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Unlimited outdoor activity, U-turn on masks: UK unveils lockdown lifting strategy

Issued on: 11/05/2020 – 22:03Modified: 11/05/2020 – 22:03

The British government performed an abou..

Issued on: Modified:

The British government performed an about-face on masks Monday, telling people to cover their mouth and nose in shops, buses and subway trains. The change came as part of what Prime Minister Boris Johnson called the “first careful measures” to lift a nationwide lockdown imposed seven weeks ago to slow the spread of the new coronavirus.

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A 50-page government document outlining cautious steps to ease restrictions said “people should aim to wear a face-covering in enclosed spaces where social distancing is not always possible and they come into contact with others that they do not normally meet, for example on public transport or in some shops.”

That is a recommendation rather than a rule, and people wont be penalized if they dont wear a mask.

The government outlined a three-stage approach to ending lockdown, beginning Wednesday with a relaxing of limits on outdoor activity. People in England may take unlimited amounts of exercise, rather than just one trip out a day, and may sit and sunbathe outdoors. Driving to a park or beach will be permitted, and golf courses and tennis courts can reopen.

If there is no new spike in infections, that will be followed in June by a return to class for some young school pupils, the reopening of nonessential shops and the return of televised sports, played behind closed doors. A third stage, penciled in for July at the soonest, would see the gradual reopening of restaurants, cafes, pubs, hairdressers and other businesses.

Johnson told lawmakers that “if the alert level begins to rise we will have no hesitation in putting on the brakes.”

While many people welcomed the prospect of an end to lockdown, police organizations warned that the new rules were fuzzy and made enforcement harder.

There was confusion about the measures, which were announced by Johnson in a televised speech almost 24 hours before the details were published.

“What the country needs at this time is clarity and reassurance, and at the moment both are in pretty short supply," said Keir Starmer, leader of the main opposition Labour Party.

The Prime Minister said he was setting out a roadmap but if were to complete the journey safely a roadmap needs clear directions. pic.twitter.com/6D7XblY0V6

— Keir Starmer (@Keir_Starmer) May 11, 2020

In a televised statement Sunday, Johnson extended most of the draconian restrictions on daily life imposed March 23, including the closure of schools, restaurants and most shops.

Britains official coronavirus death toll stood Monday at 32,065, the highest in Europe and the second-highest in the world after the United States. While the number of new deaths and infections is falling, Johnson said it would be “madness” to loosen restrictions so much that there is a new surge in cases.

But he made a dramatic shift in tone on the economy. Since March 23, workers have been told to stay at home. Now Johnson said “anyone who cant work from home, for instance those in construction or manufacturing, should be actively encouraged to go to work.”

He said workplaces should observe social distancing and people should avoid public transport if possible, traveling “by car or even better by walking or bicycle.”

Employees, business owners and trade unions expressed concern about the gear-change, saying the advice was confusing and potentially dangerous — especially in a big city like London, where most people do not own cars and where subways are operating at a fraction of their usual capacity.

PM Johnson's new 'stay alert' message irks othRead 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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