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Australia ends strict international travel ban, border to reopen

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International travel is set to resume from next month with New South Wales to lead the way

Prime Minister Scott Morrison made the announcement on international borders after National Cabinet this afternoon.

Those who have had both doses of a TGA-approved vaccine will be allowed out of Australia and then will be able to quarantine inside their homes on their return for seven days.

There will be no restrictions on which countries will be open for travel.

Sydney International Airport will become the first to see flights take off en masse due to the high rates of vaccination in NSW.

The Prime Minister first announced the border closure on March 20, 2020 to all non-citizens and nonresidents. Even Australian citizens, permanent residents and their immediate family needed to apply for an exemption to travel and to quarantine at a hotel for 14 days on arrival at a cost of more than $3000.

Christmas comes early for Qantas / Image: File

Qantas responds to reopening news

Qantas will bring forward the restart of its international flights to 14 November 2021, following the Federal Government’s announcement that Australia’s borders will open in November.

The national carrier will operate three weekly return flights between Sydney and London and three weekly return flights between Sydney and Los Angeles with its Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners. These two destinations have been the most searched on qantas.com in recent weeks. More flights will be added to meet demand, if needed.

Sydney will become first city to see flights depart for overseas travel / Image: File

Fares are now on sale for Australian citizens, permanent residents and their immediate families and some visa holders. Fares start from $1662 return for Sydney-Los Angeles and $1869 return for Sydney-London.

All flights on both routes for the first week will be ‘Points Planes’, meaning frequent flyers can access uncapped Classic Flight Reward seats across all cabins. Seats on these flights will also be available as regular flight bookings.

Once the Federal Government announces the exact date that Australia’s international borders will reopen in November, the commencement dates for these two routes may need to be updated. Flights will be brought forward if its earlier than 14 November or moved to later in the month if necessary. Customers booked on these flights will have the flexibility to make ‘fee free’ date changes for travel until 31 December 2022 (a fare difference may apply). If flights are cancelled customers may also be eligible for a refund or credit voucher.

As previously indicated, all passengers on Qantas’ international flights will be required to be fully vaccinated with a TGA-approved or recognised vaccine (some exemptions for medical reasons and children). They will also be required to return a negative PCR COVID test 72 hours prior to departure.

Customers on these flights will be required to home quarantine for seven days on arrival into Australia, in accordance with the requirements from the Federal and New South Wales governments.

Anthony Lucas is reporter, presenter and social media producer with ticker News. Anthony holds a Bachelor of Professional Communication, with a major in Journalism from RMIT University as well as a Diploma of Arts and Entertainment journalism from Collarts. He’s previously worked for 9 News, ONE FM Radio and Southern Cross Austerio’s Hit Radio Network. 

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Hurricane Ian makes landfall in southwestern Florida as Category 4 storm

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Officials say it’s one of the most powerful storms ever recorded in the U.S.

Hurricane Ian has made landfall in southwest Florida with winds of 155 mph. Hitting the mainland U.S. as a Category 4 storm— officials say it’s one of the most powerful storms ever recorded in the nation.

Moving at a crawling pace— Hurricane Ian is prompting major concerns about flooding and delayed rescues for those who decided to ride out the storm.

Forecasters say the storm’s relatively slow surge could lead to even greater rainfall than expected.

After slamming Florida’s southwest coast with Category 4 force Wednesday afternoon, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis told residents that Ian brought powerful conditions including relentless rainfall and life-threatening winds that are “incredibly dangerous.”

He said, “there will be debris in the air and flooding powerful enough to move cars around so please do not be outside during the storm. If you’re in those Southwest Florida counties that you need to be sheltering in place. Don’t forget that Ian will produce hurricane strength winds and massive flooding—not just where it makes the initial landfall—but throughout the state of Florida so central Northeast Florida will also feel impacts.”

The entire Sunshine state is under a state of emergency.

Several airports in Florida are closed with thousands of flights cancelled.

More than 50 of the state’s 76 school districts have already canceled classes, with many public schools be turned into evacuation shelters.

Meanwhile, FEMA has already deployed 700 personnel to Florida and the governor has activated 5,000 state national guard with another 2,000-guard coming in from other states.

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Nord Stream pipe attack “act of sabotage”

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The US State Department has described recent leaks in the Nord Stream gas pipelines as “apparent acts of sabotage”

U.S State Department spokesperson Ned Price says they have more questions than answers at this point.

Adding Secretary of State Antony Blinken will begin discussing the issue with European counterparts as soon as Wednesday.

Price confirmed the leak “impacts Europe’s broader energy security and energy resilience”.

When was pressed on whether sabotage would rise to the level of a breach of NATO Article 5, he declined to speculate.

But noted the investigation could take some time.

It comes as European countries ramp up their military presence at oil and gas facilities, following the Nord Stream incident.

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Russia is about to annex Ukraine, so what happens next?

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Moscow is about to annex a swath of Ukraine, releasing what it called vote tallies showing support in four partially occupied provinces to join Russia

It looks like Russia is poised to annex a large chunk of Ukraine.

This comes after so-called referendums were held in four occupied provinces, which showed overwhelming support for joining Russia.

Of course, these referendums were anything but legitimate. They were held at gunpoint and were widely denounced by Kyiv and the West as sham votes.

“They can announce anything they want. Nobody voted in the referendum except a few people who switched sides. They went from house to house but nobody came out,” said Lyubomir Boyko, 43, from Golo Pristan, a village in Russian-occupied Kherson province.

People attend a rally and a concert in support of annexation referendums in Russian-held regions of Ukraine, in Saint Petersburg on September 23, 2022.

Moscow takes charge

Nevertheless, it looks like Moscow is moving ahead with its plans to absorb these Ukrainian regions. A tribune has been set up on Red Square, with giant video screens proclaiming “Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia, Kherson – Russia!”

The Russian-installed administrations of the four Ukrainian provinces on Wednesday formally asked Putin to incorporate them into Russia, which Russian officials have suggested is a formality.

“The results are clear. Welcome home, to Russia!,” Dmitry Medvedev, a former president who serves as deputy chairman of Russia’s Security Council, said on Telegram.

It’s expected that President Vladimir Putin will give a speech within days confirming the annexation. This would mean that, in just over a week, Putin has gone from endorsing the sham referendums to formalizing the annexation of Ukrainian territory.

This latest development is sure to increase tensions between Russia and the West. It also further diminishes the chances of a peaceful resolution to the conflict in Ukraine.

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