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Australia reopens international borders for first time in pandemic

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Australia eased its international border restrictions on Monday for the first time in the pandemic, allowing some of its vaccinated public to travel freely and many families to reunite, sparking emotional embraces at Sydney’s airport.

After 18 months of some of the world’s strictest coronavirus border policies that banned citizens from coming back into the country, and leaving it, unless granted an exemption, millions of Australians in Victoria, New South Wales and Canberra are now free to travel.

A flight by flag carrier Qantas Airways from Los Angeles touched down in Sydney at 6 a.m., Australia’s biggest airline said, the first in months to let COVID-19 vaccinated Australians walk off a plane without quarantining.

International travellers also arrived in Sydney via Singapore Airlines early on Monday.

Australia’s Treasurer Josh Frydenberg told the Australian Broadcasting Corp on Monday that the travel changes would immediately aid the economy.

“It’s a day for celebration – the fact that Australians can move more freely in and out of our country without home quarantine, if they’re double-vaccinated,” Frydenberg said.

Television and social media footage showed tearful family reunions, with strict travel rules previously prohibiting many people from attending significant events, including weddings and funerals.

The relaxation of travel rules is tied to rising vaccination rates with more than 80% of people aged 16 and older in Australia’s two most populous states, New South Wales and Victoria, as well as the capital territory fully vaccinated.

Australians and permanent residents living abroad may now return, with foreign ministry data showing about 47,000 people are hoping to do so.

Most tourists – even vaccinated ones – have to wait to come to Australia, although vaccinated tourists from New Zealand will be allowed in from Monday.

Unvaccinated travellers will still face quarantine restrictions and all travellers need proof of a negative COVID-19 test prior to boarding.

The change in travel rules, however, is not uniform across Australia, as the country’s states and territories have differing vaccination rates and health policies.

Australia closed its borders at the start of the pandemic and let only a limited number of citizens and permanent residents return from abroad, subject to an exemption and a mandatory 14-day quarantine period in a hotel at their own expense.

But as it switched a COVID-zero pandemic management strategy towards living with the virus through extensive vaccinations, borders are gradually reopening.

While the Delta outbreak kept Sydney and Melbourne in lockdowns for months until recently, Australia’s COVID-19 cases remain far lower than many comparable countries, with just over 170,500 infections and 1,735 deaths.

(Reporting by Lidia Kelly and Jonathan Barrett; Editing by Robert Birsel and Daniel Wallis)

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Designer Virgil Abloh remembered at Fashion Awards

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Designers and celebrities paid tribute to Virgil Abloh at the Fashion Awards in London on Monday, where the late Louis Vuitton and Off-White creative force was honoured as a leader of change within the industry.

Abloh, the American-born son of Ghanaian immigrants, who became fashion’s highest-profile Black designer, died on Sunday https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/louis-vuitton-designer-virgil-abloh-dies-2021-11-28 following a two-year battle with a rare form of cancer.

The 41-year-old, who also worked as a DJ and visual artist, had been menswear artistic director at luxury label Louis Vuitton since March 2018.

“Genius, disruptor … (he) will be missed tremendously by all,” veteran designer Tommy Hilfiger said on the red carpet. “He inspired designers as well as the public.”

Designer and television personality Tan France called Abloh “incredible and a visionary … (who) has done the most beautiful work.”

Abloh, who founded label Off-White, was known for mixing streetwear with high-end suits and gowns while at Vuitton. His influences included graffiti art and hip hop.

“Everyone here is going to be talking about Virgil, everyone here has been impacted by his brilliance,” actor Gabrielle Union said.

At the awards, where Abloh’s photo was projected on stage, the designer was among 15 individuals and brands named leaders of change for their actions in the past year helping the environment, people and creativity.

Others on the list included Balenciaga designer Demna Gvasalia, Gucci creative director Alessandro Michele, and Kim Jones, artistic director for Fendi womenswear and couture as well as menswear designer at Dior. Jones was also named designer of the year at the awards.

Michele also won the trailblazer award, while Hilfiger received the outstanding achievement award.

“I’m absolutely grateful, appreciative, humbled by it, but happy to be here and happy to still keep the business rolling,” Hilfiger, 70, said.

Demi Moore, Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Dua Lipa were among the celebrity guests attending the event, a fundraiser for British Fashion Council charities.

 

(Reporting by Hanna Rantala and Marie-Louise Gumuchian; Editing by Karishma Singh)

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Bank of Canada to work with Indigenous groups on reconciliation

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The Bank of Canada will work with Indigenous groups to understand the wounds caused by decades of discrimination and determine how reconciliation can create a more inclusive and prosperous economy for all, Governor Tiff Macklem said on Monday.

Macklem, opening a symposium on Indigenous economies, said Canadians could work to correct some of the consequences of those “ugly periods.”

Ottawa forcibly removed thousands of Indigenous children from their communities and put them in residential schools in an effort to strip them of their language and culture, a practice that continues to scar families and individuals.

“The Bank of Canada will be working with a broad spectrum of Indigenous groups to set out what reconciliation means for what we do,” Macklem said.

“Together, we’ll define what reconciliation means for the work of the Bank of Canada — toward a more inclusive and prosperous economy for everyone,” he said.

Canada‘s Truth and Reconciliation Commission called the residential school system “cultural genocide” in 2015, as it set out 94 “calls to action” to try to restore Canada‘s relationship with its Indigenous people, including economic reconciliation.

“We can’t go back and change what’s happened. But we can try to correct some of the consequences,” said Macklem, adding that it is the central bank’s job to create conditions for opportunity for all Canadians.

“Taking concrete steps toward economic reconciliation is our responsibility too. And it’s incumbent upon us to take the time to do this well,” said Macklem.

 

(Reporting by Julie Gordon in Ottawa; Editing by Dan Grebler)

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Canada’s Trans Mountain still ‘days away’ from restarting pipeline

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Canada‘s Trans Mountain said on Monday it was “still days away” from restarting the key oil pipeline at a reduced capacity as heavy rains continue to impede restoration efforts.

The pipeline, owned by the Canadian government, ships 300,000 barrels a day of crude and refined products from Alberta to the Pacific Coast. It was temporarily shut down as heavy rains and flooding caused widespread disruption in parts of British Columbia.

The operator said assessments of the impacts from the latest storm are being undertaken with a focus on the Coldwater and Coquihalla regions.

Work was interrupted at some sites on Sunday due to high water accumulation or lack of access, the company added.

The company on Friday had said it was working toward restarting the oil pipeline at a reduced capacity this week.

 

(Reporting by Rithika Krishna in Bengaluru; Editing by Amy Caren Daniel and Krishna Chandra Eluri)

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