Travel

Up to 8,000 Chinese nationals came into US after Trump banned travel due to coronavirus: AP

Thousands of Chinese citizens have reportedly come into the U.S. since President Trump restricted travel on foreign nationals in January, arriving from China after the coronavirus outbreak. According to a recent report by The Associated Press, citing data it obtained regarding travel from the U.S. Commerce Department, as many as 8,000 Chinese nationals and foreign residents of Hong Kong and Macao have entered the U.S. over the last three months. More than 600 flights brought in travelers from these areas after Trump announced his travel ban in late January and it was enacted Feb. 2. Trump’s initial travel ban included any non-U.S. travelers coming from China, and excluded anyone coming from Hong Kong or Macau in late January. Travelers from Hong Kong and Macao also did not face the same scrutiny or screening processes as Americans or any foreign nationals coming into the U.S. after having been in Wuhan — where the coronavirus outbreak started. Flight records from FlightAware provided to The Associated Press showed that 5,600 Chinese and foreign nationals from Hong Kong and Macau arrived in the U.S. in February. More than 2,000 passengers from the same administrative zones arrived in March and an additional 150 in April, according to The AP report. There is no sufficient evidence to show people from these flights transmitted the coronavirus, but the National Security Council, the State Department, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) would not publicly comment on why these territories were exempt from the China travel ban. One administration official told The AP that the travel ban was instated after more than 12,000 people arrived in the U.S. through the two territories in January, according to Commerce records. The Trump administration said it would also require any Americans who have traveled through China and back into the U.S. to undergo a 14-day quarantine period. But according to data collected by The Associated Press, the system that was meant to track and monitor the people undergoing quarantine lost track of at least 1,600 Americans. Trump has touted his border closures, first from China, then European nations and Brazil, as the U.S.’s first line of defense against the coronavirus. In a tweet last week. the president said: “We did a great job on Coronavirus, including the very early ban on China.” “We saved millions of U.S. lives! Yet the Fake News refuses to acknowledge this in a positive way,” he added. Trump’s travel ban on China went into full effect on Feb. 2, at which time 15 people had already been confirmed with coronavirus in Hong Kong and seven people in Macau. The cases from Macau were later linked directly to Wuhan, the origin of the outbreak. The U.S. has reported more than 2.7 million cases of the coronavirus and nearly 130,000 deaths during the pandemic. Hong Kong has since banned all travelers from the U.S.

Gutfeld on airlines banning booze on flights

Have you heard the phrase “never let a pandemic go to waste?” Now you have, because I just said it. Some airlines are doing just that. Delta and American Airlines, among others, are suspending all or part of their booze service to reduce interactions between passengers and crews. And to limit bad behavior. So this, in medical circles, is called a stupid, stupid, highly stupid idea. Do these idiots have any idea why alcohol sales boomed during the lockdown? It’s because we were trapped in a room and we couldn’t get out. This is much like being on a plane, where you’re trapped with no way out, unless you open an emergency exit and aim for a big bush. I wouldn’t suggest that under any circumstances, unless you’re flying next to Joy Behar. It’s a fact that flying is getting less enjoyable every year. And yet we never get anywhere faster. As computer speed doubles every two years, we still produce new jets lumbering through the air at the same speeds as the old ones did in the 1970s. Worse, today we’re packed like sweaty veal, forced to endure endless delays and bizarre regulations that often leave us with hunger-induced migraines and distended bladders. And now, they want to take away the booze? Look, I get the face masks. And believe me, I hate drunk jackasses who fly. I even hate myself. But usually not until the next day But to punish everyone – especially me – because of the actions of a few is not the way to solve problems. Sadly, though, that seems to be the trend these days. With just a few bad apples, we don’t just throw out the whole batch – we defund the orchard. It’s enough to make me drink. And hate myself tomorrow.

As usual, Greg nails it.  This time, with air travel and latest idiotic decision by the airlines.  This was adapted from Greg Gutfeld’s monologue on “The Five” on June 17, 2020.

Trump Administration Bars Chinese Passenger Planes from Entry

As of June 16, President Donald Trump’s administration will bar all passenger planes originating in China from entry to the U.S. The order, announced by the U.S. Department of Transportation, applies to Air China, China Eastern Airlines Corp, China Southern Airlines Co, Hainan Airlines Holding Co, Sichuan Airlines Co, and Xiamen Airlines Co. Despite the agreement to restrict travel, airlines have continued to regularly ferry passengers from the origin point of the novel coronavirus pandemic. Meanwhile, both Delta and United have requested permission to resume flights to China, though the country “remains unable” to say when it will “allow U.S. carriers to reinstate scheduled passenger flights,” according to a formal order signed by the Transportation Department top aviation official Joel Szabat. In a statement on Wednesday, Delta said “we support and appreciate the U.S. government’s actions to enforce our rights and ensure fairness,” while United said it looks forward to resuming passenger service between the United States and China “when the regulatory environment allows us to do so.” The decision will enforce a level of parity between both sides, eliminating the lopsided permissions currently in effect. “We will allow Chinese carriers to operate the same number of scheduled passenger flights as the Chinese government allows ours,” the department said in a separate statement. Additionally, China will no longer be allowed to use charter flights to “further [increase] their advantage over U.S. carriers in providing U.S.-China passenger services.”

This is smart, and in our best interests.  Kudos to the Administration for putting our health and safety first.

Where are NASA’s retired space shuttles and how much does it cost to see them?

NASA commissioned six space shuttles under its Space Shuttle Program fleet: the Enterprise, Columbia, Challenger, Discovery, Atlantis and Endeavour. Four of the six space shuttles can be viewed in museums throughout the country. Here is where you can find these pieces of history during your next road trip. Just click here:

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Munich’s Oktoberfest celebrations canceled amid coronavirus pandemic: ‘The risk is just too high’

Markus Soeder, the governor of Bavaria, along with Dieter Reiter, the mayor of Munich, announced on Tuesday that the region’s annual Oktoberfest festivities would be canceled due to the health risks posed by the coronavirus pandemic. “Difficult decision with Munich Mayor Dieter Reiter,” Soeder wrote on social media, per a translated tweet. “The Oktoberfest 2020 must be canceled. The risk is just too high. You can neither keep your distance there nor wear a face mask. Living with [coronavirus] means living cautiously until there is a vaccine or medication.” The festivities, which were scheduled to begin on Sept. 19 and run through Oct. 4, would have been the 187th celebration of the beer-themed event. Soeder and Reiter appeared together at a press conference on Thursday morning to announced the news, with Soeder calling it “unbelievably sad,” reports the Deutsche Presse-Agentur (DPA). Reiter said that, in addition to being disappointing for Germans and hopeful visitors, the decision will undoubtedly have a detrimental effect on the economy. Some 6 million people attend Munich’s Oktoberfest celebrations every year, the DPA reported, with many coming from around the globe. Foreign visitors, too, pose further risk for the spreading of the virus, Soeder noted. Germany has already recorded more than 147,000 cases of coronavirus, and over 4,800 deaths as of Tuesday morning, according to John’s Hopkins University. Both leaders said they hope Oktoberfest will celebrations will resume as normal in 2021. “We hope that next year we can make it up together,” Reiter said. Oktoberfest, an annual celebration of beer and Bavarian culture, has only been canceled a handful of times in the history of the event, most notably during WWI and WWII, and amid cholera outbreaks in 1854 and 1873, among a few other years, according to the event’s official website. Click here for more info:

Sad news for those who were hoping to attend.  I was there back in 2009, and it was definitely a crazy fun time.  Hopefully it’ll be back next year.   Prost!!      🙂

Which airlines are blocking middle seats?

Nobody wanted to sit in the middle anyway. A growing number of U.S. airlines are temporarily blocking off their middle seats in an attempt to create as much distance between passengers as possible. This effort — along with new mandates for passengers to wear face masks during flights, and proposals for new airline seating arrangements entirely — is just one of the many ways major carriers are responding to the coronavirus health crisis. But while every major carrier has introduced policies intended to prevent close contact between passengers (and passengers and crew), not all carriers have chosen to block middle seats outright. Click here to see how U.S. airlines are working to keep you as socially distant as possible on their planes:

Six Flags theme parks to require reservations upon reopening

Six Flags theme parks are looking to reopen this month in several states throughout the nation as shelter-in-place mandates expire or loosen. However, to do so, those planned to open first — including Six Flags Over Texas in Arlington, Six Flags Fiesta Texas in San Antonio, Six Flags Over Georgia near Atlanta, Six Flags St. Louis in Missouri, Frontier City in Oklahoma City and Six Flags Mexico in Mexico City, according to Newsweek — will have to adhere to certain guidelines that will limit any spur of the moment rollercoaster cravings. According to the theme parks’ websites, guests who want to visit a Six Flags location upon reopening will have to make reservations in advance. “IMPORTANT: ALL VISITORS (INCLUDING PASS HOLDERS AND MEMBERS) MUST MAKE ADVANCE RESERVATIONS TO VISIT THE PARK,” reads a message posted to the parks’ websites. “To meet state social distancing guidelines and ensure the health and safety of our guests, all visits to the park must be pre-scheduled using our online reservation system.” In addition to the reservation-system, Six Flags will also be conducting temperature checks at entrances and requiring guests to wear face masks, CBS Los Angeles reported. Meanwhile, other theme parks, like Disneyland and Disney World, do not yet have a concrete target date for reopening.

So, heads up..  Go to the Six Flags web site before going.

Opinion/Analysis: Trump’s coronavirus travel ban makes sense — here’s why

Predictably, the immediate reaction to last night’s presidential speech on the battle against COVID-19 — both pro and con — appeared to be driven largely by partisan sentiments. Much attention was lavished on things like the president’s delivery. Few attempted to objectively assess the efficacy of the measures already taken by the administration, much less the new measures announced last night. The big story, of course, was the 30-day ban on travel from most of Europe. Let’s put the politics aside and see why the White House went there. In dealing with pandemics, top priorities have to be limiting the spread of the disease and protecting our most vulnerable populations. Social distancing — that is, limiting the contact between people who are shedding the virus and others — is critical to achieving both goals. And that’s where travel bans have a role to play. Simply put, it is hard to empty the bathtub while the water’s running. American businesses, organizations and governments are taking unprecedented steps to drain the tub — from shutting down classrooms to barring fans from sporting events to raining on St. Patrick’s Day parades. At a time when we’re voluntarily disrupting our day-to-day lives to contain the disease, it makes no sense to risk importing more contagion from abroad. Why Europe? First, let’s be clear about what “Europe” means in this instance. The president’s ban is for the “Schengen Zone” — not “Europe,” not the “European Union.” The Schengen Zone is a grouping of European countries that don’t require passports or border controls to move from one to another. Ireland, for example, is in the European Union but not part of the Schengen Zone, so the ban does not apply to the Irish. The United Kingdom is in neither the European Union nor the Schengen Zone, so it, too, does not fall under the ban. Meanwhile, Iceland, though not part of the European Union, is part of Schengen, so it is covered by the ban. We know that travel bans can effectively retard the advance of pandemics. Early on, the U.S. wisely restricted travel from China and other countries experiencing large outbreaks of COVD-19. That significantly delayed the arrival of the disease here, allowing the U.S. to get through the bulk of the flu season without a serious outbreak. European nations, on the other hand, imposed no travel bans. They wound up importing a lot of sick people. Italy, with its significant migrant Chinese population, has been hit particularly hard. No doubt some who went home to celebrate the Chinese New Year, returned with the disease. Italy and other Schengen Zone nations now have travel restrictions in place, but COVID-19 is no longer just “a Chinese disease.” It’s now on a European tour. The head of the German government estimates that 70 percent of the country will be infected. Limiting the European transmission here has to be a priority, and a travel ban is the best way to do that. Focusing on the next 30 days makes perfect sense. It will get us through the bulk of the flu season, at which point the U.S. government can take stock and reevaluate. The ban does not include goods, just people. That makes sense. People, not cargo, are the high-risk carriers. The ban alone, while prudent, will not be enough to stop the spread of COVID-19. Throughout that 30-day period, we’ll need to keep draining the tub. That means continued, responsible social distancing. Governments, businesses, communities and organizations can certainly make responsible decisions. Many already have. Quick and reasoned responses will make a big difference. We also need to be prepared to deal with the economic consequences of this public health problem. America has a strong economy. If COVID-19 subsides with the flu season, this outbreak will be little more than a speed bump to the economy. But we need measures to ensure the economy can pick up where it left off and help folks through troubled times.

Thanks to James Jay Carafano for that clear-headed analysis.  James is vice president of foreign and defense policy studies  The Heritage Foundation. Follow him on Twitter @JJCarafano.  Click on the text above to read the rest of James’ article.

President Trump Announces 30-Day Ban on Travel from Europe over Coronavirus Threat

President Trump announced sweeping new travel restrictions in an address to the nation Wednesday, instituting a 30-day travel ban from Europe to the U.S. in an effort to battle the coronavirus outbreak. “We will be suspending all travel from Europe to the United States for the next 30 days,” Trump stated from the Oval Office, saying the ruling would go into effect Friday at midnight. He added that the ban did not apply to the U.K. “We made a life-saving move with early action on China, now we must take the same action with Europe. If we are diligent . . . the virus will not have a chance against us,” Trump said. In January, the administration announced a temporary ban on foreign nationals attempting to enter the country from China. After the president’s address, acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolfe released a statement which outlined the European travel restrictions, saying that it applied to any foreign national who had been in the “Schengen Area” — which includes France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and others — over the last two weeks. The statement added that the restrictions did not apply to “legal permanent residents, (generally) immediate family members of U.S. citizens, and other individuals who are identified in the proclamation.” The president also addressed concerns over the virus’s impact, emphasizing that while the danger for most Americans remained low, “the elderly population must be very, very careful.” He advised nursing homes to end all non-essential visits. Trump also downplayed the threat of a recession, saying “this is not a financial crisis.” On Wednesday, the stock market entered a bear market after the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed nearly 6 percent lower than Tuesday, and 20 percent lower than the record high set last month. “This is just a temporary moment of time that we will overcome as a nation and as a world,” Trump declared, saying he would take executive action to provide sick workers with economic relief. He asked Congress for $50 billion for small business loans and “immediate” payroll tax cuts. He ended with a plea for unity. “We are all in this together. We must put politics aside, stop the partisanship and unify together as one nation and one family,” Trump closed.

Agreed…and well said, Mr. President.  As we’ve been saying ever since this all started, we all need to keep calm and exercise common sense.

Panera Bread starts unlimited coffee subscription for $9 a month

Ever wished you could pay a flat fee for endless coffee on the go? Panera Bread has brewed up a hot project with that very pitch, offering an unlimited coffee subscription for $8.99 a month. Starting March 2, the bakery-café will serve unlimited coffee across its nearly 2,200 locations for those who sign up for the company’s free loyalty program and pay the $8.99 monthly subscription fee, plus tax. The promotion offers one cup of hot drip coffee, hot tea or iced coffee every two hours during regular Panera hours, in addition to free refills of the same drink at other locations. “We’re changing the game for coffee drinkers across the country with our no compromises, unlimited subscription service — great coffee at an amazing value,” Niren Chaudhary, Panera CEO, said in a statement on Thursday. “We are eliminating the price barrier and the false choices between convenience and quality – between good coffee and craveable food. At Panera, there’s no more compromise — and your cup is always full.” However, those who enjoy their daily cuppa in the form of cold brew iced coffee, espresso or cappuccino won’t be too happy to hear that those beverages are not included in the program, USA Today reports. Though Panera claims to be “the first national restaurant company” to offer an unlimited monthly coffee subscription program, the premise is not entirely new. Last March, Burger King tested an unlimited coffee program, good for one small hot coffee a day for $5 at any time. The trial was ultimately discontinued a few months later. Nevertheless, the coffee news from Panera had fans buzzing with excitement. One Twitter user even claimed to have gotten their first sip of their first “big ol free subscription coffee” on Thursday. With over 160 million American adults drinking coffee every day, per Panera, the coffee cup has never looked quite so half-full.

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