Non-essential businesses across state issued new restrictions

first_imgAUGUSTA – Governor Janet Mills ordered non-essential, public-facing businesses across the state to close their physical locations for the next 14 days, effective tomorrow, in a reinforcement of last week’s recommendation.Mills announced the order at a press conference held Tuesday afternoon. At that same conference, Maine Center for Disease Control Director Nirav Shah said that 118 people from 10 counties had tested positive for novel coronavirus, or COVID-19. A total of 3,014 tests have come back negative. A total of 74 cases have been reported in Cumberland County, with mostly single-digit numbers of cases in nine other counties, including today’s addition of Waldo County. Shah has repeatedly asked Mainers to assume that COVID-19 in their own communities.“Maine people should live their lives as if COVID-19 is in their community,” said Shah. “Physical distancing in every part of Maine is crucial to limit potential spread of the virus. You can be there for loved ones without being in the same place.”The Executive Order, signed by the governor under the authority granted by the State of Civil Emergency, reinforces the March 18 recommendation that all non-essential businesses in Maine close physical locations that are public facing, meaning those that allow customer, vendor or other in-person contact. The order also closes non-essential business sites that require more than ten workers to convene in a space where physical distancing is not possible.“Today, I am taking further action to mitigate the spread of the virus, to protect the health of our loved ones and fellow citizens, and to safeguard the capacity of our health care system,” said Mills in a statement. “I recognize these decisions will create significant difficulties for people and businesses across our state, but we are confronting an unprecedented challenge that is threatening the health and safety of our people.”Non-essential businesses and operations subject to the Governor’s Executive Order include, but are not limited to, shopping malls, fitness and exercise gyms, spas, barber shops, hair salons, tattoo and piercing parlors, massage facilities, nail technicians, cosmetologists and estheticians, electrolysis services, laser hair removal services, and similar personal care and treatment facilities and services.The Executive Order excludes businesses that provide essential services including, but not limited to: food processing, agriculture, industrial manufacturing, construction, trash collection, grocery and household goods (including convenience stores), home repair and hardware and auto repair, pharmacy and other medical facilities, biomedical, behavioral health and health care providers, child care, post offices and shipping outlets, insurance, banks, gas stations, laundromats, veterinary clinics and animal feed and supply stores, shipping stores, public transportation, and hotel and commercial lodging.Owners of businesses not listed here, but who do believe their business qualifies as essential may request that designation here: https://www.maine.gov/essentialservice. Questions may also be directed to [email protected] Maine State Chamber of Commerce issued a statement in support of the order, with President Dana Connors saying that “the number one priority at this time is safeguarding the public’s health.”“Adhering to the governor’s order will protect everyone’s health, the health of fellow citizens, the health of workers on the frontlines, and the capabilities of our hospital systems to care for those in need,” Connors said. “The sooner we take these actions to flatten the curve of COVID-19, the sooner we will get through this and Maine can get back to business.”State government remains open, but offices have significantly moved to work remotely, limited client engagement and have required physical distancing within office buildings. The Department of Administrative and Financial Services estimated that 70 percent of state government employees are working remotely. The governor urges Maine people to avail themselves of the state’s online services and resources.For those essential businesses that remain open, Mills strongly urged them to implement physical distancing measures. She specifically urged high-traffic retail stores in Maine that provide essential goods and services to immediately employ strategies to reduce congestion in their stores, including.For stores with a physical retail space of more than 5,000 feet, limiting customers to no more than 100 at any one time;Enhancing their curbside pick-up and delivery services;Staggering their hours for shoppers of a certain age;Closing fitting rooms;Cautioning customers against handling merchandise they are not purchasing;Marking six-foot measurements by the cashier stations and reminding customers to remain six feet apart while in store;Staggering break times for employees and require frequent hand-washing;Frequently sanitizing high-touch areas, such as shopping carts.Recommendations from public health professionals is for people to practice physical distancing and take the same preventive measures they would to avoid catching a cold: wash hands often for 20 seconds, cover coughs and sneezes and stay home if sick.Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, shortness of breath and lower respiratory distress. Call ahead to a health care professional if you develop a fever and symptoms of respiratory illness. Health care providers will make the initial determination on whether COVID-19 testing is necessary.last_img read more

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Central and Eastern Europe: Beyond the Roundtable of Babel

first_imgIn Biblical times, people were punished with the loss of their common language and understanding because of their attempt to build a tower as tall as Heaven – the Tower of Babel. Today, people are encouraged to gather together on equal terms. However, equality requires roundtables so large there is no chance to hear one’s counterpart, let alone understand them. This is becoming the modern paradox of the Roundtable of Babel.What is Bulgaria’s place at the EU roundtable of supplementary retirement provision? The Bulgarian local supplementary retirement vehicles include a mandatory and voluntary element. The mandatory are MUPFs (mandatory universal pension funds, for those born in 1960 onwards) and MOPFs (mandatory occupational pension funds), which cover the early retirement of those working in hazardous occupations.The mandatory vehicles have the benefit of automatic affiliation (in case employees have not made their choice in due time), membership switching options, universal coverage and portability. The voluntary vehicles are the VPFs (voluntary pension funds) and the VPF-OPS (voluntary pension funds with occupational pension schemes). The VPF-OPS allow for the IORP Directive occupational provision.According to the latest data of the Bulgarian Financial Supervision Commission (as at 30 September 2013), assets under management in the mandatory and voluntary funds are at €3.3bn, an increase of 18.45% compared with 30 Sep 2012. They have 4.2m members out of a total population of 7.4m. Almost 80% of the assets are managed in the MUPFs; MOPFs account for 9.77% and VPFs account for 10.15% of the total. The most recent vehicles – the VPF-OPS – have an insignificant share of 0.1% of the AUM. How can one explain the striking lack of market interest in the typical occupational schemes in Bulgaria? Since the 1990s, supplementary pension funds in Bulgaria, as in other Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries, have developed as fully funded and portable, individual defined contribution (DC) vehicles, which are sometimes labelled non-European. Have individual DC schemes flourished as a result of some non-European, overseas infatuation characteristic of the CEE region in the 1990s?Having lived in a totally controlled society with almost no risks, Bulgarians and other CEE citizens showed strong risk appetite, desire for job mobility and great interest in financial independence in the 1990s after the Communist regime collapsed. Eastern Europeans opted for an opportunity at retirement; Western Europeans have welcomed a retirement promise.So supplementary pension schemes in Bulgaria have been individual in nature rather than employer-based since their re-establishment in 1994. This has proved wise in a period of economic restructuring and change of ownership of the enterprises. It protected members from unreasonable and unsustainable promises by changing employers during privatisation. And above all, it appealed to CEE citizens’ renewed trust in their individual financial independence.UK pension experts sometimes explain the development of occupational schemes in the UK by the statement that their citizens do not trust their government but their employers. In view of the profound transformation from a totalitarian to a democratic society with deep economic restructuring and change of ownership of the major enterprises, Bulgarians cannot be blamed for their mistrust in both their government and employers.A first warning bell sounded at the end of 2010. A national legal amendment required MOPFs to transfer certain assets to the National Social Security Institute. Those were the assets of the members who were expected to opt for early retirement within the next three years. The actual transfer of €55m took place in March 2011. The Bulgarian Constitutional Court Ruling of 31 May 2011 declared the said transfer unconstitutional. Individual accounts with MOPFs were reopened for new contributions from 18 June 2011. The contribution to the other supplementary mandatory vehicle (MUPFs) is scheduled to increase from the current 5% to 7%.There was a further reminder – this time coming from outside Bulgaria. Misunderstandings about the allegedly improper transposition of the EU law regarding the occupational schemes sometimes become the reason for the admonition to Bulgaria to mind its step towards the common EU pensions market.At its accession to the EU in 2007, Bulgaria fully transposed Directive 2003/41/EC providing for the necessary legal framework for IORP cross-border activities. The national law allows undertakings located within Bulgaria to sponsor IORPs authorised in other member states. It also allows IORPs authorised in Bulgaria to accept sponsorship by undertakings located within the territories of other member states.Trying to convince Bulgarians to favour supplementary retirement solutions that are not consistent with the historically dependent pension fund members’ expectations will definitely add to the Table of Babel. The ongoing EU mapping of the various national systems should not turn (for the obvious financial reporting reasons) into a complete ‘mopping-up’ of diversity in national pension systems, which is at the heart of market innovation and competition. CEE citizens would rather opt for a revival of the forces of market competition, with mobile employees as a cross-border carrier of change and harmony in the EU.A member of a Bulgarian supplementary retirement provision fund is not interested in the bipolar model of definition – DB or DC. What the member wants is a clear and unequivocal advance definition of both the benefit they are to obtain in the form of a secure pension amount, as well as a clear and unequivocal advance definition of the contribution required. Is it possible to have both variables defined in advance in compliance with the members’ individual preferences at the different stages of their lifecycle? The solution to this dilemma is key to the pension problem.Facing the demographic, financial and economic challenges of the 21st century, the EU is set to make a giant step towards adequate, sustainable and safe pensions – a step that requires efforts commensurate with the ones made by our predecessors. And this time it is to be a common step forward.To watch a video associated with this article, go to www.nixartspear.eu/mindyourstepSvobodka Kostadinova is an author with an interest in the social aspects of new EU accession societies. Nickolai Slavchev is a pensions analyst.last_img read more

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Rampion Out of Action

first_imgThe Rampion wind farm offshore Sussex, UK has been shut down due to a fault on the wind farm’s high voltage electrical distribution system, a spokesperson from the Rampion Offshore Wind Farm confirmed to Offshore WIND.According to BBC, the 400MW wind farm has been shut since 26 October.”We are in the process of repairing this and will have the wind farm up and running again as soon as possible,” the spokesperson said.The shutdown is not expected to affect the supply of electricity to the local area as the wind farm is connected to the High Voltage National Grid, the spokesperson said.”National Grid are responsible for managing the supply of electricity and ensuring that there is no loss of electricity supply to the local area as and when the windfarm is shutdown,” the spokesperson said.“These are complex repairs and it is critical that they are carried out correctly which will take some time, so it will be a few weeks before we return to normal operation.”Rampion’s 116 MHI Vestas 3.45MW turbines were officially commissioned in November 2018. All of the wind farm’s turbines were put into operation in April 2018.last_img read more

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