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Carribbean

Caribbean Islands Prepare To Reopen For International Travel During Covid-19 Pandemic

I think it’s safe to say we all could use a major break from the world right now, and what better place to take that break than the Caribbean Islands? While Covid-19 is still very much an issue in America, and the entire world, right now, some countries are beginning to reopen their doors as a result of curve flattening. Specifically, many islands within the Caribbean are reopening within the next few months, with some new social distancing measures put into play. 

So far, the island of Anguilla has only had three cases of Covid-19 reported. The British overseas territory closed their airports and shipping ports until at least June 30th; hence the low case numbers. For local islanders, business and other restrictions began lifting on April 30th, allowing gatherings of 25 or less. 

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Antigua and Barbuda opened up their borders on June 1st after only suffering through 26 cases. They have a plan in place to slowly reopen their international airport within the next month or so. Visitors will be required to wear a mask at all times when in public. Visitors will also have to be tested for Covid-19 two days before their arrival, and they must bring proof of a negative result. 

Aruba has just over 100 cases but expects to reopen its borders during the second-half of June. On May 25th the island allowed outdoor restaurants to open up under a strict night curfew. The island has also implemented a new cleaning and hygiene certification program for all tourism-related businesses. This program includes initiatives to sanitize luggage, as well as using protective barriers at concierge desks. 

The Bahamas have had around the same number of cases as Aruba, and they plan to reopen to commercial travel on July 1st. Visitors will only be able to visit islands where the virus has been completely contained. All international airports, resorts, and hotels will remain closed to international travelers until further notice. 

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Not all islands are as optimistic about when they’ll be able to reopen, however. The Cayman Islands have had 150 cases of coronavirus and are planning on remaining closed for all non-essential travel into September. Cuba has had around 3,000 cases and is leaving its airports closed until at least June 30th. The Dominican Republic has collectively had over 17,000 cases and are remaining closed indefinitely. 

Jamaica has had around 600 cases and allowed most of its citizens to return to work on June 1st. Bars and restaurants have also reopened with new capacity restrictions, and they’re hoping to open up their airport to resume flights from Baltimore and Orlando on June 7th. 

Puerto Rico has had more than 3,900 cases but have begun reopening local businesses and public areas like the beach. Restaurants have also been opened, again with new capacity restrictions, and as of right now anyone who visits the island is required to quarantine for 14 days, regardless of how healthy they feel. 

Saint Lucia got lucky and only reported 18 total cases of Covid-19. They begun welcoming back visitors to their island this Thursday, June 4th, as long as they can provide a valid negative test result for the coronavirus taken 48 hours before their flight. They also will be required to wear masks and could be subject to temperature checks upon arrival. 

For further information covering all of the islands in the Caribbean, click here.

MLB

MLB Owners Move To Pass Proposal That Would Start Baseball Season In July

Major League Baseball (MLB) owners have created a proposal that they will be submitting to the players union that could potentially lead to a delayed baseball season that would begin around the Fourth of July, instead of June. The proposal comes as an obvious response to the coronavirus pandemic and indefinite cancellations of all major sporting events in the United States until this pandemic is over.

Spring training would likely start in early to mid-June if the proposal comes into fruition. However, MLB officials will need the stamp of approval from the players union before any decisions are made, and it’s expected that the union is gonna put up quite the fight to keep players home.

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“If you do anything that resembles a cap, that smells like a cap, you’ve given too much. A salary cap has been a non-starter for the players as long as I’ve been in baseball. I think when MLB is proposing a revenue split, it is with the full knowledge that the players’ union will automatically reject that,” said David Samson, former president of the Expos and Marlins.

The proposal claims that each player would play about 82 regular-season games against opponents within their own division. Postseason games would expand out from 10 clubs to 14 by “doubling wild cards in each league to four.” Teams are likely going to want to play at their regular-season ballparks, however, if MLB can’t get proper government approval to have home games, teams will have to switch to either spring training stadiums or any other neutral meeting sites.

“We’ll see where we will be in July, California is the home of five MLB clubs and [they’ve all] talked with baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred. We certainly look forward to Major League Baseball and all sports resuming. But again, the question is when and that will be determined on the basis of public health and public safety and the spread of this virus,” said California Governor Gavin Newsom.

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Players, however, aren’t so convinced that we’ll be returning to a life of normalcy anytime soon, and based off what we’ve heard before in terms of professional athlete protections, most MLB players want what everyone wants; health protections for all players, families, staff, and employees involved. The logistics of ensuring everyone is consistently healthy while also having access to proper testing hasn’t even been mastered in America in general yet.

Teams will likely propose to have access to part of their 2020 salaries based on a split between what they would be making during regular and postseason. The proposal will also cover the concept of fans being able to return to ballparks at some point, which could involve inviting a few spectators at first and slowly increasing the number of bodies in the stands.

Most teams have already been given the chance to begin spring-training on their own, which many players have done, as opposed to travelling to be with their team. In March, the MLB called for each player to receive only a portion of their salary amid the pandemic. Players believe this specific agreement should still be followed as the basis for all future economic decisions involving MLB employees and players.

Again, the biggest concern is following proper health and safety guidelines and keeping everyone healthy while enduring a potential new baseball season. For now, only time will tell how all professional sports, along with the rest of the world, will be able to return to a life of normalcy.

Statue of Liberty with Mask

Governor Cuomo Provides New Yorkers With Covid-19 Update

Governor Andrew Cuomo has been working non-stop to provide New Yorkers with constant Covid-19 updates and policy changes to ensure that we all can return to a life of normalcy as quickly and safely as possible.

Unemployment Claim

Unemployment Rates Continue To Rise Amid Covid-19 Pandemic

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in April alone, 20.5 million Americans lost their jobs, making this the most sudden and largest decline in employment since the government began tracking the data in 1939. Those losses also account for the 870,000 Americans who lost their jobs in March as well. For comparison, during the financial crisis in 2008 around 8.7 million Americans lost their jobs, total. 

The loss in employment is an obvious result of the coronavirus pandemic and multiple quarantine policies that have been enforced because of it. The unemployment rate went up by 14.7% in April, again, breaking the record for the highest level of unemployment the Bureau’s seen since it began recording monthly employment rates in 1948

Once businesses began closing and stay-at-home orders were being enforced in late March millions of Americans began losing their jobs. According to reports the leisure and hospitality industry has been hit the hardest so far with a loss of over 7.5 million jobs, and retail follows it with a loss of over 2 million jobs. 

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Historically speaking, the hardest part of a recession is rebuilding what gets lost. It took the United States the past ten years to create over 20 million new jobs for the American people after the 2008 recession, and now, all of that hard work was diminished in a matter of weeks. However, some big business owners are confident that this situation will be different, since the economic/job losses have been a result of a worldwide health pandemic. 

The larger issue is for industries that involve a more face-to-face consumer experience, such as restaurant workers, hotel employees, and local businesses. There’s going to be less of a demand for businesses like that because it’s going to be more difficult to convince customers to actually leave their homes when it’s not fully necessary. 

So what’s the government currently doing to help ensure our economy can recover from this pandemic and it’s huge economic impact? While it’s easy to make comparisons to our countries current situation and the Great Depression, we also have to understand the US lacked any sort of safety net in the 1930’s. 

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Once this pandemic began, local, state, and federal governments began acting to expand unemployment benefits and extend funding to small businesses. Stimulus checks have been dealt out to every American adult earning less than $99,000 a year, and while these programs have received quite a bit of backlash and have been viewed as not nearly enough action from the government, they have provided some relief to workers and employers across the country.

Congress has expanded unemployment benefits to include an additional $600 a week for the next four months and they also expanded who is eligible to file for unemployment benefits; contractors, self-employed individuals, and workers in the gig economy can now apply. 

In New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo claims that the state was able to hire 1,000 new employees specifically for sorting through unemployment claims. Government workers in New Jersey are also looking for experienced workers to help them work with decade-old computer programming for this process. So in a sort of sad ironic twist, the decline in the economy is simultaneously helping it rebuild itself, slowly. 

Overall, however, many Americans are disappointed in how long it’s taking all levels of government to respond to the many needs of the people right now. More than half of all Americans still haven’t received their stimulus checks, and even when they do they know it won’t be able to help much. Obviously, it’s going to take time for the US labor market to recover, but for now, the least we all can do is support one another, and continue to demand that the government does it’s job to protect its citizens.