Day: March 13, 2020

Q&A: New travel ban shakes up airlines, passengers

Airlines and travellers are still sorting out the new travel ban that President Donald Trump announced late Wednesday that bars most foreign visitors coming to the U.S. from continental Europe for 30 days.

The ban will affect 7,300 flights — and more than 2 million airline seats — scheduled from 26 European nations to the U.S., according to travel data firm Cirium.

Airlines are reeling from a drop in travel caused by the new coronavirus, and the ban will add to pressure on carriers, said Alexandre de Juniac, CEO of the International Air Transport Association trade group.

“We have already seen Flybe go under,” he said, referring to a British airline that shut down last week. “And this latest blow could push others in the same direction.”

Meanwhile, travellers are scrambling to figure out how the ban, which starts at midnight Friday, will affect them.

Here are some frequent questions about the travel ban and its repercussions:



Most foreign citizens who have been in continental Europe in the 14 days before their scheduled U.S. arrival would be barred. The United Kingdom is not part of the 26-country Schengen Area and will be exempted from the ban, along with Ireland, Romania, Croatia, Ukraine and several other European states.

Neither Trump nor the Homeland Security Department explained the reason for leaving out the U.K. A U.S. official who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations said the U.S. sees the biggest threat coming from the European continent, not the U.K. — although the U.K. has at least 459 confirmed coronavirus cases and eight deaths.

The ban doesn’t apply to American citizens returning from abroad, at least for now. It also doesn’t cover foreigners who are lawful permanent residents of the U.S., or the spouses or children of American citizens and foreign children being adopted by Americans. The official said there are no plans to expand the order to include American citizens or lawful permanent residents who have been to Schengen countries, which have no passport controls within its borders.

Trump’s executive order also carves out exemptions for airline crews, people on United Nations business, foreigners invited by the U.S. government to help contain the virus, and anyone whose entry is deemed to be “in the national interest.”



Like previous bans applying to people who have been in China or Iran, they will be funneled to one of 11 airports: Atlanta; Dallas-Fort Worth; Detroit; Newark, New Jersey; Honolulu; Kennedy Airport in New York; Los Angeles International; Chicago O’Hare; Seattle; San Francisco; and Dulles International outside Washington, D.C.



Dr. Anthony Fauci, the the National Institutes of Health’s top official on infectious diseases, said Thursday that 70% of new infections can be traced to Europe. “It was pretty compelling that we needed to turn off the source from that region,” he told a congressional panel.

Other medical experts are skeptical, noting that the virus is now being passed through so-called community transmission — among people who haven’t travelled overseas or been in contact with someone who has.

Dr. Bruce Aylward, who led a World Health Organization team in China as the COVID-19 disease was surging last month, said countries might gain in the short term by limiting travel but overall “it doesn’t help to restrict movement.”



The combination of the drop in demand, widespread and growing restrictions on travel, and uncertainty over how long it will last is unprecedented, even by the U.S. travel industry’s decline after the 2001 terror attacks and the brief but sharp downturn in global travel during the SARS outbreak in Asia in 2002.

Security measures after 9-11 made the few passengers who kept flying feel safe, and they sensed things would get better, said Seth Kaplan, a transportation analyst and longtime industry observer.

“This is new territory. You have a 9-11-like drop in demand, but you can’t tell people that you’re absolutely safe to fly — you’re not absolutely safe around any group of people,” Kaplan said.



Delta said Thursday that it will suspend seven routes between the U.S. and Europe after Friday. United Airlines said it will fly its normal schedule to Europe through March 19 and continuing flying at least daily to a half dozen cities in continental Europe after that while monitoring demand. Delta, United and American all said they were capping fares on flights from Europe to the U.S. They are also waiving fees for changing or cancelling tickets through April 30.

Germany’s Lufthansa Group said it will keep flying to Chicago and the New York and Washington, D.C., areas from Frankfurt, Zurich, Vienna and Brussels to maintain “at least some air traffic connections to the USA.” But it will stop U.S.-bound flights from Munich, Geneva and Duesseldorf. The group’s subsidiaries include Lufthansa and Austrian, Swiss and Brussels airlines.

Norwegian Air said it would cancel most of its flights to the U.S. but operate flights from London normally. The budget carrier announced other schedule reductions too, and said it would furlough up to half its employees.



Airline officials say they haven’t asked for assistance — yet. After a decade of heady profits, U.S. airlines are much stronger financially than they were after the 2001 terror attacks, when they got government help.

The longer the virus disrupts travel, however, the more likely a bailout becomes. Airlines are lining up more credit from banks to preserve liquidity. They are slashing capital spending. They could cancel or defer aircraft orders, although none have announced such moves.

The trigger on a request for aid could be the kind of massive airline layoffs that followed 9-11. Most airlines have already frozen hiring and asked workers to take unpaid leave.

“These airlines are not yet on the precipice of going out of business, but if they feel they can’t responsibly avoid furloughs to save the company, at that point they could go to the government,” Kaplan said.


Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar in Washington contributed to this report.

David Koenig And Ben Fox, The Associated Press

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The Secret To Staying Healthy? Dance.

If going to the gym isn't your thing, take a dance class that focuses on movement and/or music you enjoy.

Welcome to HuffPost Canada’s series on what fitness means to Canadians: “What Does Fitness Look Like For Me?”


There are plenty of stories out there about how people can “lose weight.” We’re not interested in that. We want to know what Canadians really think about fitness, how it makes them feel, and whether they think it’s important for their health. Because no matter what fitness looks like for you, it’s valid.

Today we’re talking to: Dancers.

When most people hear “fitness,” more often than not they picture people lifting weights at the gym or running on a treadmill. But fitness doesn’t have to be limited to just that.

Exercising can be as simple (and fun!) as dancing around in your living room for 20 minutes each day to Lady Gaga.  

Dancing gets people moving, and that’s what fitness is all about. That’s why we decided to speak to five professional dancers about what role fitness plays in their lives, how they fell in love with dance in the first place, and their tips on how to dance like nobody’s watching. 

Note: Answers have been edited and condensed for clarity and length.

How did you get started with dance?

Kaja Irwin, 32, is a professional jazz dancer, choreographer, and dance educator currently working as a company dancer with Calgary’s Decidedly Jazz Danceworks (DJD).

I started dance classes when I was four years old at the Royal Winnipeg Ballet. I was always moving and dancing around as a child, so my parents put me in a creative movement class. As soon as I started taking lessons, I fell even more in love with dancing and movement.

Music has always made me want to move and, in general, I am quite expressive with my body, even in everyday life.

Senyo Akakpo, 28, is a professional hip-hop dancer, teacher, and choreographer whose work has been featured in festivals like the Juno Awards and Culture Shock. 

I got started with dance fairly late … at age 18. I ended up joining [a small dance group at Ryerson University called Studio 2] and later [became] one of the leaders/teachers.

After graduation, I decided to pursue a professional career (and after learning from multiple professional teachers and being in pre-professional training programs). 

Ria Aikat, 30, is the co-founder of Dance ’N’ Culture and is a dance artist who specializes in bharatanatyam (a classical Indian dance), Bollywood, bhangra, hip-hop, and house. 

My mom put me in ballet when I was six years old. She loved dancing when she grew up and always enjoyed watching dance. I was a hyper kid, and dance was a way to channel all that energy. 

Taylor Hunt, 28, is a professional dancer, educator, and fitness instructor who specializes in ballet, jazz, and salsa. 

My mother noticed that I took up dancing and singing around the house at age three and the rest is history. Every year I added on a new discipline until it became my main focus and career path.

Throughout the years, my artistic interests have shifted through many styles, but I am always happy as long as I am moving and learning kinesthetically.  

Andrew Nemr, 39, is the artistic and executive director of the Vancouver Tap Dance Society and was a tap dancer for over 25 years.

I started dancing when I was three-and-a half years old. Neither of my parents dance, but they thought it would be a good social activity for me, their only child. I started with all styles and eventually focused on tap dance.

What made you decide to specialize in one style of dance over another?

Ria Aikat

I grew up taking ballet, tap, and jazz until I was 18; I loved all three styles at the time but that was all I knew in terms of the world of dance. My mom also put me into bharatanatyam (a classical Indian dance) when I was a teenager so I could learn more about my Indian heritage.  

[It wasn’t until] I joined the South Asian dance team at my university, [that] I was introduced to hip-hop and Bollywood and my mind was blown. I connected to the music, the grooves, and the cultural aspects of both these dance styles more than I ever did to the three studio styles I grew up learning.


Now, I do a lot of fusion choreography with all the eastern and western dance styles I’ve learned and as an Indo-Canadian, it’s a creative outlet for me to explore both sides of that identity

Andrew Nemr

When I was nine years old, I saw the movie “Tap.” It was then that I first saw improvisational tap dancing and a model of this beautiful community of dancers, encouraging one another’s individual expression within a common form.

The ability to express oneself through sound and movement was very attractive. Looking back, the communal aspect of the dance was also important for me as an immigrant and an only child.

The journey of pursuing tap dance taught me about community and has guided me in finding one.

Senyo Akakpo

I have always grown up around hip-hop culture living and growing up in [Toronto’s] Rexdale area, but I never had much interest [in dance] until later. I [also] love the storytelling aspect of the culture and as a Black male who has grown up and been around people who have lived the lifestyle, I identify with hip-hop culture a lot more than other styles. 

WATCH: Women teach girls to break hip-hop glass ceiling. Story continues below.


Dance is something I actually kept quiet from my family for a long time because I didn’t think it was something they would support. I graduated with a degree in biophysics and psychology and I thought my [immigrant parents, who are from Ghana,] would be so disappointed if they found out that I didn’t want to be a scientist or doctor.

I knew they wanted me to go into medicine because I was good at the sciences, but I also knew that the old hopes for most immigrant parents was for their kids to go into high paying “secure” careers (doctor, lawyer, etc.).

Now my parents are really supportive of my choice and love to listen about my work. Funny enough, my dad was interested in singing and dance when he was younger but wasn’t supported by his family and let those interests go and pursued other things.

Is dance your primary method of exercise or do you do other forms of fitness? 

Taylor Hunt 

Dance will always be my favourite method of exercise, which is why I connect so strongly to barre fitness and pilates. I also know how extremely important it is to be cross training as an athlete, so I love HIIT classes and spin classes as well.

I graduated with a degree in biophysics and psychology and I thought my [immigrant parents] would be so disappointed if they found out that I didn’t want to be a scientist or doctor.Senyo Akakpo

I am a more informed dancer as I get older. As my body changes, it has been beneficial to study as a fitness instructor to prevent injury, know my physical weaknesses and strengthen where necessary.

Because of my upbringing in a class structure, I will always be a group fitness kind of person. Going to the gym and working out alone doesn’t excite me, so you probably won’t find me there! 

Kaja Irwin

As a company dancer with DJD, we train at the gym daily as part of our Monday-to-Friday work day, and each dancer follows their own program and preferences to train in what they need to for their bodies.

I like to do a lot of weightlifting, which I believe makes me a much better dancer both in efficiency of movement and strength. 

Kaja Irwin.

The rest of our day is full of company dance classes and rehearsals, so each day is filled with movement. I like to be active so this dense schedule works out well for me.

Sometimes if I decide I need a shift of energy, in my free time I will take a yoga class and walk around downtown Calgary.

Ria Aikat

Dance is my primary method of exercise, which makes it hard to do any other form of fitness. I’ve gotten so used to relying on dance as my exercise, but I notice such a difference in my dancing when I do put in the time to condition and strengthen outside of my regular classes. 


Often when I teach kids, they don’t understand why we warm up and stretch at the beginning of every class. As dancers, we are artists and athletes. If your cardio, strength, and flexibility is at its best, you’ll be able to dance bigger, stronger, and for longer. 

How has dancing impacted the way you think about fitness?

Andrew Nemr

The way I think and the way my body has developed are both directly related to my experience dancing. I’m continually learning and changing, and my dancing is a part of that process.

Right now, I think a lot about what a healthy system looks like. Do I have good range of motion? Am I eating well? What’s my stress level like? I started to ask these questions as the demands of my dancing began to wear on me. Now I think about them as a matter of general health, and use my dancing as a check-in to see where I’m at on a given day.

Kaja Irwin

Dancing helps me appreciate my body and how much it can do for me. I can ask it to be coordinated, connected, and challenged. I like that it can surprise me, too!

When I think of fitness, I think of what I need to do to be in peak physical state in order to complete the shows I perform in, but also that rest, recovery, and healing are just as important in order for me to be in that state. Finding that balance of activity and rest both in physical and mental states, is how I think of fitness. 

Ria Aikat

I’ve gained confidence both on and off the dance floor. It’s made me think about how our mental and physical health are so clearly linked together. If I don’t dance or move my body for a while, I notice a distinct decline in my mood and motivation to get things done for the day. 

Through teaching all ages from kindergarten to seniors, I’ve witnessed dance to be a simple and accessible way to exercise. Depending on your age and ability, dance can provide both gentle and vigorous exercise throughout the week. 

Have you ever felt self-conscious while dancing? What advice do you have for people who feel this way, but want to try? 

Senyo Akakpo

As one of those people who used to be very self-conscious about his ability, I can tell you there is nothing to be ashamed of. Everyone was a beginner at some point and the way I approached my self-consciousness was by just jumping in.

I know that doesn’t always work for everyone, but in a class setting, especially in beginner classes, everyone is so focused on themselves that they don’t notice you. 

You may not always get [every move] in class, but appreciate your own personal small victories whether that’s just getting in the studio or just being able to get one of the steps right.

Don’t put pressure on yourself to be an amazing dancer as a beginner. Everybody struggles, and as long as you’re working hard, you should be proud of your growth.

Taylor Hunt

Of course! I continue to feel this way on purpose because that’s where growth lives. Trying something new such as learning a new skill, step, or style will forever be daunting. Knowing that is half the battle because then you can show up for yourself without any expectation of being “good” at something.

WATCH:  #BoysDanceToo takes off to combat gender norms. Story continues below.


Give yourself time to be a beginner. Repetition is key and I bet everyone in that room will appreciate your courage more than you even realize.

Kaja Irwin

In our society, we have fewer opportunities to dance in our day-to-day lives, which makes it difficult to make that first step into a dance class or even out dancing in social situations.

There is something integral about connecting music, dance, and people that isn’t as readily available these days. Maybe try going to a class with some friends and make it a group outing.

I think it’s valuable to be vulnerable in our lives and even if it’s your first dance class, it is bound to be someone else’s first class as well. Everyone is there to learn and have fun.

Also, dance is so individual and that’s the beauty of it. Accept how you move while you’re feeling the music and try as hard as you can not to judge yourself.

Ria Aikat

Once you can truly dance like nobody’s watching (because no one is!), the feeling you get when you connect with your body, the space, and the people around you is such a release. 

I think it’s valuable to be vulnerable in our lives and even if it’s your first dance class, it is bound to be someone else’s first class as well. Everyone is there to learn and have fun.Kaja Irwin

My advice is to take a class connected to the genre of music you enjoy listening to. I teach a class called Throwback Pop at [Toronto’s] Pink Studio where we exclusively dance to music from the 1990s and early 2000s era.

It’s awesome watching my students break a sweat while lip syncing to their favourite Backstreet Boys jam. So if you love house music, take a beginner house class! If you love watching Bollywood movies, take a Bollywood class! It will make it much easier to dip your toe into the world of dance. 

How does dancing make you feel?

Taylor Hunt

Dancing makes me feel alive. I prove to myself every day that I can accomplish amazing feats of strength within my mind and body and therefore it becomes a spiritual practice.

It brings connection to others, reflection on real human experiences, and community to my life, which are important for balance, mental health, and peace. I am the best version of myself when I am dancing. 

Senyo Akakpo

Dance brings me a lot of joy and allows me a way to express myself and my emotions openly and positively. It wasn’t until I found dance that I understood [what it meant to be] passionate about something.

Andrew Nemr

Andrew Nemr

Dancing makes me feel at home. I’ve been tap dancing longer than anything else in my life. When I put my shoes on and hit the wood, it makes me remember things, feel things, and think about things that seem harder to get to otherwise.

I think it has to do with embodiment and presence. Tap dancing is the place where I can get both of those things at the same time. 

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