New airlines raise stakes in domestic aviation sector - THE NATION
By Kelvin Osa Okunbor
Fares may drop
Emirates extends suspension of flights
A downward slide in fares is imminent in the aviation sector as new carriers take to the skies on major routes.
Among the new entrants on the domestic sector are United Nigeria Airlines, Green Africa Airways and Cally Air.
United Nigeria Airline commenced flights at the weekend, starting out on the Southsouth and Southwest routes.
Besides, the fare structure on the Lagos /Enugu; Lagos /Asaba routes now have new options.
Investigations revealed that consolidation of operations by new carriers has put other carriers â€“ Ibom Air, Dana Air, Arik Air, Aero Contractors of Nigeria, and Air Peace â€“ on the edge.
Green Africa Airways at the weekend unveiled uniforms for its pilots and other crew members preparatory to take-off.
It was learnt that the use of middle range aircraft including Brazilian Embraer and French ATR airplanes by the new entrants is already creating unease among competitors.
Chairman of United Nigeria Airlines, Obiora Okonkwo said the carrier had done its feasibility studies before venturing into aviation business.
He described the business as a battlefield, with the objective of winning passengers to oneâ€™s brand.
Okonkwo said: â€œWe have to give passengers great value and service as well as good customer experience. That is what we are working on and I think that is what will differentiate us from other operators.
He spoke of plans to develop more routes with the use of Embraer aircraft. He added that other appropriate decisions constituting the business plan would be unveiled soon.
Okonkwo explained that the airline would worm its way into the hearts of passengers by offering timely departure and robust inflight experience.
on Sunday, Emirates Airlines, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) carrier said it had extended its suspension of passenger services from Lagos and Abuja to Dubai until March 10, 2021.
This comes barely four days after the initial suspension slated to last till February 28, 2021 was announced.
CDC chief warns it's too soon in U.S. to lift COVID-19 mask mandates - REUTERS
By Barbara Goldberg
NEW YORK (Reuters) - The head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Sunday it is â€œabsolutelyâ€ too soon to lift mask mandates, citing daily COVID-19 case numbers that despite recent declines remain more than double the levels seen last summer.
Dr. Rochelle Walenskyâ€™s warning that face-covering requirements are still critical came just days after governors in Iowa and Montana lifted long-standing mask mandates in their states.
Appearing on NBCâ€™s â€œMeet the Press,â€ Walensky said preventing further surges of infection is key to safely reopening schools and regaining some level of social normalcy until collective COVID-19 immunity can be achieved through mass vaccinations.
Whether Americans can look forward to walking down the street without wearing a mask by the end of the year â€œvery much depends on how we behave right now,â€ she said.
Asked if it was still too early for states to eliminate rules requiring the use of face masks in public, Walensky replied, â€œAbsolutely.â€
While COVID-19 infection rates and hospitalizations appear to be waning, the United States has a long way to go before it can safely return to a mask-less normal, she said.
â€œThe cases are more than two-and-a-half-fold times what we saw over the summer,â€ said Walensky, who was sworn in as CDC director last month after President Joe Biden took office. â€œItâ€™s encouraging to see these trends coming down but theyâ€™re coming down from an extraordinarily high place.â€
Health experts say population-wide mask wearing is one of the most effective ways of pushing COVID-19 transmission down to controllable levels.
Continued adherence to social distancing and face coverings remains especially urgent given the risks posed by new coronavirus variants found to be more transmissible, and possibly more resistant to antibodies, than the original strain.
COVID-19â€™s grip on the United States remained strong on Sunday, with 27.6 million cases confirmed and more than 484,600 lives lost to the highly contagious respiratory virus to date, according to a Reuters tally.
The U.S. inoculation campaign has gained considerable momentum since a sluggish start in December, with 52.9 million total vaccines administered so far, according to the CDC.
As the United States continues wrestling to ramp up vaccine supplies and distribution, an unusually broad swath of wintry weather in recent days caused the latest setback, forcing mass vaccination centers from Texas to Virginia to suspend operations.
Reporting by Barbara Goldberg in New York; Additional reporting by Raphael Satter in Washington; Editing by Steve Gorman and Daniel Wallis
UAE extends ban on Nigerian flights - THE NATION
By Samuel Oamen
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has extended suspension of flights from Nigeria (Lagos and Abuja) from February 28 to March 10.
The UAE aviation authorities made this known in the updated travel protocol posted on the website of the Emirates Airline, the flag carrier of the UAE, on Sunday afternoon.
The update reads: â€œIn line with government directives, passenger services from Nigeria (Lagos and Abuja) to Dubai are temporarily suspended until 10 March 2021.
â€œCustomers from both Abuja and Lagos will not be accepted for travel prior to or including this date. Passengers who have been to or connected through Nigeria in the last 14 days are not allowed entry into the UAE (whether terminating in or connecting through Dubai).
â€œEmirates flights from Dubai to Lagos and Abuja will continue to operate as per the normal schedule.
â€œWe regret the inconvenience caused, and affected customers should contact their booking agent or Emirates call centre for rebooking.
â€œEmirates remains committed to Nigeria, and we look forward to resuming passenger services to Dubai for our customers when conditions allow.â€
Emirates suspended its flights a few days after the Federal Government sanctioned the airline over the introduction of rapid antigen test as a requirement for Dubai travellers, which is against the Nigerian negative PCR requirements.
The Federal Government through the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) had penultimate week banned Emirates Airlinesâ€™ operations in Nigeria for violating COVID-19 protocols.
Director-General of the NCAA, Capt. Musa Nuhu, had announced the ban on February 4, 2021.
The NCAA said the ban was necessitated by the continued airlift of passengers from Nigeria using the Rapid Antigen Tests (RDT) conducted by laboratories that are â€œneither approved nor authorized by the appropriate regulatory.â€
This, according to the apex aviation regulatory authority, is in flagrant violation of the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 directive.
Though the ban was lifted after Emirates announced the withdrawal of the antigen test the following day, the airline suspended all Nigerian flights and only allowed flights from Dubai to Nigeria.
South Africa flights ban extension 'another blow' to Dubai tourism - ARABIAN BUSINESS
Emirates' decision to suspend flights until March 10 will hit the up to 100,000 South Africans living in the UAE, says expert
Emirates has extended the suspension of flights to South Africa until March 10
Emirates Airlineâ€™s continued suspension of flights between the UAE and South Africa will deal another blow to Dubaiâ€™s tourism industry, according to a leading business expert.
With the emirate already hit by a ban on flights to and from the UK, as well as major Australian cities including Sydney, Brisbane and to Melbourne (until March 26), the extension of a temporary halt on South African flights until March 10, as part of measures to curb the spread of coronavirus, is further bad news.
According to a statement on the carrierâ€™s website, the decision was taken â€œin line with recent government directives that restrict the entry of travellers originating from South Africa, into the UAEâ€.
The suspension follows an earlier one when Emirates had halted flights between the UAE and South Africa during January 16-28. The move has also left many stranded in the Rainbow Nation, with no firm date of when they can return to Dubai.
Scott Cairns, managing director of Dubai-based Creation Business Consultants, told Arabian Business: â€œWith between 80,000 to 100,000 South Africans in the UAE, the latest announcement from Emirates Airlines to suspend direct flights until March 10 will come as a blow to many.
â€œWhilst the flight cancellations will impact the travel, tourism and aviation industry, there will be a significant knock-on effect for those professionals who had travelled back to South Africa and are stranded until further notice.
â€œThe previous 50 direct flights per week from Abu Dhabi and Dubai to Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban injected a solid bottom line to both countriesâ€™ tourism industries which will further suffer now.â€
Cairns added that the continued suspension will impact cargo operations and, as a result, trade between the UAE and South Africa will suffer, particularly â€œin industries such as base metals, fruit and vegetables and machineryâ€, he said.
Emirates suspends South African service, while flights from Nigeria also halted
Emirates also announced flights to Nigeria - Lagos and Abuja â€“ would be suspended through until March 10, although flights from the emirate to the two destinations will continue as normal.
â€œAgain, with around 250,000 visitors to Dubai (from Nigeria) in 2019 (out of a total of 16.73 million), the impact of this reduction will be felt throughout the retail, F&B and entertainment sector,â€ said Cairns. â€œWith those industries already finding it tough, Q1 2021 is going to be a difficult time for many businesses in the UAE.â€
South Africa was identified as the source of a dangerous variant of coronavirus, which has spread across the world and has shown itself capable of partially evading defences raised by several vaccines.
Saj Ahmad, chief analyst at UK-based StrategicAero Research, told Arabian Business the suspension of flights on an â€œad-hoc basisâ€ is â€œgoing to be the norm going forwardâ€.
He said: â€œFor the interim, itâ€™ll make access to these two countries harder, especially Nigeria since it wasnâ€™t exactly awash with connection options anyway. And with more potent, mutant Covid strains emerging from South Africa, it makes sense to halt flights for the time being so that it prevents possible importation into the UAE and beyond of these new strains.
â€œObviously there will be some material financial impact, but when you consider the battered state of aviation right now, this is a small price to pay to ensure a better degree of safety overall. But since both countries also rely heavily on Emirates SkyCargo for freight imports, both will likely push for a resumption of services sooner, rather than later.â€
Dubai Airports Traffic Slumps 70% in 2020 on Covid-19 Lockdowns - BLOOMBERG
Dubai International Airport reported a 70% slump in traffic last year as restrictions in place to stem the spread of the coronavirus pandemic put the air travel industry into a tailspin.
The number of travelers through the Middle Eastâ€™s tourism hub fell to 25.9 million in 2020, according to a statement. That included 17.8 million passengers during the first quarter of the year, before the pandemic started to impact travel.
Since then, restrictions on air travel have battered airlines and airports around the world. â€œFor the first time in the 60-year history of the worldâ€™s busiest international airport, the month of April saw commercial flights come to almost an entire halt,â€ the airport said.
Despite the drop in traffic, Dubai International Airport is the largest intercontinental hub in the world, Chief Executive Paul Griffiths said in an interview with Bloomberg TV on Monday. â€œThereâ€™s no reason to suggest why we wonâ€™t continue to be able to hold that crown going forward.â€
Dubai Airports CEO Griffiths Says Dubai Made Good Progress on Traffic
The number of passengers handled by Dubai International last year surpassed those reported by Londonâ€™s Heathrow airport, where the number dropped about 73% to 22.1 million in 2020. Frankfurt airport, one of Heathrowâ€™s biggest rivals, posted an 81% drop in passenger numbers last month.
While most governments kept borders shut for big chunks of last year, Dubai -- which relies on international tourism for nearly a third of its gross domestic product -- reopened in July. Average customer traffic peaked at 1.3 million in the third and fourth quarters.
Opening up is crucial for Dubai International Airport, the busiest airport by international traffic before the pandemic, as it relies heavily on connecting passengers around the globe.
â€œI donâ€™t think that model will change,â€ Griffiths said. â€œWe just need to get more confidence around the world in travel being possible between countries that have made good progress in protecting their own populations.â€
Many countries plan to open their borders to people who can show a negative Covid test taken shortly before flying. Some, like Israel, are also proposing vaccination certificates as an enabler for the movement of people between countries.
With most of its population soon to be inoculated against Covid-19, Israel is making deals that would let its citizens visit Greece and a handful of other tourist-hungry countries. The United Arab Emirates, of which Dubai is a part, has administered 47 doses per 100 people so far.
Dubai International 2020 numbers:
Airport serves 142 destinations, 61% of pre-pandemic routes
India remains top destination for DXB passengers, followed by the U.K. and Pakistan
Average number of passengers per flight fell 20.3% to 188 annually
The super-rich are escaping for â€˜immune boostingâ€™ trips in a bid to become immortal - TELEGRAPGH UK
by Eilidh Hargreaves
Somewhere far beyond popping multivitamins for breakfast, washed down with a kale and spirulina smoothie, select individuals are supercharging their immune systems for tens of thousands of pounds a week. The health-conscious super-rich have been much affected by the existential crisis posed by Covid - where once they thought themselves untouchable, they are now faced with a viral threat.
So, while the global travel industry struggles to survive, the niche market for immune-boosting holidays is booming. Exclusive medical retreats are filling up with those willing to foot the bill in exchange for the promise of vitality. A flurry of medical examinations along with treatments such as IV drips and cryotherapy are mainstays at the most popular resorts - but the overriding trend is the fusing of modern medicine with traditional healing.
At this very moment, immaculately clad health-seekers are descending from private jets to undertake intense programmes in dazzling locations. This is where the super-rich are boosting their immune systems now.
Clinique La Prairie, Switzerland
Eons ahead of the immune-boosting trend of 2021, Clinique La Prairie has been legendary among health seekers since its beginning 1931. Indeed, it was this medical retreat, just a few hundred yards from Lake Geneva, that Pope Pius XII credited for his revival from near death in 1953. Are we not all in need of Pope-standard treatment after this heinous year?
The clinic, which is near Montreux, remains open, with door-to-door private jet travel options and rigorous in-house hygiene measures to calm even the most Covid-cautious. The programme of the moment is the new five-day Immunity Boost package, which aims to restore vitality and strengthen the body, boosting the immune system. This includes a targeted health check-up, as well as immune-focused sessions to strengthen the body and mind.
After initial immunity consultations, medical check ups and advanced blood analysis, youâ€™ll be treated with immunotherapy and fortifying IV drips, alongside pioneering wellbeing technologies such as infratherapy, cryotherapy and a new massage ritual using Swiss plants, exclusively created for the clinic. Before leaving, youâ€™ll be treated to a private masterclass on antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrients so that you can continue immune boosting at home.
You can relax in the knowledge that youâ€™re in serious medical hands here. If nothing else, the sprawling spa and fresh lakeside air will help reinvigorate your spirits.
Prices start from Â£7,222 (8,900 CHF) for one person or Â£11,766 (14,500 CHF) for two people for the full-board, five-day Immunity Boost programme; laprairie.com
Sha Wellness Clinic, Spain
Only just launching, the new gut health programme at Sha Wellness Clinic is the ultimate immune-boosting trip for any wellness fanatic. Look past the mountain view infinity pool for a second (not easy) and turn your attention to this 360-degree method, which is scientifically developed to tackle the root cause of ill health and build a bulletproof immune system.
According to the medical retreat, more than a third of the world's population have symptoms involving poor digestive health - and this offering is aimed at those suffering from digestive disorders or resultant problems such as chronic diseases, autoimmune diseases, allergies and mood disorders.
Headed up by Dr. Amina Alani Olgea, youâ€™ll undergo intestinal dysbiosis tests, Diamine oxidase activity tests (DAO), Ellipse-inflammation tests and basic nutrigenetics profiles, before being prescribed a kaleidoscope of tailored medical treatments (such as intestinal ozone therapy), natural therapies and a nutrition plan to improve the immune, neuroendocrine and emotional systems.
It sounds like an intense experience, but if all goes to plan, youâ€™ll leave with restored balance and increased health - along with the educational tools to keep your gut in check from home. Plus, when youâ€™ve got a front-row view of the sunset from that pool, you wonâ€™t have a care in the world.
The seven-night Gut Health & Detox programme starts from â‚¬5,600 / Â£4,973 per person, with an option to extend the programme to 14 or 21 days; shawellnessclinic.com
Palazzo Fiuggi, Italy
From spring, the new medical retreat Palazzo Fiuggi promises to open a gilded door to a healthier life. The verdant estate has undergone its own extensive restoration and emerged as a medical marvel with its historic grandeur firmly intact - expect MRIs, chandeliers and fine dining.Overlooking the Italian town of Fiuggi, one of Italyâ€™s richest areas and just under an hour from Rome, the Palazzo aspires to be the worldâ€™s leading medical retreat, offering guests the chance to restore, renew and regenerate. Itâ€™s off to a good start - the area itself is already an iconic wellness destination, most famous for its natural mineral water which is said to have unique healing properties. Altitude, surrounding forests and clean air add an instant sense of vitality.
Palazzo Fiuggiâ€™s Medical Concept bills itself as a â€˜radical new approach to health, wellbeing and longevityâ€™, seeking to fuse holistic healing traditions with advanced Western medicine. In place to execute the vision are leading scientists and medics, specialising in such topics as ophthalmology, radiology, psychiatry, thalassotherapy and metabolism, all led by head doctor, Professor Dr. David Della Morte Canosci of the University of Miami.
The Immuno Boost programme is set to be especially popular, offering medical, bioenergetic and toxaemia scans, prescribed treatments to help increase vital energy, strengthen immunity and achieve optimum long-term health. All the while being catered for by three-Michelin-star chef, Heinz Beck, and with the hotel spa and gardens to roam. The outdoor pool, surrounded by mountains, looks enviably appealing right now.
Kingâ€™s Mansion, Goa
The very thought of water lapping on Goan shores feels intoxicating from London lockdown, but a retreat opening later this year is said to be taking immuno-luxury to the next level. The 17-suite Kingâ€™s Mansion is a temple to budget-less wellness, led by an evidence-based, scientific collaboration of ancient heritage, Ayurvedic medicine and innovative holistic wellbeing.The first programmes to be launched when it opens in November will target detox and rejuvenation, motivated by the pandemic. Both of these focus on Ayurgenomics - a combination of genomics, a highly personalised genetics analysis, and Ayurveda, the ancient Indian system of predictive and preventative medicine. While programmes last from seven to 21 days, they aim to create sustainable lifestyle changes that you can work into your life back at home.
Rasayana, a seven-night programme focusing on rejuvenation, will include pre-arrival genomic testing, daily consultations and treatments and daily LED infusion therapy, to promote cell regeneration and anti-inflammation using a patented compound created specifically for Kingâ€™s Mansion guests. Private meditation sessions with an expert local instructor are also available.
Prices will start from around Â£8,000 for one week; kingsmansiongoa.com
This holistic wellness and medical retreat opened in December 2020 in the â€˜Green Lungâ€™ (Bang Krachao) of Bangkok, a 16 sq km protected city jungle filled with mangrove trees. The MO here is to boost immunity, strengthen defences and prioritise health goals through a combination of advanced medical treatments, holistic therapies and anti-inflammatory food.
In response to the pandemic, RAKxa is offering three new programmes - the Immunity Booster Programme, the Detox Programme and the Gut Health Programme - all geared to help the body protect itself against disease.
The Immunity Booster stay lasts a minimum of three nights and begins with wellness, medical and dietetic consultations and a blood assessment. Restorative therapies that may be prescribed include blood ozone therapy, cryotherapy, immune-boosting IV infusions, colon hydrotherapy and probiotic replacement therapy, all of which take place in the VitalLife Scientific Wellness Clinic at the RAKxa resort. And then thereâ€™s the relaxing part: massages (from signature to traditional Thai Prakob and Zen Na Tai), mindfulness meditation, gym and spa time.
Accommodation comes in the form of villas and residences with verdant gardens and private pools. Each is designed to allow deep rest and restored balance, with blackout curtains, neutral decor and yoga spaces. The highest category residences also feature treatment rooms so that the health and wellness advisors can come to you - you wouldnâ€™t want it any other way.
Nightly rates at RAKxa start from $2,000 / Â£1,443 per person for the Immunity Booster Package, with a minimum three-night stay; rakxawellness.com
Lanserhof and Lanserhof at The Arts Club
Lanserhof is offering immune boosting programmes at all of its resorts, including its outpost at The Arts Club in Mayfair which, as a medical centre, remains open. Well-to-do Londoners are booking in and scooting across for days of boosting which include a medical consultation, antibody test, cryotherapy sessions and your choice of IV infusion: high-dose Vitamin C to reboot your immune system or â€˜immune plusâ€™ support, which includes Vitamin C, amino acids and zinc, to help bust stress or cold and flu symptoms.
Across its five other resorts, including the flagship Resort Lans in Tyrol, Austria, where the company began in 1984, Lanserhof is still welcoming guests. Its new post Covid-19 programme comprises a comprehensive diagnosis as well as individual therapy concepts addressing the status of the internal organs including lungs, heart and liver, how well the immune system has recovered, physical fitness, and how the mind, soul and spirit are coping.
Treatments are bespoke to each client, but may include nutritional therapeutic measures, a bowel cleansing, infusion therapy, respiratory therapy, mitochondrial therapy, cryotherapy, lymph treatments, and healing and connective tissue massages.
Â£POA for this bespoke programme; lanserhof.com
Grand Resort Bad Ragaz, Switzerland
This sprawling Swiss hotel has many feathers to its cap - itâ€™s the only hotel in the country to hold four Michelin Stars; you can spot three different countries from its party ready penthouse suite; and the vast spa is filled with water from the nearby Tamina Gorge, which is said to be healing. But perhaps most impressive is its very glossy, very private in-house medical facility.Super-rich clients touch down here for extended medical stays throughout the year, but a new programme, My Microbiome, is catching the attention of immune boosters. Gut microbiomes are the countless microorganisms contained in our gut flora, and this programme is designed to restore its natural balance.
The four or eight-day stay starts with a scientific gut analysis to help you get to know your own microbiome, before the resortâ€™s crack team of doctors and nutritionists intervene with a tailored plan to restore bacterial balance, which can protect against infections and produce important vitamins.
Youâ€™ll undergo lab analysis, sleep monitoring and medical and nutritional consultations, and be fed a bespoke Microbiome menu of food, drinks, teas and probiotics, all with the aim to leave feeling in better health than ever.
The top tip? Gut health is great, but you really wonâ€™t regret booking that penthouse suite and toasting to your good health in the terrace hot tub, overlooking the Alps.
My Microbiome package starts from CHF 5,999 / Â£4,854 for three nights or CHF 8,999 / Â£7,281 for four nights; resortragaz.ch
Villa StÃ©phanie, Germany
Located at the heart of the Black Forest in the legendary spa town of Baden Baden, Villa StÃ©phanie offers a â€˜coutureâ€™ medical spa service. With only 12 rooms and three suites, the lucky few who get the chance to stay are offered next-level attention from a disproportionately large number of experts.
The Immune Boost and Immune Care programmes were both introduced last year, geared towards those seeking post-Covid rejuvenation. The latter, seven-night programme is the top service, designed to produce lasting protection against viruses and infection.
Achieving this requires a cocktail of food supplements, stress reducing treatments and long-term lifestyle changes to make a lasting difference to the physical and psychological immune system. Expect medical consultations, blood and lab tests, three IV infusions containing Vitamin C, zinc and other homeopathic remedies, multiple Ozone therapy sessions to stimulate the immune system, oxygen inhalation sessions to improve liver metabolism, personal training sessions, hikes and massages.
The three-night Immune Boost programme starts from â‚¬1,850 / Â£1,625) per person in a Villa StÃ©phanie Classic Double Room with all inclusions. The seven-night Immune Care programme starts from â‚¬3,850 / Â£3,383 per person in a Villa StÃ©phanie Classic Double Room with all inclusions; oetkercollection.com
Passengers flying into Canada will be forced to pay $2,000 to stay at a hotel for at least three nights until they get negative COVID test results back, Justin Trudeau announces - MAIL ONLINE
- Nonessential air travelers to Canada will have to quarantine in a hotel for at least three nights at their own expense
- Starting February 22, passengers will have to wait until they receive negative coronavirus test results back
- Passengers will have to pay around $1,576 USD, which covers the cost for security, food and measures hotels will have to take to keep their workers safe
- Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he hopes the new rules will help prevent new variants from the UK, South Africa and Brazil from spreading
- Australia has required air passengers to quarantine at hotels since March 2020 and Britain is imposing a similar tule beginning February 15
Air travelers to Canada will have to quarantine in a hotel as they await the result of a coronavirus test, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Friday.
Trudeau previously announced stricter restrictions would be imposed on nonessential air travelers in response to new, likely more contagious variants that have cropped up in the UK, South Africa and Brazil.
Government officials confirmed that - with limited exceptions - nonessential air travelers will be required to reserve a three-night stay in a government-authorized hotel at their own expense before they depart for Canada, staring February 22
Trudeau said it could take up to three days for test results to be available and he previously said the cost of a hotel stay for air travelers could be $2,000 Canadian or $1,576 in U.S. currency.
The steep cost for the hotel stay includes the cost for security, food and measures hotels will have to take to keep their workers safe.
Those who cross the U.S. border by land will not have to isolate at a hotel, but will have to show a negative test taken within three days before arrival.
They will also have to be tested upon arrival as well as toward the end of a 14-day quarantine at home or elsewhere.
The measures especially affect Canadian 'snowbirds' who winter abroad and return home in the spring.
Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said less than five percent of those who cross the land border are nonessential, which is one reason why the hotel stay is not required for those who enter by land.
Meanwhile, Health Minister Patty Hajdu said vaccinated Canadians will not be exempt because research is still not clear on whether those vaccinated can still transmit the virus to others.
Some Canadian 'snowbirds' are getting vaccinated in Florida and Arizona.
The Canadian Snowbird Association has said cost of the hotel stay poses financial hardship for many and travelers who test negative should be able to quarantine in their homes.
Some snowbirds are flying back before a hotel stay is mandatory.
Dr Morley Rubinoff, 71, said he left his condo in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, about six weeks early this year to avoid what he called 'hotel hell.'
The semiretired dental specialist said he arrived in Mexico on December 31 and had planned to stay until mid-March before returning to Toronto.
The quarantine in Canada is similar to ones that have been put in place in the UK and Australia.
Starting on February 15, resident of the UK and Ireland who have been in 'red list' countries in the last 10 days will need to quarantine in a hotel room in for 10 days upon arriving in England.
People can book hotel rooms through an online portal and pay for a 'package', which includes transport to their hotel, COVID-19 testing and meals.
The government has as booked 4,600 rooms across 16 hotels and each adult will have to pay Â£1,750 ($2,242) for the cost.
Those who fail to quarantine one of the designated hotels could face fines between Â£5,000 ($6,926) and Â£10,000 ($13,853).
From next week, new UK border measures will come into force as ministers act to prevent the possible import of COVID variants.
The UK government has been taking advice from officials in Australia over the fresh restrictions - a country that has been widely praised for its response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Meanwhile, in Australia, only returning residents can enter the country as long as they complete a 14-day quarantine in city hotels.
People in quarantine are not allowed to leave their rooms, meals are delivered at staggered times to avoid everyone opening their doors at the same time and hotel staff must wear N95s.
While Canada has contracted for far more vaccines than it needs to cover its population, they have been slow to arrive, frustrating many who see a faster rollout in the neighboring U.S.
Canadian officials have said Trudeau spoke with U.S. President Joe Biden about the possibility of getting getting Pfizer vaccines from a plant in nearby Michigan, whose first 100 million doses are already contracted for by the U.S. government.
'I think the president has been clear publicly and certainly privately when the conversation comes up that his focus now is on ensuring that the American people are vaccinated,' White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said when asked about Canada on Friday.
Canada, which does not have domestic production, has been contracting for vaccines from Europe and elsewhere.
Trudeau said he spoke to the chief executive Pfizer and said he confirmed Canada will get four million doses from that company before the end of March, as well as 10.8 million doses in April, May and June - more than previously announced.
Trudeau also said Canada is buying another four million Moderna vaccines and is looking at the possibility of getting vaccines from India.
Covid-19: Heathrow warns quarantine rules may cause flight delays - BBC
People travelling to England from 33 high-risk countries may face suspended flights and long queues at the border, Heathrow Airport has said.
The airport said "good progress" had been made on a "number of issues" with the government's hotel quarantine plan, which comes into force on Monday.
But it said it was concerned about whether UK Border Force could "cope".
The government said it was working closely with airports and hotels to manage any issues that arose.
From Monday, British and Irish citizens and UK residents arriving in England from a "red list" country will have to quarantine in government-sanctioned hotels for 10 days to try to stop new coronavirus variants entering the country.
They will have to pay Â£1,750 for their stay, which covers the cost of the hotel, transport and testing, and book it in advance using a government portal.
Those who fail to quarantine in such hotels face fines of Â£5,000 to Â£10,000, while anyone who lies on their passenger locator form about having been in a country on the red list faces a prison sentence of up to 10 years.
The "red list" mainly consists of countries in South America and Africa, as well as Portugal.
Heathrow Airport said it had been "working hard" with the government to make sure the plan works.
However, in a statement it said "queues at the border in recent days of almost five hours are totally unacceptable".
"Ministers need to ensure there is adequate resource and effective processes at the border to avoid compromising the safety of passengers and those working at the airport, which could necessitate the suspension of some arriving flights," it added.
The airport is one of five in England where people requiring hotel quarantine can enter the UK and is expected to receive the largest number of passengers.
The other four are Gatwick, London City, Birmingham and Farnborough Airfield.
Regulations for the hotel quarantine measures, which come into force from 04:00 GMT on Monday, have been published.
But on Friday the Immigration Services Union said its officials had yet to receive guidance on how the system would work.
The union said officials still did not know what levels of checks they should be conducting on travellers.
It also raised concerns about the safety of security halls.
And the GMB union has warned that "rushed" government plans are not thorough enough to make sure workers on the front line in quarantine hotels are protected.
The union said security guards were one of the occupations worst hit by Covid deaths, adding that it wanted to meet employers to develop a strategy to better protect workers.
Meanwhile, a family returning to the UK after four years living in Abu Dhabi said travellers should not be used as "guinea pigs", amid confusion over hotel quarantine rules.
Beckie Morris, 30, planned to repatriate to the UK with husband Matthew and their five-week-old daughter, but they now face a quarantine bill of thousands of pounds if they do.
The new mother said there was "no information" on the government website about what to do with young children.
She said: "We'd have to arrange all the formula. I don't know what we do about sterilising bottles, or nappies or washing their clothes - there's all this unknown. I tried to reach out, and I know it's still really early days, but there's just no information.
"They haven't really laid out what actually happens when you get to that hotel and I don't think that's going to be known until the first person goes in there.
"People shouldn't be used as guinea pigs - especially not paying that amount, that is an extortionate amount of money."
A government spokeswoman said: "Every essential check - from pre-departure testing to the passenger locator form - will help prevent the importing of new coronavirus variants into the UK.
"We are working closely with airports and hotels to manage any issues that arise and ensure the new process runs as smoothly as possible, and we are clear the safety of all staff and passengers is a priority."
Kidnap capital Mexico eyes biometric phone registry, sparking privacy fears - REUTERS
By Cassandra Garrison
MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - A plan by Mexican lawmakers to put millions of cell phone usersâ€™ data in a biometric registry, billed as a tool to fight kidnapping and extortion, has sparked a backlash from telecoms companies and rights groups who warn it could lead to stolen data and higher costs.
Already approved in the lower house of Congress, the reform is in line with President Andres Lopez Obradorâ€™s vow to counter crime using intelligence methods rather than force, but critics say it reveals the pitfalls of governments seeking to gather more citizen data for law enforcement purposes.
The bill is scheduled to be taken up in the current session in the Senate, where the ruling MORENA party and allies hold a majority.
Under the plan, America Movil, AT&T Inc and other carriers would be responsible for collecting customersâ€™ data, including fingerprints or eye biometrics, to submit to a registry managed by Mexicoâ€™s telecoms regulator.
But a telecoms industry group that counts some major companies as members warned in an open letter that the reform could increase phone theft as criminals look to get around the registry by stealing devices and could risk customersâ€™ safety if personal data were misused.
America Movil -- owned by Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim -- AT&T and Telefonica declined to comment.
The Mexico Internet Association, which includes Slimâ€™s Telcel wireless company as a partner, said the registry would cost the industry hundreds of millions of dollars to implement, could put jobs at risk and create a human rights violation by compromising personal data protection.
Rights groups describe the plan as no better than a similar registry, which did not include biometric data, that Mexico dismantled in 2012 after a review found extortion calls, many of which come from inside prisons, actually increased by 40% after the data was leaked on the black market.
The new reform could lead people being exploited by bad actors and potentially wrongly convicted of crimes, according to Irene Levy, the president of Mexican telecommunications watchdog Observatel.
â€œEl Chapo Guzman is not going to say, â€˜This is my phone number and I am El Chapo Guzman,â€™â€ Levy said, referring to the Sinaloa Cartel kingpin who is in prison in the United States.
â€œWhat criminals do is ask someone to go and buy certain telephone lines, and when there is a crime committed with these numbers, this boy or girl - who took the money out of necessity and registered without knowing the consequences - will go to jail.â€
Given the governmentâ€™s strong support in Congress, the bill has a good chance of being passed, said Jorge Bravo, a political science professor at Mexicoâ€™s National Autonomous University (UNAM). However, a rethink is possible if public concern grows ahead of June mid-term elections.
However, Maria de los Angeles Huerta, a lawmaker with the ruling MORENA party, said the registry was needed to help fight kidnapping in Mexico, which has the highest incidence of the crime in the Americas and the third-highest globally, according to international consultancy Control Risks.
Criminals have been known to use up to 17 prepaid phones to carry out one kidnapping, making it nearly impossible for police to track them down, Huerta said.
The reformâ€™s supporters argue there is too little control of the countryâ€™s more than 120 million mobile lines, 83% of which use pre-paid SIM cards available at corner stores.
As things now stand, you can â€œbuy a card and put it on your phone.... make an extortion call and then throw the phone in the garbage,â€ said Huerta.
The registry would make it harder for mobile users to remain anonymous by requiring proof of identification alongside hard-to-fake biometric data for anyone opening a new line. That information would then be available to law enforcement upon request.
Huerta called it a necessary tool in Mexicoâ€™s fight against extortion.
â€œBiometric data is not so falsifiable. If you are a horrendous criminal, you can tell your mother to open (a line), but at least youâ€™re going to find the criminalâ€™s mother, right?â€ she said.
The new registry would mandate the installation of biometric equipment, either to capture fingerprints or iris scans, anywhere mobile lines are sold.
While 155 countries around the world maintain cellphone user registries, Mexicoâ€™s collection of biometric data would go further than most.
Only about 8% of countries with registries also require biometrics, mainly for prepaid SIM card users, according to global telecoms industry lobby GSMA. Mexicoâ€™s registry would collect biometric data from all cellphone users in the country including from postpaid customers who are normally seen as unlikely criminals.
Many of those countries which do retain biometric data have questionable records on human rights, including China, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. No Western countries collect biometric data from cellphone users.
Still, Mexico could serve as a model for other countries in the region, including Chile, where SIM registration is under consideration, experts said.
The reform implies a sweeping change for telecoms companies by making them responsible for the cost of collecting the data and then submitting it to the registry.
Others say the registry will obstruct mobile access for indigenous people who may lack official forms of identification.
Peru introduced fingerprint collection in 2016 for a regulator-managed registry, but it led to complications in rural areas where mobile phone penetration was already a challenge.
If users fail to submit the data, mobile carriers will have to cut their lines, further isolating people who rely on their phones for internet access, said Elena Estavillo, a former commissioner of the IFT, Mexicoâ€™s telecoms regulator.
â€œWe should highlight this as something very worrying because it can be a circumstance that discourages or, for some people, makes it impossible to have access to these services, which is a fundamental right,â€ Estavillo said.
Reporting by Cassandra Garrison; Editing by Christian Plumb and Alistair Bell
IMF says Canada must justify post-pandemic stimulus spending, needs clearer fiscal anchor - REUTERS
By Julie Gordon
OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada must justify its planned C$100 billion ($78.86 billion)post-pandemic stimulus plan before committing to significant new spending and should commit to a clear fiscal anchor, the International Monetary Fund said on Tuesday.
The IMF, in a mission report, said Canada's response to COVID-19 was "timely, decisive, and well-coordinated." But it warned that the crisis had exposed cracks in the country's social safety net and urged clear targets for support and stimulus.
"The federal government's commitment to spend up to 4 percent of GDP over the next three years to support the recovery needs further justification," the IMF said in the report following an official visit.
"While the government still has some fiscal space, the additional spending, if deemed unjustified, could weaken the credibility of the fiscal framework," it added.
Canada's Liberal government said last year it would spend up to 3-4% of GDP to help boost growth once the pandemic is under control.
But in its report, the IMF cautioned Canada to calibrate its stimulus plans carefully, with the aim of supporting full-capacity growth and preventing permanent damage to output, before committing funds.
It also noted that while the introduction of "fiscal guard-rails" were a welcome step, more clarity was necessary, and said a clear debt anchor is needed to ensure "that credibility in the fiscal framework is maintained over the medium term."
Prior to the pandemic, the Liberal government anchored its spending by targeting an annual decrease in its debt-to-GDP ratio.
"We have a plan to provide meaningful investment to build our way out of the coronavirus recession, so our economy comes roaring back stronger than before," Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland said in a statement reacting to the report.
The government plans to give details on its stimulus plan with its budget, expected in March or April.
($1 = 1.2680 Canadian dollars)
(Reporting by Julie Gordon in Ottawa; Editing by Dan Grebler)