This Art Deco Building in Oslo Will Reopen As a Luxury Hotel




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Some Metrobus routes reopen after snowfall suspends service


Metro temporarily suspended bus service throughout the D.C. region amid heavy snowfall and treacherous road conditions Monday.

Metro temporarily suspended bus service throughout the D.C. region amid heavy snowfall and treacherous road conditions Monday.

In a statement Monday night, Metro opened some bus lines after 6 p.m. under the transit service’s severe snow service plan on a route-by-route basis. However, some areas are “hazardous” due to snow and refreezing. Metro said that it may not be possible to restore all 68 routes that operate under the severe snow plan for the rest of the evening.

Earlier on Monday, MetroAccess services resume after 3:45 p.m.

Officials at Metro encouraged customers to use the train line — Metrorail continues to operate normally at above and below-ground stations.

“Heavy snow continues to fall throughout the region and travel is strongly discouraged unless absolutely necessary,” the Metro statement said. “As crews work to clear roads, Metro will continue to monitor road conditions to determine when it is safe to resume service.”

MetroAccess service was temporarily paused due to hazardous road conditions. MetroAccess trips were not canceled, but a temporary pause allowed roads to clear and weather conditions to improve, Metro said in an update about 11 a.m. Monday.

Metro said people who need to get around Monday should consider using Metrorail service, which continues to operate on a normal schedule with trains every 12-24 minutes. There may be some minor delays to allow de-icer trains to pass through to keep rails clear of ice and snow, Metro said.

The day started with Metrobus operating on a severe snow service plan late, which only runs service on major routes.

All buses carrying customers operated to the end of their lines to complete their routes, Metro said on Monday.

The D.C. area is under a Winter Storm Warning with up to 8 inches of snow expected in the first major winter storm of the season, leading to a slew of school and office closures Monday.

Separately Monday, DC Circulator bus service, which is run by the D.C. Department of Transportation, was also suspended for the day.



Metro said that it would continue to alert passengers to changes to rail status using their social media channels and MetroAlerts.

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Travel news: The latest lounges at Pearson, Europe’s night trains, and an ancient trail set to re-open


Rest and refresh

Plaza Premium Lounge, which operates independent lounges in more than 70 major airports worldwide, has added two more spaces at Toronto Pearson International Airport. The Concept Lounge, new to Terminal 1 (pre-security, domestic departures), offers refreshments, as well as a “Fast Track pass” to get through security. The flagship Landmark Lounge joins Terminal 3 (international departures), where you can book in for a wide array of food and drinks, shower room access, a nursery room, a kids’ play area and other amenities. Stays in either lounge can be reserved ahead at plazapremiumlounge.com.

Sleeper hits

In Europe, night trains are having a moment again, especially as long-distance rail is considered a crucial way for the E.U. to cut flying-related carbon emissions and hit climate targets. Expanding now is Nightjet, operated by ÖBB (Austrian Railways), which added new routes in December: connecting Vienna to Paris, and Amsterdam to Zurich. Tickets range from budget-conscious single seats to private compartments in your own sleeper car or couchette carriage. Still in the works is Midnight Trains, a Paris-based startup that aims to offer a retro-glam “hotel on rails” experience when it launches in 2024.

Ancient route restored

The historic Trans Bhutan Trail is slated to reopen this year, for the first time in six decades. Once the sole way to get across the landlocked mountain kingdom, the newly restored, approximately 400-kilometre route is expected to welcome tourists as of April 2022, a move intended to help boost the economies of adjacent rural communities. Tour operator G Adventures will offer two new trail-related treks, including an 11-day tour with camping, hikes on select stretches and, of course, views of Paro Taktsang (Tiger’s Nest), the country’s famous cliff-clinging monastery.

Screen before you spa

Taking a COVID test has become a new normal for flying. Whether such screening will roll out more widely to other travel settings remains to be seen, but at least one spa has added the step: Upon arrival at Ste. Anne’s Spa, the destination retreat in Grafton, Ont., guests are asked to take a (complimentary) rapid antigen test, and also pass the new Predictmedix station, an AI-powered archway designed to detect symptoms (such as a fever). The measures are geared toward offering what we head to the spa to find: a little extra peace of mind.

Sign up at thestar.com/newsletters to get our weekly Travel Headlines newsletter in your inbox. The federal government recommends Canadians avoid non-essential travel. This article is meant to inspire plans for future travel.





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Laos to reopen for tourists from January 1 | Travel News


Vientiane: The Laos government announced on Thursday a plan to reopen for visitors starting from January 1, 2022, according to a notice issued by the Prime Minister’s Office.

The notice, which was signed by the Head of the Prime Minister’s Office, Khamchen Vongphosy, was released on Wednesday, Xinhua news agency reported.

According to the notice, the government has approved the Lao Travel Green Zone Plan that would allow tourists to visit provinces and cities designated as “green zones” once the country reopens.

The notice states that an official announcement will be made on December 17 outlining the official reopening plan, and has set January 1 as the date when the country reopens for tourism.

The decision came after a number of lengthy meetings between tourism stakeholders and a government task force set up specifically to assist with reopening.

As of Thursday, the total number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in Laos reached 94,554 with 262 deaths.

Laos reported its first two confirmed Covid-19 cases on March 23 last year.



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Travel update: New Zealand to reopen to foreigners from April 30 – News


South Pacific country enforced some of the tightest pandemic restrictions among OECD nations



Photo: File

Photo: File

By Reuters

Published: Wed 24 Nov 2021, 6:51 AM

New Zealand will keep its borders closed to most international travellers for a further five months, the government said on Wednesday, outlining a cautious easing of border curbs that have been in place since Covid-19 hit in March 2020.

Along with its geographic isolation, the South Pacific country enforced some of the tightest pandemic restrictions among OECD nations, limiting the spread of Covid-19 and helping its economy bounce back faster than many of its peers.

But an outbreak of the highly contagious Delta variant earlier this year has forced a shift in strategy, with the main city of Auckland now only gradually opening up as vaccination rates climb.

Fully vaccinated international travellers will be allowed to enter the country from April 30, 2022 onwards, with the re-opening staged over time, Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins told a news conference.

ALSO READ:

Fully vaccinated New Zealanders and residence visa holders in neighbouring Australia can travel to New Zealand from Jan. 16, while vaccinated New Zealanders and residence visa holders most from other countries will be allowed in from Feb. 13.

“A phased approach to reconnecting with the world is the safest approach to ensure risk is carefully managed,” Hipkins said.

“This reduces any potential impacts on vulnerable communities and the New Zealand health system.”

Travellers will no longer be required to stay at state quarantine facilities, he said, but other measures will be put in place including a negative pre-departure test, proof of being fully vaccinated, and a Covid-19 test on arrival.





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3 B.C. highways reopen, food systems starting to stabilize, provincial officials say


Heroic “round the clock” efforts to restore key transportation and food supply lifelines in British Columbia are starting to bear fruit, the province’s transportation and agriculture ministers said on Saturday.

Highway 99 reopened around noon PT with two lanes north of Pemberton to small vehicles only, with authorities still asking motorists to only travel for essential reasons such as returning to a primary home address.

“This will provide a second connection from Lower Mainland to the north, through Pemberton and Lillooet,” Rob Fleming, B.C.’s Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, said at a press conference Saturday morning. “It is designed for smaller vehicles because of the terrain — nothing larger than a cube truck will be allowed on the highway.”

According to a provincial government release Saturday, “checkpoints will be in place and travel restrictions will be enforced,” and only vehicles weighing less than 14.5 tonnes will be allowed. Heavier trucks should take Highway 3, which reopened Friday, the release said.

“I can’t stress enough that keeping this corridor open is vital to British Columbians where goods are short,” Fleming said, referring to Highway 3. “People have been up day-and-night working around the clock… at an accelerated, exhausting pace.”

On Vancouver Island, the Malahat highway reopened Friday to two-way traffic after being shuttered by torrents of floodwater last week.

Fallen trees and debris are pictured on Monday after a flood swept through the area near Lillooet, B.C. Officials said Highway 99, which was severed by the slide, reopened on Saturday. (B.C. Ministry of Transportation/Reuters)

Bodies of 3 more people found at mudslide

Highway 99 was severed when a major mudslide last Sunday swept vehicles off the road after a massive and devastating rainstorm.

The mudslide near Lillooet killed at least four people, with RCMP confirming Saturday they recovered the remains of three men near the scene. RCMP said another remains missing.

“It is very sad, tragic news for the province that the RCMP have confirmed the deaths of other individuals in the slide events,” Fleming said. “Our thoughts are with their loved ones at this time.”

Asked about Friday’s new provincial essential travel restrictions on affected routes — rules which also limit motorists to 30 litres of fuel per fill-up until Dec. 1 — Fleming said the province is still limiting travel to “essential” purposes such as commercial deliveries, getting stranded travelers and evacuees to safety, and recovery efforts.

“We want people to travel for essential purposes, which is reconnecting with their primary addresses,” Fleming said.

‘We do not have a food shortage,’ minister says

But while many images have circulated of empty grocery store shelves in various regions of B.C., including areas far from flooding, provincial Agriculture Minister Lana Popham said there are currently no food shortages — just “pinch points in the supply chain” that are being gradually restored with new supply.

Thousands of livestock are reported to have died in flooding of the Sumas Prairie in Abbotsford as cold waters rose and feed ran out. Volunteers and farmers have spent much of the week attempting to rescue as many animals as possible from the floodwaters.

This composite image shows a highway and farms in Sumas Prairie in Abbotsford, B.C., before and after flooding earlier this week. (Maxar Technologies/Handout/Reuters)

Some grocery stores have put in place limits on how much milk, eggs and meat shoppers can buy.

Popham said milk pick-ups have resumed in parts of the Fraser Valley, and four tonnes of hog feed was airdropped by B.C.’s wildfire service to affected pig farms within the last day, she said. 

She said the province has secured roughly “five to six” days worth of livestock feed for the region’s farms thanks to relief offered by Alberta, Saskatchewan and Washington State.

“I think everyone understands it’s all hands on deck,” Popham told reporters on Saturday. “Those shelves will be restocked, we do not have a food shortage. We expect to see that level out in the next little while.

“To the farmers now — who have had no sleep and are going through an incredibly difficult, emotional time — thank you for all of your efforts. All of our hearts are with you.”

Line-ups for gas reported on Friday

Meanwhile, many gas stations in the Lower Mainland saw line-ups for fuel after the public safety minister announced a 30-litre limit on fuel-ups Friday night. But Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said Saturday the move is just “temporary” until Dec. 1 to ensure enough is available for essential purposes and supply chains.

Long lines of vehicles were seen snaking out of gas stations on Friday evening after British Columbia officials announced fuel restrictions for non-essential travellers in areas of the province affected by heavy rains and damaging floods.

It comes after supply lines, including major highways and rail, were washed out or flooded by record rainfall that started last weekend.

Gas stations, such as this Shell station in Vancouver, were experiencing long lineups Friday evening following the announcement that non-essential drivers in parts of British Columbia would be limited to 30 litres per visit due to supply issues from heavy rainfall and flooding. (Margaret Gallagher/CBC)

Farnworth said police will not be enforcing the provincial order, noting that the government is relying on residents to “do the right thing” until the order lifts.

He pointed out there were already long lines for gas even before he announced new restrictions. 

“We have seen gas lines form for a number of days now,” Farnworth said. “We have enough gas for everyone who needs it.

“For 10 days we have to all do our part.”





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Cuba Reopening News: Cuba is all set to reopen for international travel


Cuba is all set to reopen for international travel

Cuba is now ready to reopen for international travellers. The country has announced that it will permit international visitors starting from November 15. The incredible Caribbean country is a favourite among explorers, and many are going to get their wish fulfilled to travel to Cuba very soon.

The bustle of its start city, Havana, is promising a comeback with the reopening. The country has seen a decrease in COVID-19 infections and mortality.



It is important to note here that Cuba will however continue to impose COVID appropriate behaviour, so wearing facemasks, and using hand sanitizers will be mandatory for all. The good news is that travellers may not be required to quarantine anymore, provided they are fully vaccinated or have a negative RT-PCR test report in hand.

Cuba fought the coronavirus with locally made vaccines, Soberana 02, Abdala, and Soberana Plus. As of today, the country has reported a total of 956452 infections, and 8265 deaths. The official reports suggest that all three doses have been administered to a total of 7.3 million people out of 11 million people.

Cuba has also permitted children to return to schools, while cinemas have also reopened. The Tropicana cabaret is now also going to return to stage.





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U.S. borders reopen to many vaccinated international travelers 


Loved ones kept apart for more than a year and a half were reunited Monday with tears, kisses and “welcome back” signs at New York City’s John F. Kennedy International Airport after the United States lifted travel restrictions imposed because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“This is the best thing that’s ever happened to me!” one woman shouted after getting off her British Airways flight from London’s Heathrow Airport and hugging her sister who was clutching white flowers and balloons.

British Airways employees lined up to clap as travelers from the United Kingdom exited customs and made their way out of the terminal. Some of those waiting said excitedly, “They’re here, they’re here.” Others held handwritten signs — “We missed you, two years” — including a young boy whose poster read: “Do I look bigger? 730 days. Missed you.”

U.S. citizens and permanent residents have always been allowed to enter. However, the travel restrictions meant that tourists, business travelers and family members were prevented from entering.

Performers entertain travelers at London’s Heathrow Airport as the United States reopens its borders to visitors from the United Kingdom. Steve Parsons – PA Images / PA Images via Getty Images

The travel restrictions had barred non-U.S. citizens traveling from 33 countries — including China, India and much of Europe — and had also restricted overland entry from Mexico and Canada.

To enter the U.S., foreign nationals must be fully vaccinated against Covid, though exceptions will be made for children under 18 and people who are medically unable to be vaccinated. Travelers over the age of 2 must also show a negative Covid test taken within the past three days.

Those crossing a land border from Mexico or Canada will require proof of vaccination but no test. Early Monday, traffic at many land border crossings in Canada and Mexico was already backed up.

Connor Giesbrecht drove from Winnipeg, Canada, to Fargo, North Dakota, on Monday. He planned to catch a flight later in the morning to Orlando via Chicago to visit his brother at college.

“With the border opening, it makes it much easier to see him,” said Giesbrecht, 21, who often drove to the U.S. to shop before the pandemic. “It saves a lot of money to drive into the U.S. versus flying internationally from Canada. The reopening makes travel so much easier.” 

Following the announcement that the U.S. would reopen the borders, Virgin Atlantic saw a 600 percent increase in bookings to the U.S., the airline said in a press release. Bookings went up again by nearly 50 percent compared to the week before after the confirmation of the reopening date Oct. 15.

“It’s been an absolute nightmare that we could never have imagined.”

To mark the occasion, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic had two flights take off simultaneously for the first time from Heathrow to Kennedy Airport on Monday morning. There was a festive atmosphere at the airport with performers in red, white and blue costumes entertaining travelers.

“Today is a day of celebration,” Virgin Atlantic CEO Shai Weiss said at the airport.

British Airways chief Sean Doyle agreed, and said the airline has seen enthusiasm by business travelers to get back on the road again.

“Apart from the human aspect, it’s very important for business and trade that we get this corridor up and running again,” he said. “The links are very strong, and travel is a key part of enabling that economic activity.”

The two airlines marked the reopening on their social media accounts too, with Virgin posting a photo of a new “U.S. themed cocktail.”

At Heathrow Airport, Gail and Paul Chamberlain said they looked forward to meeting their daughter’s fiancé in person as they prepared to catch a flight to Los Angeles.

“I’m so joyful I could cry,” Gail Chamberlain, 67, said. “I’m [going] wedding dress shopping. That I never thought I would be able to do with her.”

Delta Air Lines said that in the six weeks since the U.S reopening was announced, it had seen a 450 percent increase in international bookings versus the six weeks prior to the announcement.

Sarah Solomon, who is British, headed to Sanger, near Dallas, on Monday to visit her daughter who moved to the Texas city three years ago.

“It’s been an absolute nightmare that we could never have imagined,” Solomon, 55, said. “We didn’t know we’d be two years apart.”

Cars line up to cross the border at the San Ysidro crossing on the Mexico-U.S. border in Tijuana state, Mexico, on Nov. 7, 2021. Guillermo Arias / AFP – Getty Images

Airlines have warned of long lines and will check vaccination documentation for international travelers as they already do for Covid test results.

“It’s a real sign that people are getting back to in-person events and actually being to see each other and conduct their business in person, which is such a breath of fresh air,” said Edward Langley, 34, who works for a company that runs trade shows and is making his first trip to the U.S.

Then-President Donald Trump first barred travel Jan. 31, 2020, to non-U.S. citizens who had been to China in the previous two weeks. As the pandemic spread, further restrictions on noncitizens followed in March 2020, with an initial ban on European travelers for 30 days.





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Canadian Snowbirds Head South as US Land Borders Reopen | Arizona News


By ANITA SNOW and TERRY TANG, Associated Press

PHOENIX (AP) — Canadians Ian and Heather Stewart are savoring the idea of leaving behind this winter’s subzero temperatures when the U.S. reopens its borders to nonessential land travel next week and they launch a long-delayed drive to their seasonal home in Fort Myers, Florida.

Restrictions imposed by both countries during the coronavirus pandemic and their own concerns kept the retired couple and millions of other Canadians from driving south to warmer climes like Florida, Arizona and Mexico during last year’s freezing winter months.

Now, the Biden administration’s decision to allow vaccinated people to enter the U.S. by land for any reason starting Nov. 8 has many Canadians packing up their campers and making reservations at their favorite vacation condos and mobile home parks. Some are already in the U.S., arriving on flights that never stopped and have required just a negative COVID-19 test.

But many have waited to drive, preferring the convenience of having a vehicle to get around in with rental cars scarce and expensive.

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Vacasa, a management company for over 30,000 vacation homes in North America, Belize and Costa Rica, said it saw a major rise in traffic on its online platform after the new rules were announced. Canadian users’ views at rentals in snowbird-popular destinations jumped by 120%.

The Stewarts will board their SUV with two dogs and a cat Nov. 10 for the four-day trek from Ottawa, Ontario, to spend six months on Florida’s Gulf Coast.

“We love it there,” said Ian Stewart, 81, a retired air traffic controller with the Royal Canadian Air Force. “There’s such a nice feel with the good weather that lets you get out and walk and talk to your neighbors. And you don’t have to worry about slipping on the ice and breaking your bones!”

Like the Stewarts, many Canadian snowbirds stay at mobile home parks and luxury RV resorts — with swimming pools, pickleball and sometimes golf courses — for people 55 and over. The Stewarts have owned a manufactured home at their Florida park since 2007.

Arizona is also popular for its mild winters.

The Arizona Office of Tourism expects an immediate economic impact in a state where people from Canada and Mexico traditionally make up the largest number of overnight visitors, said Becky Blaine, the office’s deputy director.

“The phones have been ringing off the hook since they announced the border will be reopened,” said Kate Ebert, manager of the Sundance 1 RV Resort in Casa Grande, halfway between Phoenix and Tucson.

Renée Louzon-Benn, executive director of the Greater Casa Grande Chamber of Commerce, said the desert community last year felt the absence of visitors from Canada and U.S. Midwestern states like Wisconsin and Michigan, with far fewer people spending money locally. Casa Grande Mayor Craig McFarland said the city of about 62,000 people usually swells by another 25,000 each winter.

Wendy Caban of Lake Country, British Columbia, is thrilled she and her husband, Geoffrey, can soon drive to their resort home in the Phoenix suburb of Mesa.

“I’m looking forward to seeing a lot of friends that we made over the last dozen years,” Wendy Caban said. “I’m looking forward to the warmth.”

But the couple, both 73, are still mulling when to leave.

“I think it’s going to be insane on Nov. 8,” Caban said. “So, we’ll wait a few days and monitor the lineups and the weather.”

Arizona’s Office of Tourism says close to 1 million Canadian tourists accounted for $1 billion in spending in 2019. That plunged to 257,000 Canadians who spent $325 million last year.

R. Glenn Williamson, Canada’s Arizona honorary consul and founder and CEO of the Canada Arizona Business Council, said the numbers for tourists don’t consider longer term stays by part-time resident Canadians who spend months at a time in homes they own in Arizona — as many as 200,000 additional people spending another $1.5 billion locally each year.

With some 500 Canadian companies operating in Arizona, a new wave of younger, wealthier Canadian snowbirds work part-time in the state, where they buy upscale homes and play golf, among Canada’s most popular sports, Williamson said.

Barbara and Brian Fox of Toronto, both in their 60s, plan to keep working for their strategic communications firm when they return to the Naples area on Florida’s Gulf Coast in March and April.

It will be the longest Florida stay so far for the couple, who have canceled at least five planned trips south during the course of the pandemic over restrictions and concerns about possible infection.

Plenty of retirees are planning to head south again as well.

They include Wilf and Lynne Burnett, who haven’t made annual trek south from their hometown in Vancouver, British Columbia, to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, since the coronavirus emerged. They typically tow a 15-foot (4.5-meter) boat so they can fish and visit restaurants with docks on the bay.

Now that land border restrictions are being eliminated, the Burnetts have a three-month reservation at a Puerto Vallarta condo starting Jan. 6.

“We’ll keep an eye on the virus and if things continue to improve, we’ll go,” Wilf Burnett said.

Those who decide to travel at the last minute will likely find it hard to book a condo, RV park or campground.

Amid concern restrictions might keep changing, some snowbirds are making reservations for earlier in the season than usual, starting from November through early next year, said Bruce Hoban, co-founder of the 2,000-member Vacation Rental Owners and Neighbors of Palm Springs. Hoban said peak visitor times for snowbirds, who comprise about 15% of vacation rentals, are generally between February and April.

Those who come can also expect prices as much as 20% to 30% higher because of increased demand, he said.

Bobby Cornwell, executive director of the Florida and Alabama RV Parks & Campground Association, said many sites in those states were booked solid from January through March even before the new travel rules were announced. That’s because Americans have embraced RV travel during the pandemic, filling spots Canadian campers normally would.

Still, it’s “wonderful news” Canadians can return, Cornwell said.

“We encourage all snowbirds to plan to come to Florida and make your reservations as soon as possible,” he said.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



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