Nations yesterday tried to balance how far to ease COVID-19 lockdowns, with Germany enforcing the mandatory wearing of masks in shops, as the crushing global economic cost of the pandemic became clearer.
Excitement over moves toward normality was being tempered by fear of fresh outbreaks of a disease that has killed more than 217,000 people worldwide and infected more than 3.1 million.
With predictions of the worst recession in a century, the world was anxiously looking to the US, where the first economic growth figures from the pandemic era were due to be published and the death toll exceeded that from the Vietnam War.
From yesterday in Germany, masks were needed to enter shops, which began to open last week after the government declared its outbreak under control.
Nose and mouth coverings were already compulsory on buses, trains and trams.
“I think it’s great. It’s the right thing,” said Heike Menzel, 54, who was stacking shelves in a Bio Company supermarket, wearing a simple black fabric mask. “You’re protecting others, and you’re not exactly protecting yourself, but you still feel a bit safer.”
However, the German government extended a warning against travel worldwide to the middle of June, spelling more bad news for a global aviation industry that has been forced to cut tens of thousands of jobs.
Italy, Spain and France have been the worst affected European nations, with each reporting more than 23,000 deaths, but daily tolls appear to be on a downward trend and they are all charting their way out of lockdown.
Spain yesterday reported a slight increase in its daily death toll from COVID-19, but the government is moving toward a transition out of lockdown by the end of June, having allowed children out at the weekend for the first time in six weeks.
Spaniards have increasingly embraced home workouts as they wait for a return to something approaching normality.
“It’s very motivating because we can see each other, talk,” said Ivan Lopez, 45, a Madrid teacher who has been using the Zoom app for workout sessions with his running group. “We completely disconnect from reality, which is very complicated at the moment.”
The UK still lacked a plan to exit lockdown, but just weeks after being hospitalized with the coronavirus, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was celebrating yesterday after becoming a father when his partner, Carrie Symonds, gave birth to a boy.
The pressure to ease lockdowns is immense as the world economy teeters on the brink of a huge depression, with demand for goods gutted, travel and tourism hammered, and big banks reporting deep falls in quarterly profits.
With warnings mounting of a meat shortage in the US, the White House said that US President Donald Trump would sign an executive order compelling meat-packing plants to stay open, despite a string of coronavirus deaths in the industry.
The US has reported its 1 millionth coronavirus case and at more than 58,000 the country’s COVID-19 death toll is by far the world’s highest — surpassing the number of Americans killed in the Vietnam War in the 1960s and 1970s.
In Lebanon there were more signs of a deepening crisis, with protesters confronting troops in defiance of a nationwide lockdown, complaining that they could no longer feed their families.
‘WEAK POSITIVE’: The man arrived in Taiwan in May and was quarantined for two weeks, Chen Shih-chung said, adding that he might be infected a long time ago The government is considering tightening mask-wearing rules again in light of a potential domestic COVID-19 infection, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said yesterday. The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) confirmed seven new COVID-19 cases, six of which are imported. The other case involves a Belgian engineer who entered Taiwan on May 3 and remained in quarantine until May 17, said Chen, who heads the CECC. Although the source of infection has yet to be identified, the case could end the nation’s record of not having any domestic cases in the previous 110 days. The Belgian, in his 20s, is a technician
BRIBERY CASE: President Tsai Ing-wen accepted Su Jia-chyuan’s resignation as he said that he deeply regretted causing trouble for the president due to the investigation Presidential Office Secretary-General Su Jia-chyuan (蘇嘉全) yesterday resigned after his nephew, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Su Chen-ching (蘇震清), was implicated in a bribery case related to a dispute over the ownership of Pacific Sogo Department Store (太平洋崇光百貨). “I resigned from the post so that President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) would not be bothered by it anymore, and the prosecutors can investigate the case in a fair and just manner. I thank President Tsai once again for supporting me. May the country continue to prosper under her leadership,” Su Jia-chyuan said in a statement. The Presidential Office said that Tsai has accepted
‘INCREASINGLY FAVORED’: Taiwan’s ‘transparent laws and efficient courts’ as well as its financial institutions give it a major advantage to become a financial hub, Tsai said Taiwan would liberalize banking and investment rules to establish itself as a regional financial hub, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) told the Taiwan Capital Market Forum in Taipei yesterday. Recent world events could be an opening for Taiwan to become an international center for business investments and financial management, Tsai said at the forum, which was organized by the Chinese-language Liberty Times (the sister publication of the Taipei Times). “We’re facing unknowns in the world right now, including the continuing impact of US-China trade tensions and the reorganization of the global supply chain after COVID-19,” Tsai said. “These bring new challenges and opportunities.” Tsai
ALEX AZAR: The first visit by a head of the Department of Health and Human Services would strictly observe the CECC’s special regulations, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said US Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar is to lead a delegation to Taiwan — the highest-level visit by a US Cabinet official since the two sides cut formal relations in 1979. The plan was announced yesterday morning by the US Department of Health and Human Services and confirmed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA). Beijing has expressed its concerns to Washington, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Wang Wenbin (汪文斌) said later yesterday. Taiwan and the US only issued statements saying that the visit would happen “in the coming days.” MOFA said that due to security concerns, it would