Coronavirus: NI ministers urged to relax travel restrictions


In their statement the ferry companies said: “With virus levels now low in Ireland and the UK, and vaccination programmes progressing in both countries, Irish Ferries and Stena Line are calling on ministers and industry stakeholders to urgently look at restoring the long-standing CTA agreement for Irish and UK citizens, and permit unrestricted travel between Britain and the island of Ireland.”



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Ukrainians urged to vacation in Turkey after Russia’s travel ban


KYIV

Ukrainians urged to vacation in Turkey after Russia’s travel ban

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has urged his fellow citizens to vacation in Turkey in support of Ankara after Russia suspended flights to Turkey.

Speaking after the National Defense and Security Council meeting on April 15, Zelenskiy assessed his trip to Turkey, which took place on April 10, where he met with his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

“I am grateful to Turkey and particularly to Erdoğan. He is really supportive of Ukraine,” Zelenskiy said, adding that it is important for Ukraine that the Turkish leader supports Kyiv’s stance and that he rejects the annexation of Crimea.

He recalled that Russia recently suspended flights to Turkey. “It was their [Russians] decision. But I believe, on the contrary, we must increase tourism activity with Turkey.”

“We must show we support Turkey,” he said, calling on Ukrainians to travel to Turkey for vacation.

Russia announced on April 12 that it decided to suspend regular and charter flights with Turkey from April 15 to June, citing concerns over the COVID-19 situation in Turkey.

Zelenskiy and his family came to Turkey for a two-day weekend holiday back in 2019, shortly after his election victory.

Nearly 1 million Ukrainians visited Turkey last year, accounting for nearly 8 percent of all foreign tourists the country welcomed.

Turkey hosted 1.4 million and 1.6 million Ukrainians in 2018, and 2019, respectively.

In the first two months of 2021, tourist arrivals from Ukraine declined nearly 27 percent on an annual basis to 58,000.

In 2020, over 2 million Russians visited Turkey, down from the previous year’s 7 million visits.

Donbass, Putin,



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‘Have a heart, stay apart’: Californians urged to celebrate Valentine’s Day virtually amid pandemic


Health officials urged Californians to protect their loved ones from the coronavirus by celebrating Valentine’s Day virtually this year.

“Have a heart, stay apart,” the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services tweeted Saturday with an illustration of a man and woman toasting the holiday over a video conferencing.

San Francisco public health officials took a more direct approach by updating a six -page tip sheet this week on how to have sex as safely as possible during the pandemic.

While stressing that people should avoid close contact — including sex — with anyone outside their household, the city’s public health department told the San Francisco Chronicle it was updating guidance it first issued last year “to reflect the latest science on COVID-19.”

“When it comes to COVID-19 risk, outdoors is MUCH better than indoors, and large, well-ventilated spaces are better than enclosed, small, poorly ventilated ones,” one tip says.

Another tip in the document is: “It seems obvious, but the fewer people, the better.”

Dr. Monica Gandhi, an infectious disease expert at University of California, San Francisco, told the newspaper she thought the guidelines’ specificity may actually cause more confusion than benefit.

“It’s getting into ludicrous territory when you overprescribe like this,” she said. “I think we have to trust the public with again, knowing about core things … and let (them) decide for themselves how they will be conducting such personal things such as their sex lives.”

She said by this point in the pandemic, people should be continually reminded of the simple core messaging: masks, ventilation, and social distancing.

California is emerging from its worst stage of the pandemic. New virus cases and hospitalizations have fallen dramatically in the past three weeks, and deaths that topped 3,500 a week also have started to decline, though more slowly.

The state reported 9,421 new cases on Saturday, along with 9,414 people hospitalized with COVID-19 — numbers that have fallen dramatically in the past three weeks. And the number of deaths that topped 3,500 a week have started to decline, though more slowly.

California this week edged past New York in the grim statistic of the number of deaths due to COVID-19. California’s death toll has reached over 46,435. New York has seen 45,751 deaths.

California has administered nearly 5.8 million vaccine doses to date. The state opened many mass vaccination centers in the last several weeks but they aren’t operating close to full capacity because of vaccine shortages.



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