 pressures on the NBL.

The fixture will see the Wildcats playing seven of their first nine games at home, with their only travel to Adelaide and Brisbane during that time.

The 36ers, Brisbane and New Zealand will all play in Perth twice in the early rounds.

Perth won’t play in NSW until January 30 and their first match in Victoria isn’t until February 26.

“It’s a credit to the league that they have been able to put together a fixture that presents the least amount if interruptions that seems possible,” Wildcats CEO Troy Georgiu said.

“Our priority was for our members to be able to attend games. The fact that we have a lot of home games during school holidays is great. People can watch summer hoops at night and we have some mouthwatering games during that time.

“We’ve got early games like Vic Law playing against his former team and a new JackJumpers team that is filled with former Wildcats.”

Perth's 2021-22 fixture.
Camera IconPerth’s 2021-22 fixture. Credit: The West Australian

With 28 games scheduled across a 10-team competition, the Wildcats will play Adelaide four times and the remaining teams on three occasions. They won’t play any of the Victorian or NSW teams more than once at RAC Arena.

While that will require them to spend time in the nation’s most COVID-impacted states, Georgiu said the entire squad would be vaccinated.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MAY 05: Bryce Cotton of the Wildcats runs with the ball under pressure from Sam McDaniel of United during the round 16 NBL match between Melbourne United and the Perth Wildcats at John Cain Arena, on May 05, 2021, in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)
Camera IconAll of Perth’s players will be vaccinated this season. Credit: Daniel Pockett/Getty Images

“We didn’t mandate it so we are pleased that our players put themselves into a position where they can play even if laws come into place at some point during the season,” Georgiu said.

The NBL has planned for all teams to have four practice matches but an NBL Cup has not been announced.

NBL Commissioner Jeremy Loeliger said the fixture could change if required, but everyone was looking forward to a more normal season.

“We are confident that as the country opens back up, our schedule will open up with it and we will get back to running the competition like we used to,” he said.

PERTH WILDCATS 2021/22 SCHEDULE

(Home games in bold)

Fri Dec 3 v Brisbane Bullets at RAC Arena

Sun Dec 12 v Adelaide 36ers at Adelaide Entertainment Centre

Fri Dec 17 v Tasmania JackJumpers at RAC Arena

Thurs Dec 23 v Brisbane Bullets at RAC Arena

Sat Jan 1 v Brisbane Bullets at Nissan Arena

Sat Jan 8 v New Zealand Breakers at RAC Arena

Fri Jan 14 v New Zealand Breakers at RAC Arena

Thurs Jan 20 v Adelaide 36ers at RAC Arena

Fri Jan 28 v Adelaide 36ers at RAC Arena

Sun Jan 30 v Sydney Kings at Qudos Bank Arena

Fri Feb 4 v Cairns Taipans at RAC Arena

Sun Feb 6 v Sydney Kings at Qudos Bank Arena

Sun Feb 13 v Illawarra Hawks at WIN Entertainment Centre

Fri Feb 18 v Melbourne United at RAC Arena

Sun Feb 20 v Adelaide 36ers at Adelaide Entertainment Centre

Thurs Feb 24 v Tasmania JackJumpers at RAC Arena

Sat Feb 26 v South East Melbourne Phoenix at John Cain Arena

Sat Mar 5 v Tasmania JackJumpers at venue TBA

Sat Mar 12 v Illawarra Hawks at RAC Arena

Sun Mar 20 v Melbourne United at John Cain Arena

Thurs Mar 24 v Sydney Kings at RAC Arena

Sun Mar 27 v Melbourne United at John Cain Arena

Sat Apr 2 v Cairns Taipans at Cairns Convention Centre

Tues Apr 5 v Illawarra Hawks at WIN Entertainment Centre

Fri Apr 8 v South East Melbourne Phoenix at John Cain Arena

Thurs Apr 14 v Cairns Taipans at RAC Arena

Sat Apr 16 v South East Melbourne Phoenix at RAC Arena

Sat Apr 23 v New Zealand Breakers at venue TBA



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COVID-19 travel list: Caribbean hotspots among countries at risk of being added to red list | UK News


Jamaica, Grenada and Nigeria are among the countries that could be moved to the red list today, according to a data expert.

The government is set to update its COVID-19 travel list as part of a review that happens every three weeks.

Countries and territories are listed as red, amber or green – with different rules for each of the three lists.

Sky News has spoken to data expert Tim White to find out which countries could be affected.

Which countries are in danger of being added to the red list this week?

Jamaica and Grenada, which are popular destinations for tourists in the Caribbean, could be added to the red list, according to Mr White.

Jamaica stayed amber in the previous review, but within hours the Foreign Office issued guidance saying it “advises against all but essential travel to the whole of Jamaica based on the current assessment of COVID-19 risks”.

In the last few days, there has been a big spike in the number of people arriving from Jamaica with COVID-19.

Mr White said the transport secretary “would effectively be admitting a mistake three weeks ago” if he put Jamaica on the red list – and might not do so for that reason.

Grenada could become the first country to go directly from green to red because of an “astonishing” spread of COVID-19 on the small Carribean island, he said.

About 1,000 people per 100,000 are testing positive for COVID-19 each week, which Mr White said is “well into the danger zone”.

He thinks a few other small islands in the Americas could be added to the red list, but the only concerns in Europe this time are in the Balkans.

Albania had one of the highest rates of infected arrivals in the most recent NHS results, but rates there seem low enough to keep it amber,” he said.

Serbia has the strongest sustained COVID-19 growth in Europe right now, but levels are still below Montenegro when I warned it may go red three weeks ago.”

“Serbia’s vaccination rate is also better, so I think it avoids red too.

Kosovo should already be red, but its fate could be linked with Serbia and seems set to survive again.”

Further afield, Iran and Iraq may yet again stay amber – though Mr White believes the fact they have remained so is a “mystery”.

In Africa, the data suggests Nigeria could be vulnerable, he said.

He said St Lucia is at risk because infection rates increased after the last travel review – but they are now declining and the case numbers are low overall, leading him to suspect that the country will be spared.

Which countries could be taken off the red list?

The Maldives are most likely to be taken off the red list and moved to amber, according to Mr White.

“It is madness that the popular archipelago was not removed from red three weeks ago,” he said.

He said case numbers there are low, with almost all of them on Male, the main island which is not popular with tourists.

Mr White said the “excuse” given for the country staying red was that it did not submit genomic sequencing data, which is used to identify variants – but it has now done so and is among the top 32 reporting countries.

“There are no more excuses: sense must prevail,” he said.

The data expert said the Dominican Republic should be removed but may not be because it does not carry out genomic sequencing.

“In my opinion it’s nonsense,” he said.

“The risk of a mutant developing in such a small number of cases in the Dominican Republic is incredibly small, and much less likely than in Russia, or even India, giant countries on amber with areas of very high infection, but where over the whole country rates look acceptable.”

People hoping for Pakistan and Turkey to be removed from the red list may be disappointed.

“Neither has conclusive data for me to say they should be removed,” Mr White said.

He said Pakistan has “bad” test and trace figures, with 3.2% of all arriving passengers testing positive for COVID-19.

Even though cases are decreasing, the percentage of COVID-19 tests which are positive in Pakistan is a little higher than 5%, which Mr White sees as a benchmark.

Pakistan is not doing enough genomic sequencing, Mr White said, which may also pose a problem.

Are any of the main holiday destinations under threat in this week’s travel review?

Mr White said none of the big European holiday destinations are in any danger in the upcoming review.

“In the last three weeks infection rates have been coming down in almost all the major holiday hotspots like France, Spain, Greece, Italy, Cyprus and Portugal,” he said.

He said the only country popular with UK tourists to see a rise has been Croatia due to a “hotspot” of cases heading north and east across the continent.

“If you’re planning to head to Dubrovnik, Split, Zadar or any of the other Croatian delights, don’t fear,” he said.

“The seven-day infection rate is nowhere near worrying levels, indeed currently being a little lower than Austria which was added to the green list only last month.”



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UK Covid live news: minister rejects claims travel advice for England’s Indian variant hotspots came ‘out of the blue’ | Politics


Good morning. Last night it emerged that official government guidance has been changed in relation to eight places in England where the Covid variant first identified in India is believed to be spreading fast, and people are being advised not to travel into or out of these areas unless it is essential. Only this was never publicised, and so no one knew until journalists noticed the update on the relevant government web page. Our story about this is here.

My colleague Helen Pidd has described it as lockdown-lite.

Helen Pidd
(@helenpidd)

This is basically local lockdown-lite: taking away freedoms from hundreds of thousands of people without telling them. And yes it’s guidance, not law, but this will cause huge anguish in Bedford, Blackburn, Bolton, Burnley, Kirklees, Leicester, North Tyneside & Hounslow. pic.twitter.com/Sq9ogqUcJa


May 24, 2021

It might also be the worst example of a public health initiative in the pandemic – because there is no point in issuing advice to the public if it is not publicised, and this was never press released, or publicised by ministers.

But the government has argued that the guidance is just an extension of what Boris Johnson said at a No 10 press conference on 14 May, when he urged people living in Bolton, Blackburn and other areas affected by the variant to be “extra cautious”. (He did not say anything about how they should limit travel in and out of town.)

This morning Thérèse Coffey, the work and pensions secretary, referenced this when she claimed the new guidance “hasn’t come out of the blue”. She told Sky News:


The prime minister set out that we need to take extra caution in certain areas regarding the Indian variant. It is good practice to formally put that guidance on the record affecting those communities.

We have been working in close contact, so I’m surprised to hear that people think this has come out of the blue – it hasn’t.

It is about formalising on the record the guidance which we believe people can and should follow in order to make sure we tackle and don’t have more spread of the Indian variant.

Here is the agenda for the day.

9.30am: The ONS publishes data on the impact of Covid and Brexit on trade, a report on wellbeing, a report on the impact of Covid restrictions on business, and the weekly death figures for England and Wales.

9.30am: Boris Johnson chairs cabinet.

12pm: Downing Street is expected to hold its daily lobby briefing.

12.30pm: Nadhim Zahawi, the vaccine deployment minister, responds to an urgent question in the Commons.

3.30pm: Liz Truss, the minister for women and equalities, gives evidence to the Commons women and equalities committee.

Politics Live has been a mix of Covid and non-Covid news recently, and that is likely to be the case today. For more Covid coverage, do read our global live blog.

I try to monitor the comments below the line (BTL) but it is impossible to read them all. If you have a direct question, do include “Andrew” in it somewhere and I’m more likely to find it. I do try to answer questions, and if they are of general interest, I will post the question and reply above the line (ATL), although I can’t promise to do this for everyone.

If you want to attract my attention quickly, it is probably better to use Twitter. I’m on @AndrewSparrow.





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Britain’s hotspots almost fully booked amid staycation boom


Demand for UK holidays has skyrocketed this week, as England enters phase two of the roadmap to ease lockdown restrictions.

Following the reopening of self-catered accommodation, campsites and beer gardens on Monday April 12, parts of Britain are close to fully booked.

A report by the Rest Easy Group confirmed 98 per cent of properties in Cornwall across its platforms are booked this week – with Devon and Yorkshire also close to full capacity.

“Only 3 per cent of properties in Devon are now available to book, followed by 5 per cent in Yorkshire and 2 per cent in Cornwall,” said Matt Fox, CEO of Rest Easy Group, which is a marketplace for UK holiday rentals.

Calendars are also brimming with bookings in other popular destinations, as the future of international holidays remains uncertain.

“We are still seeing the staycation market boom, with both Silverlake, Dorset and Lower Mill Estate, Cotswolds, fully booked today [Monday] and at 90 per cent capacity next weekend. We expect to see this increase in demand continue long into summer whilst international travel is still uncertain,” said Red Paxton, director at Habitat Escapes, which offers lakeside self-catering properties in The Cotswolds and Dorset.

Popular destinations in Scotland are primed for a booking surge, as Nicola Sturgeon confirms restrictions on cross-border travel between Scotland and other parts of the UK will be lifted on April 26, when self-catering accommodation will also be allowed to reopen.

A report by Tripadvisor found that Kinloch Rannoch, a popular holiday village in Perth and Kinross, is the most popular destination for staycationers planning an escape for the early May Bank holiday, having seen the biggest month-on-month increase in searches.

Scroll down for today’s updates.





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