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Fight to halt LA dine-in ban isn't over, restaurateurs vow

The Grove owner: LA outdoor-dining ban won’t curb coronavirus

Los Angeles Grove Shopping Center owner Rick Caruso argues the outdoor-dining ban in L.A., which goes into effect Wednesday night, will be devastating to restaurants and workers.

The California Restaurant Association says its fight against Los Angeles County's dine-in ban isn't over even after an initial request to block the measure was denied by a judge.

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"The CRA’s next move is in Los Angeles Superior Court next week," the association tweeted Wednesday just before the ban against any indoor or outdoor service was slated to take effect for three weeks. The rule would allow only take-out, drive-through and delivery services.

LOS ANGELES DINING BAN WILL MOVE FORWARD DESPITE EFFORT TO BLOCK MEASURE

The Superior Court judge who rejected CRA's request to halt the three-week ban until local health officials provided scientific proof linking the activity to an increase in COVID-19 cases has said he would reconsider hearings on the matter if restaurateurs provided new evidence, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The restaurant association had hoped that the county would refrain from issuing any order or guidance banning outdoor dining until evidence was provided that it posed a risk, according to filings obtained by Fox News.

LOS ANGELES DEPT OF PUBLIC HEALTH ADMITS NO SCIENCE LINK BETWEEN OUTDOOR DINING, COVID-19 SPIKE

The group accuses Los Angeles County of relying on a "questionable national study" rather than local data to determine that establishments — which are already reeling from the pandemic — should be shut down again, according to a video posted on YouTube.

The association pointed to a recent board of supervisors meeting where a health official suggested there was no hard scientific evidence linking the recent surge in cases to outdoor dining to back up the move.

Dr. Muntu Davis said restaurant-specific data was scarce and that a CDC study targeting 11 different outpatient health care facilities in 10 states was the "best information we have." The study found that those patients with COVID-19 were twice as likely to have dined out at a restaurant.

Davis said "as a public health department we have to look at the highest risks, and where we can reduce those risks" adding that restaurants fit the high-risk category.

LA COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS CHAIR SLAMS OUTDOOR DINING BAN 

The restaurant operators, however, argued that county data showed that restaurants only account for 3% of COVID-19 cases.

Their concerns mirror that of other local officials who fear that establishments may not survive another shutdown.

Supervisor Kathryn Barger, who serves residents of LA County's 5th Supervisorial District, opposed the measure, saying it would "further devastate local businesses and employees who have been asked to shoulder an unfair burden this year.”

LA County officials had previously warned that the restrictions might be imposed if the five-day average of new cases in the county climbed above 4,000 or hospitalizations reached more than 1,750 per day.

On Sunday, officials reported the five-day average was 4,097 and there were 1,401 hospitalizations.

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Authorities said the purpose of the ban is to help "reduce the possibility for crowding and the potential for exposures in settings where people are not wearing their face coverings."

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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Red deer tries to hitch a lift with visitors to Scottish Highlands

A red deer has been caught placing his hoof on a woman’s back as she stood by her car on the Scottish moors.

The stag, which is commonly found in woodland and moorland, approached the visitor in a carpark at Glen Coe, in the Highlands. A shocked photographer then captured the moment, as the woman froze still.

Red deer are Britain’s largest land mammal, with males able to grow up to 4ft 5ins, weighing about 30 stone. They can be identified by their distinctive rusty red colour in summer, which turns to a brown coat in winter.

Their hooves can also be large in size, with a front hoof measuring between eight or nine centimetres in length.

Their breeding season, also known as rutting season, occurs from the end of September to November. During this time they can be seen engaging in displays of dominance, which might involve fighting, roaring or approaching passersby.

Visitors to areas with a large deer population are often advised to avoid being too close to the animals during this period.

Red deer are widely seen in Scotland, but aren’t found in the Northern Isles. Glen Coe is a perfect setting with the animals, known for waterfalls and peaks such as Bidean nam Bian and Buachaille Etive Mor.

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How to check which tier your area is in after lockdown

The Government has announced which tiers each area of England will be in when the national lockdown ends on December 2.

The vast majority of places have been put under tiers two and three, which means they face the toughest restrictions.

The new system is slightly different to the one that was in place before the lockdown.

It is uniform and applies nationally without any negotiations with regional governments, meaning they cannot impose additional measures like before.

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While shops, gyms and hairdressers will be allowed to open across all tiers, restrictions on hospitality venues and households mixing vary.

Pubs and bars can only open as takeaways under tier three while in tier two they must operate as restaurants and can only serve alcohol alongside a substantial meal.

Another key difference under the new system is that the 10pm pub curfew has been extended. In areas where pubs are allowed to re-open, last orders must be called at 10pm but people will get an extra hour to finish their food and drink.

With all that in mind, it’s important you know which tier you are living in and what rules apply.

How can you check which tier your area is in under the new system?

The postcode checker allowing you to see which tier your area falls into has now launched on the Government’s website.

You can search for the restrictions in your area as well as others by entering the relevant postcode when prompted.

The NHS Covid-19 app can also tell you what the current risk level is according to your postcode.

How were the tiers decided?

Ministers have briefly outlined the five key factors that determined their decisions.

These include case detection rates in all age groups, case detection rates in the over 60s and the rate at which cases are rising or falling.

The two other measures are the positivity rate – the number of positive cases detected as a percentage of tests taken – and pressure on the NHS, including current and projected occupancy.

Which areas have been put in the highest tier?

To be added in on Thursday

What are the rules in each tier?

Describing how the tiers had become tougher, Boris Johnson said:

  • In tier one, people should continue to work from home where possible
  • In tier two, only pubs serving substantial meals can serve alcohol
  • In tier three, hospitality will close except for delivery and takeaway, and indoor entertainment venues must also close.

In areas where pubs and restaurants are allowed to open, last orders will now be at 10pm, with drinkers allowed an extra hour to finish their drinks.

Spectator sport and indoor performances – such as those at the theatre – will also return in the lower two tiers, although with reduced capacity.

In terms of households mixing, people living under tier one restrictions can meet up to five other people indoors and outdoors.

No mixing of households is allowed indoors in tier two and a maximum of six people can meet outdoors.

In tier three, the toughest tier, household mixing is not allowed indoors, or in most outdoor places. Exemptions apply to outdoor public spaces such as parks and beaches.

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Boris to address nation on new Covid tiers as he emerges from self-isolation

The prime minister will address the nation today to further set out England’s new, tougher coronavirus tier system.

Boris Johnson is expected to hold the No 10 press briefing this evening, however a time has not yet been confirmed but it is expected to take place at 5pm.

It will be the first announcement he has given in-person rather than via video call in two weeks, after he was forced to self-isolate after coming into contact with a MP who later tested positive for Covid-19.

The press conference will be held after the health secretary announces which tier each local authority will be assigned in the Commons at 11.30am.

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England’s new tier system will come into effect after the nation’s month-long lockdown ends on December 2 and will be relaxed for a five-day period over Christmas.

Reports suggest London and Liverpool are to avoid the strictest tier three measures and will be placed in tier two along with the majority of the country.

It is thought only a small number of rural areas will get away with the softest tier one measures, with reports suggesting they will include parts of eastern England and remote areas in Cornwall and Cumbria.

The chancellor confirmed this morning that the PM will be holding a press briefing later today, as he defended the new tier system amid criticism that the rules are largely similar to those of the current lockdown.

Rishi Sunak told BBC Breakfast: ‘I know people are frustrated, of course it’s frustrating living under restrictions…

‘The Prime Minister will be doing a press conference later, the Health Secretary will be making a statement in Parliament later as well.

‘We have a Cabinet meeting later this morning to go over these things and finalise them.

‘But people will see a tangible change, wherever they are, compared to the last four weeks.’

This story is being updated, more to follow…

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Denver Mayor Hancock flies to Mississippi for Thanksgiving, despite public health recommendations

Despite public health officials’ recommendations not to travel unnecessarily and Denver Mayor Michael Hancock himself urging residents to take extra precautions over Thanksgiving, the mayor has taken a plane to Mississippi.

Hancock spokesman Mike Strott confirmed that Hancock flew out of Denver on Wednesday morning but said the mayor doesn’t believe that move contradicts what he has been asking Denverites to do to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus.

While Hancock typically hosts a 50-person family dinner for Thanksgiving, this year he will be spending the holiday just with his wife and youngest daughter, albeit in Mississippi, Strott said. The rest of the family will join in electronically.

“(Hancock) has told people to rethink their Thanksgiving plans. He has also said that if you do travel to follow health and safety guidelines and the mayor will still follow health and safety guidelines upon his return,” Strott said.

Wednesday morning, however, Hancock tweeted out more public health recommendations, including to avoid unnecessary travel. He is one of a growing chorus of public officials who have been spotted skirting their own recommendations for the holiday season. Many public health officials, including those in Hancock’s employ, have warned that hospitals could quickly become overcrowded if many people do not follow health recommendations.

This story will be updated.

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Millions stick to Thanksgiving travel plans despite warnings

About 1 million Americans a day packed airports and planes over the weekend even as coronavirus deaths surged across the U.S. and public health experts begged people to stay home and avoid big Thanksgiving gatherings.

And the crowds are only expected to grow. Next Sunday is likely to be the busiest day of the holiday period.

To be sure, the number of people flying for Thanksgiving is down by more than half from last year because of the rapidly worsening outbreak. However, the 3 million who went through U.S. airport checkpoints from Friday through Sunday marked the biggest crowds since mid-March, when the COVID-19 crisis took hold in the United States.

Many travelers are unwilling to miss out on seeing family and are convinced they can do it safely. Also, many colleges have ended their in-person classes, propelling students to return home.

Laurie Pearcy, director of administration for a Minneapolis law firm, is flying to New Orleans to attend her daughter’s bridal shower and have a small Thanksgiving dinner with her son.

“I don’t want to unknowingly make anyone sick. But I also don’t want to miss this special event for my only daughter,” she said.

Stephen Browning, a retired executive from Tucson, Arizona, will be flying to Seattle for Thanksgiving with his sister. The celebration usually has up to 30 people; this year only 10 are coming, and everyone was asked to get a coronavirus test. He doesn’t plan on removing his mask to eat or drink on the flight.

“This is my first flight since December 2019, so yes, I have concerns,” he said. “But I think most airlines are acting responsibly now and enforcing masks on all flights.”

Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urged Americans not to travel or spend the holiday with people outside their household.

New cases of the virus in the U.S. have rocketed to all-time highs, averaging more than 170,000 per day, and deaths have soared to over 1,500 a day, the highest level since the spring. The virus is blamed for more than a quarter-million deaths in the U.S. and over 12 million confirmed infections.

“There is so much community transmission all over the United States that the chances of you encountering somebody that has COVID-19 is actually very, very high, whether it’s on an airplane, at the airport or at a rest area,” said Dr. Syra Madad, an infectious-disease epidemiologist for New York City hospitals.

The nation’s top infectious-diseases expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, told CBS’ “Face the Nation” that people at airports “are going to get us into even more trouble than we’re in right now.”

The message may be sinking in for some.

Bookings in 2020 are down about 60% from where they were this time last year. Thanksgiving reservations were ticking upward in early October but fell back again as case numbers surged. Since airlines have made it easier to cancel tickets, there could be a rash of cancellations closer to the holiday, said John Elder, an adviser to airlines from Boston Consulting Group.

In 2019, a record 26 million passengers and crew passed through U.S. airport screening in the 11-day period around Thanksgiving. This year, the industry trade group Airlines for America isn’t even providing a forecast because things are so uncertain.

Because of tighter restrictions by many governments, air travel in other parts of the world has, in contrast, come to a near standstill. In Europe, traffic between countries was down by 83% in September from a year earlier, and that has only worsened since then because many countries imposed new limits.

Josh Holman and his family were planning to fly to Lake Tahoe and spend Thanksgiving with his brother, who lives in San Francisco, and his parents, who live in North Dakota. But they scrapped those plans.

“I see it as my civic duty not to spread this virus further,” said Holman, an assistant county prosecutor who lives outside Detroit.

Alejandro Zuniga and his fiancee, Megan Muhs, who live in Costa Rica, thought briefly about flying to Wisconsin for Thanksgiving to see Muhs’ family but decided against it. They also nixed a trip to the U.S. in December.

“No part of a major international trip seems safe at this point,” Zuniga said. The pair plans to make video calls to family and stream the Detroit Lions football game on Thanksgiving Day.

More people tend to drive than fly over Thanksgiving, but even car travel is expected to see a drop-off, according to AAA. Based on surveys in mid-October, the association was expecting 47.8 million people to drive to Thanksgiving gatherings, down 4% from last year. But AAA said the drop could prove to be even bigger, given the worsening crisis.

Brad Carr and his wife, retirees who live in Griffin, Georgia, debated whether to drive 35 miles north to his son’s house for Thanksgiving and eat at a separate table on the porch. But after the CDC’s announcement, they decided to stay home. Carr’s son will deliver their meal “a la Uber Eats,” Carr said.

Those who do gather should eat outdoors, wear masks, stay 6 feet apart and have one person serve the food, the CDC said.

That’s the plan for Juliana Walter’s family. Walter, a student at the University of Tampa, plans to get a coronavirus test and then drive home to Maryland. Her parents have rented tents and outdoor heaters and will host up to 30 masked family members for Thanksgiving dinner.

The holidays close out a bleak year for U.S. travel. Travel spending is expected to drop 45% from 2019 levels, to $617 billion, according to the U.S. Travel Association, a trade group.

Canceling Thanksgiving trips is painful for many families.

Kelly Kleber usually flies from Seattle to her hometown of Tucson, Arizona, to spend the holiday with her parents. They have a picnic to celebrate the life of her sister, who died on Thanksgiving in 2015. This year, Kleber is sending her parents a portrait of her sister and plans a video call on Thanksgiving.

“It’s going to be hard being away from family this year,” she said.

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Gyms and hairdressers to reopen with new rules after lockdown

Gyms, hairdressers and beauty salons will reopen across all tier levels when lockdown ends, Boris Johnson has announced.

The Prime Minister is outlining the new rules in his statement to the Commons today.

He confirmed lockdown will end on December 2, when areas will be put under local restrictions.

Facilities including swimming pools and gyms as well as hairdressers and nail bars were closed when England was plunged into its second national shut-down.

Some had to close in areas under tier three restrictions, but this will no longer be the case under the ‘strengthened’ tiered system.

The PM told MPs: ‘From next Wednesday people will be able to leave their home for any purpose and meet others in outdoor public spaces, subject to the rule of six, collective worship, weddings and outdoor sports can resume, and shops, personal care, gyms and the wider leisure sector can reopen.

‘But without sensible precautions, we would risk the virus escalating into a winter or New Year surge.

‘The incidents of the disease is, alas, still widespread in many areas.’

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‘I don’t want to say goodbye’: Armenian monastery guarded by military set to pass to Azerbaijan

The Cathedral Church at the Dadivank monastery is packed.

The Armenian chant, or sharakan, used during Holy Mass sounds especially melancholy this Sunday – a beautiful tenor voice filling the small domed space as members of the congregation wipe away tears.

Perhaps they have lost loved ones in this war. Perhaps they grieve their nation’s defeat.

Perhaps it is grief that this holy place for Armenian Christians will pass into Azerbaijani hands on Wednesday.

This is the last Sunday when the medieval monastic complex at Dadivank remains de facto theirs.

“It is our heritage and we should look after and protect it,” says Sona Khachaturyan who has come to visit from the Armenian capital, Yerevan.

“Unfortunately it will become part of Azerbaijan. It’s painful but I don’t want to say goodbye because I’m sure I’ll be back.”

The Russian tricolour flag flies at the entrance to the monastery complex.

A Russian tank sits in the courtyard, barrel pointing at the oncoming traffic.

Azerbaijan has promised that Armenian Christians will be provided with continued access to Dadivank and other religious sites in territories that will soon be theirs.

The Russians are here to make sure they keep their word.

“Azerbaijanis are not Turks but they behave like them,” says Father Shmavan, who came from Yerevan to help officiate the service.

“The Ottoman Turks promised that everything would be okay but when the Young Turks came to power they started the Armenian genocide.

“There were a lot of promises made by the Aliyev dynasty starting with Heydar and finishing with Ilham Aliyev, but they don’t keep their promises.”

The deportation and mass killing of around 1.5 million ethnic Armenians as the Ottoman Empire collapsed is a wound which will never heal for Armenians and the huge Armenian diaspora.

It was the bogeyman in Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s wartime rhetoric.

Turkey and Azerbaijan are the only two states which still refuse to recognise the genocide.

No wonder Father Shmavan has little faith in their promises.

Now the fear and the language of cultural genocide is reappearing.

Much of Armenia’s cultural heritage was destroyed when Western Armenia was absorbed into Turkey in the first part of the 20th century.

With the territorial losses incurred as a result of this war, Armenia is squeezed again.

These ancient sites though are impressive for their resilience. During Soviet times when Kalbajar was in Azerbaijani hands, locals kept their cattle in the Dadivank monastery.

The layer of soot from the fires they burnt helped preserve the 12th century frescoes underneath which were only revealed during renovations in the early 1990s.

We decide to visit the 4th century monastery complex at Amaras.

It is still under Armenian control but is situated in the south eastern corner of Nagorno-Karabakh where Azerbaijan has recaptured a lot of territory. It is isolated and precarious.

The little white church at its centre is surrounded by thick, fortified walls. When Eastern Armenia was under Russian control in the 19th century, Amaras was a frontier fortress.

Now again it is a militarised zone. The Azerbaijani positions are three kilometres away, at the top of the hill on the horizon.

The Russian flag flies over the ramparts but an Armenian unit is stationed here for now. The entrance is through a hole in the wall.

The soldiers have barbecued a pig and invite us to eat with them inside the fortified walls. There is no electricity so we eat by the light of our mobile phones.

“It is surprising that you see me eating at a table because all my friends are still in the trenches,” says Artak Hovhannesyan.

“If you stand at this monastery and look right, left and behind the trenches are still full.”

The Russian peacekeepers have an initial mandate of five years but that will most likely be extended.

Despite their presence, both sides will need to keep their trenches manned. As this conflict re-freezes, this kind of military effort is needed to maintain the new status quo.

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Denver Motor Vehicle to close branches to in-person visits because of COVID-19.

All five Denver Motor Vehicle (DMV) branches will close to the public next week because of COVID-19 concerns.

Beginning Monday, until further notice, the offices will shut down to protect the health and safety of employees and the community and to reduce the spread of COVID-19, according to a news release from the city’s Department of Finance.

Residents with registrations and tags that expired prior to November will be served in-person through the end of the business day Friday.

Motor vehicle staff will continue to process transactions by phone, online and by mail. Most transactions can be completed online and residents are strongly encouraged to visit denvergov.org/dmv or to use the mail.

The DMV has experienced three-times the normal phone traffic in recent months, residents are advised that “long hold times” will be likely. Drop boxes are available for auto dealer transactions not available online or by mail.

Denver police and Denver Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Right of Way Enforcement agents will not be enforcing expired tags beginning Monday and until further notice.

The in-person closure decisions were made in response to Denver’s COVID-19 positivity rate and a move to a level red – Safer at Home Severe Risk – on the state’s COVID-19 protection dial, the release said.

Also in Denver, the Taxpayer Service Center will be reducing its hours to 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Monday and Thursday. Online and mail transactions remain available seven days a week.

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Dad’s desperate hunt to find boy, 2, who vanished after staying with German mum

A desperate search has been launched to find a two-year-old boy who has been missing for nearly a year after staying with his German mother.

Emmanuel Biendarra’s ‘devastated’ father said he is ‘so worried about his safety’ amid fears he was taken abroad by 34-year-old Kristina Nobis, and could be in central Europe.

Nobis is said to have links to areas of Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

The parents are separated and Emmanuel was living with his father in Kent when he disappeared nearly 11 months ago.



Emmanuel’s father, who has not been named, said: ‘I am so worried about his safety and urge anyone who knows anything to come forward and assist.’

The toddler’s disappearance has now prompted a High Court judge to make an urgent appeal.

Mr Justice Peel said he is ‘very concerned’ about Emmanuel and has called on anyone with information to contact police.

A statement said: ‘Emmanuel lived with his father under court orders and it was agreed that his mother, Kristina Nobis, a German national, could have him to stay on the weekend of 30 November and 1 December 2019.


‘At the end of the weekend, Emmanuel’s mother did not return him and he has not been seen since.

‘It is believed that Emmanuel may now be with his mother in Germany, Switzerland, Austria or other parts of central Europe.’

The release said Emmanuel’s mother is thought to have links to Huefingen, Weiler im Allgaeu, the Lake Constance area, Scheidegg, and Lindenberg im Allgaeu, in Germany.

She is said to have links to Bregenz in Austria, and Latsch and Sevgein in Switzerland.

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