France further eases lockdown, while others reimpose distancing measures

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Paris (AFP) – France announced Thursday that it would reopen its famous bars and restaurants – with restrictions – after months of coronavirus shutdown, as countries elsewhere reimposed distancing measures amid increased cases .

The new measures in France followed the announcement of the resumption of the Premier League season on June 17, as European countries gradually freed themselves from obstacles to a new post-pandemic reality.

But in South Korea and Sri Lanka, restrictions were introduced after a wave of new infections raised fears of a second wave of contagion.

And infections and deaths around the world have continued to climb. The death toll in Europe has exceeded 175,000, while the United States crossed the dark milestone of 100,000 deaths on Wednesday.

More than 355,000 people have now died from the disease worldwide, and recorded infections have exceeded 5.7 million since the onset of the disease in China late last year.

The situation remained grim in Latin America, now in the midst of the pandemic, with deaths in Brazil exceeding 25,000 on Wednesday, while Peru registered a record number of 6,154 new cases in 24 hours.

Worried relatives gathered outside the Sabogal hospital in the capital, Lima, unable to enter to see relatives suffering from COVID-19 – some begged the guards to provide them with information.

“I want to speak to a doctor and they don’t let me know,” said Liset Villanueva, granddaughter of a coronavirus patient.

“They don’t say anything, they don’t call, they don’t explain anything … What is he suffering from?” “

– “Freedom is the rule” –

But across the Atlantic, France has slipped into a new normal after weeks of confinement that has seen new infections and deaths plummet.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe on Thursday unveiled phase 2 of the country’s deconfinement measures, which included the reopening of bars, cafes and restaurants as well as museums and monuments on June 2.

But there will be restrictions: Parisian restaurants are only allowed to serve on outdoor terraces, and face masks will be mandatory in museums.

Citizens will also be allowed to travel more than 100 kilometers (60 miles) from their homes, just in time for the summer vacation.

“Freedom will be the rule and restriction the exception,” said Philippe.

There were also signs of a return to the world of sports, with the Premier League announcing on Thursday that it would return on June 17 after a three-month hiatus.

But the matches would be played behind closed doors, without spectators.

Elsewhere in Europe, the Spanish revisit old joys – but with new measures of social distancing.

In a drive-in cinema in Madrid, crowds were delighted to finally be able to return to the cinema, while avoiding crowded theaters.

“Everyone has their own private space, there are not many areas on which you could get an infection because during the film, nobody gets out of their car and if you want to order food you can do it by line, “Belen Perez told AFP. during a screening of “Grease”.

“It’s a great way to have fun safely.” “

– “Don’t start taking the plunge” –

The United States marked a milestone on Wednesday, killing 100,000, prompting new warnings from health experts that the country should not rush to reopen its severely battered economy, with tens of millions of jobs Americans removed in a few months.

Although the United States has the highest number of deaths in the world, it is not the most affected in terms of deaths per million people.

Belgium leads the way with 808 deaths per million people, followed by Spain with 580 and Britain 552, according to AFP data compiled by official figures. The United States has 303 deaths per million people.

US President Donald Trump, who plans to be re-elected later this year, has said on several occasions that he is anxious to resume business and urged states to lift the bottlenecks.

But top health counselor Anthony Fauci – whose advice has often clashed with that of Trump – has once again called for caution.

“Don’t start jumping over the recommendations of some of the guidelines because it’s really a tempting fate and asking for trouble,” Fauci told CNN.

Elsewhere, some Asian countries have faced the risks of a second wave.

South Korea has reimposed certain rules of social distancing after the emergence of a series of new clusters, many of them in the capital Seoul.

Museums, parks and art galleries will all be closed again from Friday for two weeks, while companies have been asked to reintroduce flexible work, among other measures.

“The next two weeks are crucial to preventing the spread of the infection in the metropolitan area,” said Health Minister Park Neung-hoo.

And in Sri Lanka, certain locking measures will be deployed again after more than 250 returnees from Kuwait have been found to be infected with a coronavirus.

– Aviation and automotive –

Governments around the world face the precarious task of maintaining people’s security while trying to revive their economies, as the world faces a crisis that has been unprecedented in decades.

The economic fallout from the pandemic was again revealed on Thursday as the British carrier EasyJet announced that it would cut up to 30% of its staff, while the Scandinavian airline SAS announced new quarterly losses of 362 million dollars.

On the auto front, Nissan has announced an annual net loss of $ 6.2 billion, and has said it will close its Barcelona plant and cut production.

The news comes after the European Union unveiled a historic 750 billion euro ($ 825 billion) stimulus package to get the continent back on its feet.

Amidst a flood of terrible news, there have also been promising developments.

The Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche has teamed up with the American biotechnology company Gilead to test a mixture of drugs to treat severe cases of COVID-19.

Scientists around the world are fighting for a vaccine – or an effective treatment – against the disease.

And in the animal world, there was also news about coronaviruses, after a Bali zoo named a newborn giraffe after the disease.

“Corona is in good health and still breastfeeding. We will keep her under observation for three months, ”said zoo spokesman Anak Agung Ngurah Alit Sujana.

But visitors will have to wait to meet the young calf, as the zoo remains closed to the public.

burs-jv / ach

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