Posts tagged with "germany"

The water’s fine: Houseboats are in high demand as Germans book holidays close to home

Febuary 22, 2021

As arctic temperatures froze rivers and lakes in northern Germany this winter, workers at houseboat charter companies already had started gearing up for what they expect to be a busy summer season, Reuters reports.

Cross-border travel restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic last summer prompted a run on domestic tourism, including floating accommodations. Many expect that 2021 will be no different.

“I think that big trips abroad and flying will still not be the dominant type of vacation for people this summer,” Dagmar Kuhnle, spokeswoman at the Kuhnle Tour houseboat charter company in the northeastern Mecklenburg lake district between Berlin and the Baltic Sea, told Reuters.

Family-run Kuhnle expanded its fleet to 160 boats from 120 just before the pandemic reached Germany last sprin—and promptly lost two months of business due to a coronavirus lockdown in April and May.

Once travel became possible again, nearly all of its boats were booked out, and bookings are looking good for the coming season as well, Kuhnle said.

The big question for charter companies like Kuhnle remains when the season will start.

Aquare Charter, which offers bungalow boats in the eastern state of Brandenburg, told Reuters that it was fully booked for this summer and would start renting out boats from March 18 if restrictions on overnight stays for tourists are lifted.

“It is of course not clear if it will work out or not,” Philipp Sommer, a manager at Aquare Charter, said.

The government last week dampened hopes that the economy could reopen soon—targeting an infection rate of no more than 35 new cases per 100,000 people over seven days, down from 50 previously.

On Monday, that number was 59, having fallen from a high near 200 in late December. It was last below 50 in October.

Given the government’s caution, Kuhnle Tour is cutting the hours of ten employees starting next week. “We don’t see the end of pandemic in sight. We have somewhat corrected our optimism,” Kuhnle added.

Research contact: @Reuters

Biden to join virtual G7 event on efforts to combat COVID-19 on February 19

Febraury 16, 2021

U.S. President Joe Biden will participate in a virtual G7 event on Friday, February 19, during which he plans to discuss efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and rebuild the world economy, CNN reports

According to the BBC, the G7 (or Group of Seven) comprises the world’s seven largest so-called advanced economies: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The group regards itself as “a community of values,” with freedom and human rights, democracy and the rule of law, and prosperity and sustainable development as its key principles.

The virtual meeting, hosted by the United Kingdom, also will include leaders of the European Commission and European Council.

The Friday confab will be Biden’s first meeting with the leaders of the G7 as president and represents a departure from former President Donald Trump’s retreat from handling of the pandemic and global relations.

He’ll specifically focus on areas including “coordination on vaccine production, distribution, and supplies, as well as continued efforts to mobilize and cooperate against the threat of emerging infectious diseases by building country capacity and establishing health security financing,” a White House statement released Sunday evening said.

When it comes to rebuilding an economy badly battered by the pandemic, Biden is set to focus on “the importance of all industrialized countries maintaining economic support for the recovery,” the statement said.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a statement this past weekend that he will use the virtual event to call for global cooperation in the battle against the “common foe” of coronavirus. Johnson will charge the leaders to “work together on a joined-up global approach to pandemics that brings an end to the nationalist and divisive politics that marred the initial response to coronavirus,” the statement said.

“Quantum leaps in science have given us the vaccines we need to end this pandemic for good. Now world governments have a responsibility to work together to put those vaccines to the best possible use. I hope 2021 will be remembered as the year humanity worked together like never before to defeat a common foe,” Johnson said.

Even as global Covid-19 cases have declined in recent weeks, the virtual meeting comes just as new variants are threatening to throw a wrench in government vaccination plans.

Biden’s vow to coordinate with other governments on the pandemic and global economy offers yet another break with Trump’s approach to foreign policy.

As the pandemic surged globally last May, Trump announced he was postponing the summit, “because I don’t feel as a G7 it probably represents what’s going on in the world.”

“It’s a very outdated group of countries,” he told reporters aboard Air Force One at the time.

CNN notes that, throughout his term, Trump publicly questioned and denigrated the value of the America’s  most longstanding alliances, including with USA from the Iran nuclear deal, the Paris climate accord, the World Health Organization,and a slew of other United Nations agencies.

On his first day in office, Biden reversed several of Trump’s attempts to withdraw from international agreements—beginning the process of rejoining the Paris climate accord and halting the departure from the World Health Organization.

In remarks at the State Department earlier this month, Biden declared that “diplomacy is back at the center” of US foreign policy as he vowed to “rebuild” US alliances worldwide.

Research contact: @CNN