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Popular European party spots mull inventive ways to lure tourists back

Issued on: 19/05/2020 – 10:14Modified: 19/05/2020 – 10:20

The Mediterranean resort town of Ayia Na..

Issued on: Modified:

The Mediterranean resort town of Ayia Napa in Cyprus is known for its boisterous parties. Each summer, thousands of young foreign tourists pack the dance floors of its nightlife district after a day at the beach.

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But the pandemic silenced the exuberant Napa Strip district as the island nation of Cyprus went into a lockdown to halt the spread of the coronavirus. Now nightclub owners wonder when social distancing rules will be eased enough for the party to resume — and what those new parties will look like.

“We know at nightclubs, young people will go to dance and have a good time. But then you have to tell them that they have to keep 2 meters (6 feet) apart from each other?” asked Charalambos Alexandrou, the spokesman for a group representing local clubs, bars and restaurants.

Across southern Europe, in places where tourism drives much of the economy, officials are weighing how to entice travelers to come back, even while the pandemic remains a threat. Juggling the sometimes-competing needs of health and business, authorities are introducing measures to reassure visitors that taking a holiday is safe again.

Still, those are not likely to solve the quandary facing Ayia Napas nightclub businesses.

Alexandrou said this will be “a season of trying to survive,” not seeking a profit.

One idea being considered is asking holidaymakers to take a COVID-19 test prior to their arrival. Cyprus has officially reported 916 cases of COVID-19 and 17 deaths.

The countrys deputy minister for tourism, Savvas Perdios, said Cyprus will initially look to bring tourists from nearby countries that have managed to contain the virus — Greece, Israel, the United Arab Emirates and some central European and Nordic nations.

Authorities will take more time to assess the course of the pandemic in the United Kingdom and Russia, the islands primary tourism markets, before rolling out the red carpet for those countries.

Tourists in the near future will have to navigate a different set of expectations, routines and rules to counter the virus.

Christos Angelides, president of the Cyprus Hotel Managers Association, said new rules being announced soon will mean that from the moment tourists step out of their bus or taxi from the airport, their luggage will be disinfected and taken straight to their rooms. Reception procedures will be done electronically, with employees behind a plexiglass screen and cleaning staff in full protective gear.

Guests eyeing a vacation in Portugal, another major southern European holiday destination, will probably look beyond a hotels online reviews to see if it has the “Clean&Safe” seal now being awarded by local tourism officials. The seal indicates that the establishment, be it a hotel, restaurant or other venue, has enacted recommended hygiene and safety procedures to protect against the virus.

The idea has been a big success in a desperate sector that accounts for 15% of Portugals gross domestic product and 9% of the countrys jobs. The online classes needed to obtain the seal are being attended by around 4,000 people a week.

“Its a question of making people feel safe to travel and having confidence in the place where theyre going,” said Luís Araújo, president of the government agency Turismo de Portugal

Portugal lies at the opposite end of the Mediterranean Sea from Cyprus, but its challenge is the same: how to reconcile social distancing and hygiene rules with fun and relaxation.

“Restrictions scare away any tourist,” Araújo acknowledged.

The Portuguese government says discotheques will be theRead More – Source

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Europe

Madeleine McCann presumed dead, German prosecutor says

Issued on: 04/06/2020 – 14:59Modified: 04/06/2020 – 14:59

Madeleine McCann, the British girl who d..

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Madeleine McCann, the British girl who disappeared in Portugal in 2007 aged just three, is assumed to be dead and an imprisoned German child abuser is the murder suspect, a German prosecutor said on Thursday.

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McCann vanished from her bedroom on May 3 during a family vacation in the Algarve while her parents were dining with friends nearby in the resort of Praia da Luz.

Her disappearance sparked an international search, with missing posters of the little girl's face papered across the world and celebrity appeals for information that could help track her down and bring her abductors to justice.

"We assume that the girl is dead," Braunschweig state prosecutor Hans Christian Wolters said. "The public prosecutor's office in Braunschweig is investigating a 43-year-old German national on suspicion of murder."

German police said on Wednesday the suspect, who had lived near Praia da Luz, had made a spontaneous decision to kill McCann during a break-in of the apartment where she was sleeping. They were treating the case as suspected murder.

No body has ever been found. But the German statements that the young girl was assumed dead were the most authoritative thus far on her fate. Family and supporters had always held out the hope that she might still be alive somewhere.

McCann's parents said they wanted to find peace but that the German suspect was potentially very significant.

"All we have ever wanted is to find her, uncover the truth and bring those responsible to justice," her parents, Kate and Gerry, said in a statement issued before the German prosecutor spoke.

"We will never give up hope of finding Madeleine alive but whatever the outcome may be, we need to know as we need to find peace."

Drugs and burglary

Prosecutor Wolters said the suspect was a sex offender with multiple convictions, including for sexual abuse of chiRead More – Source

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Covid-19 in Hungary: Are emergency powers being used against the opposition?

Issued on: 04/06/2020 – 12:36Modified: 04/06/2020 – 12:36

In Hungary, many opposition-run municipa..

Issued on: 04/06/2020 – 12:36Modified: 04/06/2020 – 12:36

In Hungary, many opposition-run municipalities accuse the government of taking advantage of the emergency decrees passed to fight the Covid-19 pandemic and using the legislation for political purposes. Many large cities, including the capital Budapest, elected an opposition mayor during the local elections of October 2019. The ruling Fidesz party is accused of using its new powers to curb the management of those opposition-run cities, whether it's bRead More – Source

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Putin declares state of emergency over Siberian diesel spill

Issued on: 04/06/2020 – 11:47Modified: 04/06/2020 – 11:47

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wedn..

Issued on: 04/06/2020 – 11:47Modified: 04/06/2020 – 11:47

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday ordered a state of emergency and criticised a subsidiary of metals giant Norilsk Nickel after a massive diesel spill into a Siberian river.

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The spill of over 20,000 tonnes of diesel fuel took place on Friday. A fuel reservoir collapsed at a power plant near the city of Norilsk, located above the Arctic Circle, and leaked into a nearby river.

During a televised video conference, Putin lambasted the head of the Norilsk Nickel subsidiary that runs the power plant, NTEK, after officials said it failed to report the incident.

"Why did government agencies only find out about this two days after the fact? Are we going to learn about emergency situations from social media? Are you quite healthy there?" Putin asked NTEK chief Sergei Lipin in an unusually stern dressing-down.

Norilsk Nickel said in a statement that NTEK had reported what happened in a "timely and proper" way.

Krasnoyarsk region governor Alexander Uss told Putin he only "learned of the real situation" on Sunday after "alarming information appeared in social media".

Putin said he agreed that a national state of emergency was needed to call in more resources for the cleanup effort.

Russia's Investigative Committee, which deals with major incidents, announced that it launched three criminal probes over environmental violations and detained an employee of the power plant.

It released video footage shot on a mobile phone that appears to show fuel cascading down from the reservoir and under a fence.

World Wildlife Fund expert Alexei Knizhnikov told AFP the environmental group was the one who alerted cleanup specialists after confirming the accident through its sources.

"These are huge volumes," he said. "It was difficult for them to cover it up."

The volume of the spill is vastly larger than a major 2007 spill in the Kerch strait of the Black Sea that involved 5,000 tonnes of oil, the WWF expert said.

The Kerch spill, which at the time was the largest Russia had experienced, required the intervention of the military and hundreds of volunteers.

Troops could help clean-up

Knizhnikov said diesel fuel is lighter than oil, so it is likely to evaporate rather than sink, but it is "more toxic to clean up".

Environment Minister Dmitry Kobylkin said only the emergencieRead More – Source

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