PARIS: France and Spain were to announce Tuesday, April 28, their intention to lift strict bans on coronaviruses that have been going on for weeks, while on the other side of the world, surfers have returned to Bondi Beach as the Australia has taken its first steps to relax the restrictions.
Countries are starting to chart their way out of the stops imposed to stem the spread of the deadly disease, which emerged in China late last year and has now infected more than three million people worldwide.
At least 209,000 people have died from COVID-19 – a quarter of them in the United States, the most affected country, followed by Italy, Spain, France and the United Kingdom.
As some death rates slow, governments are exploring ways to relax home support orders that impose their own damaging economic and psychological consequences without triggering a second wave of dangerous contagion.
READ: The gap in German COVID-19 is getting worse as the lock becomes more flexible
Hundreds of avid surfers and swimmers rushed into the waves of Bondi Beach in Sydney, five weeks after police closed the area because of a large crowd ignoring the rules of social distancing.
“I’ve been excited for a week, I was like 7:30 am here,” said Diane Delaurens at AFP, dripping after her early morning surf session.
The sand has remained largely empty, as people are still prohibited from sunbathing.
READ: Australia allows home visits and opens beaches as COVID-19 lock releases
With a handful of American states taking steps to revive their closed economies, schools and stores in parts of Europe have opened.
Beginning next week, Italians will be able to exercise outdoors and visit loved ones – but only if they wear masks and refrain from hugs and handshakes.
Spain has already started to loosen its tight lockdown and was expected to announce more detailed plans on Tuesday, as has France, which has announced that it will begin easing containment on May 11.
READ: Italian Veneto defies government and quickly breaks down barriers against coronaviruses
FEARS OF RECESSION
However, the global economic outlook remains bleak.
Forecasts warn of the worst global recession in a century, with falling oil prices and the travel and tourism sector heavily hammered.
President Donald Trump has again targeted China’s handling of the crisis, suggesting that the United States may seek damages for the devastating pandemic.
“We are not satisfied with China … we think it could have been arrested at the source. It could have been arrested quickly and it would not have spread worldwide, “he said.
Asked about an editorial in a German newspaper calling on China to pay Germany $ 165 billion in reparations for economic damage caused by the virus, Trump said the United States could take its own steps to hold China responsible.
“We are talking about a lot more money than Germany,” he said. “We have not yet determined the final amount. Its very important. “
” HUMAN CONTACT “
For some parts of the United States, the lockdown has begun to loosen – despite criticism from health experts, but to the delight of some citizens.
“We need human contact, human contact,” said Kim Kaseta, 64, while having breakfast in the US state of Georgia.
Most states in the US do not yet have enough COVID-19 tests to consider releasing home stay orders, according to analysis by researchers at Harvard and the health news site Stat.
Trump said on Monday that tests are developing rapidly and that he expects to see “many” schools open, even if there is not much time left during the school year.
READ: Deaths from COVID-19 in the United States expected to reach more than 74,000 in August
Although other European countries are moving towards the reopening of schools and shops, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said it was too early for the UK to do the same.
Johnson, who emerged from his own battle against the virus, said on Monday that he could not “abandon all the efforts and sacrifices of the British people and risk a second major epidemic”.
His comments contrasted with those of New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Arden, who said the country had won the battle against “widespread and undetected community transmission”.
The New Zealanders indulged in fast food and coffeeshop for the first time in five weeks on Tuesday as the country eased its strict lockdown which prohibited any form of takeout.
“We see the difference in other countries and I don’t envy them, for sure,” said Cheryl Robertson, a Wellington resident who had planned to celebrate with a curry.
No one knows when the viral crisis will end when scientists rush to develop treatments and possibly a vaccine.
As a sign of global uncertainty, the chairman of the postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games organizing committee said the event will have to be canceled if the pandemic is not brought under control by next year.
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