Airbnb’s New Features Include Flexible Booking, Unique Stays, and Wi-Fi Perfect for WFH




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Our hot tips to cut costs before the big chill, include don’t fix energy rates, free flu jabs and more


1. Martin’s warning: Energy firms are pushing you to fix… don’t. In fact DO NOTHING.

Over to our founder: “The energy market is in crisis, wholesale prices have exploded. Firms are being forced to sell energy substantially below its cost price, due to the energy price cap on standard variable tariffs. And I’m starting to hear that firms’ marketing departments are therefore kicking into gear to try to persuade people to take up other tariffs.

“Expect to get fancy letters extolling the virtues of fixing – tapping into switchers’ instincts as if these were normal times, when that was the right thing to do. No surprise, they are desperate to get people off the price cap. Yet as a consumer, fixing now is almost certainly NOT the right thing to do (I can’t say 100% without a crystal ball, but it’s my very strong suspicion).

“The cheapest fixes cost 30%+ more than the price cap – a huge premium, when you consider the price cap is in itself fixed until April. If you’re on it you’re essentially locked in at the cheaper price over the high-use winter period. So DO NOTHING, and if you’ve never switched, you’ll be on the price cap. If your fix is coming to an end, or your provider has gone bust, DO NOTHING and you’ll automatically be moved to the price cap.

“If you want to see the price differentiation for yourself, do a Cheap Energy Club comparison.”





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Kansas updates travel quarantine list to include Maine, Costa Rica


TOPEKA (KSNT) – If you have not been fully vaccinated or diagnosed with coronavirus in the last six months, Kansas officials are asking you to quarantine for up to 10 days if you have traveled to any of the following locations:

  • on or after May 20 to Maine.
  • on or after May 20 to the Colorado counties of Alamosa, Baca, Costilla, Dolores, Mesa, Mineral, Otero, Prowers, Rio Grande, Saguache, Sedgwick or Yuma.
  • on or after May 20 to the countries of Costa Rica, French Guiana, Georgia, Lithuania or the Netherlands.
  • on or after May 6 to the Colorado counties of Adams, Arapahoe, Archuleta, Conejos, Crowley, Douglas, El Paso, Elbert, Fremont, Huerfano, Jefferson, Larimer or Pueblo.
  • on or after May 6 to the countries of Cabo Verde, India, Maldives or Seychelles.
  • on or after April 22 to Minnesota or the countries of Argentina, Bahrain or Sweden.
  • on or after April 8 to the country of Uruguay.
  • between April 8 and May 20 to Pennsylvania.
  • between May 6 and May 20 to the Colorado counties of Bent, City and County of Denver, Chaffee, Lake, Park, Phillips, Rio Blanco or San Juan.
  • between April 22 and May 20 to Croatia, Cyprus or Turkey.
  • between March 26 and May 20 to Delaware, Michigan or Rhode Island.
  • between March 12 and May 20 to the State of Palestine.

The travel quarantine period is seven days with a negative test result or 10 days without testing, with release from quarantine on Day 8 and Day 11, respectively.

Those who are fully vaccinated are not required to quarantine if they received all doses of the vaccine two or more weeks ago and have remained asymptomatic since the travel

Additionally, people with previous COVID-19 disease are not required to quarantine following travel if they meet all of the following criteria:

  • Have evidence of a previous infection supported by a positive PCR or antigen test
  • Are within 6 months following infection
  • Have remained asymptomatic since the travel

The state asks people to quarantine if they visit locations with rates of infection that are three times higher than Kansas.



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Spring travel restrictions include Lauder Sandhills


All Manitobans are urged to use extra caution and be mindful of any activity that could result in a wildfire starting and quickly getting out of control in the current extremely dry conditions. There are drought conditions across much of southern Manitoba, which can allow wildfires to spread out of control quickly, challenge the ability to fight multiple fires at the same time, and put people, property and other values at risk. Everyone is urged to be Fire Smart and reduce the potential for any human caused fires.

 

Travel restrictions are now in place for Areas 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 as well as the Lauder Sandhills Wildlife Management Area within the Rural Municipality of Grassland, the Duck Mountain Provincial forest and includes all provincial parks south of the 53rd parallel, which includes all provincial parks south of Grand Rapids and Easterville.

The area of travel restrictions is bordered by PR 302 to PTH 12 to PR 317 to PTH 59 and PR 319 on the west, all the way to the Ontario border, and from the U.S. border north to the Dauphin River and Berens River. In southwest Manitoba, restrictions cover the area from PTH 10 and PR 268 on the west, north to Lake Winnipegosis to PR 327 to the south shore of Cedar Lake and north shore of Lake Winnipeg and Lake Winnipeg on the east, and south to PR 271 to Lake Winnipegosis (south shore) to Lake Manitoba (north shore) to Lake St. Martin/Dauphin River and Dauphin River to Berens River and now also includes the Duck Mountain Provincial forest.

A map of these restrictions can be found at www.gov.mb.ca/sd/fire/Restrictions/index.html.

Level 2 travel restrictions include the following:

• motorized backcountry travel, including ATVs and other off-road vehicles, is prohibited unless under the authority of a travel permit;

• camping is restricted to developed campgrounds;

• campfires are permitted only between the hours of 8 p.m. and 8 a.m.;

• wayside parks remain open;

• landing and launching is restricted to developed shorelines only; and

• industry and outfitters should contact local Conservation and Climate offices for more information.

 

Many municipalities have already proactively implemented burning restrictions this spring, so also check with local municipal offices for more information or view the interactive Current Municipal Burning Restrictions at www.manitoba.ca/wildfire/burn_conditions.html. The province will not issue any burning permits within, or areas bordering any municipality where the burning restrictions are already in place.

For further information on the fire status, maps, travel restrictions, burning permit cancellations or other restrictions go to www.gov.mb.ca/wildfire/ or follow the Twitter account at www.twitter.com/MGGovNews.

To report a wildfire, call 911 or the T.I.P. line (toll-free) at 1-800-782-0076. The T.I.P. line is dedicated for reporting fires. 





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West Sussex readers react to rubbish tip changes – which include a booking system and only one visit per week


Worthing tip after last year's first lockdown. Picture by Steve Robards
Worthing tip after last year’s first lockdown. Picture by Steve Robards

However, it is also trialling a new booking system for residents visiting Bognor Regis, Crawley, Horsham, Littlehampton, Shoreham-By-Sea and Worthing tips.

The trial is designed to allow residents to safely dispose of their recycling and waste, limit their waiting times at these sites and help reduce traffic disruption. When live, slots can be booked up to 14 days in advance and residents will only be able to make one trip in a week (Monday-Sunday).

Mikey Blackwood wrote on the Littlehampton Facebook page: “Just open them full time again, then there would be no huge queues and gridlock with the likelihood of the police shutting them. Also there would be no need for a booking system or to bring in the summer times earlier. It worked before they changed the opening days and now it’s kicking them in the teeth.”

While Timothy Robin described it as a ‘complete shambles’ adding: “No wonder there is fly tipping. With the great British weather we never know when it will shine. Take the opportunity at the weekend to tidy the garden then wait a number of days until you can get a slot at the tip to coincide with a day off to get rid of the waste.”

Angela Asplin commented: “Well this combined with fortnightly refuse collection sounds like an absolute dream. *slow hand clap*”

And Sophie Harvey from Worthing was one of a number of people who questioned how only one visit per week was a good idea, writing: “‘Residents can only make one trip in a week’ Eh? What about the times you have to make multiple trips from one job?”

On the Crawley Observer Facebook page Dave Fox questioned the logic behind West Sussex County Council’s decision and how it would help benefit recycling. “Recycle, they cry! Protect the environment, they urge. Think of the planet we will leave our children, they instruct. Don’t be selfish buy a little electric car! OR according to WSCC – Take stuff to the tip to recycle but not very often. Buy a car that holds two carrier bags in the boot so you need to go to the tip more often (oh, hang on). Maybe, buy a big car with a tailgate so you only travel to the tip once, so you protect the environment (oh, hang on). Leave the sharp broken fence in the garden to protect the planet for your children (oh, hang on). Who thought up this stupid rule? A few years ago the council were singing that Crawley was recycling more than almost anywhere in the country. A broken pencil rule!”

Jane Cosham from Shoreham described the whole thing as ‘short-sighted’, adding: “Fair enough check people are local but let’s just get on with it. What with the interrogation, show your ID, what have you got to tip? Now we have the appointment system! People will no doubt resort to fly tipping which in turn will cost the council even more to clear up. Wake up council for goodness sake. Get the tips open 7 days as before, check ID, that should be enough. You have people supervising at the skips who can guide and instruct. I feel you are just hell bent on putting people off coming there personally.”

Share your views about the changes by emailing [email protected]



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West Sussex readers react to rubbish tip changes – which include a booking system and only one visit per week


Worthing tip after last year's first lockdown. Picture by Steve Robards
Worthing tip after last year’s first lockdown. Picture by Steve Robards

However, it is also trialling a new booking system for residents visiting Bognor Regis, Crawley, Horsham, Littlehampton, Shoreham-By-Sea and Worthing tips.

The trial is designed to allow residents to safely dispose of their recycling and waste, limit their waiting times at these sites and help reduce traffic disruption. When live, slots can be booked up to 14 days in advance and residents will only be able to make one trip in a week (Monday-Sunday).

Mikey Blackwood wrote on the Littlehampton Facebook page: “Just open them full time again, then there would be no huge queues and gridlock with the likelihood of the police shutting them. Also there would be no need for a booking system or to bring in the summer times earlier. It worked before they changed the opening days and now it’s kicking them in the teeth.”

While Timothy Robin described it as a ‘complete shambles’ adding: “No wonder there is fly tipping. With the great British weather we never know when it will shine. Take the opportunity at the weekend to tidy the garden then wait a number of days until you can get a slot at the tip to coincide with a day off to get rid of the waste.”

Angela Asplin commented: “Well this combined with fortnightly refuse collection sounds like an absolute dream. *slow hand clap*”

And Sophie Harvey from Worthing was one of a number of people who questioned how only one visit per week was a good idea, writing: “‘Residents can only make one trip in a week’ Eh? What about the times you have to make multiple trips from one job?”

On the Crawley Observer Facebook page Dave Fox questioned the logic behind West Sussex County Council’s decision and how it would help benefit recycling. “Recycle, they cry! Protect the environment, they urge. Think of the planet we will leave our children, they instruct. Don’t be selfish buy a little electric car! OR according to WSCC – Take stuff to the tip to recycle but not very often. Buy a car that holds two carrier bags in the boot so you need to go to the tip more often (oh, hang on). Maybe, buy a big car with a tailgate so you only travel to the tip once, so you protect the environment (oh, hang on). Leave the sharp broken fence in the garden to protect the planet for your children (oh, hang on). Who thought up this stupid rule? A few years ago the council were singing that Crawley was recycling more than almost anywhere in the country. A broken pencil rule!”

Jane Cosham from Shoreham described the whole thing as ‘short-sighted’, adding: “Fair enough check people are local but let’s just get on with it. What with the interrogation, show your ID, what have you got to tip? Now we have the appointment system! People will no doubt resort to fly tipping which in turn will cost the council even more to clear up. Wake up council for goodness sake. Get the tips open 7 days as before, check ID, that should be enough. You have people supervising at the skips who can guide and instruct. I feel you are just hell bent on putting people off coming there personally.”

Share your views about the changes by emailing [email protected]



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Canadian snowbirds abroad grapple with tough new travel rules that include a big hotel bill


Despite Canada’s advisory not to travel abroad during the pandemic, snowbirds have been able to easily book flights and head south.

But now those snowbirds face major hurdles returning home, thanks to tough new travel measures announced by the federal government on Friday. Soon, air passengers will be required to take a COVID-19 test upon arrival and spend up to three days of their 14-day quarantine in a designated hotel — which could cost them upwards of $2,000.

“I’m not going to pay $2,000 a person for three nights. That’s ridiculous,” said Canadian snowbird Claudine Durand, 50, of Lachine, Que., who’s spending the winter in Florida.

Other snowbirds agree, which is why some of them are attempting to find ways around the rules — either by prolonging their stay or attempting to rush home before the new measures kick-in. 

Canadian snowbird Joe Lynn of Milton, Ont., is hoping to beat the clock.

He and his wife had planned to stay at their rented condo in Barra de Navidad, a small town on the western coast of Mexico, until the end of March. But a day after learning about the coming travel rules, they booked a flight home for Wednesday. 

Canadian snowbird Joe Lynn and his wife are staying in Mexico as they wait for the federal government to announce when it will implement a new hotel quarantine rule. (Submitted by Joe Lynn)

“Four-thousand dollars is a lot of money, and who knows if it stops there? Is it $4,000 plus HST?” Lynn, 68, said about the hotel fee, which he calculated for two people. “I’m on a pension.”

Adding to Lynn’s sense of urgency is the prospect of dwindling flights. Prompted by the government, Canada’s major airlines have cancelled all flights to Mexico and the Caribbean beginning Sunday through to April 30.

Although he managed to book a flight home with a Mexican airline, Lynn is still unsure if he’s in the clear, as he doesn’t know when the hotel quarantine rule will take effect. The federal government only offered a vague timeline on Friday, stating that the rule will be implemented “as soon as possible in the coming weeks.”

“No idea what’s going to happen. … They could put me straight into a hotel” after arriving in Canada, said Lynn.

He said he understands why Ottawa has imposed strict new rules to discourage travel, as highly contagious variant COVID-19 strains continue their global spread.

But Lynn feels it’s unfair to impose those rules on travellers who left the country before they were announced. He argues that the added hotel stay should apply only to people who choose to travel abroad now and are aware of the repercussions.

“Why not just pick a date and say, ‘These are the rules from this date?'” Lynn said. “If you want to go out and you want to come back and pay two grand or more, at least you know in advance.”

Should I stay or should I go?

Not all snowbirds are rushing home. Some instead plan to extend their stay at their sun destination, in hopes that the new travel rules will be lifted by the time they return to Canada. Typically, Canadian snowbirds can spend about six months abroad without facing repercussions, such as losing their provincial health coverage. 

Travel insurance broker Martin Firestone said the majority of his snowbird clients who travelled to the U.S. Sunbelt this winter have contacted him to extend their medical insurance so they can stay longer at their destination.

“They have no desire to stay in a Motel 6 for three days at $2,000 per person,” said Firestone, of Travel Secure in Toronto. “Their attitude was, ‘Wouldn’t it be wiser to stay down and walk on the beach?'”

That’s the attitude of Canadian snowbird Claudine Durand, who’s spending the winter with her husband in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. They came to Florida in December and shipped their RV across the border with plans to drive it home at the end of March. 

WATCH | Ottawa brings in new quarantine rules to discourage international travel:

Ottawa isn’t banning non-essential travel; it’s making it as inconvenient and expensive as possible. Now, in addition to existing requirements, returning travellers will need to quarantine in a hotel for three days at their own expense, at a likely cost of at least $2,000. 2:33

At this point, it’s unclear if the federal government will also impose a hotel stay for travellers entering Canada by land.

But if it does, Durand said she and her husband will remain in Florida for as long as they can, in the hopes of avoiding the hotel fee.

“Two-thousand dollars per person in a hotel room? I’ll pay that to stay in Florida for an extra month.”

Derek and Susan Houghton of Ottawa plan to stay put in Florida until they can travel home without having to face hurdles, such as a pricey quarantine stay in a hotel back in Canada. (Submitted by Derek Houghton)

Canadian snowbird Derek Houghton of Ottawa has a similar plan. He and his wife, Susan, are scheduled to fly home in March for medical appointments and then return to their winter home in Sarasota, Fla.

But now that the couple face a looming hotel bill among other travel measures, they’ve decided to remain in Florida for now.

“That’s too big a hill to climb,” said Houghton, who’s set to return home for good in April. But if the hotel rule is still in place by then, he said he can extend his trip by another month, in the hopes that he’s in the clear by then.

“It’s like being confined in paradise for an extra month.”

Houghton said he also hopes that Canada’s strict travel restrictions will be lifted at an earlier date for someone like him, who already received the COVID-19 vaccine in Florida.

“People like us who have a vaccination certificate from the [U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention], why wouldn’t we get a break on some of these onerous regulations?”

Currently, travellers who have been vaccinated abroad are still subject to Canada’s quarantine rules.



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