“Those details were set last year and Cabinet has made no changes to those settings. Keeping in mind, we’ll still require self-isolation. And like many other countries, we are still taking very seriously the role of using the border to slow down cases. So we will still be using self-isolation and it is a phased re-opening.”
You do not need a vaccine pass or negative Covid-19 test to travel domestically, but some transport providers – such as Air New Zealand and Cook Strait ferry operators – may require those aged 12 and over to show a vaccine pass or negative test result, no matter where they are travelling.
Face coverings are mandatory on flights, Cook Strait ferries and at airports and on public transport.
You must not travel if you are required to self-isolate because of Covid-19, or are awaiting test results.
The Government’s Covid-19 website advises travellers to make a plan for how to get home to self-isolate if they catch Covid while away. You will only be able to return home if you or someone you’re travelling with are able to drive. You cannot drive home if you need to stay somewhere overnight.
If you have flown, caught a ferry or caught public transport to your destination, you are likely to have to isolate there. As such, if you don’t drive to your destination, you should ensure you have enough money to cover an extended time away and a list of medical information – including NHI numbers and any medical conditions and medication needs – for all travellers.
If you do drive home, make as few stops as possible and only get petrol from a contactless service station.
If you get Covid-19 symptoms while away, you should get tested straight away, not wait until you get home. Call Healthline on 0800 358 5453 for advice and isolate at your accommodation until you get your test result.
Travellers are advised to tell the owner or operator of their accommodation if they test positive for Covid-19 or are a contact of someone who has.
Hipkins said there was “no question” the Government was moving to a self-isolation model, but could not provide a timeframe, saying officials had to consider how Omicron could change border arrangements.
The British national who allegedly took a rabbi and three other people as hostages inside a Texas synagogue on Saturday arrived in the United States last month and gave customs agents a hotel in New York as his local address, multiple law enforcement sources told ABC News on Monday.
The suspect, Malik Faisal Akram, 44, reportedly took a flight from London to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York on Dec. 29 and listed a hotel in Queens, New York, as his local address on a customs form, the sources said.
The FBI is investigating whether Akram actually stayed at the hotel prior to traveling by air to the Dallas-Fort Worth area possibly on Dec. 31.
As investigators piece together Akram’s movements in the United States, they’ve determined he bought the handgun used in the hostage-taking on the street from someone he met at a local homeless shelter in Texas, according to the law enforcement sources. The last time the gun was legally sold through a federally licensed dealer was in September 2019, they said.
While in New York, Akram — who was shot dead by an FBI hostage rescue team, ending a nearly 11-hour standoff with authorities in Texas — also obtained a cellphone, which he apparently used up until his death, the sources told ABC News.
Suspect was not on any watch lists
Akram’s name did not appear on any U.S. watch lists.
Investigators are now working to develop a complete timeline of his movements since his arrival in New York. According to the sources, Akram stayed at homeless shelters for about a week and may have portrayed himself as experiencing homelessness to gain access to the Texas synagogue during Shabbat services.
As part of the investigation, authorities are looking into Akram’s mental health history and are working to determine whether any potential history should have come up during the vetting process for his travel to the United States.
Sources told ABC News that American and British authorities have made contact with Akram’s brother, who told them Akram has mental health issues.
A friend of Akram’s family, told the Associated Press on Monday that it was known in their community of Blackburn, England, that Akram had “mental health issues.”
“He had mental health issues, which were not really diagnosed,” the family friend, Asif Mahmud, told the AP.
Mahmud, a community organizer in Blackburn, also said that Akram had previously served a custodial sentence in England and questioned how he got past U.S. immigration checks.
“Well, I do know he obviously served a custodial sentence, so it must have been serious enough for him to serve a custodial sentence. So, he was known to the authorities for that reason,” Mahmud said without elaborating on what offense Akram had been sentenced for. “But for all intents and purposes, other than that, he lived what one would describe a normal kind of existence. He was part of the community.”
Two teenagers have been arrested in England as part of an ongoing investigation into the hostage-taking incident, British authorities said. The pair were detained in southern Manchester on Sunday evening and “remain in custody for questioning,” according to a statement from the Greater Manchester Police. Multiple law enforcement sources in the U.S. told ABC News that the teens are Akram’s children.
Suspect called New York rabbi during standoff
At 10:45 a.m. CST on Saturday, police in Colleyville, Texas, received a 911 call reporting that an intruder, later identified as Akram, was aggressively confronting Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville.
Cytron-Walker said in an interview with CBS News on Monday that Akram knocked at the synagogue’s window and that he invited Akram in for a cup of tea prior to Shabbat services. The rabbi said that during the services, while his back was turned to Akram in prayer, the suspect pulled a gun.
After taking Cytron-Walker and three other members of the synagogue hostage, Akram was heard on a livestreamed video of the service saying he was holding four hostages, claiming to be armed with a gun and explosives, and stating that he was willing to die at the hands of police and that he was not acting on behalf of a foreign terrorist organization.
Facebook eventually interrupted the livestream, but law enforcement officials were able to access the synagogue’s closed-circuit TV system, allowing the FBI to continue to view the unfolding events in real-time, the sources said.
Just after 12 p.m., Akram instructed Cytron-Walker to call New York-based Rabbi Angela Buchdahl of the Central Synagogue in Manhattan. In a series of subsequent calls with Buchdahl, Akram reportedly threatened to kill the four hostages if convicted terrorist and al-Qaida supporter Aafia Siddiqui was not released from prison at Carswell Air Force Base near Fort Worth.
“I can confirm that the gunman reached out to me twice (on Saturday) by phone,” Buchdahl wrote in an email to the New York-based Jewish Telegraphic Agency. “We are about to share a note with the congregation just confirming that. Other than that for security reasons I cannot share more.”
Investigators are working to determine why Akram chose Buchdahl to speak to, sources told ABC News. Authorities suspect it was because she is the leader of a prominent synagogue in the city where Siddiqui, a Pakistani neuroscientist, was convicted in 2010 of assault and attempted murder of a U.S. soldier and members of a U.S. team sent to interrogate her in 2008. She was sentenced to 86 years in prison.
Siddiqui’s attorney, Marwa Elbially, released a statement over the weekend saying Siddiqui did not know Akram and that she condemned his actions.
Elite FBI team flown in to help
As the hostage standoff was unfolding on Saturday, authorities reached out about 12:30 p.m. to the FBI’s hostage rescue team at the bureau’s headquarters in Quantico, Virginia. The team was immediately dispatched to Colleyville, officials said.
Around 5:30 p.m., Akram released one of the hostages unharmed.
About four hours later, the FBI hostage rescue team entered the synagogue after Cytron-Walker and the two other hostages escaped when they bolted for an exit door as the rabbi threw a chair at the suspect.
Akram was shot as the team entered the synagogue and later died from his wounds. A handgun, believed to belong to Akram, was recovered inside the synagogue, sources said.
Ticket availability at some of the locations is now limited, but all were still taking bookings for various time slots at time of publication
Winning tip: Dazzling glow worms, Wakehurst, West Sussex
Glow Wild at Wakehurst Place (administered by Kew Gardens) always puts on an innovative, thought-provoking display across its beautiful grounds. Its gardens boast the UK’s tallest living Christmas tree – a 33-metre giant redwood with 1,800 lights. Some of this year’s highlights include the walled garden illuminated by dazzling glow worms and an animated projection on to natural screens among the trees on “the journey of seeds”. They offer early, quiet sessions for those with autism and other disabilities. There’s a bookable shuttle bus from Haywards Heath tation. £16/£10, selected evenings until 2 January, kew.org L Isles
Antrim Castle Gardens, with bouncy elves
The Enchanted Winter Garden in the grounds of Antrim Castle is definitely worth visiting. The Barbican Gate, Motte, Italian Tower and other features are stunningly transformed with twinkling lights. And who could resist exploring Wonderland Wood with such enticing features as Sugar Drop Stop and Lollipop Lane? Thrillseekers large and small are catered for with a Big Wheel and other fairground rides (tokens can be bought in advance). Visitors may also meet Fizz the Fairy, Bouncy Elves and other magical characters, thanks to actors wandering the grounds. Adults £6, children £4,until 21 December,enchantedwintergarden.com Kevin McKenna
Reflections and hot chocolate, Edinburgh
The magical lights of Edinburgh’s botanical gardens at night exude excitement for the festivities to come. Walking through tunnels of warm yellow lights, while sipping on a Baileys hot chocolate, is a real treat. Reflections from floating water lights throw light into dark spaces, and tree outlines and buildings are illuminated with moving theatrical images. Immerse yourself in all of the elements and see the botanical gardens in a totally different light that is simply unforgettable. £20/£14, until 2 January,rbge.org.uk Emma Smith
Fishing harbours, Cornwall
Cornwall has a history and tradition of lighting up its fishing harbours through the festive period. Our family enjoys an outing to Mousehole on the south-west coast of Cornwall, where the lights carefully displayed around the harbour are an annual highlight. It’s worth parking at the top of town and wandering through the village – bag of chips in hand – spotting lights displaying ships and even a sea monster swimming in the harbour. The annual switch-on event is usually well attended and can get really busy but it’s really is one of the best examples of festive lights in Cornwall. mouseholelights.org.uk Layla Astley
Wishes and wellies, Margam Park – near Port Talbot
This enchanting light trail winds through Margam Park gardens and past gothic Margam Castle taking 60-90 minutes. The kids’ favourites included glimpsing tiny fairies in lanterns, toasting marshmallows, tying wishes to the Make a Wish Tree and the interactive installations. The adults were particularly impressed with the light show playing across the castle facade, the smoke effects and the atmospheric music. To add to the magic, we even witnessed a sylvan marriage proposal! Weellies advisable. £15/£11, until 2 January, luminate.live Fiona C
Winter garden, Wollaton – near Nottingham
With its winter garden, light tunnels, illuminated deer park and rainbow walkway, Wollaton creates a beautiful Christmas light event. There are also lights covering the hall and light trails through the woodland areas; the whole thing is amazing. As you’d expect there are also food and drink stalls. £19.80/£14.30, until 9 January,christmasatwollaton.org Rachel
In recent years York’s Christmas lights have expanded to include the historic gates to the walled city: they are draped in curtains of light, giving them an otherworldly quality in addition to their striking medieval appearance. You can walk between each of the four gates and see the Minster and other illuminated sites as you walk. visityork.org Edward Joyner
West London windows
For the second year the residents of Olde Hanwell in Ealing will be working together to create a huge living Advent calendar. Last year more than 200 homes took turns to light up a window display every night from 1 December until 24 December, and this year looks to be just as big, if not bigger. There’s so much to see and so much creativity on display, from beautiful winter scenes, exploding Christmas crackers, the Grinch and a very tall Christmassy giraffe! There’s something new to see every night and it’s free to visit and walk round as often as you like. It has a lovely festive, community atmosphere. Twitter @w7adventwindows, eventbrite.co.uk Anna Elliott
Stockeld Park: wonderment near Wetherby
Absolutely magical from the moment you arrive. I’ve never experienced such a wonderful display of lights, magic, mystery and so much interaction to be had at each element. At night the whole park comes alive to lights, creating some breathtaking sights and wonderment not just on the children’s faces but the adults just as much. It’s an enchanting woodland Christmas walk. What more could you want with your family? There is also ice skating, a forest maze and Nordic skiing to be enjoyed here. Stockeld is between Wetherby and Harrogate. From £14.50, until 4 January, stockeldpark.co.uk Nicola Baker
Shooting stars, Lake District
I know it doesn’t really count but the best light show I experienced was at 4am in the morning driving up to Scotland. On the M6, near the Lake District, I saw at least 11 shooting stars and some faint aurora borealis – it was amazing. The sky was was so dark you could see every star perfectly. It was a wonderful sight. Wendy Wood-Fletcher
News Center 7′s Mike Campbell was at Dayton International Airport on Wednesday when plenty of people were prepared to travel to catch up with loved ones. Darryl Monfels, of Dayton, did fly a little during the COVID-19 pandemic, but feels safer to do so now.
“Each time we feel like the restrictions and requirements, and attention to detail, has gotten much better, especially in the last three to four months,” Monfels said.
The more travelers feel safer has impacted the amount of flying they do. The passenger numbers, and revenue, at Dayton International Airport recovered much quicker than expected, according to city officials.
“They are expected to be about 12 percent off of 2019 revenues, so that’s good news,” Shelley Dickstein, Dayton City Manager, said.
Dickstein said the rebound is amazing when compared to the original projections.
“We were 80 percent off,” Dickstein said. “This was an industry that almost completely shut down for a good chunk of time.”
Dickstein said a lot of Dayton travel returning to 100 percent will depend on business travelers returning to airports for travel.
While the number of travelers is up, it has not returned to pre-pandemic levels. City leaders told News Center 7 that they will wait and assess the numbers throughout 2022 to determine whether they will reach that level again.
It could be a spectacular laser light show in a city park, tastefully illuminated gardens at a grand historic home or an arty trail with glowing installations in mysterious woods. Tell us about a Christmas light extravaganza you’ve visited – we’re particularly interested in hearing about less well-known events.
If you have a relevant photo, do send it in – but it’s your words that will be judgedfor the competition.
Keep your tip to about 100 words
The best tip of the week, chosen by Tom Hall of Lonely Planet, will win a £200 voucher to stay at a Sawday’s property – the company has more than 3,000 in the UK and Europe. The best tips will appear on the Guardian Travel website, and maybe in the paper, too.
We’re sorry, but for legal reasons you must be a UK resident to enter this competition.
Ahead of COP26, VisitBritain has launched a global sustainable tourism content ‘hub’ for visitors with itineraries, activities and experiences to enjoy a sustainable stay in Britain.
VisitBritain Executive Vice President, The Americas Gavin Landry said:
“The COP26 Summit and accompanying media exposure gives us a timely and valuable opportunity to highlight how visitors can enjoy a sustainable and responsible stay in Britain, from eco-friendly accommodation to dark sky reserves, sustainable fashion and locally sourced food and drink to epic train journeys and cycling routes.
“Many businesses and organizations in our sector are already putting sustainability at the heart of what they do and we want to support visitors and our global travel trade partners to find products and experiences that will enrich their stay. We hope people will then stay longer, travel more widely using low-carbon transport and explore out of season.”
Follow these links for terrific ideas on exploring Britain sustainably:
VisitBritain has set out its priorities to aid the recovery of both domestic and international tourism, including rebuilding a more resilient, sustainable and accessible industry supporting the UK Government’s ambitions set out in the Tourism Recovery Plan. Its recently published Sustainable Tourism discussion paper sets out its approach, from championing regional dispersal and low carbon transport, sharing resources and best practice with businesses to working with the trade on itineraries that support sustainable and responsible tourism.
Tourism is a critical industry for the UK, usually worth £127 billion annually to the economy. VisitBritain continues to work with the industry to spread the economic and social benefits of tourism more widely, driving visits right across the year and across the nations and regions, supporting local economies.
Julia Gordin, VisitBritain Senior Communications Manager, USA M: 347.598.4046; E: [email protected]
The outdoors is in and everyone you know is taking to the trails this summer. This might lead to a bit more crowding than you’re used to, maybe even leaving your favorite trails as crowded as the local shopping mall, so just how do you zip ahead of the crowd and avoid the masses?
First on your list ought to be your gear and how you pack, as while you’ve been sitting indoors all this time, the innovative lightweight gear movement has continued to grow by leaps and bounds. Here are a few tips for ensuring that everything can fit in your pack, as well as making sure it isn’t pulling you back down the hill when you are trying to go up.
While the old adage when it came to backpacking (or just about any travel) was to fill your pack and then take out half of what was there, the new norm gives a bit more concrete advice. The idea is to focus on getting your base weight, meaning your pack loaded with everything except food and water, down to at least 15 pounds or less.
In order to do this, the most efficient route to take in shedding pounds is to focus not on cutting your toothbrush in half or snipping out the labels in your underwear, but rather to take a look at your “Big Three,” meaning those items that normally make up the bulk of your pack weight. Usually, this means your pack itself, your tent and your sleeping bag.
Ten years ago, my friends and I all were hauling lots of gear in big backpacks that weighed up to 7 pounds, and while these beasts did offer plenty of back or hip support, they also ironically caused plenty of back and hip damage just due to the sheer amount of torture we were inflicting on ourselves when loaded up.
Today, a wave of lightweight outfitters such as Gossamer Gear, ULA,and Hyperlite Mountain Gear are making packs that weigh around 2 pounds or less, getting rid of heavy top attachments, straps, padding and other bells and whistles. As long as you keep your pack weight under 30 pounds, these new packs all carry loads with plenty of comfort.
Old school tents were also heavy, originally made out of thick canvas, and even when made with waterproof or more breathable material, they still tipped the scales with separate rain flys, metal stakes and other attachments. The new ultralight tents today are being made from Dyneema Composite Fabric, also known as cuben fiber, a high-strength and low-weight fabric found in sails, which is not only light, but also totally waterproof.
A batch of small companies such as Tarptent, Six Moon Designs and Zpacks have been garnering attention for their simple strong tents that often use only a trekking pole to set up, eliminate heavy zippers, use titanium or other ultralight stakes, and come in at under 2 pounds. Many trekkers are even deciding to ditch the full tent and opt instead for just a basic tarp shelter, enough to stay dry under during a rainstorm and cut one’s gear weight even further.
The third item where you can save some weight is your sleeping bag. Down sleeping bags, while pricier and much slower to dry when wet, are far more compactable, lighter and warmer than synthetic ones.
Taking things even a step further, the lightweight gear revolution has now moved away from sleeping bags and towards quilts, where parts like hoods or zippers have been eliminated, and the bag is designed to cover the areas of your body that get the coldest. Check out Enlightened Equipment for some ideas.
There are plenty of items in your pack that can serve more than one purpose. For example, ditch that extra air pillow and use one of your stuff sacks instead. Opt for a pair of zippered cargo pants that convert from long to short instead of bringing a pair of shorts and a pair of trousers.
Rather than bringing along the proverbial kitchen sink, use your cook pot as a bowl as well, or even better, get a titanium cup that you can boil water in if you are opting for dehydrated meals that just require hot water.
Some ultralight hikers have taken to cold soaking, meaning putting food like instant potatoes, oatmeal or couscous into a container with cold water and leaving it to sit for awhile. It might not work for everyone, but it does eliminate the need for a stove and cookware.
But even going hot, these days you can find stoves like the MSR PocketRocket, a 2.6-ounce canister stove that will boil your water in less than 4 minutes and take up virtually zero space in your pack.
Merino is your best friend
The word cotton is verboten in the outdoor industry these days. Cotton is heavier than synthetic fabric and doesn’t dry as fast nor insulate when wet. But at the top of the clothing chain these days is merino wool, a natural fiber grown by merino sheep, which is lighter and thinner than traditional wool, as well as comfortable next to the skin.
Not only does it insulate and breathe, but it also doesn’t absorb bacteria-causing odor. Thus, you can wear merino socks, shirts and, yes, even underwear these days, without having to stuff your pack with multiple changes of clothing.
Once you have your main items, it’s easy to fall in love with throwing in all sorts of last-minute things that will overload your pack. Do you really need your Aeropress for a weekend trip? Tip: Starbucks VIA packets will make you rethink instant coffee.
Leave “War and Peace” at home, or if you just have to read it, make sure it’s on a Kindle. The best way to help minimize excess weight is to get a small food scale and actually weigh every item you are putting in your pack and then mark it on a spreadsheet.
There’s even a website that will do all of this for you, LighterPack, where you can see exactly what items weigh, which part of your gear is the heaviest and set yourself on a course to actually enjoy your hike.
These days, you don’t have to sacrifice comfort to shave weight, and backpacking no longer has to be an endeavor in suffering. And with all that weight savings, you might even have room for a celebratory beer!
The famed art school on the tip of Cornwall promises to help anyone improving how they paint. We sent Victoria Marston along to put them to the test.
If you’ve ever fancied painting en plein air, there can be few finer places to do so than Newlyn, just outside Penzance on the Cornish coast, a mecca for outdoor artists since the Newlyn School arrived in the 1880s. If you’ve ever worried what it would be like to be the least talented person on an en plein air painting course, I can confirm that the answer is ‘not so bad’.
In fact, sessions at the Newlyn School of Art — which opened in 2011 and offers a range of courses in different mediums, taught by more than 35 of the best artists in the county — are taught in such a way that everyone works at their own pace, whatever their level of expertise, and you will be amazed at how much you have improved in a few short hours.
‘Great artists don’t always make great teachers, so I’ve been careful to choose those who are generous with sharing their knowledge and skills,’ says director and founder Henry Garfit.
My tutor, Kit Johns, specialises in painting seascapes onto vintage maps and spent three days teaching us his techniques, with a view to us ultimately being able to emulate his work (in a fashion…). From learning to mix our own acrylic paints and painting from photographs in the studio, to loading onto a minibus to stand on a cliff’s edge, sketching with Indian ink and a palette knife, or sitting on the beach painting St Michael’s Mount (where the experimental and abstract Kit forbade us from ‘drawing in the windows’), the course is challenging, exhausting and hugely fun.
On the final day, with our clothes and shoes (and hands and hair) covered in splatters of paint, we finally tackled our vintage maps. I was still scared of ruining them, but, with a little encouragement from the endlessly patient Kit, I produced something I was quietly proud of. We had all developed our own styles and it transpires that mine is loading on such thick paint it will never dry (at least, not before it has to go in the car home), liberally smeared about with a palette knife. I also decided there are few things that can’t be solved by flicking white paint at it (thereby creating ‘sea foam’).
By the time you leave, you will find yourself studying breaking waves, changing colours and shifting light in a whole new way and should have a bulging portfolio of artwork to take with you. You might even want to frame one — as my father rather embarrassingly has.
The Newlyn School of Art, Cornwall, is now taking bookings for 2022. Course prices start from £395, including materials — 01736 365557; www.newlynartschool.co.uk
Where to stay
Venton Vean Boutique B&B, on a quiet, leafy street next to Penlee Park, has period features and a homely feel with a truly unusual homecooked breakfast menu — eggs kejriwal, anyone? ventonvean.co.uk
Chapel House is a handsome Georgian townhouse just off the seafront in Penzance with airy communal areas, enormous bedrooms and private suites in the well-kept garden. Friday and Saturday night kitchen suppers are open to the public, as well as guests. www.chapelhousepz.co.uk
What else to do while you’re there
Eat seafood. The queue at Frasers, the best fish-and-chip shop in Penzance, is worth it, as is the wait to get a seat at Mackerel Sky Seafood Bar in Newlyn itself. People rave about the crab nachos in this tiny restaurant (which doesn’t take bookings) and they are good, even if the crab struggles to be heard over the jalapeos — but, for me, fresh and juicy scallops with a simple side of samphire were the winner. Recently opened harbourside fish restaurant Argoe is still a bit of a local secret, but won’t remain so — try the dressed spider crab. www.frasersfishandchips.co.uk mackerelskycafe.co.uk www.argoenewlyn.co.uk
Take a refreshing dip in the Jubilee Pool, the Art Deco seawater lido on the promenade with both heated and unheated pools. jubileepool.co.uk
Walk the Cornish coast. The views are spectacular (even when the weather isn’t) and The Cornish Hen deli offers delectable picnic hampers to keep energy levels and spirits buoyant. facebook.com/thecornishhen