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Spain to extend lockdown to June 6 despite outcry from protesters and right-wing opposition

Issued on: 21/05/2020 – 05:23Modified: 21/05/2020 – 05:23

Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanche..

Issued on: Modified:

Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez won parliamentary backing to extend the lockdown for another two weeks Wednesday, despite opposition from his rightwing opponents and protests against his minority coalition government.

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It was the fifth time the state of emergency has been renewed, meaning the restrictions will remain in force until June 6 in a measure passed by 177 votes in favour, 162 against and 11 abstentions.

The measure has allowed the government to impose a strict lockdown on Spain's nearly 47 million population, significantly limiting the freedom of movement to fight the epidemic which has now claimed 27,888 lives.

But the government's management of the crisis has drawn a barrage of criticism from righwing parties who have denounced its "brutal confinement", while several hundred protesters have hit the streets demanding "freedom" and Sanchez's resignation.

"It's the Spanish people who have stopped the virus together… nobody has the right to squander what we've achieved during these long weeks of confinement," Sanchez told lawmakers.

The street protests have been backed by the far-right Vox and the main rightwing opposition People's Party (PP), whose leader Pablo Casado didn't mince his words in the pre-vote debate.

"You are the epitome of chaos and the worst thing is that you are unable to protect the Spanish people without resorting to this brutal confinement," he said.

But the government says the March 14 state of emergency has allowed it to battle the epidemic and dramatically reduce the daily death toll which by Wednesday had fallen to 95 — a far cry from the 950 registered on April 2.

But Sanchez said the fight wasn't over aRead More – Source

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Europe

Italy reopens to tourists from Europe after economically crippling lockdown

Issued on: 03/06/2020 – 09:02Modified: 03/06/2020 – 09:02

Italy reopens to travellers from Europe ..

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Italy reopens to travellers from Europe on Wednesday, three months after the country went into coronavirus lockdown, with all hopes pinned on reviving the key tourism industry as the summer season begins.

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Gondolas are ready to punt along Venice's canals, lovers will be able to act out "Romeo and Juliet" on Verona's famed balcony, and gladiator fans can pose for selfies at Rome's Colosseum.

But there were fears many foreign tourists would be put off coming to a country still shaking off a vicious pandemic.

"Come to Calabria. There's only one risk: that you'll get fat," the southern region's governor Jole Santelli said on Sunday as the race began to lure big spenders — or any spenders — back to Italy's sandy shores.

Italy was the first European country to be hit hard by the coronavirus and has officially reported more than 33,000 deaths.

It imposed an economically crippling lockdown in early March and has since seen its contagion numbers drop off dramatically.

With the country facing its deepest recession since World War II, it needs foreigners to return, and quickly.

But it is still reporting dozens of new cases a day, particularly in the northern Lombardy region, and experts warn the government may be being hasty in permitting travel between regions and abroad.

'Like a leper'

International flights were only expected to resume in three main cities: Milan, Rome and Naples.

And there were concerns that those who usually come in by car, train or ferry from neighbouring countries would go elsewhere on their holidays.

Switzerland has warned its citizens that if they go to Italy they will be subject to "health measures" on their return. The country will open its borders with Germany, France and Austria on June 15, but not with Italy.

Austria is lifting restrictions in mid-June with Germany, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary — but again, not Italy, described last week by Vienna's health minister as "still a hotspot".

Other countries, such as Belgium and Britain, are still advising against, or forbidding, all non-essential travel abroad.

In response to perceived anti-Italian sentiment, Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio has warned countries not to treat Italy "like a leper".

He said Saturday he would be travelling to Germany, Slovenia and Greece to persuade them Italy is safe for foreign tourists.

Arrivals in Italy from Europe will not be required to self-isolate unless they have recently travelled from another continent.

Too expensive

Italy's lockdown has had a particularly devastating effect on the tourism sector, which amounts to some 13 percRead More – Source

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Europe

Covid-19: France records more than 100 new deaths as country’s lockdown eases

Issued on: 02/06/2020 – 21:15Modified: 02/06/2020 – 21:15

France's Covid-19 death toll rose b..

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France's Covid-19 death toll rose by more than 100 for the first time in 13 days on Tuesday, as the country enacts a new easing of lockdown measures.

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The French health ministry said that the number of fatalities had risen by 107, or 0.4 percent, to 28,940, the fifth-highest tally in the world.

It also said the number of Covid-19>Read More – Source

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France denounces Ryanair ‘blackmail’ in employee pay-cut-or-redundancy ultimatum

Issued on: 02/06/2020 – 17:52Modified: 02/06/2020 – 17:52

France on Tuesday denounced as “blackmai..

Issued on: 02/06/2020 – 17:52Modified: 02/06/2020 – 17:52

France on Tuesday denounced as "blackmail" an ultimatum from low-cost carrier Ryanair for its French employees to choose between a five-year pay cut or a number of redundancies in an escalating labour dispute.

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The offer from the Dublin-based no-frills carrier, long accused by critics of abrasive labour tactics, comes as the aviation industry grapples with an unprecedented crisis after the collapse in global demand for air travel due to the coronavirus.

"Blackmail is never an option," Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told RTL radio. "Jobs will be protected by imaginative solutions, but definitely not through blackmail," he said.

The aviation industry is facing drastic losses due to the coronavirus pandemic, which has closed borders across the world and paralysed air transport.

Ryanair has already announced plans to axe 3,000 pilot and cabin crew jobs, or 15 percent of staff across its European network.

In France, Ryanair operates from hubs including the Marseille, Toulouse and Bordeaux airports.

The Irish company has told French unions to accept plans to cut wages by 20 percent for pilots and 10 percent for stewards and air hostesses from July 2020, or face the redundancy of 23 pilots and 27 cabin crew staff.

Under current plans, staffers who are earning minimum wage would see their work time cut by 20 percent. Employees would progressively regain their salary up until 2025.

'They're not playing the game'

Labour Minister Muriel Penicaud said she was "shocked" by Ryanair's proposal and said the company must go back to the drawing board and "really talk (with employees), but not blackmail."

Since 2017 companies can open up talks with their employRead More – Source

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