1,000 flights between Australia and New Zealand cancelled
Air New Zealand has cancelled around 1,000 flights between New Zealand and Australia, citing “continued border uncertainty” between the two countries.
The announcement will scuttle the plans of some New Zealanders and Australians who had hoped to be reunited for Christmas.
The airline said around 20,000 customers would be affected. The flights cancelled fall between now and the end of December – while the airline’s flight schedule beyond then remains in place, it’s not clear whether more flights may be cancelled down the line.
“This will be particularly tough news for families and friends who were hoping to catch up over Christmas … But our hands are tied until border restrictions ease, and we receive further clarity from the New Zealand Government,” chief customer and sales officer Leanne Geraghty said in a written statement.
The trans-Tasman bubble, which allowed for quarantine-free travel between the two countries, shut in July in response to a Covid outbreak in Australia. It has remained closed since New Zealand began struggling to contain its own outbreak in August.
It’s Samantha Lock back with you to give a rundown of all the latest Covid headlines.
The regional disparity in tackling Covid has become even more pronounced in recent weeks as Europe introduces more lockdowns and nations in Asia and the Pacific ease restrictions.
Austria has entered its fourth national Covid lockdown today, making it the first western European country to reimpose the measure this autumn in the face of surging coronavirus infections.
Average daily deaths in the nation have tripled in recent weeks and hospitals in heavily hit states have warned that intensive care units are reaching capacity. The lockdown will last at least 10 days but could go up to 20, officials said.
The government also will make vaccinations mandatory starting 1 February. About 66% of Austria’s 8.9 million people are fully vaccinated, one of the lowest rates in Western Europe.
“For a long time, maybe too long, I and others thought that it must be possible to convince people in Austria, to convince them to get vaccinated voluntarily,” Austrian Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg said.
Australia will welcome international students and skilled workers for exemption-free travel into the country from next week, in what the prime minister, Scott Morrison, has hailed a “major milestone” for the country returning to normal.
- South Korea’s schools will resume full in-person classes for the first time since the pandemic began on Monday.
- German politicians are debating making Covid-19 vaccinations compulsory for citizens in light of soaring infections and low inoculation rates.
- Germany reports another 30,643 confirmed coronavirus cases and 62 deaths, the Robert Koch Institute reports.
- The US government’s chief medical adviser Dr Anthony Fauci warns that time is running short to prevent a “dangerous” new surge of Covid-19 infections from overwhelming the upcoming holiday season.
- England’s flagship test-and-trace service is still spending more than £1m a day on private consultants, official figures reveal weeks after MPs lambasted it as an “eye-watering” waste of taxpayers’ money that is failing to cut Covid infection levels.
- In the UK, Covid booster jabs are likely to be offered to all adults eventually, with the independent Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation already considering the issue, the health secretary has suggested.
- Some Pacific countries will have less than a quarter of adults vaccinated by the end of the year, with predictions that Papua New Guinea will take five years to vaccinate just one-third of its population, undermining economic recovery and threatening huge loss of life across the region.
- New Zealand will soon be opening up far more freedoms as the country approaches 90% of adults vaccinated, with prime minister Jacinda Ardern announcing it will move into a new “traffic light” framework of covid protections on 3 December.
- The Delta variant was first detected a year ago and is now dominant across the globe. Scientists are concerned that a new strain could supersede it.
- Violence erupted at demonstrations in Belgium and the Netherlands over the weekend as tougher Covid-19 restrictions to curb the resurgent pandemic led to angry protests in several European countries.
- The US Marine Corps has the worst vaccination record among US military branches, Reuters reports, with thousands of active-duty staff set to miss a 28 November deadline for personnel to be fully vaccinated.
- The World Health Organisation said it is “very worried” about a fresh wave of European infection.
- The French government has warned that Covid is spreading at “lighting speed”. The seven-day average of new cases in France reached 17,153 on Saturday, an increase of 81%.
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