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.
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The EU is set to lift travel restrictions for US and Taiwanese residents as soon as this week, in the latest step toward a return to normal, despite concerns over the spread of potentially dangerous COVID-19 variants. Portugal, which holds the rotating presidency of the EU, proposed adding Taiwan, the US, Albania, Hong Kong, Lebanon, Macau, the Republic of Northern Macedonia, Saudi Arabia and Serbia to a so-called “white list” of countries from which non-essential travel to the bloc is allowed, a diplomat familiar with the matter said. Assuming no objections, EU government envoys in Brussels would today approve the expanded
NO CONNECTION: Centers for Disease Control Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang said the CECC has linked no deaths so far to the AstraZeneca vaccine Eleven people in the nation have died after receiving the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday, but the deaths should not deter older people with chronic health conditions from getting vaccinated. Nine of the deaths — people aged 65 to 97 — took place three hours to one day after the AstraZeneca vaccine was given, the center said, while eight of the 11 deaths were people aged 75 or older, most of whom had chronic health conditions. On Wednesday, the center said that 12 more people — seven women and five men aged 42 to 97 at
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