Canada’s chief public health officer says “things have been a little flat” this week on the COVID-19 epidemic curve, and acknowledges it is making everyone excited about when we are going to be able to get out of our houses. However, Dr. Theresa Tam cautions that there are still significant challenges in some settings, including long-term care homes.

US intelligence agencies have concluded that the new coronavirus was “not manmade or genetically modified” but say they are still examining whether the origins of the pandemic trace to contact with infected animals or an accident at a Chinese lab.

Donald Trump and his allies have touted the as-yet-unproven theory that an infectious disease lab in Wuhan was the source of the pandemic.

WestJet Airlines Ltd. says it will be able to save more than 1,000 pilot jobs by using the federal wage subsidy program. The Calgary-based company said that pilots at WestJet, WestJet Encore and Swoop who were to be laid off either May 1 or June 1 due to the COVID-19 pandemic will remain on the payroll.

WestJet executive vice-president Jeff Martin said it made the announcement after reaching an agreement with the Airline Pilot Association (ALPA).

Earlier this month, WestJet said it planned to lay off 1,700 pilots – three-quarters of the cockpit roster – as the company struggled with fallout from the pandemic. About 700 pilots were to receive layoff notices effective May 1, with 1,000 more kicking in on June 1, depending on employee seniority, according to ALPA.

Are US airline passengers slowly starting to return to flying?

The US Transportation Security Administration said the traveller count has been over 100,000 for four consecutive days -the first time that has happened since April 3 through 6.

The count last Thursday was 111,627. It has been higher each day since then. The count for Sunday was 128,875. That is the highest number since April 3, when the count was 129,764.

The TSA count is considered a reliable indicator of air travel, though in addition to passengers, it includes airline crew and airport employees who pass through security.

Last year security clearances were at 2.5 million on April 26, and rarely dipped below 2 million in April, ranging between 1.9 million and 2.6 million throughout the month.

American Airlines reported a staggering loss of US $2.24 billion for the first quarter, when the coronavirus pandemic triggered a sharp drop in air travel. The airline said Thursday that revenue fell 19% while costs continued to rise even as the virus spread.

The situation facing the airline industry has grown more dire since the first quarter ended. Air travel within the US has plunged 95% from a year ago, judging by the number of people screened at the nation’s airports.

“Never before has our airline, or our industry, faced such a significant challenge,” Chairman and CEO Doug Parker said.
American’s massive loss compared with a profit of US$185 million in the same quarter last year. It was American’s largest quarterly loss since merging with US Airways in 2013.

Eighteen Carnival Cruise Line ships will rendezvous in The Bahamas over the next few days as the final plans are put in place to sail home 10,000 crew members who remain onboard due to restrictions limiting air travel to Asia, Africa, Europe, India and Latin America.

The ships have been calling at various US homeports picking up supplies and fuel for the journeys, which will be undertaken by half of the fleet. The remaining nine ships will spend most of their time anchored in the Bahamas or Panama.

“The safety and wellbeing of our team members continues to be a top priority. Given the pause in our operations, we are committed to getting our crew members safely home to their families,” said Carnival president Christine Duffy.

“We sincerely thank them for their hard work, patience and understanding during this process. We would also like to thank the government of The Bahamas for their support of this operation, as well as the CDC, US Coast Guard, US Customs and Border Protection and local port agencies.”

Crew members who will be returning home have undergone a health check and cleared fit for travel by Carnival’s medical team.

Hertz Global Holdings is doing all it can to avoid a bankruptcy filing amid the Covid-19 crisis, according to reports in the US press. CEO Kathryn Marinello told Bloomberg that Hertz has been in talks with creditors for weeks and continues to push the US Treasury Department to help the sector, which she says has been hit as hard as the airline sector by the pandemic lockdowns.

Hertz disclosed yesterday that it has missed substantial lease payments.In a regulatory filing it said if it doesn’t make payments by the end of a grace period on May 4, and if a sufficient number of lenders and note holders don’t agree to waive a resulting default, it could be ‘materially and negatively affected’.

Since those early days of the city’s coronavirus outbreak, out-of-towners in New York City have become scarce. Times Square, the “Crossroads of the World,” is eerily empty, and a section of Central Park is home to a makeshift field hospital. It all has devastated the tourism economy that aided the city’s recovery from the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and posted a decade of steady spending growth that topped out at $46 billion last year.

Roughly 300,000 people are employed in the industry, driving double-decker buses, taking tickets at theatres and cleaning hotels – more than the number working in the city’s finance and tech sectors, according to a study by the Center for an Urban Future, an economic think-tank .

Now a large share are unemployed and facing months without work, not knowing when the tourists or their jobs will come back. The attractions that draw big crowds are unlikely to open soon, and Mayor Bill de Blasio said last week there won’t be any public events through at least June, dealing a blow to restaurants and retail stores as well.

Megan Marod, an actress in musical theatre who also works as a guide at the One World Trade Center observatory, said it’s hard to overestimate the sudden downfall.

“Tourism literally encapsulates everything in the city,” she said. “When you take out tourism, every single profession in the city is going to feel it.”

Close to 400 of the city’s tour guides who responded to a survey said they’ve lost more than US $2.5 million already from thousands of cancellations since early March, according to the Guides Association of New York City.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says the U.K. is “past the peak” and “on a downward slope” in its coronavirus outbreak. In his first news conference in more than a month following his hospitalization with COVID-19 and his subsequent recuperation, Johnson said he would be presenting a “comprehensive plan” next week about how and when the U.K. will ease the lockdown restrictions, which are due to last at least until May 7.

Though he said it would provide a “roadmap,” Johnson is widely expected to extend the current lockdown further.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says authorities will allow religious services to resume and let museums, zoos, galleries and playgrounds re-open as part of the gradual loosening of the pandemic lockdown. Merkel said after meeting with governors of Germany’s 16 states that it was important to remain “disciplined” to ensure successful efforts to curb the coronavirus outbreak aren’t undone.

She acknowledged the impact that the lockdown measures have had on the economy and social life, but said officials wanted to wait until next week before considering lifting restrictions on kindergartens and most schools.

Brazil’s virtually uncontrolled surge of COVID-19 cases is spawning fear that construction workers, truck drivers and tourists from Latin America’s biggest nation will spread the disease to neighbouring countries that are doing a better job of controlling the coronavirus.

Brazil, a continent-sized country that shares borders with nearly every other nation in South America, has reported more than 70,000 cases and more than 5,000 deaths, according to government figures and a tally by Johns Hopkins University – far more than any of its neighbours. The true number of deaths and infections is believed to be much higher because of limited testing.

The country’s borders remain open, there are virtually no quarantines or curfews and President Jair Bolsonaro continues to scoff at the seriousness of the disease. Bolsonaro earlier tried to reassure his citizens over the threat of coronavirus by curiously claiming Brazilians can bathe in excrement “and nothing happens”.

The country of 211 million people surpassed China – where the virus began – in the official number of COVID-19 deaths this week, prompting Bolsonaro to say: “So what?”

“I am sorry,”the far-right president told journalists. “What do you want me to do?”

Should you be wondering about the the leaders in the banner image.  Each country – each state even – has chosen to handled the COVID crisis in a different manner.  We have covered all of these in the past few weeks – so today we decided to feature the most prominent – for better or worse.


Source: Travel Industry Today

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