Many European countries are easing lockdown measures, including tourist destinations preparing for the summer
Cafes and restaurants in Madrid and Barcelona, the Spanish cities hardest hit by the virus, have opened two weeks behind the rest of the country.
- Germany has recorded its biggest quarterly decline since the 2008-2009 global financial crisis
- Japan has ended the state of emergency in last areas, including Tokyo
- More than 5.4 million cases have been recorded globally and at least 346,000 people have died from COVID-19
Updates in Universal Coordinated Time (UTC/GMT)
19:20 At least two people have caught the coronavirus from mink in the Netherlands, in what are believed to be the first mink-to-human transmissions, Dutch health authorities say.
Mink are bred for their fur at over 150 farms across the country. The authorities discovered infected animals at four such locations, Agriculture Minister Carola Schouten said in a letter to parliament.
“This is the first time we’ve found, at least we’ve shown that it’s likely, that in two cases the infection has gone from animal to human,” he said before parliament on Monday.
Schouten added the risk of humans getting infected outside farms was “negligible.” At three out of four farms, a sick human has been shown to be the source of the infection among the animals, while the officials still investigate the cause at the fourth one, the minister said.18:40 The outbreak could ramp up again and more quickly if anti-pandemic restrictions are lifted too soon, Word Health Organization (WHO) emergencies chief Mike Ryan has warned.
“We cannot make assumptions that just because the disease is on the way down now it is going to keep going down and we get a number of months to get ready for a second wave,” Ryan said. “We may get a second peak in this wave.”
18:30 UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said that outdoor markets and car showrooms are to reopen in his country on June 1 if all goes to plan. He said the government intended to allow all other non-essential retail outlets to open from June 15. Both moves will depend on whether tests for “COVID safety” were met, he said.
Meanwhile, Johnson’s closest aide Dominic Cummings refused to resign, saying he had done nothing wrong by driving 430 kilometers (270 miles) from London to a family home in northern England.
Cummings had faced calls to quit from lawmakers for apparently breaking lockdown rules he himself had a part in drawing up.
Britain has been gradually easing its restrictions, but it has the highest official coronavirus death toll in Europe. That toll rose by 121 on Monday to reach 36,914.
17:24 Spain has lowered the number of coronavirus fatalities by 1,918, bringing it down to 28,752, health officials have said.
The head of the country’s emergency medical body, Fernando SImon, said that the revision was due to “various factors” including some fatalities being counted twice and others that have been attributed to COVID-19 without proper analysis.
Health officials also revised the number of total infections to 235,400 patients, lowering it by 372 cases. On Monday, they said 50 people have died and 132 were confirmed to be infected in the previous 24 hours.
Separately, the EU state said they would lift quarantine measures for foreign tourists on July 1.
Restaurants and bars in Spain’s biggest cities, including Barcelona and capital Madrid, have reopened as half the population entered stage one of the government’s lockdown easing plans.
Spaced out outdoor tables were populated with people as servers with masks tended to their customers for the first time in months.
Phase one also allows for social gatherings in limited numbers and some cultural and sporting events. Spanish football clubs are also allowed to conduct training sessions with 10 people, a big step as the top-flight La Liga hopes to return on June 11.
Meanwhile, provinces with fewer infections have relaxed restrictions a bit more, removing outdoor time limits and allowing for meetings of up to 15 people, weddings and visits to nursing homes and beaches.
17:00 The World Health Organization (WHO) has stopped a clinical trial for hydroxychoroquine, a malaria drug US President Donald Trump said he was taking, in COVID-19 patients amid safety concerns.
A paper in The Lancet medical journal showed that people taking the drug were at higher risk of death and heart problems than those that were not.
“This concern relates to the use of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine in COVID-19,” WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a news briefing. The WHO will pursue other treatments as part of their study, including the experimental drug remdesivir and an HIV combination therapy.
Meanwhile, Tedros said that Africa was the region with the fewest diagnosed coronavirus cases, accounting for less than 1.5% of the world’s total and just 0.1% of deaths. The director-general credited the continent’s experience with dealing with epidemics for its response to the coronavirus. However a WHO special envoy Samba Sow said the continent could face a “silent epidemic” if its leaders do not prioritize testing. “My first point for Africa, my first concern, is a lack of testing is leading to a silent epidemic in Africa. So we must continue to push leaders to prioritize testing,” Sow said.
16:30 The Czech government is set to open border crossings with Germany and Austria on Tuesday, but with restrictions still in place.
Most passengers would be required to bring a negative coronavirus test. However, instead of controlling everyone who tries to cross the border, the Czech police would be switching to random checks, said the country’s interior ministry.
Tourists are not yet allowed into the country. Violators would face steep fines, according to the officials.
Slovakia and Poland continue to operate their own systems of border control on Czech borders, the ministry added.
Later on Monday, Prime Minister Andrej Babis said the Czech Republic and Slovakia will open their border this week for people traveling for up to 48 hours. Babis said he and his Slovak counterpart Igor Matovic agreed to allow passage starting from Wednesday.
“This will be possible without tests or quarantine,” Babis said on Twitter. Czech restaurants, bars, hotels, zoos, and swimming pools have all now been allowed to open, with the government easing the lockdown.
16:10 Citizens have been able to take ferry’s to Greece’s Aegean islandsas the country kicked off its summer holiday season three weeks earlier than expected.
Social distancing regulations and passenger limits on ferries have been imposed to prevent further COVID-19 infections.
Travel to the islands has been generally off-limits since the pandemic began. The holiday season was not expected to begin until June 15, but because of Greece’s low infection rate, the government allowed its citizens not under quarantine to resume ferry travel. Foreign travelers still aren’t expected until after June 15.
Meanwhile, restaurants and cafes were allowed to once again welcome customers under new social distancing rules.
15:27 Russia’s Vladimir Putin has made his first public appearance in more than two weeks at the Kremlin after weeks of working remotely from his residence outside Moscow.
Meanwhile, Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov confirmed his own release from the hospital after receiving treatment for the coronavirus. Peskov and his wife tested positive on May 12, with his wife leaving the hospital last week.
The spokesman said he would need to remain isolated at home for another two weeks. Several top-ranking officials tested positive for the coronavirus in Russia, including Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin who returned to work last week.
On Monday, he called on Russians not to travel abroad for their summer vacation. “It’s better and safer to spend the holidays in your own country,” he said in televised remarks.
Russia currently has over 353,000 coronavirus cases, making its caseload third biggest in the world behind the US and Brazil. Moscow, its most affected region, remains in lockdown.
14:55 Japan has seen an increase in online dating during the coronavirus pandemic as people look to partnership for weathering the crisis.
Companies are offering services like virtual bars, or an evening cooking together. Read more here from DW’s Asia desk.
14:23 Danish police say people with a romantic partner in Denmark are now allowed to enter the country to visit them, after an easing of border controls.
However, the travelers would need to prove they were together with the other person for at least six months. “They can bring along a photo or a love letter,” said deputy police chief Allan Dalager Clausen.
The authorities would also acknowledge text messages or personal information as evidence. “I realize these are very intimate things, but the decision to let in the partner ultimately rests on the judgment of the individual police officer,” he told Danish broadcaster DR.
The new regulation would also allow grandparents from other countries to visit their Danish-based grandchildren. The easing of border controls applies to other Nordic countries and Germany.
14:00 Thuringia could become the first state to completely lift restrictions aiming to slow the spread of coronavirus. State premier Bodo Ramelow has triggered a heated debate on whether this is a sensible local response.
12:56 The German government aims to maintain social distancing rules until at least July 5, according to a draft policy seen by the AFP news agency.
The decision has been made in the face of a revolt by regional states, the agency reports.
A working paper from Chancellor Angela Merkel’s office would extend by a month existing contact restrictions “to maintain a distance of 1.5 metres (5 feet) between people. It will also require people to wear masks in certain public areas, such as supermarkets and on public transport.
The news comes as two eastern states, Thuringia and Saxony, announced a drastic opening up in defiance of Berlin’s guidelines from June 6.
12:29 In a bid to draw investment and boost industry in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic, some Indian states have suspended most labor laws.
Many fear that the moves may lead to slave-like conditions in workplaces. Read more from DW’s Asia desk here.
11:40 Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has unveiled plans for a fresh stimulus package worth about 100 trillion yen (€850 billion, $930 billion). The new package will provide financial support to companies hit by the pandemic.
The plan requires cabinet approval, which should come later this week. If approved, it will bring total spending up to more than 200 trillion yen.
11:13 South Korea is sending 370,000 face mask to tens of thousands of South Korea-born adoptees living in the West in order to help them though the coronavirus crisis.
The Foreign Ministry’s diplomatic missions will work with dozens of international adoptee groups to distribute masks in 14 countries, the ministry said, the US, the UK, Canada, Australia, Germany, France, and Italy among them.
Initially, the ministry planned to send only 100,000 masks, but said it had decided to expand the supplies. Most South Korean adoptees were sent abroad as infants in the 1970s and 1980s and are old enough to have children of their own.
South Korea has been a major source of babies for Western parents seeking to adopt ever since the end of the Korean War in 1953. Official figures show around 167,000 South Korean adoptees living abroad, including 110,000 in the US. Some experts believe the real figure is closer to 200,000.
South Korea is also sending 1 million masks to foreign veterans of the Korean War.
11:00 A coal mine in the Czech Republic has been forced to close after a major outbreak of the coronavirus. Some 212 people have tested positive for COVID-19, after about 2,400 people were tested. Most of those infected were miners from the Darkov Mine in the northeastern town of Darkov, near the border with Poland.
This is the biggest outbreak in the country.
Local authorities have limited public gatherings to 100, compared to 300 for the rest of the country. People are also banned from visiting nursing homes and hospitals.
Some 8,957 people have tested positive in the Czech Republic, with 315 deaths.
10:49 Italy is recruiting 60,000 volunteers to wear blue aprons and tell Italians to respect social distancing in public. There has been concern that people are flouting regulations on beaches, in bars and on public squares.
Bari Mayor and head of the Italian Mayors’ Association (ANCI) Antonio Decaro told La Repubblica newspaper the volunteers will not be “vigilantes, but spreaders of good behaviour.”
Regional Affairs Minister Francesco Boccia said the volunteers would be called “civic assistants” and would be armed with “the strength of persuasion, reason and their smiles.”
The scheme is open to all citizens, but priority will be given to the unemployed and recipients of welfare aid. People will soon be able to apply on the website of the Civil Protection Agency.
10:41 The agriculture ministry in the Netherlands believes it has uncovered a second instance of a human who was infected with the new coronavirus after coming in contact with an infected mink.
Minister Carola Scouten said in a letter to parliament that the country’s National Institute for Health still believes the risk of animal-to-human transmission outside of the farms where the animals are kept is “negligible.”
On April 26 the Dutch government had reported that mink on a farm in the south of the country had contracted the virus. The news spurred a wider investigation of mink farms, where the animals are kept for their fur. Last week, the government announced the first suspected case of a mink-to-human transmission.
10:30 In Süderlügum, Germany, the Danish customer is king. Thousands of shoppers normally arrive on buses to take advantage of the lower sales tax in Germany. But now, since the border closed, so have many of the shops.
10:15 Japan has ended a nationwide state of emergency, after lifting the declaration in the final five areas. The order was lifted across most areas earlier this month, but Tokyo, Kanagawa, Chiba Saitama, and Hokkaido have now been removed. The move comes six days earlier than expected.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said this does not mean the end of the outbreak, but said the goal was to balance preventive measures and the economy until vaccines and effective drugs become available.
“We had very stringent criteria for lifting the state of emergency. We have judged that we have met this,” Abe told a nationally televised news conference. He celebrated the country’s success in flattening the curve, saying Japan “was able to show the strength of the so-called Japan model.”
Abe warned citizens would have to adapt to a “new normal” and continue to avoid the “three Cs” — closed spaces, crowded places and close contact. “If we lower our guard, the infection will spread very rapidly… we need to be vigilant,” he said. “We need to create a new lifestyle; from now on we need to change our way of thinking.”
Japan has had about 16,600 confirmed cases and about 850 deaths, avoiding the large-scale outbreaks seen in parts of Europe and the US. However, the country has fallen into recession and Abe’s support has tumbled.
Individual prefectures can impose their own measures, with Tokyo planning to reopen in three phases starting with schools, libraries, museums, and longer service hours for restaurants. Next will come theaters, sports facilities, and other commercial establishments, followed finally by nightclubs, karaoke and live music houses.
10:00 The German government and flag carrier Lufthansa have reached a much-anticipated agreement on a state bailoutof the airline in order to help it cope with losses suffered during the coronavirus pandemic, according to initial reports from news agency dpa.
The deal must now be approved by various bodies on the state and European level as well as within Lufthansa.
Read more: Opinion: When the state gets on board
Last week, the airline group announced that it was in the “advanced stage” of talks with German government officials regarding a bailout with worth €9 billion ($9.9 billion) that would give the federal government a 20% state in the company.
09:45 Thuringia State Premier Bodo Ramelow has come under nationwide criticism for his plans to end the state-wide coronavirus restrictions. The Left Party politician had announced that from June 6 onwards, general coronavirus regulations would be suspended.This would mean that statewide rules on social distancing, mask-wearing and contact restrictions would no longer apply. Instead of these regulations, regional measures will be introduced depending on the level of infection on site.
“This is extremely dangerous,” the president of the Association of Municipalities and Cities of Thuringia, Michael Brychcy, told the German Press Agency on Monday. “I don’t want us to have suffered for two and a half months and now risk everything.” He said Ramelow would probably be politically forced to retract his plans.
Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn told Germany’s most-read newspaper Bild: “Under no circumstances should the impression be given that the pandemic is over,” he said. He said that while there are regions where no new infections are reported, there are local and regional outbreaks that require rapid intervention.
Bavarian State Premier Markus Söder described the announcement as a “fatal signal.” “I don’t want Bavaria to be infected again by a careless policy that is made in Thuringia,” he said.
Federal Chancellery Minister Helge Braun has indicated that states should continue to prescribe a minimum distance of 1.5 metres in public places nationwide after 5 June, and that masks should remain mandatory in certain public areas.
09:00 Europe must achieve greater independence when it comes providing its own essential economic goods, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has told the country’s ambassadors in an online conference.
“We have as a matter of urgency to reduce our dependence in strategically vital areas: in the health sector, but equally in energy, information technology, nutrition, logistics and raw materials, such as rare earths,” Maas said..
“Where the safety and health of our population are concerned, the European Union must be able to guarantee secure supply,” he said.
His words were not meant as a rejection of free trade, he said.
“But the balance between the international division of labor and the risks of strategic dependence must be readjusted,” he said. “And I would like Germany and Europe to be pioneers here.”
The goal is also to guarantee European influence around the globe once the pandemic has subsided, he said.
His remarks were intended to prepare Germany’s representatives for the country’s six-month presidency of the EU Council in the second half of 2020.
Maas said the coronavirus outbreak would have far-reaching effects on foreign and security policy that could exacerbate global imbalances. It was not yet clear which countries would come out on top, he said.
08:30 Even if there is a second wave, Belgium will not return to lockdown conditions, the country’s interior minister has said.
“The first lockdown has taken care of the situation in which we have ended up. These were exceptional circumstances, but we never had Italian or Spanish conditions,” Pieter De Crem told VTM broadcaster.
“If there was a second wave, then I think we will find ourselves in a different situation, namely with testing and tracing. But I think we can rule out that we will have to go back to the tough measures,” De Crem said.
He told the broadcaster that the country’s tough lockdown measures meant that hospitals did not have to deny people medical care.
In mid-March, the country of 11.5 million people shuttered almost everything, leaving just food shops and pharmacies operating. Since May, it has steadily been reopening.
07:56 Spain’s Tourism Minister Reyes Maroto has said that foreign tourists will be allowed to book vacations in Spain starting in July. The government expects that the two-week quarantine imposed on overseas travelers will be suspended by that time, the ministry added.
“It is perfectly coherent to plan summer vacations to come to Spain in July,” Maroto said in an interview with local radio station Onda Cero.
The country was one of the worst-hit nations in the coronavirus pandemic, but its economy relies heavily on the tourism sector. Ahead of a possible tourism reopening, the country began opening access to its beaches for residents starting today.