- New Zealand to lift lockdown at midnight
- Several of Australia’s provinces unveil plans to gradually reopen
- Singapore now home to third-worst outbreak in Asia
- Dr. Birx says some social distancing measures will likely remain in effect until end of summer
- Boris Johnson returns to work
- Norway extends ban on gatherings of 500+ until September
- India plans to finally repatriate citizens stranded abroad
- Trump denies reports about firing Alex Azar
- French Grand Prix latest Formula One racing event to be cancelled
- Spain records second-lowest daily death toll in a month
- Nearly 20 US states begin reopening push
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The great international experiment of coronavirus lockdowns, a movement that at its peak left more than half of the world’s population facing at least some legal restrictions on freedom of movement, has officially entered what many hope will be its final stage: Dozens of countries are beginning the process of lifting some restrictions, even if others remain in place, or are being made more stringent – such as new rules governing the wearing of facemasks in public.
New Zealand will become the first developed country to end the lockdown entirely now that the virus has been effectively eradicated from the tiny island nation, according to its health officials. NZ’s lockdown will end at midnight local time. In neighboring Australia, officials in Sydney recently opted to seal off three recently reopened beaches due to local noncompliance. And while Australia’s reopening process is set to be much more gradual than New Zealand’s, several states plan to start the process this week, according to Australia’s Nine Network.
To be sure, many social distancing restrictions will remain in effect in New Zealand, even as 400,000 people return to work. Kiwis will be allowed to go fishing, surfing, hunting and hiking this week for the first time in more than a month as the country’s alert level shifts down a notch at midnight. Many shops and most dine-in restaurants will remain closed.
Queensland, Western Australia, the Northern Territory and Victoria are all on track to start easing within the coming weeks, according to Nine, while New South Wales, Tasmania, South Australia and the ACT haven’t released any updates.
Moving on to Asia, Singapore has continued to struggle with a brutal outbreak among its population of migrant workers who live in tightly-packed dorms on the island city-state. Singapore reported a fresh daily rise of 799 cases over the last 24 hours, launching Singapore past Japan to become the third-worst outbreak in all of Asia. Migrants account for ~3/4ths of Singapore’s 14,423 cases. That leaves it in third place in Asia, behind China and India.
Meanwhile, in Hong Kong, health officials have further eased restrictions as hospitals have confirmed only one case of locally-transmitted COVID-19 for an entire week.
Speaking of India, the ministry of external affairs said on Monday that it is finally planning a large-scale rescue mission to bring the thousands of Indians stranded abroad back home. On March 18, New Delhi moved to abruptly and swiftly impose aggressive travel bans that barred even its own citizens from returning home, one of the few countries in the world to take such strict action to avert a surge in coronavirus cases.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson returned to work on Monday after more than three weeks off to battle the coronavirus. In a speech, Johnson – arguably the world’s most famous coronavirus patient aside from Tom Hanks – said Britain was slowly winning the fight against the virus, but added that it was “too early” to totally relax restrictions. He pleaded with the British public to hang on “just a little bit longer” after six weeks of lockdown.
“This is the biggest single challenge this country has faced since the war, and I no way minimize the continuing problems we face,” Johnson said during his speech.
Last night in the US, President Trump pushed back against reports that he was on the brink of firing HHS Secretary Alex Azar.
Reports that H.H.S. Secretary @AlexAzar is going to be “fired” by me are Fake News. The Lamestream Media knows this, but they are desperate to create the perception of chaos & havoc in the minds of the public. They never even called to ask. Alex is doing an excellent job!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 26, 2020
During Sunday’s press briefing, Dr. Deborah Birx said some form of social distancing will probably remain in place through the summer, even as nearly 2 dozen states prepare to start reopening their economies this week and next. Dr. Birx was slammed by far-left journalists overnight for having the audacity to tell the press not to focus so much on President Trump’s extemporaneous musings about cleaning products and ‘sunlight’.
Yesterday, we provided a rundown of the roughly 20 states that are starting the reopening process, which is being led by Georgia, Tennessee, Oklahoma and a handful of other states. Here’s more on that from Reuters.
More U.S. states prepare to ease coronavirus restrictions this week despite continued warnings from health experts that there is still too little diagnostic testing.
Colorado, Mississippi, Minnesota, Montana and Tennessee were set to join several other states in reopening businesses without the means to screen systematically for infected people who may be contagious but asymptomatic, and to trace their contacts with others they might have exposed.
Many merchants are worried about returning to work – but are doing so anyway because they need the money.
“I would stay home if the government encouraged that, but they’re not. They’re saying, ‘Hey, the best thing to do is go back to work, even though it might be risky,’” Royal Rose, 39, owner of a tattoo studio in Greeley, Colorado, said.
Norway announced last night that it would expand its ban on gatherings of more than 500 people until September, the longest end date in place for ending social distancing practices. Meanwhile, as France, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and others start the process of easing their lockdowns, Formula 1 Racing announced on Monday that the French Grand Prix will no longer go ahead this year, becoming the tenth race of the delayed Formula One season to be cancelled or postponed.
Finally, in one of the most promising trends across Europe, Spain has reported its second lowest number of single-day deaths in over a month, second only to yesterday’s reading. Although today’s number is a little bit higher day over day, the trend of fewer cases and even fewer deaths remains firmly intact across the Spanish Republic.
Spain’s Ministry of Health said Monday that 331 people had succumbed to the virus over the last day. This compares with Sunday’s toll of 288 people, the lowest total since March 20. However, it is below all the other daily totals recorded for the past five weeks. The cumulative death toll is 23,521 people. Meanwhile, another 100k Spaniards have officially recovered from the virus. Spain also reported 9,570 new cases, bringing the countrywide total to 226,629.