September 21, 2020

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A member of staff wearing PPE, stands behind a screen as he waits to serve drinkers at the reopening The Toll Gate, a Wetherspoons pub in Hornsey, north London, as coronavirus lockdown restrictions are eased across the country, Saturday July 4, 2020. Restrictions which were imposed on March 23 have been eased allowing businesses including pubs, restaurants and hair salons, to reopen to members of the public with measures in place to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. (Aaron Chown/PA via AP)

Coronavirus latest: England eases COVID-19 lockdown

Pubs, restaurants and hairdressers have opened in England for the first time in three months, in what the media dubbed “Super Saturday.” Spain has put 200,000 people back into lockdown.

  • More than 200,000 people in northeastern Spain have been placed in a fresh lockdown following a surge in cases
  • California has closed all beaches for the US Independence Day holiday weekend amid fears of overcrowding
  • Brazil surpasses 1.5 million infections, over 63,000 deaths reported
  • Over 11 million cases and 526,000 deaths have been reported globally

All updates in Universal Coordinated Time (UTC/GMT) 

23:59 We have now closed this live updates article. For the latest developments, see: Coronavirus latest: Infections at Austrian slaughterhouses

21:58 Spain has placed over 200,000 people in lockdown after 60 more cases were reported in the previous 24 hours. The residents of the Catalan city and the surrounding country of El Segria are now forbidden from traveling except to go to work, with the police setting up checkpoints on the roads throughout the region. According to the local newspaper La Provincias, most cases are connected to retirement homes, a residential area, and rural agricultural workers. 

20:01 The World Health Organization says it is discontinuing its trials of the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine and combination HIV drug lopinavir/ritonavir in hospitalized patients with COVID-19 after they failed to reduce mortality.

“These interim trial results show that hydroxychloroquine and lopinavir/ritonavir produce little or no reduction in the mortality of hospitalized COVID-19 patients when compared to standard of care.”

“Solidarity trial investigators will interrupt the trials with immediate effect,” the WHO announced in a statement.

17:50 The World Health Organization hasreported a record increase in global coronavirus cases, with the total rising by 212,326 in 24 hours.

The biggest increases were from the United States, Brazil and India, according to Saturday’s daily report from the Geneva-based health body.

The previous WHO record for new cases was 189,077 on June 28. Deaths remained steady at about 5,000 a day.

Global coronavirus cases exceeded 11 million on Friday, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University, marking another milestone in the spread of the disease that has killed more than 526,000 in seven months.

17:14 As pubs, hairdressers and restaurants open their doors in England for the first time since the lockdown, officials have encouraged people to stay alert and keep their distance.

“If you are visiting a pub this weekend, keep your distance as much as possible,” UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson wrote on Twitter.

While health experts and politicians alike have advised caution, finance minister Rishi Sunak encouraged restaurant-goers to “eat out to help out” as many businesses face bankruptcy after three months of little to no trade.

Prince William and Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage were among the thousands of people who flocked to pubs across the country to enjoy their first pint of beer outside the house since March.

Farage received a social media backlash after posting a photograph on Twitter that appeared to show him not maintaining social distance with the photographer.

Reporting from a pub in south London, DW correspondent Charlotte Potts said: Pubs were “taking the temperatures of guests when they come into get a beer but that seems to be the only measures … there is zero social-distancing inside or outside and the streets are crowded … and that is why scientists warn that there could be a second wave and it was way too early to open the pubs again.”

Many pubs chose not to open, concerned about a “day of chaos” as the pub-loving nation enjoyed their taste of freedom.

Police chiefs worried the reopening of pubs could fuel drunken and irresponsible behavior, while hospitals have been
warned to prepare for a New Year’s Eve-style weekend.

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have remained more cautious and pubs and restaurants remain closed — leading to concerns that Welsh and Scottish patrons may travel hundreds of miles to England for haircuts and beer.

16:24 The US states of Florida and Arizona saw record high daily cases of coronavirus on Friday, ahead of scaled-back Fourth of July celebrations. Arizona saw 2,685 new cases while Florida recorded well over 11,000 cases.

Mexican officials have installed new health checks at border crossing to the US amid fears that those on the American side will attempt to cross the border over the holiday weekend.

Authorities urged people to avoid crossing the frontier for recreation and tourism. The US ambassador to Mexico, Christopher Landau, took to Twitter to encourage US residents not to make the journey and instead to celebrate virtually.

Meanwhile, all beaches in California were ordered to close for the holiday weekend, along with some in Florida’s most populous county, Miami-Dade.

The new cases were recorded as experts and health officials spoke of their fears that people would ignore coronavirus restrictions to celebrate Independence Day.

President Donald Trump delivered a speech at Mount Rushmore on Friday evening where many attendees ignored social distancing and did not wear masks.

14:04 A man in India has revealed he paid roughly $4,000 (€3,550) for a bespoke gold mask to protect him from the novel coronavirus.

The precious metal protective wear weighs 60 grams (two ounces) and took craftsmen eight days to produce, said businessman Shankar Kurhade, from the western city of Pune.

“It is a thin mask and has tiny pores that are helping me to breathe,” Shankar told news agency AFP. “I am not sure if it will be effective to protect me from a coronavirus infection but I am taking other precautions.”

When going out, the 49-year-old admitted he likes to wear gold jewelry, such as a bracelet, a necklace and rings on each finger of his right hand.

Kurhade, who owns a firm that makes industrial sheds, said he became inspired after seeing a media report about a man wearing one made from silver.

“People are asking me for selfies,” he said. “They are awestruck when they see me wearing the gold mask in markets.”

India has made face masks mandatory in public places. The country of some 1.3 billion has recorded almost 650,000 infections, resulting in the deaths of more than 18,600 citizens.

13:50 A German man has failed in his bid to get a court in the eastern state of Thuringia to overturn a face mask requirement on public transport. 

The state’s Higher Administrative Court has ruled that the current coronavirus rules on minimum distance and mouth and nose protection will remain in place until at least July 15 in shops and on trains, trams and buses.

The man from Saxony-Anhalt, who commutes on public transport in order to get to work in Thuringia, had claimed the restrictions were unfair, and sought permission not to wear a face mask by way of a temporary injunction. His application was turned down.

Despite the significant decrease in the number of new infections, it could still be assumed that COVID-19 remains a significant threat, the judges ruled, which obliges the health authorities to maintain the current restrictions.

13:06 Barcelona’s iconic La Sagrada Familia has reopened its doors for the first time in almost four months after the coronavirus tore through the heart of the Catalonian capital, bringing tourism to a virtual standstill.

When it did finally reopen, the basilica did so exclusively for health workers. The first group was invited to visit the temple designed by architect Antoni Gaudi.

Others will be able to visit tomorrow and on July 11-12, during a reopening phase the church is calling a “homage” to doctors, nurses and other medical professionals.

Then there will be a second phase that will be available to residents of the city. The decision to allow visitors from outside Barcelona has yet to be announced.

La Sagrada Familia is Barcelona’s top tourist site, with 4.5 million people coming through its doors last year.

12:52 More details are emerging from Rheda-Wiedenbrück in western Germany, where a protest is taking place at a slaughterhouse belonging to the meat producer Tönnies.

Some activists have mounted the roof of the plant while others put up tents to block the entrance to the abattoir, a police spokesman said.

The meat-processing plant has seen major outbreaks of the coronavirus at its factories leading to criticism of working conditions in the industry.

The plant has been responsible for more than 1,000 infections, sparking a partial lockdown in the nearby district as the virus spread throughout the community.

Meanwhile, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has expressed her gratitude to the country’s elderly community in the wake of the pandemic

“I know that everyday life, which is often difficult and lonely anyway, has become even more difficult and lonely,” she said in her weekly video message. 

“Despite all this hardship, I didn’t find anger in many older people, but rather an understanding of our policy of necessary contact restrictions. I thank you very much for that.”

More than a hundred people joined the protest outside the Tönnies meat processing plant in Rheda-Wiedenbrück

12:12 Pubs, restaurants and hairdressers have reopened for business in England for the first time in more than three months as it takes its biggest steps yet towards a resumption of normal life.

Pubs were allowed to reopen from as early as 6 a.m. local time (0500 UTC), sparking fears of over-indulgence on what some have nicknamed “Super Saturday.”

Meanwhile, a handful of hairdressers opened on the stroke of midnight, for those in desperate need for a post lockdown trim.

The easing of restrictions does not apply in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.

The Sun newspaper predicted that 15 million pints (8,5 million liters) of beer would be sunk in England on Saturday, though some pub-goers may be deterred by a forecast of unsettled weather.

Police said they were “absolutely prepared,” and hospitals have been told to prepare for a New Year’s Eve-style weekend.

11:22 Iranians who do not wear face masks will be prevented from accessing state services, while workplaces that don’t comply with health protocols will be shut down for a week, President Hassan Rouhani has revealed as he launched new measures to try to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Iran has so far registered 237,878 infections, the highest number in the region, and has a death toll of 11,408, Health Ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari said on state television.

From Sunday, it will be mandatory to wear face masks in most public places, Rouhani announced, after tougher rules were implemented in cities and towns across five provinces, where the outbreak has been surging of late after an initial relaxation of lockdowns in mid-April.

“Government employees should not serve people who do not wear masks and employees who do not wear them should be considered absentees and sent home,” Rouhani said.

Those infected have a “religious duty” to notify others, Rouhani added, saying, “keeping your infection a secret violates the rights of other people.”

10:40India has registered another all-time high of infections for a single day, with over 22,000 new cases and 442 deaths, as instances of COVID-19 rose in the western and southern parts of the country amid a monsoon.

The western state of Maharashtra, home to the densely populated financial hub of Mumbai, has India’s highest number of infections, recording 6,364 new cases and 198 deaths from COVID-19.

The country of some 1.3 billion people has the fourth-highest number of cases in the world, according to Health Ministry data, after the United States, Brazil and Russia.

09:52 Catalonia has reintroduced coronavirus confinement for some 200,000 residents to curb a recent outbreak, the autonomous region’s president has announced.

The citizens in the west of Catalonia will have the measure imposed from midday local time (1000 UTC) and regional president, Quim Torra i Pla, tweeted: “We need to take a step back to protect ourselves and control regrowth. That is why we have decided to confine Segria. We will watch every minute to get the county out of this situation. We can’t relax for a second, neither in Segria nor in the rest of Catalonia.”

The new measures include restrictions on entering and exiting the affected territory and meetings of more than 10 people, in private and public spaces, will be prohibited. Emergency police control points have been set up to monitor the situation.

08:40 Russia on Saturday reported 6,632 new cases of the novel coronavirus, raising the nationwide tally of infections to 674,515.

The authorities said that 168 people had died in the last 24 hours, bringing the official death toll to 10,027.

Russia has recorded the world’s third highest number of infections, after the United States and Brazil.

Meanwhile, a group of Russian e-commerce firms said they had erected a monument in Moscow as a sign of appreciation for couriers, marking their efforts during lockdown.

The sculptural tribute comes after some delivery workers, many of whom are impoverished migrants from Central Asia, protested against working conditions they feel are unjust.

Online shopping company Ozon, as well as numerous supermarkets and food delivery companies, said they had clubbed together to erect the monument in the south of the Russian capital.

The Moscow statue honoring delivery personnel

08:10 Animal rights activists in Germany are gathering near the city of Güterlsoh as they try to block access to a slaughterhouse at the center of a large cluster of coronavirus cases.

Some 25 demonstrators blocked access to the plant with banners reading ‘Stop exploiting people and animals’

The abattoir, owned by the Tönnies Group, has been linked to more than 1,000 infections in the region, sparking a partial lockdown as the virus spread throughout the community.

Activists and labor unions have lambasted working conditions at the plant, as well as criticized the circumstances for animals at Germany’s biggest slaughterhouses.

07:41 Air France and regional subsidiary Hop have announced there are to be 7,500 job losses due to the pandemic, which brought air travel to a virtual standstill in recent months.

Union activists showed their displeasure at Air France headquarters at Charles de Gaulle Airport, dismayed after the French government didn’t require the country’s flagship airline to protect jobs when it won €7 billion ($8 billion) in state funding in May.

Employees warned that the latest job cuts will have negative consequences on the French economy, and said bailout funds should be used to rebuild the airline, not push people into unemployment.

Air France management said that it will slash some 6,500 jobs at Air France and 1,000 at Hop by 2022.

The majority of the job losses will come through not replacing retiring and departing workers. The airline also encourages voluntary departures and early retirements before it is forced into imposing layoffs.

07:20 The Australian state of Victoria has reported its biggest leap in cases since late March. As a result, it has expanded its stay-at-home orders to two more suburbs and ordered a complete lockdown on nine public housing towers.

The southeastern state has reported 108 new infections, up from the 66 recorded the previous day, while more than 70 new cases were reported in each of the previous four days, prompting authorities to reimpose lockdowns in more than 30 suburbs earlier in the week.

“These numbers are a very real concern to all of us,” Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said. Victoria is Australia’s second most populous state.

The surge in cases is being closely monitored, particularly as the rest of the country has, until now, successfully kept a lid on the virus.

Meanwhile, Australia’s most populated state, New South Wales, has registered six new infections, five of which were imported.

The sixth is a past infection and not an active case, according to health officials.

07:00 The girlfriend of President Donald Trump’s eldest son has tested positive for COVID-19, according to numerous media outlets in the US.

Kimberly Guilfoyle, a former presenter on Fox News and the partner of Donald Trump Jr, had traveled to South Dakota to see the president’s Fourth of July speech and celebration fireworks at Mount Rushmore.

Guilfoyle, 51, was immediately isolated after her routine test. The tests are carried out on anyone expected to come in close contact with the president, the New York Times reported.

In a statement to the daily newspaper, Sergio Gor, chief of staff for the Trump reelection campaign’s finance committee, said: “She’s doing well, and will be retested to ensure the diagnosis is correct since she’s asymptomatic.”

“As a precaution (she) will cancel all upcoming events. Donald Trump Jr was tested negative, but as a precaution is also self-isolating and is canceling all public events.”

06:43 Tokyo has confirmed some 130 new cases, a third consecutive day the city has reported more than 100, public broadcaster NHK said.

For the previous two days the Japanese capital reported 124 and 107 infections respectively, partly due to increased testing among night-life workers in the Shinjuku and Ikebukuro districts. This has contributed towards Tokyo’s cases reaching a two-month high.

Japan’s infection rates remain far below many other nations but the increasing number of infections and the possibility of renewed restrictions have put authorities and businesses on alert.

03:15 Germany has reported 422 new infections, taking the total number of coronavirus cases in the country to 196,096, according to the latest data from the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases. The country also reported seven deaths, bringing the death toll to 9,010.

02:45 South Korea has reported 63 new infections, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 13,030, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Saturday.

As the virus resurgence continues in South Korea, 27 of the new cases were linked to people traveling from abroad, all of whom have to complete a two-week quarantine upon entering South Korea. Cases were also reported in most major cities, including Busan, Daegu, Daejeon and Gwangju, resulting in the closure of many schools and stricter restrictions.

Seoul, where close to half of the country’s population lives, reported 28 new cases.

South Korea was lauded for its early response to the pandemic but has been facing increased difficulty in recent weeks. Authorities have refrained from reimposing stricter restrictions over fears that the economy may not recover.

01:30 Mexico surpassed Italy’s tally of coronavirus cases by reporting 6,740 new infections. This brings Mexico’s total to 245,251 cases, the ninth-highest in the world.

Mexico also reported 654 deaths, bringing the death toll to 29,843. However, authorities have warned that there may be a further bump in cases as Mexico attempts to revive its economy.

“As we’re in an active epidemic, the risk is that as we try to reopen social activities … we may have more infections and the transmission could be maintained or increase,” Deputy Health Minister Hugo Lopez-Gatell told the press.

Mexico has moved to reopen parts of its economy

01:15 The United States has recorded 57,683 new infections in the last 24 hours, the fourth consecutive day of record increases registered by the country. This brings the total number of confirmed cases in the US to nearly 2.8 million.

On the eve of the country’s Fourth of July celebrations, the US also reported an additional 728 deaths, bringing the total death toll to over 129,400. A total of seven US states saw daily highs in COVID-19 infections. Texas hit a new peak for hospitalizations, with one doctor calling for a “complete lockdown” in the state to get the virus under control.

Even as multiple states reported record cases, President Donald Trump is set to give a speech at Mount Rushmore, where thousands are expected to gather without practicing social distancing or wearing face masks. In the past, Trump has predicted that the virus would “disappear.”

00:12 England is moving towards normalcy with the reopening of pubs, restaurants and hairdressers as the country eases its coronavirus lockdown on Saturday. However, people would still have to maintain social distancing and behave in a responsible manner, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said.

“The success of these businesses, the livelihoods of those who rely on them, and ultimately the economic health of the whole country is dependent on every single one of us acting responsibly,” Johnson said. “We must not let them down.”

In order to give the establishments a boost, pubs will be allowed to open at 5 a.m. on “Super Saturday,” while some hairdressers decided to celebrate the reopening by starting work when the clock struck midnight.

The easing of restrictions does not apply to Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.

The frenzy over the opening has led to fears that the progress made over the past three months may be lost if people are not cautious. Some changes have been implemented to prevent a possible outbreak from spreading, for example, the number of people inside pubs will be limited and those who visit will have to give their contact details.

There will be no live music and standing at the bar is prohibited.

00:05 Brazil now has over 1.5 million confirmed coronavirus infections. With 42,223 new cases announced on Friday, the South American country of nearly 210 million has registered 1,539,081 patients. Officials also said 1,290 more people have died, bringing the death toll to 63,174.

Globally, the country’s infection numbers are second only to the United States. The latest news comes as some cities, including Rio de Janeiro, are starting to reopen bars, gyms, and restaurants.

President Jair Bolsonaro continues to downplay the risks linked with the virus, which he now dismissed as a “little flu.” On Friday, Bolsonaro vetoed parts of a law that would make face-coverings mandatory in places such as churches and schools.

jsi,see/ng (AFP, AP, Reuters, dpa) (DW)