Disneyland sells out of top-priced Magic Key annual pass

Disneyland has sold out of the top-priced Magic Key after just two months as complaints from angry passholders continue to echo throughout social media about the widespread lack of reservations available for the $1,399 pass with no blockout dates.

The Dream Key has proven very popular and is currently sold out with the other Magic Keys — the Believe Key, Enchant Key and Imagine Key — remaining on sale at this time, according to Disneyland.

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Disneyland will continue to monitor the Believe Key, Enchant Key and Imagine Key and make adjustments as needed to deliver a great guest experience, according to Disneyland officials.

All Disneyland keyholders who purchased a Magic Key — including current Dream Key holders — will continue to have access to passholder holder benefits like the Magic Key terrace, specialty merchandise, select discounts and the upcoming Magic Key month.

READ MORE: Disneyland raises prices for most types of tickets

The new Magic Key annual passes went on sale Aug. 25 with Disneyland offering a free swag box for new keyholders who purchase a pass during the first 66 days — in honor of the park’s 66th anniversary. The $1,399 Dream Key sold out before reaching the end of the 66-day initial sales drive.

Prices for the new Magic Key annual passes range from $399 for the Imagine Key with the most blockout dates to $1,399 for the Dream Key with no blockout dates. The highest-priced Magic Key still available is now the $949 Believe Key with the Enchant Key costing $649.

Magic Key reservations have been frequently unavailable on weekends and holidays through the end of the year and near-term dates stretching for weeks have been completely “sold out” to annual passholders still looking for a reservation. In contrast, the daily ticket calendar often shows availability on virtually all weekdays, weekends and holidays — with a few near-term dates “sold out.”

READ MORE: Disneyland parking trams to return in early 2022

Disneyland’s loyal fan base has grown increasingly furious over the apparent prioritization of daily ticket buyers over annual passholders.

“The Dream Key is more like a Nightmare Key,” Jane Friday wrote on Instagram. “It’s an unbelievable amount of money to spend to have nothing but weekday reservations available.”

The separate Magic Key and daily ticket online calendars are dynamic and constantly changing — which means unavailable reservations can become available again at any time.

Last year’s closure and the launch of the new Magic Key program are generating strong demand during the always popular limited-time fall and winter holiday seasons, according to Disneyland officials.

The vast majority of keyholders say they are able to get just as much if not more access to the parks than they expected when they signed up, according to Disneyland officials.

​​Disneyland is managing attendance by leveraging its theme park reservation system that requires advance reservations for Magic Key holders and day guests to help provide a great guest experience for all and spread out visitation, according to Disney officials.

Keyholders can visit either Disneyland or DCA any day their passes are not blocked out and reservations are available. Keyholders can make two, four or six reservations at a time in a 90-day window depending on their pass type.

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Disneyland raises ticket prices for most types of admission

Disneyland has raised prices on most single and multi-day tickets after admission costs remained unchanged during the initial six-month phased reopening from an extended COVID-19 closure of the Anaheim theme park.

Ticket prices for Disneyland and Disney California Adventure increased an average of 6% on Monday, Oct. 25 with some single-park, parkhopper and multi-day tickets climbing more than 8%. The lowest-priced one-day single park ticket remained unchanged from 2019 at $104.

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A sixth tier was added to Disneyland’s former five-tier pricing system — raising the top price for a single-day, single park ticket from $154 to $164 and the most expensive parkhopper ticket from $209 to $224.

Single-day, single park ticket prices increased 0% to 8.1%: Tier 1 ($104), Tier 2 ($119), Tier 3 ($134), Tier 4 ($149), Tier 5 ($159) and Tier 6 ($164).

Parkhopper tickets rose 3.1% to 8.4%: Tier 1 ($164), Tier 2 ($179), Tier 3 ($194), Tier 4 ($209), Tier 5 ($219) and Tier 6 ($224). Parkhopper tickets provide admission to both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure on the same day.

READ MORE: Top-priced Dream Key annual pass sells out

Multi-day tickets saw similar spikes. Two-day, one-park tickets rose to $255 (from $235) while two-day parkhoppers climbed to $315 (from $290). Three-day tickets now cost $330 for single park per day access and $390 for the parkhopper.

The daily theme park parking rates also rose from $25 to $30. Self parking at the Disneyland resort’s three hotels also climbed from $25 to $40. Hotel valet parking jumped from $35 to $50.

Disneyland did not raise ticket prices when the Anaheim theme parks reopened April 30 after a 412-day coronavirus closure. Disneyland last raised ticket and annual pass prices in February 2020.

Since 2000, the price of admission to Disneyland has nearly quadrupled from $43 to $164, the new single-day ticket price on the park’s busiest days.

READ MORE: Disneyland parking trams to return in early 2022

With the latest increases, Disneyland continues to use ticket pricing to manage attendance and spread visits from peak periods to slower times of the year.

Starting in 2016, Disneyland switched to a demand-based pricing system with tickets divided into “value,” “regular” and “peak” days. Disneyland moved from a three-tier to a five-tier pricing system in 2020. The new Tier 1-6 system moves Disney closer to a dynamic pricing model designed to spread visitors throughout the year — away from busier days during the peak season to slower days in the off season. The Disney parks will employ the Tier 1 pricing on the slowest days of the year and Tier 6 pricing on the busiest days.

The first Tier 6 pricing days are not expected to appear on the Disneyland and DCA calendars until March 2022.

Disney ticket price increases typically have a ripple effect, with theme parks like Universal Studios, SeaWorld and Knott’s Berry Farm raising admissions soon after to keep pace with the industry leader.

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Best of Orange County 2021: Best Italian restaurant

1. Fratellino’s by Cesar Lomeli

600 S. Brea Blvd., Brea, 714-255-9100, fratellinos.com

Established in 2000, Fratellino’s has placed among the Top 3 on this list for 11 years straight. Owner Cesar Lomeli doesn’t take the voters’ choice lightly. “It is a big responsibility, as a restaurateur, to be able to offer consistently what a customer is looking for — quality of food, good service, cleanliness, coziness, ambiance, etc. – at a great value. We’re always working hard on keeping all the variables a top priority with the highest standards. We recognize we have many great restaurants in O.C. and for us to stay on the top favorites year after year” is a challenge.

Walk into the family restaurant and an Old World Italian atmosphere is evident. The menu consists of hearty food portions such as beef lasagna with meat sauce, eggplant or veal parmigiana, shrimp scampi, chicken cacciatore. Then there are traditional pasta, chicken, seafood and meat dishes; pizzas (Margherita, vegetarian), sandwiches (meatball, hot turkey-Francisco style), salads (antipasto, caprese) and wines (sparkling, whites, reds, Italian). Fratellino’s has daily lunch specials and relatively reasonable prices too.

When it comes to the menu, Lomeli believes his customers “want to see the same items every time” they arrive.

“That’s what make them come back in the first place,” he said. “Our business is more than 40% takeout. Party trays are a big portion because the quality of the food we sell at a reasonable price of about $5 per person with a hot meal, salad and bread.”

2. Roma D’Italia

611 El Camino Real, Tustin, 714-544-0273, romaditalia.com

Celebrating its 60th anniversary, Roma D’Italia specializes in pasta classics in a casual rustic space with red checkered tablecloths and a stone patio. A total family operation, second and third generations of the Roma family operate the restaurant.

Alfio Rossetti, part of that clan, says they “regularly welcome guests celebrating family milestones and events of all types.”

Among the lunch fare are grilled salmon salads, homemade soups and sandwiches. Signature pastas, specialty breads, veal, raviolis, seafood, calzone pockets and more comprise the dinner menu.

Rossetti stresses that the restaurant has a “strong desire” to serve fresh quality ingredients — something customers “have come to enjoy … the calamari fritti is hands down, the best around. Our delicious, homemade cannoli, cheesecake, tiramisu, and rum cake desserts continue to be crowd pleasers.”

3. Roman Cucina

211 N. Harbor Blvd., Fullerton, 714-680-6000, romancucinafullerton

From the Italian flag that adorns the outdoor canopy to comfort food passed down from the Roman brothers’ grandmother, a sense of family and authenticity have been important to this restaurant since it opened in downtown Fullerton in 2001.

“We strive to provide the best dining experience by treating every guest that walks through our door like family,” says owner Mike Flynn.

Open at 5 p.m. daily, Roman Cucina’s specialty entree is the Pasta Gianni — shrimp and langostino lobster sauteed with mushrooms in its Bianco Diavolo sauce. Specialty desserts include tiramisu and cannoli. Recently, lobster ravioli and shrimp carbonara were introduced to the menu (with ample pasta choices) and proved instantly popular with customers.

On Mondays-Thursdays, there are special deals involving kids meals, pasta, wine and cocktails.

Yelp reviewer Vicki L. of Irvine said she “got the calamari and pesto with penne. Both were super delicious, and the portion was big enough to be split into a second meal.”

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Best of Orange County 2021: Best Mexican restaurant

1. Avila’s El Ranchito

Multiple locations; avilaselranchito.com

Salvador Avila, who came to the U.S. from Mexico, started his first restaurant 55 years ago in Huntington Park with five picnic tables. Now it has evolved into 13 restaurants throughout Orange and Los Angeles counties run by the Avila children.

Maribel Avila Ley, co-owner of three locations, says consistency in food is guaranteed across all of them. “Customers come back time and time again because they know our staff and they are treated like family.

“My grandmother taught her kids, who have taught us … to stick to the simplicity of great food and genuinely good service. Never cut corners; treat people with respect. Mama Avila (my grandma) had it figured out.”

The matriarch’s recipes from Mexico dating back generations populate the menu items ranging from soups and carnitas to fajitas, enchiladas and more. Of course there are Happy Hour and Taco Tuesday specials as well.

Since last year, the restaurants upgraded their take out business and outdoor dining. “We had a great time getting creative with margaritas to go,” says Avila Ley. “Our very popular party and family packs are always a hit, but now you can add margaritas.”

New specials are posted to the locations’ Instagram pages regularly. The Mercado Margarita in Huntington Beach available on Tuesday nights is “made from ingredients from the Surf City Farmers Market right out front. It’s a great way to support locals.”

2. El Farolito

201 S. Bradford Ave., Placentia; 714-993-7880; elfarolitomex.com

Another family-run business, El Farolito was established in 1974 by the Sandoval Family and serves good old fashioned Mexican food, like combination plates, at reasonable prices.

Register food critic Brad A. Johnson has raved about the restaurant’s steak tampiqueño with grilled jalapeños and caramelized onions and the carne asada nachos in the past. All sorts of egg items are on the breakfast menu. There are lunch specials, large burritos, tostada salads and more.

Yelp reviewer Sandra L. from Orange County said the food is “so flavorful here. I don’t even like refried beans, but El Farolito makes them so good that I am a believer of refried beans now. Portions here are generous. My hubby and I shared a Jr’s Plate and chose chile relleno (additional $0.75) as our one-item and it comes with rice and beans.  We also ordered a cup of Menudo (available weekends only). We loved everything. Every item was freshly made, well-seasoned, and priced well.”

3. El Torito

Multiple locations; eltorito.com

Larry J. Cano founded this Mexican restaurant in 1954 as an outgrowth of an Encino Tiki bar. The first O.C. location opened in Newport Beach in 1973.

Randy Sharpe, El Torito CEO & president says “it is a celebration of family, food and community and is why so many guests feel at home when they dine at El Torito. The fresh, made-from-scratch kitchen and warm hospitality from the staff makes your dining occasion something to enjoy and come back to.”

Regular patrons tend to rave about the tableside preparations, made-to-order guacamole, flame-grilled fajitas, Taco Tuesdays, the Saturday Breakfast menu with bottomless mimosas and Bloody Marys. Then there’s the extremely popular Happy Hour drink and food specials for $4, $6 and $8.

“El Torito continues to innovate and present seasonal specials throughout the year,” notes Sharpe. “Our most recent Tacos Vampiros with cheese and jalapeños, grilled right onto the tortilla before being filled with marinated and grilled steak, have been very popular.”

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Emmys 2021: ‘The Crown’ takes 7 awards including best drama, while ‘Ted Lasso’ scores 4 including best comedy

“The Crown” conquered the 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards on Sunday with seven wins including outstanding drama and all four acting categories, while “Ted Lasso” finished second with four Emmys including outstanding comedy.

More: See all the 2021 Emmy Awards action

“Thank you, the Television Academy; thank you, Netflix; thank you, Sony,” said creator Peter Morgan, who appeared virtually with most of “The Crown” cast and creators in England where it was just after 4 a.m. Monday when the best drama award was announced.

“Thanks … this lot,” said Morgan, who earlier won best writing for a drama, smiling broadly at the cheering crew around him in the room. “We’re going to have a party now. I’m lost for words and I’m very, very grateful.”

Olivia Colman won best actress for “The Crown” for her role as Queen Elizabeth, while Josh O’Connor won best actor for his work as Prince Charles. Earlier, Tobias Menzies and Gillian Anderson won the supporting actor and actress awards for portrayals of Prince Phillip and Margaret Thatcher.


In this video grab issued Sunday, Sept. 19, 2021, by the Television Academy, the team of “Ted Lasso” accept the award for outstanding comedy series during the Primetime Emmy Awards. (Television Academy via AP)

In comedy, Jason Sudeikis won best actor for “Ted Lasso,” which ended up with four Emmys, including best supporting actor and actress for Brett Goldstein and Hannah Waddingham, while Jean Smart was the winner of best actress for a comedy series for her work in “Hacks.”

“Mare of Easttown” and “The Queen’s Gambit” split the top categories for limited series, anthologies or movies. Kate Winslet won best actress in the title role of “Mare of Easttown,” which won three overall, while “The Queen’s Gambit” won two awards including outstanding limited series.

“Anya Taylor-Joy, what can I say, you brought the sexy back to chess,” said William Horberg, producer of “The Queen’s Gambit.” “And you inspired a generation of young  women and girls to realize the patriarchy has no defense against our queens.”

.

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Here are 5 countries that are opening up and living with Covid

By Laura Smith-Spark | CNN

More than 18 months into the coronavirus pandemic, a number of countries have decided it’s time to open up and adopt a “living with Covid” model.

Some have enviable vaccination rates; others have decided that the costs of continued economic and social restrictions outweigh the benefits.

Here are five nations to watch closely for how their new strategies play out.

Denmark: The country that declared precautions over

The Danish government lifted all remaining coronavirus restrictions in the country on September 10, saying Covid-19 was no longer “an illness which is a critical threat to society.”

Danes can now enter nightclubs and restaurants without showing a “Covid passport,” use public transport without wearing a face covering and meet in large numbers without restrictions — essentially returning to pre-pandemic life.

The key to Denmark’s success lies partly in its vaccination rollout: as of September 13, over 74% of Denmark’s population was fully vaccinated against Covid-19, according to Our World in Data.

The transmission rate, or R-rate, currently stands at 0.7, Health Minister Magnus Heunicke tweeted Wednesday, meaning that the epidemic is continuing to decline. If it’s above 1.0, Covid-19 cases will increase in the near future. If it’s below 1.0, cases will decrease in the near future.

“The vaccines and all citizens in Denmark’s great efforts over a long period of time are the basis for us to do so well,” Heunicke said.

Despite such optimism, Heunicke sounded a note of caution last month as the government announced the planned end date for restrictions. “Even though we are in a good place right now, we are not out of the epidemic. And the government will not hesitate to act quickly if the pandemic again threatens important functions in our society,” he said.

Singapore: Trying to live with Covid, but Delta isn’t helping

Singapore’s government announced in June that it was planning to move toward a living with Covid strategy — attempting to control outbreaks with vaccines and monitoring hospitalizations rather than restricting citizens’ lives.

“The bad news is that Covid-19 may never go away. The good news is that it is possible to live normally with it in our midst,” Singapore’s top Covid-19 officials wrote in an op-ed at the time.

Authorities began to ease some restrictions in August, allowing fully vaccinated people to dine in restaurants and to gather in groups of five, up from two.

But a surge in cases caused by the highly infectious Delta variant has put that strategy under strain, leading officials to pause further reopening. Officials warned last week that they might need to reimpose Covid-19 restrictions if the new outbreak was not contained.

Singapore’s Covid-19 taskforce said it would attempt to limit the outbreak through more aggressive contact tracing, “ring-fencing” cases and clusters, and more frequent mandatory testing for high-risk workers.

Despite such measures, Singapore reported its highest one-day Covid-19 case total in more than a year on Tuesday. So far, the number of people falling seriously ill remains low thanks to vaccination, authorities said.

Singapore pursued an aggressive “zero-Covid strategy” before shifting its approach, and has one of the highest Covid-19 vaccination rates in the world, with 81% of the population fully vaccinated.

Thailand: Slow vaccine takeup but it’s opening up anyway

Thailand plans to reopen Bangkok and other popular destinations to foreign visitors next month, officials said last week, as the southeast Asian nation tries to revive its crucial tourism industry despite rising infection numbers.

Under the expanded program, tourists who are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 and commit to a testing regime will be allowed to enter the capital, Hua Hin, Pattaya and Chiang Mai, according to Reuters.

The island of Phuket reopened to vaccinated foreign visitors on July 1 without quarantine requirements. On July 15, the country launched a similar program on the islands of Koh Samui, Koh Pha Ngan and Koh Tao, dubbed “Samui Plus.”

Although it kept infection numbers low in 2020 thanks to successful containment measures, Thailand has struggled to keep cases in check this year.

Vaccination rates are lagging behind those of some neighbors. Just under 18% of the Thai population were fully vaccinated against Covid-19 as of September 13, according to Our World in Data, with a further 21% partially vaccinated.

South Africa: Easing restrictions, but Delta’s still a threat

South Africa has started to ease several Covid-19 restrictions as infection rates decrease in the country.

Among other measures, the nationwide nighttime curfew has been shortened to 11 p.m. until 4 a.m., the size of gatherings allowed has increased to 250 people indoors and 500 outdoors, and restrictions on alcohol sales have been further reduced.

The easing of restrictions, announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday, are notable in a country that passed much of the pandemic with extremely strict social distancing rules, even banning all gatherings except for funerals, at times — and where vaccination rates remain low.

Ramaphosa warned that a devastating third wave of infections driven by the more transmissible Delta variant was not over, but added that the country now has enough vaccine doses to cover the entire adult population, with more than a quarter of adults receiving at least one dose.

He encouraged everyone to get vaccinated and comply with remaining restrictions to allow the country to get back to normal.

“The third wave is not yet over, and it is only through our actions individually and collectively that we will be able to reduce the number of new infections,” he said.

Chile: High vaccination rates mean tourists can return

Chile has been internationally praised for its smooth and successful vaccination campaign. According to the health ministry’s latest reports, almost 87% of eligible Chileans are fully vaccinated.

The country has already started distributing booster shots to those who are fully vaccinated. Health authorities on Thursday approved the use of the Chinese vaccine Sinovac for children aged six and over; inoculations started on Monday.

Despite the threat posed by the Delta variant, the government on Wednesday announced moves to reopen the country to international tourism from October 1, just in time for the southern hemisphere nation’s summer season.

Foreign non-residents will be able to enter provided they meet certain requirements and isolate for five days on arrival.

“The fact that foreign tourists can come to Chile is an important step for the recovery of inbound tourism,” said Under-Secretary for Tourism José Luis Uriarte. “It’s important to point out that this is the first step, and we will be able to keep moving forward as long as we maintain the right health conditions.”

The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2021 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

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CDC adds 7 destinations to ‘very high’ Covid-19 travel risk list, including Puerto Rico and Switzerland

Switzerland and Puerto Rico are now among the highest-risk destinations for travelers, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s regularly updated travel advisories list.

People should avoid traveling to locations designated with the “Level 4: Covid-19 Very High” notice, the CDC recommends. Anyone who must travel should be fully vaccinated first, the agency advises.

Seven destinations moved up on August 30 from the “Level 3: Covid-19 High” list to Level 4:

  • Azerbaijan
  • Estonia
  • Guam
  • North Macedonia
  • Puerto Rico
  • Saint Lucia
  • Switzerland

The CDC’s evolving list of travel notices ranges from Level 1 (“low”) to Level 4 (“very high”).

Destinations that fall into the “Covid-19 Very High” Level 4 category have had more than 500 cases per 100,000 residents in the past 28 days, according to CDC criteria. The Level 3 category applies to destinations that have had between 100 and 500 cases per 100,000 residents in the past 28 days.

Switzerland has had 659 laboratory-confirmed Covid-19 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in the past four weeks, according to the country’s Federal Office of Public Health. On August 29, nearly a third of Switzerland’s intensive care units were occupied by people with coronavirus. In North Macedonia, slightly less than a quarter of residents were fully vaccinated against Covid-19 as of August 30, while 9% were partially vaccinated. And of Saint Lucia’s population of around 185,000 people, it has fully vaccinated 15.1% and partially vaccinated 4.8%.

New ‘Level 3’ destinations

Ten other destinations moved to the “Level 3: Covid-19 High” category on Monday.Bermuda, Canada, Germany and Moldova moved up from Level 2. Bahrain, Indonesia, Namibia, Oman, Rwanda and Zimbabwe moved down from Level 4.

CDC guidance for Level 3 destinations urges unvaccinated travelers to avoid nonessential travel to those locations.In its broader travel guidance, the CDC has recommended avoiding all international travel until you are fully vaccinated.

“Fully vaccinated travelers are less likely to get and spread Covid-19. However, international travel poses additional risks, and even fully vaccinated travelers might be at increased risk for getting and possibly spreading some Covid-19 variants,” the agency said.

You can view the CDC risk level of any destination on the agency’s travel recommendations page.

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Should you cancel travel plans? A medical expert weighs in

By Katia Hetter | CNN

As Covid-19 cases are surging across the United States again, daily infection rates are at their highest levels since February, due in large part to the very contagious Delta variant.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has once again urged a return to indoor mask-wearing, citing that even vaccinated people can get infected and pass Covid-19 to others.

Meanwhile, many people have travel plans for the rest of the summer and the upcoming Labor Day holiday weekend. Should they cancel their vacations? Is air travel safe? What if they are getting together with extended family or friends over the holiday — what precautions need to be taken? And what about families with children too young to be vaccinated?

To help answer our many questions about travel and Covid-19 safety, we turned to CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Leana Wen. Wen is an emergency physician and visiting professor of health policy and management at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health. She’s also author of a new book, “Lifelines: A Doctor’s Journey in the Fight for Public Health,” and the mother of two young children.

CNN: What should people consider when deciding whether to continue, change or cancel their travel plans?

Dr. Leana Wen: The most important factor to consider is the medical risk of your household. Specifically, is everyone in your house vaccinated? If everyone is vaccinated and generally healthy, you are very well-protected from getting severely ill from Covid-19. Many people in this circumstance might decide that they could take the risk of mild symptoms if they were to contract coronavirus and proceed with all their original travel plans.

If someone in your home is unvaccinated or immunocompromised, you may decide differently. A very low risk trip may still be fine — for example, driving and then going camping and hiking with just your immediate family. But if the trip is going to involve spending a lot of time indoors with unmasked, unvaccinated people, I’d encourage the vulnerable individuals not to go on the trip. If some family members are still going to go, they could quarantine for at least three days upon return and then get tested before they get together indoors with vulnerable members of their household.

CNN: Would your advice depend on the location of the travel?

Wen: Yes, but in the US about 95% of the population lives in areas deemed by the CDC to have substantial or high levels of coronavirus transmission. I’d look at the specific area that you are thinking of traveling to and what you’d be doing there.

If you’re driving to a national park, and the plan is to spend all your time hiking outdoors, that’s very low risk. It doesn’t really matter if the community around the park has high Covid-19 transmission, if you don’t plan to interact with anyone there indoors.

That’s very different from if you’re planning a week of visiting museums, attending concerts, going to the theater and dining indoors. If those activities are taking place in a part of the country with a lot of virus transmission, you are being exposed constantly to Covid-19. The vaccines protect you well, but they are not 100%.

Risk is cumulative, and the more high-risk settings you are in, surrounded by people potentially carrying the virus, the more likely you are to experience a breakthrough infection even if you are vaccinated.

CNN: What’s your advice for people who have booked international travel? Should they go?

Wen: It depends. Again, make sure to look at your own medical risk and the risk of those in your family. Consider the location you’re going to. The CDC has updated information about Covid-19 by country divided into four levels of risk.

In addition, the US State Department has helpful information including the protocols that you need to follow in order to enter the country. Make sure to know the requirements. Some countries require proof of recent negative tests, for example, and some are beginning to require vaccination. Keep in mind that rules are constantly changing and stay flexible.

CNN: What about getting together for a wedding — would that be safe?

Wen: Once again, it depends. Many weddings involve people converging from different parts of the country or the world. That adds risk, especially since there are so many places with high levels of Covid-19 infection. It would certainly help if the hosts required that everyone attending is vaccinated.

Vaccinated people have an eight-fold reduced chance of contracting Covid-19 compared to unvaccinated people, according to estimates based on CDC data. If the ceremony and reception are both held outdoors, that would also reduce the risk. The opposite, of course, would be true of indoor gatherings of people of unknown vaccination status, who are eating and drinking and therefore not wearing masks. That would be a high-risk event.

CNN: Can we talk about modes of transportation — specifically plane travel. Is that still safe for vaccinated people? What about unvaccinated children?

Wen: Plane travel is still relatively safe for vaccinated people. Make sure to wear a high-quality mask at all times — ideally an N95 or KN95 mask. If you have to eat and drink, do so quickly, so as to minimize the amount of time you’re not wearing a mask.

Children too young to be vaccinated should also mask, if possible, with at least a 3-ply surgical mask. If they cannot keep on the mask for the duration of the trip, I would consider not bringing the child unless it’s an essential trip, such as moving across the country.

In my family, my husband and I will travel by plane and wear N95 or KN95 masks the entire time. Our son, who is almost four, is generally good about wearing masks, and if we had a short trip of a few hours’ flight, he’d be fine. But we have a 16-month-old daughter who is too young to mask. We would not feel comfortable bringing her on a flight right now.

Other families may make different decisions based on their level of risk tolerance as well as the value of the travel to them. For where we are in the pandemic, the risk is not worth the benefit to us.

CNN: Driving, going to rest stops, staying in a hotel en route — that’s all pretty safe from a Covid-19 standpoint, right?

Wen: Yes. Of course, use common sense — wear masks when going to the restroom in rest stops. Order carryout instead of eating indoors. Go directly to your room in the hotel, and don’t hang out in crowded hotel lobbies and bars.

CNN: What’s your advice for families who want to rent a house together?

Wen: The safest scenario is if everyone is fully vaccinated. If there are people who are unvaccinated, or if the people gathering want to reduce their risk further, everyone who wants to get together can essentially quarantine for three to five days and then get tested. By quarantine, I mean to reduce your risk by not getting together with other people indoors and not participating in higher-risk activities like indoor dining.

I know that this advice feels like we have taken a step backwards. It’s true — we have. Covid-19 cases are on the rise again, and we have the more contagious Delta variant to contend with.

Vaccination is the single most important step to protect us. In addition, depending on our individual circumstances, we should consider additional precautions to reduce risk and keep our families safe, while still enjoying travel.

The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2021 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

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Britney Spears’ father says ‘no grounds’ for his removal

By Andrew Dalton | Associated Press

LOS ANGELES — Britney Spears’ father said in a court filing Friday that there are “no grounds whatsoever” for removing him from the conservatorship that controls her money and affairs.

James Spears “has dutifully and faithfully served as the conservator of his daughter’s estate without any blemishes on his record,” the filing said.

James Spears’ filing also says that court-appointed professional Jodi Montgomery, who oversees Britney Spears’ life decisions while her father handles her money, called him, distraught, last month and sought his help with his daughter’s mental health struggles. Montgomery and her lawyer said in response that James Spears “misrepresented and manipulated” the call to use it to his own advantage.

James Spears’ filing came in response to court papers filed a day earlier by Britney Spears’ new attorney Matthew Rosengart, which requested an emergency hearing as soon as possible to suspend him from the conservatorship.

James Spears said Rosengart “does not (and cannot) specify what the wrongdoing is” to prompt such a suspension.

James Spears stepped aside from the part of the conservatorship that controls his daughter’s life decisions in 2019, with Montgomery taking over, though her official status remains temporary.

The allegations made by Britney Spears at hearings in June and July that seem to have spurred Rosengart’s call for her father’s removal, including “serious allegations regarding forced medical treatment and therapy, improper medical care, and limitations on personal rights,” are “untested” and involve issues that have long been Montgomery’s responsibility, not his, said Jamie Spears’ filing.

James Spears says the call for his urgent removal is “ironic” considering the call he received from Montgomery on July 9.

“Ms. Montgomery sounded very distraught and expressed how concerned she was about my daughters’ recent behavior and overall mental health,” James Spears said in a personal declaration included with his court filing. “Ms. Montgomery explained that my daughter was not timely or properly taking her medications, was not listening to the recommendations of her medical team, and refused to even see some of her doctors. Ms. Montgomery said she was very worried about the direction my daughter was heading in and directly asked for my help to address these issues.”

James Spears said they discussed the possibility of hospitalizing Britney Spears on an emergency psychiatric hold.

Montgomery acknowledged, in a statement through her attorney Lauriann Wright, having concerns about Britney Spears’ behavior and mental health, but said James Spears’ stepping down would only help.

The statement said “having her father Jamie Spears continuing to serve as her Conservator instead of a neutral professional fiduciary is having a serious impact on Ms. Spears’ mental health.”

At no time during the phone call did Montgomery suggest Britney Spears qualifies for a psychiatric hold, the statement said.

Montgomery reached out to Jamie Spears because she was concerned that an investigation of Britney Spears’ allegations, which he was seeking, would be harmful to her.

“The concern that Ms. Montgomery did raise to Mr. Spears during their telephone call is that forcing Ms. Spears to take the stand to testify or to have her evaluated would move the needle in the wrong direction for her mental health,” the statement said.

Montgomery was “saddened” that the call “is now being misrepresented and manipulated” by James Spears “to gain some sort of tactical advantage in the pending proceedings to remove him.”

The fighting between those involved in the conservatorship has grown increasingly heated, and increasingly public, since Spears’ dramatic testimony at a hearing on June 23, when she told a judge, “I just want my life back.”

A hearing to address Rosengart’s petition to remove James Spears is scheduled for Sept. 29, unless the judge grants his request to hold one sooner.

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