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Cabinet split on easing 5km limit as concerns mount

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Ministers are split on easing the 5km travel restriction next month as concerns mount over the country’s progress in the battle against Covid-19.

Public health chiefs on Thursday night indicated advice against non-essential overseas travel and working from home will remain until the end of June, as talks on the resumption of the AstraZeneca vaccine continued overnight following a favourable review by the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

Several senior sources this week expressed pessimism on recent progress on key metrics: hospitalisations, vaccinations and cases.

A decision has not been made on whether the 5km restriction will be lifted on April 5th. Some at Cabinet believe the incidence of Covid-19 is not low enough to warrant relaxation, while others believe the Government will lose vital public buy-in without a change.

A further 582 cases of the disease were reported on Thursday, and no new deaths. Prof Philip Nolan, chair of the Irish Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group, said the reproduction number, a measure of how many other people a case infects, stands at between 0.8 and 1.1.

Plateauing

Key indicators are in a “period of stasis”, he said, with the plateauing of figures over the past 10 days linked to an increase in mobility, while there had been a “clear and significant” increase in workplace attendances.

One Government source said an easing of restrictions along the lines of Northern Ireland is “the best we can hope for at the moment”. Across the Border, the focus is on small outdoor gatherings and some sporting activities as well as certain click-and-collect services. Reopening construction remains in the balance here.

It comes as the EMA cleared the way for countries to restart administering the AstraZeneca vaccine. Several states, including Ireland, had paused over concerns about a small number of clotting incidents. Irish authorities said seven blood clotting events have been reported after vaccination, but not at a level greater than expected.

EMA chief Emer Cooke said she would be “vaccinated with AstraZeneca tomorrow”, although the agency will insist on new warnings on the risk of clotting and ongoing research on the issue. Attention now shifts to the recommendation of the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC), which guides the Government on vaccines.

Restart

A recommendation is expected on Friday, with France, Italy, Germany and Spain signalling they would restart using the shot. Senior political sources suggested the vaccine could be back in use by the weekend, although HSE sources believe it could take several days, especially if the NIAC advice is nuanced.

Meanwhile, the opposition is calling on Taoiseach Micheál Martin to clarify whether he sought vaccines on loan from the US during a call with president Joe Biden. Washington has confirmed it will send four million vaccines to Canada and Mexico under a loan agreement.

Labour Party leader Alan Kelly said Mr Martin should clarify “if he even broached the subject of a loan of some vaccines from the US”. A spokesman for Mr Martin said US allocation of vaccines “is solely a matter for the US government”. It is understood Mr Biden raised the vaccine supply situation of Canada and Mexico during his call with the Taoiseach, while Mr Martin explained issues Ireland and the EU faced.




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IHG to open new hotel in Brussels (BE)

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IHG Hotels & Resorts (IHG) announced the signing of voco Brussels City North, marking entry into a new market. Due to open in autumn 2023, the 92-key voco Brussels City North property will be operated by Prem Group, a strong partner for IHG in the region. The state-of-the-art hotel will feature a restaurant and conference centre and will adjoin the Innovation Centre, which is already open on the site, to create a hub for hospitality innovation and a truly stimulating environment.

 

Located to the north of the city, the hotel will feature a striking 50-metre tower with huge glass windows providing panoramic views of the Brussels skyline. The site itself will be Europe’s largest experimental lab for creating ideas and a vision for the future. In line with voco hotels ethos, voco Brussels City North will stand out from the crowd and give guests a different choice.

 

Willemijn Geels, VP Development Europe, IHG Hotels & Resorts, said: “I’m delighted to announce that we are partnering with Living Tomorrow to bring voco hotels to Belgium. We know that Brussels is a strong market for branded properties, and we are confident that the voco hotels’ brand will fit well with the goal of creating a truly innovative hub on this unique site.”

 

Yin Oei, CEO, Living Tomorrow, said: “Living Tomorrow is focused on driving the future and we’re excited to partner with IHG to develop this exciting hotel – the first voco in Belgium. The values of voco hotels fit well with our desire to innovate and push boundaries and we know that the strength of the IHG systems will provide a stable platform from which to innovate.”

 

 

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Mitheridge and London Green unveil plans for Lambeth mix-use scheme (GB)

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Mitheridge Capital Management and London Green have unveiled plans for a residential-led, mixed-use development in Lambeth, south London. The project will make use of a former industrial site in Loughborough Junction, Lambeth, while also protecting the adjacent intersecting Victorian railway viaducts which remain a rich heritage asset.

 

Managing Partner of Mitheridge William Yerburgh said: “London desperately needs more homes. We believe strongly in an approach to housing provision that is affordable but also enhances the character and vibrancy of local communities. Our partnership with London Green will show that new housing provision can deliver for everyone.”

 

Daniel Rastegar, Investment Director at Mitheridge commented: “We are excited to work with London Green to deliver a scheme that will contribute positively to this area of Lambeth, both by providing highly sustainable, high-quality homes as well as new industrial space for SMEs.”

 

Harry Green, Director at London Green added: “This represents yet another opportunity to develop an underutilised site into a mixed community of sustainable homes and workplaces. We look forward to working with best-in-class consultants and contractors to deliver the vision that we share with Mitheridge Capital Management”.

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IIProp grows its presence in Spain

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IIProp (International Industrial Properties) has successfully delivered the initial phase of its built-to-suit project in the Spanish city of Murcia. The joint venture has also launched a new development project at a prime location in Nadarzyn, Warsaw South, Poland. The scheme is located in Murcia’s San Andres industrial park and offers 22,346m². The project is set to add another building of over 23,000m², bringing the total development area to 46,600m² GLA. Construction of a 23,000m² follow-on component is under way and scheduled for completion in January 2023. The project marks an important milestone for the IIProp’s expansion in Spain, where the platform has secured pipeline for development of some 63,000m² GLA in the Murcia and Barcelona regions. The development comes with excellent connectivity and visibility as it sits alongside the A7 highway, part of the Mediterranean transit corridor that links Spanish and Portuguese ports with mainland Europe. The project is set to obtain “Very Good” BREEAM certificate, which will be supported by green solutions such as solar panels, charging stations for electric cars, power sockets for electric bicycles and scooters as well as bicycle parking space and a bee shelter.

 

Nebil Senman, Managing Partner at Griffin Capital Partners, said: “The logistics market in Europe experienced an unprecedented growth during the pandemic and despite the geopolitical turmoil the tenant demand remains strong. We selectively are developing projects in Murcia and Warsaw with highest ESG standards and securing highest tenant covenants to fulfill core investor’s requirements. We plan to continue to build up carefully our European logistics footprint by selectively adding projects in core European markets as well as through converting our well-positioned land bank into standing assets.”

 

Maciej Dyjas, Managing Partner at Griffin Capital Partners, commented: “The projects in Murcia and Warsaw are another success stories in our strategic partnership with Panattoni. We continue to screen new European markets for entry and already begun working on potential development projects in countries like France, Italy, and Austria. In parallel, the IIProp’s pipeline stands at ca. 430,000m² GLA, despite latest disposals completed in Germany.

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