Liberty Island has been evacuated after two separate incidences occurred at the iconic Statue of Liberty in New York City on Independence Day.
The evacuation occurred after a woman was spotted trying to climb the Statue of Liberty around 3 p.m. on Wednesday. The woman climbed as high as the statue’s mid-section, according to US Park Police public information officer Sgt. Dave Somm, in speaking with NBC 4 News.
— ABC News (@ABC) July 4, 2018
Police were called to the scene and the island is being evacuated as a precaution.
— eric kwasi oppong (@ekojnr) July 4, 2018
— ABC7 Eyewitness News (@ABC7) July 4, 2018
— Al Boe BREAKING NEWS (@AlBoeNEWS) July 4, 2018
The incident follows an earlier protest by a group identified as Rise and Resist NYC, who unfurled a banner reading “Abolish I.C.E.” at the statue. At least seven people from that incident have been arrested.
On the Rise and Resist NYC Facebook page, the group said it staged the demonstration to demand that President Donald Trump eliminate Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and that he “reunite families, halt deportations and end detention as a deterrent.”
The group denied any affiliation with the person climbing the statue.
— amNewYork (@amNewYork) July 4, 2018
This story is breaking and will be updated as new information emerges.
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Travel Industry Lauds Passage of Paycheck Protection Program Reform Bill
The U.S. Senate passed the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Flexibility Act on Wednesday, sending it to President Donald Trump’s desk for final approval.
The reform bill provides business owners with additional flexibility and more time to utilize loan money and still be forgiven under the PPP established to provide economic relief in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The travel industry has been quick to commend lawmakers. The American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA) is in full support having advocated for the improvements behind the scenes.
“We commend the Senate for passing the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act (H.R. 7010), which would change PPP loan terms—in some cases retroactively—in a number of ways ASTA has advocated for, including five-year loan terms, reducing the requirement that 75 percent of the loan must go to payroll to get forgiveness, allowing forgivable expense over 24 weeks (as opposed to the current eight) and allowing companies to restore headcount without jeopardizing forgiveness by the end of the year (versus the current June 30),” Eben Peck, EVP Advocacy, ASTA, said in a statement.
“While the PPP will remain complex, this bill gives more flexibility to PPP recipients and increases the chances that loans can be fully forgiven,” Peck concluded.
The U.S. Travel Association also wasted no time praising the decision, calling it an “important step.”
“The PPP changes passed by both chambers are another important step in providing relief to small businesses that otherwise will not survive until the economic recovery phase,” added U.S. Travel’s Executive Vice President of Public Affairs and Policy Tori Emerson Barnes. “The modification to the portion of funds that can be used for non-payroll expenses is especially crucial to travel-related small businesses, which have comparatively high capital overhead but virtually zero incoming revenue because of the necessary measures in place to stem the spread of the pandemic.”
U.S. Travel still believes that there’s more work to be done to ensure a successful recovery. The organization is encouraging officials to extend PPP eligibility to non-profit and quasi-governmental entities responsible for driving local and regional economic development.
“Like the businesses they serve, the finances of these non-profits have been devastated by the standstill in travel and tourism, and the moment of recovery will be moot unless they can keep their lights on to take advantage of the return in travel demand,” Barnes stated. “We urge leaders to move urgently to enact the next phase of coronavirus response legislation, which is absolutely vital to the future of the travel and tourism industry, and to prioritize expanding eligibility to those most hard hit by this pandemic such as destination marketing organizations.”
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