Travel News

73% of Canadians say the U.S. is not safe due to COVID-19: Yahoo/Maru poll - YAHOO FINANCE

AUGUST 01, 2021

BY  Alicja Siekierska

As COVID-19 case numbers continue to rise in the United States, most Canadians are wary of travelling south of the border. 

According to a new Yahoo/Maru poll, 73 per cent of Canadians do not think it's safe to travel to or vacation in the United States due to the pandemic. While 27 per cent of all Canadians believe it's safe to travel south of the border, some provinces are more open to the idea, including in Alberta (37 per cent), Manitoba and Saskatchewan (30 per cent) and British Columbia (29 per cent). 

A recent Yahoo/Maru poll found most Canadians do not think it's safe to travel to the U.S. due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
A recent Yahoo/Maru poll found most Canadians do not think it's safe to travel to the U.S. due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

While the federal government has loosened COVID-19 restrictions for Canadian travellers, allowing the fully vaccinated to travel abroad without having to quarantine upon return, many still plan to avoid international travel and stay in Canada over the next six months due to concerns about the pandemic. 

The Yahoo/Maru poll found that about half (51 per cent) of Canadians do not plan to travel within the next six months. For those who are planning a vacation, 35 per cent say they will travel domestically within Canada, while 9 per cent plan to travel internationally outside the U.S., and 5 per cent plan to visit the U.S. Compared to before the pandemic, just 26 per cent of Canadians didn't take a vacation, while 37 per cent travelled domestically and 38 per cent internationally.

A recent Yahoo/Mary poll found that most Canadians do not plan to travel within the next six months.
A recent Yahoo/Mary poll found that most Canadians do not plan to travel within the next six months.

The COVID-19 pandemic is the driving force influencing Canadians' choices on travel. When asked about the top factors affecting their decision to plan a vacation, safety from COVID-19 was cited as the top factor (46 per cent), followed by price (30 per cent). Time availability (30 per cent), booking flexibility (26 per cent) and demand (12 per cent) were also cited as factors. 

Maru executive vice-president John Wright says Canadians' reluctance to travel should not come as a surprise, given the approach to COVID-19 that has been taken in Canada. 

"We've lived in a COVID-19 society for 16 months... and despite being the most vaccinated people on the planet, we're still incredibly concerned about variants and whether we'll catch it and become ill or just give it to someone else," Wright said.

"Given that context, there should be no surprise that safety from the COVID-19 virus – both travelling at and to any destination – is the number one element in our decision-making tree about travelling and having a vacation."

A new Yahoo/Maru poll found that safety from the COVID-19 is the top factor driving the decision to travel.
A new Yahoo/Maru poll found that safety from the COVID-19 is the top factor driving the decision to travel.

With the pandemic still weighing on Canadians' decisions about travel, it has meant the rise of road trips. One-quarter of Canadians who are planning a vacation in the next six months are opting to drive to a local destination, while 19 per cent are choosing to drive out of province. Staycations have also turned into the vacation of choice, with 29 per cent of Canadians choosing a local vacation, up 7 per cent from before the pandemic. 

Wright says this presents "a huge opportunity" for the travel and tourism sector in Canada, which has struggled through the pandemic amid border closures and travel restrictions. 

"Tourism operators and those who are offering the kind of experience that people are looking for in their own backyard have the greatest chance to pump life back into a sector that has been pummelled by the effects of COVID-19," Wright said. 

"There are a lot of people in the travel and tourism sector who will not only welcome them with open arms, but if they're smart, they'll try to give them the best experience they're looking for – and that, in itself, may have them coming back for more next year."

The survey of 1,505 Canadian adults was conducted between July 16 and July 21 and has an estimated margin of error of +/- 2.5 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

Alicja Siekierska is a senior reporter at Yahoo Finance Canada. Follow her on Twitter @alicjawithaj.

U.K.’s Sunak Says Border Rules Damaging Economy, Tourism: Times - BLOOMBERG

AUGUST 01, 2021

(Bloomberg) -- U.K. Chancellor Rishi Sunak wrote to Boris Johnson urging the prime minister to ease travel restrictions because he said they were hurting the country’s economy and tourism, The Sunday Times reported.

Sunak continued to say in the letter that the country’s border policy was out of step with international competitors, according to the newspaper. The chancellor is concerned that the restrictions in place were harming U.K. companies that were competing with European counterparts in conducting business with U.S companies.

Ministers won’t have access to data from the Joint Biosecurity Centre until early this week and will discuss travel restrictions at a meeting Thursday. About 10 countries are expected to be moved from the amber to the green list, while France will probably revert to amber from “amber plus” -- fully vaccinated visitors currently have to go into quarantine on their return.

Resurrection of NIIA: A Review and Agenda Setting for Nigeria’s Foreign Policy - THISDAY

AUGUST 01, 2021

The Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA) held a two-day Virtual Roundtable on Nigeria’s Foreign Policy on Monday, 12th and Tuesday, July 13, 2021. The theme of the Roundtable was ‘’Looking Back, Going Forward: Setting the Agenda for Nigeria’s Foreign Policy.’’ The methodological implication of the theme is not far-fetched: the need to draw lessons from the past using the present to define the new way forward. It also requires a holistic approach in the choice of which past issues to draw lessons from. And perhaps more significantly, it requires the articulation of which type of future is to be desired and which type of agenda will be good enough to enable the Government of Nigeria respond to the current challenges of a changing world of globalisation.

And true enough, the Roundtable was not simply a platform for academic reflections but, most significantly, a platform for the resurrection of the NIIA, which suffered an academic thrombosis inflicted on it by the NIIA Governing Council, chaired by General Ike Omar Nwachukwu. The NIIA slumbered, not to say dead, as a result of the thrombosis, but was brought back to life by the new Director General, Professor Eghosa Osaghae. The NIIA is gradually becoming again a living institution. It was under this recovery effort that the NIIA held the Roundtable and also an Ambassadorial Forum on Nigeria-Bangladesh Relations on July 26, 2021. The quality of the Roundtable, in terms of paper contributions, methodological approaches, theoretical analyses, and conjectural submissions, lend much credence to a new NIIA in the making.

The virtual Roundtable was structured into four main parts which were organised into two sessions per day: morning and afternoon. Twelve papers were scheduled for presentation on the first day, but eleven papers were actually presented. The ten papers were scheduled for presentation on the second day. This report focuses on some papers that bother more on the use of foreign policy as an instrument of national security, national development, national integration, and particularly for policy-making and implementation.

Some Problems of the Past

Professor Hassan A. Saliu gave an overview of the structures, processes, outcomes and reviews of Nigeria’s foreign policy since 1960 and noted that ‘the Presidency has, more or less, become the only face of Nigeria’s foreign policy and that the role of the unoffficial channels is diminishing by the day. Ditto for the research arms. The existence of these structures has not guaranteed much coordination of the foreign policy.’

More important, Prof. Saliu said the Nigerian Diaspora Commission ‘invades the policy environment without proper synergy with the Ministry of foreign Affairs,’ which still makes policy briefs, but its views under the current Republic, are sometimes not considered and (are) kept in (the) dark on some issues. Attendance at international fora has proven the point on lack of coordination in Nigerian foreign policy.’ On the way forward, he suggested doing away with ad hoc approaches to foreign policy, making greater efforts to resolve domestic problems, embarking on a comprehensive review of Nigeria’s foreign policy and paying more attention to Nigeria’s relations with the Western world.

‘’Nigeria and the Emerging Economies: China and India,’’ was the focus of the paper of Dr. Efem N. Ubi, the Director of Research and Studies at the NIIA. He began his presentation with a quotation that ‘the striking thing about the global economy is how little it relies on the United States as the main engine of growth. Since 2007, China’s rapidly expanding economy has provided the largest contribution to global growth, while half of the world’s expansion over the past year has come from three countries: China, India and Russia.’

In his analysis of Nigeria’s relations with China and India, Dr. Ubi noted at the level of India that India is Nigeria’s largest trading partner and Nigeria is also India’s largest trading partner in Africa. As he put it, ‘total bilateral trade between India and Nigeria during the year 2019-20 registered US $13.82bn, as against US $13.89b recorded during the year 2018-19.’

On relations with China, Dr. Ubi had it that ‘the turn of the Millennium saw a stronger Nigeria-China relation in socio-political and economic terms, especially in terms of the Nigeria-China strategic Partnership agreement, done in 2006 and which underscored the need for expansion of trade; investments in agriculture; telecommunications, energy; and infrastructure development. In this regard, Dr. Ubi strongly believed that Nigeria should harness its relationship with the Emerging Economies for its development.

As regards Dr. Tola Ilesanmi’s ‘’Gender and Nigeria’s Foreign Policy,’’ she provided an exegesis of the problems of policy making and implementation. Considering that Nigeria currently ranks number 139 out of 156 countries on the 2021 Global Gender Gap Report (vide World Economic Forum, 2021), she suggested a pro-gender approach in which more women are appointed into leadership positions within the foreign and security services; adoption of explicit gender equality policies, especially within the framework of the National Action Plans (NAPS on Women, Peace and Security; and the elevation of ‘gender equality to a foreign policy priority by establishing dedicated budget and stand-alone funds for women’s rights programs and organisations.’

She also placed a particular emphasis on the need for Nigeria to domesticate the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 which requires UN Member States ‘to ensure increased participation of women in peace keeping missions and in the security sectors.’ A basis for domestication can begin with the adoption of the First (2013) and Second (2017) National Action Plan as basis of implementation of the UNSCR 1325.

Dr. Habu Mohammed of the Political Science Department of Bayero University, Kano, noted in his own paper, ‘Economic Diplomacy and Nigeria’s Foreign Policy,’ that Nigeria adopted economic diplomacy in 1988 as a new direction to hasten economic revival and sustainable development, but under subsequent administrations, the policy ‘was either relegated to the background or its vigorous implementation reduced to near oblivion until its resurgence as a foreign policy framework of the new civilian administration in 1999.

The paper investigated what the changes and continuities in the conduct of Nigeria’s international economic relations were, with emphasis on the challenges and prospects in the current unipolar world. He observed that the introduction of economic diplomacy in Nigeria is a shift in the direction of the country’s foreign policy from its traditional posture of afrocentricism and that the shuttle diplomacy embarked upon by Foreign Minister Ike Nwachukwu ‘was more of a declaration of intent’ to the outside world, that investment opportunities abound in Nigeria, but ‘the gesture was rarely responded (to) by host countries largely because of the climate of the domestic environment.’

In his examination of ‘Nigeria and the European Union: the Cotonou Years and Beyond’, Professor Victor Adetula of the University of Jos, observed that ‘despite some critical remarks on Nigeria-EU relations, there are some positive aspects of the relationship, mainly traceable to the period of the Lomé Conventions. However, the benefits from the Cotonou Partnership Agreement and its impact on national development are negligible.’ He also noted the likelihood of the expired Cotonou Agreement being renewed and defined by the international system ‘which has become increasingly less charitable and characterised mainly by rising nationalism, a decline of multilateralism, and the continued fragmentation of global governance architecture and international regulation.’ Consequently, he submitted that the Nigerian government must pay more attention, reappraise its capabilities against its values and interests, and advance its interests in the international system. For instance, while the relationship with the EU is desirable, Nigeria needs to critically assess its membership of the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) and its relevance to its development needs and priorities.

Dr. Willie Aziegbe Eselebor wrote on ‘Border Security in Nigeria: a Strategic Variable in Foreign Policy,’ and noted that ‘border security remains a variable because an open (borderless) border or globalised border, without control cannot guarantee peace, security and development.’ Therefore he opined that Nigeria should ‘do a scenario analysis to determine what Nigeria realistically wants to do with its borders. He also submitted that what Nigeria ‘should address in agenda setting is how to … engage with UN-AU-ECOWAS in relation to peace and security; and/or the role of European Union and especially, France when it comes to the G-5 Sahel and in the Lake Chad Basin Commission. Nigeria must aim to play active roles through foreign policy making in AU and other regional blocks.’

Professor Alaba Ogunsanwo of the Center for Diplomatic Studies and Public Affairs, Lead City University, Ibadan, spoke on “National Values, Interests and Nigeria’s Foreign Policy in the 21st century,’ and drew attention to the fact that most countries have their values: Equality, Liberty and Fraternity for France; Harmony, Benevolence, Righteousness, Courtesy, Wisdom, Honesty, Loyalty and Piety for China; Life, Liberty and pursuit of Happiness, Common Good and Justice for the United states; Justice, Liberty, Equality, Fraternity for India; Protection of Human Dignity, Human Rights and Democracy for Germany, etc. Professor Ogunsanwo noted that these values are mostly aspirational and not necessarily respected by all citizens.

On the basis of the December 2019 document on National Security Strategy, Nigeria’s values are ideals of freedom; equality and justice; sanctity of human life; human dignity; democracy; rule of law; free enterprise; respect for human rights; and equal opportunity and access to justice. These are in addition to the values of respect for elders, honesty and accountability, cooperation, industry, discipline, self-confidence and moral courage articulated in the 2014 National Economic Empowerment Development Strategy (NEEDS).

Additionally, he differentiated between and among vital national interests, which are hinged on national survival and require that all resources be deployed; strategic national interests that are also important, but less than vital; and peripheral interests. As he put it, ‘regional security by way of combating terrorism, insurgency and other transnational crimes, also fall under this category of strategic interests. The defence of these interests will enhance the protection of Nigeria’s vital interests. Peripheral interests deal with Nigeria’s international obligations, assisting in humanitarian operations, etc.

Agenda Setting and Quo Vadis

In terms of agenda setting and way forward, in addition to the various recommendations noted above, Professor Ogunsanwo believes that the future of Nigeria’s foreign policy depends ‘to a large extent on the success or failure of present efforts to transform the economy, industry, energy, infrastructure and digitalisation.’ And perhaps, most notably, he said ‘it will be share hypocrisy to pretend that you can promote abroad values such as respect of human life and the rule of law when no such exists in Nigeria. Where there is selected criminal administration of justice and thousands of Nigerians in farming communities all over the country are killed with the government unable or unwilling to do anything, we cannot talk about promoting justice and the respect for lives and property abroad. He who goes to equity must go with clean hands. We should learn to do just that with our domestic affairs.’

From the perspective of Professor Femi Otubanjo, whose paper is entitled ‘’Is there a Doctrine and Orientation in Nigeria’s Foreign Policy?’’, it is argued that in the 60 years of Nigeria’s independence, ‘there have been as many doctrines as there have been regimes, but there has been only one significant change of orientation.’ A doctrine ‘is the articulation of a country’s vision of its preferred role and priorities in its relations with other countries or the general international system,’ while ‘foreign policy orientation is the predictable disposition of a state in its relationship with others and its preferences in the international system. It is the axis from which all policy choices and even, instruments radiate. Orientation is very much like a paradigm from which theories, hypothesis, doctrines and choices flow.’

In sum, Professor Otubanjo said ‘doctrines have been ephemeral in Nigeria, the orientation of Nigeria’s foreign policy has changed only once: from Balewa’s pro-western inclination to Gowon’s broadening of relations with the Eastern Bloc as a result of military necessity. All the attempts at doctrinal postulations, since then, have been based on the presumption of Nigeria’s robust relations with all nations and regions of the world.’

It is noteworthy that the submission of Professor Otubanjo is quite interesting and right on the basis of the good distinction made between a foreign policy doctrine and a foreign policy orientation. However, when he noted in his paper that ‘in spite of the grand declaration of non-partisanship in East-West ideological disputes, Balewa could not untie Nigeria from the umbilical cord of Nigeria’s colonial master and her allies,’ Professor Otubanjo is simply implying that the Balewa government was aligned contrary to the official policy of non-alignment. We hold a different understanding of the subject-matter.

In this regard, it cannot be rightly argued that the Balewa government was aligned or partisan without having factored into the partisanship Nigeria’s national interests. Nigeria’s policy of non-alignment does not and never meant that the Government of Nigeria could not or cannot align. What is noteworthy about the policy of non-alignment is that the decision to align or not to do so must be a direct and free decision of the Government of Nigeria, without foreign intrusions. It must not be by intimidation or pressure. The decision to align must be a resultant from, and a reflection of, the national interest. More importantly, the alignment must not be routine in character.

As explained by Tafawa Balewa, ‘it is better to state briefly the principles which we accepted as the basis of our policies in international relations. First, it is the desire of Nigeria… to remain on friendly terms with all nations and to participate actively in the work of the UNO… Africa must not be allowed to become a battleground in the ideology struggle. For this reason, the Congo situation must be a matter to be dealt with primarily by African States at the political level…’ Additionally, he noted that Nigerians ‘are willing to learn before we rush into the field of international politics, but we are totally unwilling to be diverted from the ideals which we think to be true. That is the reason we in Nigeria will not be found to align ourselves as a matter of routine, with any particular bloc. Indeed, I hate the very ideas of blocs existing at all in the United Nations.’ The implication of no routine alignment is that there would be alignment but not routinely. Consequently, Nigeria’s non-alignment policy is about the sovereign freedom to determine when to align and Prime Minister Balewa essentially did not breach Nigeria’s policy of non-alignment.

In his paper on ‘Imaging Nigeria’s Foreign Policy: pinpointing the Ever Missing Link,’ Onoja Adagbo of the Department of Political Science of the Veritas University argued that ‘the fundamental crisis of Nigerian foreign policy is its crisis of representation practice of power in relation to hegemony in a world of States. In other words, it is not lack of industrialisation, military capability or a better organised Ministry of Foreign Affairs that are blocking Nigeria from being a case study in active, credible, influential and responsible state actor as much as the poverty of Nigeria’s representational practices and her subsequent low score in structural, institutional and coercive power in world politics.’

In addressing these problems, he made a number of recommendations: Government should not leave the framing of every foreign policy to chance; elaboration of training in discursive capability for Nigerians; organisation of the cultural domain; establishing a 24-hour global channel that is global technologically, coverage and narratives; integration of foreign policy instruments for the purposes of representational praxis in power politics, etc. Speaking, grosso modo and in evaluative terms, the Roundtable was a good development. It woke up the NIIA Research Fellows from their long academic slumber and also provided a renewal of opportunities for their peers in other institutions to share ideas with them on foreign policy. The major challenge, however, is the environmental conditioning of foreign policy agenda setting, which was only tangentially discussed by Professor Eghosa Osaghae and Professor Alaba Ogunsanwo. The Roundtable had little discussions on the dilemma of the domestic setting which has made intellectual activities very difficult. There is the need for agenda setting, for foreign policy, which is really not the problem. Agenda setting should, lato sensu, be for the foreign policy makers, as they are the noisome problems. Put interrogatively, what type of agenda setting can be helpful to Nigeria’s international image if there is selected criminal administration of justice, if thousands of farmers ‘all over the country are killed with the government unable or unwilling to do anything’ to borrow the words of Professor Ogunsanwo? What type of agenda setting is required when foreign policy institutions are being bastardised even by the Governing Councils and Foreign Ministry meant to be a supervisor and a guide?

UAE Removes Ban on Transit Flights from India and Other Nations - BLOOMBERG

AUGUST 03, 2021

(Bloomberg) --

The United Arab Emirates will lift a ban on transit passengers from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and African countries on Aug. 5, and open its borders to people from those nations who have been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus.

Transit passengers have to present a negative PCR test, the National Emergency and Crisis Management Authority said on Tuesday. Dubai is a key transfer hub for global travel.

The entry ban went into effect in April amid a virus surge in South Asia.

India is one of the UAE’s key travel markets and the restrictions have significantly impacted operations at the Middle East’s trade and travel hub, which is home to Emirates, Etihad, Flydubai and Air Arabia carriers. The government in New Delhi has banned international flights until Aug. 31.

What It’s Like to Visit Barcelona Right Now - BLOOMBERG

AUGUST 03, 2021

(Bloomberg) -- Clara Hernanz Lizarraga is a reporter based in Bloomberg’s Madrid bureau.

On most summer days this year, venturing down Barcelona’s leafy Las Ramblas has felt surprisingly relaxed—devoid, for once, of thick tourist crowds and elbow-jostling.

But the rattling of suitcase wheels against the narrow, cobbled streets of the gothic quarter has slowly started to return since international tourism resumed in May, and so have the groups of travelers. They’re not just wandering discreetly in pairs: They’re sizable groups led by guides with megaphones, and this time they’re standing in large, socially distanced circles that fill up entire streets.

Foreign visitation to the city is still a fraction of what it was in 2019. That year, almost 1 million overseas travelers came in the month of June, compared to 191,475 visitors during the same period in 2021. But there’s no desire to go back to what was. Pre-pandemic, Barcelona was at the heart of global debates around overtourism, with locals having elected Mayor Ada Colau in 2015 on her promises to curb the clogged streets, litter, noise, and rent hikes that they attribute to a disproportionately large visiting population.

Now there are additional concerns, namely, a fifth wave of Covid-19 that’s brought a spike in cases and hospitalizations. In late July the 14-day rolling case count had shot up to 1,218 per 100,000 inhabitants, making Barcelona the largest virus hotspot in Spain and filling more than 10% of the region’s hospital beds with Covid-19 patients. As a result, curfews have been reinstated at 1 a.m., and the government has ordered all non-essential activity to end at 12:30 a.m. Also citing alarm over the high number of cases, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention raised the travel warning for Americans visiting Spain to a Level 4, the highest rating, on July 26. 

Not all progress has been undone, though. The vaccine rollout is advancing with more than 56% of the population having received both doses as of July and restaurants and bars remaining open at 50% capacity, with up to six people allowed at indoor tables and groups of 10 outside. And for all those led by megaphones, shops, museums, and other cultural venues are open at 70% capacity.

Only certain visitors are allowed in. Europeans can now visit thanks to the mid-July debut of the European Union’s Covid-19 passport, which exempts fully vaccinated people from testing or quarantine. Americans and Australians are also allowed to travel freely, and Britons can enter Catalonia with proof of vaccination or a negative Covid-19 test—though U.K. rules require them to quarantine upon returning to their home country. For most of the rest of the world, holidaying in the country isn’t on the horizon.

Those who return will find a city marked with “for sale” and “to let” signage. More than half of Barcelona’s hotels remain closed, and more than 30% of businesses and restaurants say they won’t reopen, according to a recent government survey.

But the absence of tourists has brought some joy to those who’ve been there to witness it. “Locals are rediscovering the neighborhood,” says May Jong, who runs Hotel Neri, which is carved out of a medieval building and an 18th century mansion. And as places such as Casa Fuster, a palatial property on central Passeig de Gracia, have reopened, locals have been eagerly supporting them. “From 7 to 1 there was not a free table on the terrace,” says waiter Kevin Bausson about the spot’s opening night on July 1.

Eduard Torres, chair of the city’s tourism board, Turisme de Barcelona, says growing engagement with locals is probably the biggest pandemic silver lining for the city’s ailing hospitality sector. “We hope that this relationship will be maintained, because the most beautiful thing there is for a foreign visitor is to go to a place where locals go,” he says.

Between its struggles to tamp down the pandemic and rewrite its tourism strategy, Barcelona is a city in flux. Here’s what to expect if you plan to visit.

The Dining Scene

Terraces have always been a big part of Barcelona’s restaurant scene, so the city was well equipped for the new global phenomenon that’s outdoor dining. But the city’s food culture has evolved in other ways. Some of the most famous places to get tapas, paella, or pintxos—where you’re charged by the toothpick for self-serve tapas on tiny skewers—were unable to withstand the worst months of the pandemic, including the beloved seaside spot Cal Pinxo. Other notable closures: the 100-year-old Café de Barcelona and famed El Bulli chef Albert Adrià’s three lauded spots. Fortunately the temporarily shuttered stalls of the famed La Boqueria market, however, have reemerged to find a semblance of normality. And alongside them are new spots prioritizing sustainability and—unusual for a city that loves its vermouth—natural wine, not unlike the neo-bistro movement that swept Paris in the last decade.

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One is Contracorrent, literally translating to “against the grain,” which opened amid the pandemic near the Arc de Triunf. Its sunny terrace is now a backdrop for zero-kilometer tapas like clams with ginger and tapioca caviar or eggplant carpaccio with edible flowers; they’re typically paired with natural wines and served directly from a chef whose pedigree includes the best-in-the-world Celler Can Roca.

In the Born neighborhood, Proper is similarly focused on the local but also on fermentation and wood-fired grilling, thanks to its Argentine chef Augusto Mayer, who pickles figs and makes his own bread starters. The spot opened this summer and stocks a large list of biodynamic and natural wines.

Further off in Eixample is the newly minted local favorite Besta, with a spacious terrace for seafood-heavy dishes like sea bass tartare with Jerez hollandaise that borrow heavily from both Galician and Catalonian traditions. To drink, the restaurant makes its own gin—Barcelonans are famously devoted to the G&T.

Culture Makes a Comeback

The rise of the delta variant—and the ensuing curfews—have given nightlife a false start in the Catalan capital. But there’s plenty to do before the bars take last call.

If you’re Covid-weary: Travelers don’t often make it to the hilltop Parc de Montjuic area on the outskirts of the city, though it contains a triad of cultural triumphs. Of the Jardí Botànic de Barcelona, the Museum of Art of Catalonia, and the Fundació Joan Miro—each spectacular in its own ways—the Miró museum is the most irresistible. Its rooftop terrace alone is worth the trip, with colorful and larger-than-life sculptures framing views of the Barcelona skyline.

If you need a gentle reentry: The trippy architectural complex known as Casa Batlló is almost completely outdoors, making it especially Covid-friendly. That said, there’s a new twist to the iconic attraction. The 10D Experience, a 21,500-square-foot digital interactive gallery on-site, is like a ticket into the inner workings of Antonio Gaudi’s own mind, using video projections, aromas released by motion sensors, and nature-inspired sounds to immersively re-create his sources of inspiration.

If you want to pretend the pandemic never happened: Given that nightclubs have once again closed, it isn’t exactly easy to party like it’s 2019. Your best shot is planning a visit for mid-August or late September, to coincide with Barcelona’s famed cultural festivals. The Festa Major de Gracia, which is pegged to the Assumption of Mary in the third week of August, is a weeklong arts and culture fest that locals use as a reason to party daily in streets that are temporarily filled with enormous and colorful art installations; last year many events were cancelled, so 2021 will likely compensate. A few weeks after, in late September, comes the Merced festival, paying tribute to the city’s patron saint. It’s when human pyramid competitions and ronda-style dancing fill the squares and bars get packed with revelers.

How to Get Around

Barcelona is very walkable, with a compact city center that makes any two points easily accessible on foot within half an hour. Subways, tramways, and buses are running as usual—down to the crowds and the heat—and they won’t easily take you to Montjuic, which is best accessed via Uber or taxi. Biking has becoming the popular alternative, with the city having added 24 kilometers (15 miles) of bike lanes since the pandemic’s start. Tourists can rent bicycles through Bicing, the council’s public bike scheme, or use e-scooters, of which there are many choices. The most common rental apps are Lime, Bolt, and Tier.

The Lingering Covid Etiquette

You can be fined €100 ($119) for not wearing a mask indoors—unless you’re eating or drinking—and locals have retained the convention of masking up outside, despite the fact that the rules for doing so dropped in June. Shopkeepers have also been keeping on high alert, watching for patrons that don’t sanitize their hands upon entering and asking them to do so. And forget about air kisses for greetings. These days, elbow bumps and leg shakes—a pseudo handshake of the feet that looks like a soccer move gone wrong—are a far more common, if also more awkward, way to say hello.

Nigeria committed to border demarcation with Cameroon – Malami - NAN

AUGUST 04, 2021

The Attorney- General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, says the Federal Government is committed to finalisation of the boundary demarcation exercise between Nigeria and Cameroun.

Dr Umar Gwandu, the Special Assistant on Media and Public Relations to the Minister disclosed this on Wednesday, in Abuja.

Malami had given the assurance while receiving the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for West Africa and the Sahel, Mahamat Saleh Annadif, who paid him a courtesy visit.

“I wish to assure you that the Nigerian delegation is confident that under your leadership, the Cameroun-Nigeria Mixed Commission, (CNMC) will continue to achieve more successes.

“Particularly, in its efforts to permanently demarcate the boundary between Cameroun and Nigeria, in line with the judgment of the International Court of Justice and other relevant Treaties and Declarations,” he said.

He expressed optimism that the steps taken in resolving the outstanding areas of disagreement would be fully and legally demarcated in no distant time.

He said “It will be appreciated if all aspects of the areas of disagreement are resolved and demarcated in accordance with the judgment of the International Court of Justice, without fear or favour.

” The proposed session of the Cameroun-Nigeria Mixed Commission (CNMC) that will be convened soon in Yaounde, will pave the way for landmark achievements, including the demarcation exercise.”

In his remarks, Mahamt Annadif said his visit had opened an outstanding chapter in the international relations and diplomacy, with a view to promoting peace among brother nations.

He said the engagement was proof that African problems could be solved using African solutions by Africans, especially on the mutual understanding between the two neighbouring countries.

Biden offers Hong Kongers in US safe haven - AFP

AUGUST 05, 2021

President Joe Biden announced Thursday that Hong Kong citizens currently in the United States who fear for their safety amid the political crackdown back home will receive temporary safe haven.

Biden said the move recognizes "the significant erosion" of rights and freedoms in Hong Kong by the Chinese government.

© ALEX WONG Hong Kongers protest for democracy in New York in June

"By unilaterally imposing on Hong Kong the Law of the People's Republic of China on Safeguarding National Security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, the People's Republic of China has undermined the enjoyment of rights and freedoms in Hong Kong," he said in a statement.

Biden cited the "politically motivated arrests" of more than 100 opposition politicians, activists, and protestors on charges under the national security law, charges that include alleged secession, subversion and terrorist activities.

More than 10,000 others have been arrested in relation to anti-government protests, he said.

The new decision allows Hong Kong residents currently in the United States to remain for 18 months and to be allowed to work.

"This action demonstrates President Biden’s strong support for people in Hong Kong in the face of ongoing repression by the People’s Republic of China, and makes clear we will not stand idly by as the PRC breaks its promises to Hong Kong and to the international community," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said.

Nigeria: Confusion As Emirates Says Nigerian Flights Remain Suspended - DAILY TRUST

AUGUST 05, 2021

By Abdullateef Aliyu

Emirates' flights to and from Nigeria will remain suspended until 15 August 2021, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) carrier, has said.

This negates the earlier announcement by the UAE authorities, which announced a lift of the ban on Nigerian effect with effect from Thursday.

In a travel update posted on its website, Emirates said the suspension is "in line with government directives that restrict the entry of travellers originating from Nigeria into the UAE."

"Customers who have been to or connected through Nigeria in the last 14 days will not be permitted on any Emirates flights bound for Dubai," the airline further said.

Daily Trust reports that the UAE authorities had said effective 5 August 2021, eligible travellers from Nigeria and 10 other countries will be allowed to travel to/through the UAE.

The countries are India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Uganda, Vietnam, South Africa, Afghanistan, Indonesia, Bangladesh and Nepal.

Daily Trust reports that since March this year, scheduled flights between Nigeria and the UAE have been stopped following diplomatic row over Covid-19 protocols.

While the Federal Government stipulates negative PCR test as a requirement for travellers to Dubai, the UAE further imposed rapid antigen test as another condition for visitors to Dubai; the development which the Nigerian government rejected and on the basis of which banned the UAE flag carrier, Emirates, from coming to Nigeria.

On Saturday June 19, Emirates announced resumption of flights by June 23 following the lifting of travel ban on Nigeria and other countries by the Dubai's Supreme Committee of Crisis and Disaster Management which also removed the rapid antigen test and said passengers from Nigeria would only be required to possess negative PCR test.

But 48 hours after the UAE authorities made a u-turn and reinstated the flight ban.

In response to the allegation by the Federal Government that the UAE protocols were discriminatory against Nigeria, the UAE General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) denied targeting Nigeria or any particular airline in the measures taken in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, saying it was committed to upholding the highest standards of public health and safety.

Following Tuesday's announcement by Emirates, travel agents have vowed to stay action on Dubai tickets until they get clear communication from the airline.

President of the National Association of Nigerian Travel Agencies (NANTA), Mrs. Susan Akporiaye said, "We are waiting for further directive because we are tired of all this. This has happened over and over again. For us in the travel community, until we get a communication from the airline, we will not take any action because this has happened more than once and our members went ahead to issue ticket and did so many things and before you know it, they brought up another one.

"So we have decided, going forward, until we get a communication from the airline, we will not take any further action."

Freight Forwarders Fight Bonded Terminals Over Substandard Facilities - VANGUARD

AUGUST 06, 2021

By Godfrey Bivwere

The National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) has alleged that the bonded terminals approved by the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) are ill-equipped for operation in contradiction of the Customs Excise and Management Act (CEMA).

The allegation contained in a letter the Association sent to the Comptroller General of Customs, Hameed Ali, stated that there are some approved terminals presently operating without relevant cargo handling equipments as well as a conducive working environment.

The petition dated July 28, 2021 and signed by its founder, Boniface Aniebonam, noted that the non-availability of cargo handling equipment is affecting the smooth operations of the officers and men of the Service.

The letter read in part, "It is a fact and on record that there are basic requirements for bonded terminals to attain before it could be licensed by the Customs. And for the purposes of this postulation, it is a fact and mandatory that before any bonded terminal can be approved for operations, there must be evidence of a conducive working environment, security of goods and officers of the Service, office structure with at least two designated import officers with computerised system connected to ICT, and most importantly a minimum of two forklifts, two cranes, truck and cutter, etc to be procured and made available.

"It is, therefore, most unfortunate, embarrassing, and regrettable that most of t terminal operators do not have functional forklifts and cranes to enable proper Customs examination of laden containers.

"The implication of improper Customs examination under the circumstances of insecurity in Nigeria can better be imagined. It is also regrettable that matters of non-disclosure of items concealed, falsely declared, and wrongly described are most risky due to improper Customs examination.

"All these avoidable infractions lead to gross revenue loss to the federation account and inherent insecurity-related issues. NAGAFF wishes to remind the Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, and the Management Board the essence of the presidential mandate, which is to enhance productivity in the Customs ports and approved border locations.

"The inherent abuse of privileges by the terminal operators tends to present the Customs as being weak in carrying out oversight functions to supervise its mandate and statutory duty.

"Therefore, if the terminal operators do not recognise the essence of integrity in carrying out their functions in accordance with the provisions of the Customs regulations, the need to withdraw their authorisation to operate becomes inevitable."

NAGAFF charged Customs to see the terminal operators' actions as an obstruction to the lawful duty of officers and men of the Service as contained in section 11 of the Customs Excise and Management Act, CEMA as amended CAP 45 of 2004.

Lagos-Kano train service resumes on Aug. 13 - THE NEWS

AUGUST 08, 2021

By Mustapha Yauri

The Lagos-Kano train service will go into operation from Friday, Aug. 13.

Mr Ismail Adebiyi, Regional District Manager, Northern District of the Nigerian Railway Corporation made this known in Zaria, Kaduna State, on Sunday when he spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).

The train would leave Lagos on Friday evening and arrive in Kano on Sunday morning, he said.

Adebiyi said also that the corporation had concluded plans to restart the Kaduna to Kafanchan and Kaduna to Kano train service before the end of August.

He added that it would rehabilitate 100 wagons to further strengthen the rail sector within the next two months.

He explained that 21 of the rehabilitated wagons would be used in the northern district of the rail service comprising Kaduna, Kano, Jigawa, Yobe, Katsina and Zamfara states.

He said the Kano to Nguru (Yobe State) train service was still active and that plans were at advanced stage to enhance the traffic on the route by returning coaches that were dropped because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The regional district manager said the Minna-Kaduna rail mass transit had also been active for the past one month and that patronage was increasing on every trip. The service runs on Sundays, Mondays and Thursdays.

The train leaves Minna at 7 a.m. and leaves Kaduna at about 2.30 p.m.

He added that since most of the routes were on narrow gauge, the corporation would strengthen its maintenance work to ensure hitch-free operations

Adebiyi stressed that the corporation had strengthened its collaboration with key security agencies and other relevant stakeholders to address vandalism on Railway properties.

He commended the Federal Government for boosting rail service and enjoined Nigerians to take advantage of the new posture.


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