• Auckland put under three-day lockdown amid new COVID casesTravel And Tour World

    Published on : Monday, February 15, 2021

    On Sunday, February 14, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern ordered a three-day lockdown in Auckland in order to stop the spread of the new U.K. variant of the COVID-19 virus. The level 3 restrictions will require everyone to stay home except for essential shopping and essential work and will force a delay in America’s Cup sailing regatta. The current lockdown is the second time Auckland has been put under measures since last year’s nationwide lockdown that helped New Zealand to curb the spread of the pandemic.

    Prime Minister Ardern said in her statement that genomic testing has showcased three community cases of the U.K. variant of Covid-19 prompting 1.6 million Kiwis to face bans on non-essential movement until midnight on Wednesday as part of alert level three restrictions. The rest of New Zealand has also been placed in alert level two restrictions, mandating social distancing, caps on gathering and increased mask wearing. As health authorities work towards getting a complete picture of the virus spread, it is yet to be decided if the lockdown will extend beyond midnight on Wednesday, February 17.

    Prime Minister Ardern said in a press statement that the country have stamped out the virus before and will be doing the same again. She stated that three days should give authorities enough time to gather further information, undertake large-scale testing and establish if there has been wider community transmission and shared that cautious approach is required and is the right thing to do. She also informed that health officials were still trying to identify the source of infection, working on two main leads.

    The Ministry of Health has informed that now no new COVID-19 cases have been identified in the community though there were another five in managed isolation, bringing the country’s total number of active cases to 47.  It also said contact tracers had identified 10 close contacts of the family, six of whom had tested negative for the virus and four of whom were still waiting for results. The health ministry also said the Institute of Environmental Science and Research was now conducting a scan of the international genome database to find a match.

    It also said serology testing for the three positive cases, who are currently in quarantine, and a close household contact, who is in isolation, was also underway. New Zealanders are also being asked to download a COVID Tracer application and scan QR codes to record movement and who they pass by. In light of the present situation, Australia has halted quarantine-free travel for New Zealand for an initial three-day period, starting Monday. People arriving from New Zealand will need to go into hotel quarantine for 14 days in Australia.

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    Tags: auckland, Auckland Tourism, Coronavirus, Covid-19, new zealand

  • Watch Bully perform lockdown cover of PJ Harvey’s ‘Dry’

    Bully (aka Alicia Bognanno) has performed a cover of PJ Harvey‘s ‘Dry’ – you can watch it below.

    Recorded for ‘Songs That Found Me At The Right Time’, a campaign launched by mental health organisation Sounds Of Saving, the singer-songwriter explained why the 1993 track means so much to her.

    “It’s kind of everything put together, but really just those guitar chords, like the way that they’re played, kind of the pattern that they’re played, and the way they’re strummed really resonates with me. It’s super powerful.” she said during an interview segment before her performance.

    “And then her vocal delivery is always just unbelievable. There was a point in time where I was just listening to that on repeat and I felt like it was the only thing that made me feel really good. I really appreciate that song.”

    Watch Bully’s cover of ‘Dry’ (starting around the 4:58 mark) below:

    Elsewhere during the interview, Bully talked about her struggles with Bipolar 2 disorder.

    “A lot of musicians, like myself, are sober and dealing with mental health. I think it’s 85 per cent of artists, or something, struggle with mental health,” she said. “I have a link on my fridge for a suicide prevention hotline because you never know when people are going to need that. And people aren’t really vocal about it, so that should be readily available at all times.”

    She continued: “I mean, that’s one of the most difficult things for people to talk about and I know for me, this isn’t realistic for everybody, but my dog that I’ve had for 11 years – I have another one now – but having her as a therapy dog has changed my life. Now, she’s a certified emotional support dog but when I got her, she wasn’t. She has been a reason to get to the next day on a number of different occasions.”

    Last year, Bully released her third album ‘SUGAREGG’. In a four-star review, NME‘s Dannii Leivers called it a “killer record” and noted that she stays firmly in the same “distorted sweet spot” as her previous projects.

  • Dolly Parton and Shawn Mendes can now accompany you on your lockdown walks

    Dolly Parton and Shawn Mendes are among the notable names who have contributed spoken-word passages to a new feature on the Apple Watch, ‘Time To Walk’.

    The feature is being billed by Apple as “an inspiring new audio walking experience” which has been “created to encourage users to walk more often and reap the benefits from one of the healthiest activities”.

    Fitness+ subscribers can tune in to a series of episodes presented by the likes of Parton and Mendes as they “share thoughtful and meaningful stories, photos, and music” designed to accompany users during their walking work-outs.

    Parton’s ‘Time To Walk’ episode sees the country artist reflecting on her career, family and growing up in rural Tennessee.

    Dolly Parton
    Country music star Dolly Parton in her Time to Walk episode (Picture: Apple / Press)

    “I’ve loved walking ever since I was a little girl in the Smoky Mountains,” Parton said in a statement. “I think it’s so important to be able to get out and walk if we can during this time. I do my best thinking when I walk.

    “And while many of us feel confined during this time, I’m hopeful that people will take a walk down memory lane with me and we can all feel a little more freedom taking the time to walk together.”

    As well as Parton and Mendes, NBA player Draymond Green and Emmy Award winner Uzo Aduba have also contributed ‘Time To Walk’ episodes. New episodes from a different guest will appear in the Workout app on the Apple Watch each Monday through to the end of April.

    You can find out more about the new feature here.

    Earlier this month, Parton revealed that she has recorded a song that her fans will only get to hear in 30 years’ time.