The Latest around the world: Spain to end quarantine for tourists on July 1


Associated Press



The Latest on the coronavirus pandemic.

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MADRID — Spain says it will lift a 2-week mandatory confinement for all travelers arriving from overseas starting July 1.

The government said in a brief statement that Cabinet ministers made the decision to lift the mandatory quarantine during a meeting Monday.

Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez had already announced over the weekend that his nation was ready to welcome some foreign visitors in July.

The government is looking to establish safe corridors between parts of Spain that have the outbreak under control and similar areas in Europe that are an important source of tourists. There has been no talk so far of reopening to travelers from outside the European Union.

Spain is one of the world’s most visited countries, attracting over 80 million international tourists each year. The industry represents 12% of Spain’s GDP and employs 2.6 million people. Its economic importance is even greater on Spain’s Canary and Balearic archipelagos.

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BEIJING — The Chinese city of Wuhan has conducted more than 6.5 million coronavirus tests over a 10-day period in a bid to test all its 11 million residents, state media said Monday.

The city’s health commission, in a post on its website, asked anyone who hasn’t been tested to come forward by the end of Tuesday.

No new COVID-19 cases have been reported since the 10-day campaign started, though some people with no symptoms tested positive. More than 3 million people had been tested prior to the campaign, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

The campaign was launched after a cluster of six cases was discovered in one residential compound. Wuhan, where the global pandemic is believed to have started late last year, was by far the city hit hardest in China.

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RAMALLAH, West Bank — The Palestinian prime minister says the West Bank will reopen on Tuesday after a dramatic slowdown in the spread of the coronavirus.

Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh said shops, restaurants and mosques and churches would reopen on Tuesday, while government offices would reopen on Wednesday following the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr.

The Palestinian Authority, which administers autonomous areas of the Israeli-occupied West Bank, imposed a strict lockdown in March.

The Palestinians reported 368 cases of COVID-19 in the West Bank, with two deaths.

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TOKYO — Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says his government will compile a fresh stimulus package worth about 100 trillion yen ($930 billion) to provide financial support for companies hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

Abe unveiled the new stimulus at a news conference Monday as he declared an end to a coronavirus state of emergency across the nation, as he removed the measure in five remaining prefectures including Tokyo.

Abe said a Cabinet approval of funding for the additional stimulus package is expected later this week.

The package would bring the amount of spending to more than 200 trillion yen ($1.9 trillion), he said. The government earlier compiled a 117 trillion yen stimulus package.

Japan, with about 16,600 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and about 850 deaths, has so far avoided a large outbreak like those experienced in the U.S. and the Europe despite its softer restrictions.

But the world’s third-largest economy is fallen into a recession, and public discontent over Abe’s handling of the coronavirus has sent his support ratings tumbling.

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KYIV, Ukraine — The subway in Kyiv and kindergartens all across Ukraine reopened on Monday as the country moved to the second stage of easing lockdown restrictions.

Last week, Ukraine’s government announced shifting to “an adjustable lockdown,” with authorities in different regions deciding which restrictions to lift. The new regime started on Saturday, with public transport, hotels and churches reopening, and will remain in place until June 22.

In Kyiv, the subway returned to its usual schedule, allowing people in if they wear masks and observe social distancing guidelines. Churches across the country resumed public services on condition of enforcing social distancing. Hotels were allowed to reopen with their restaurants remaining closed.

Ukraine was one of the first ex-Soviet nations to impose a strict nationwide lockdown in March, when it had just a handful of coronavirus cases. It has so far reported 21,245 confirmed infections and 623 deaths.

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VIENNA — Austria’s government says it has agreed upon a one billion euro ($1.1 billion) package to support cities and municipalities struggling through the coronavirus pandemic.

Finance Minister Gernot Bluemel said Monday the money will be used to help kindergartens, schools and public transit systems, as well as projects like energy-saving measures, building renovations and the expansion of broadband connections.

Bluemel says the money will be distributed according to the size of cities.

Austria has registered 16,539 cases of the new coronavirus with 641 deaths.

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LONDON — A hospital in southwest England says it has stopped accepting patients because of a rise in the number of COVID-19 cases it is treating.

Weston General Hospital in Weston-super-Mare says it is temporarily closing its admissions department “to maintain patient and staff safety.” People are being sent to nearby hospitals for treatment.

Local lawmaker John Penrose tweeted that the hospital had had “a spike in infections” and would get a “deep clean” before reopening.

Nationally, the number of people hospitalized with the coronavirus is falling. The British government says there are 8,951 people in hospitals with COVID-19, down from 10,085 a week ago.

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PRAGUE — A coal mine in northeastern Czech Republic near the border with Poland has halted work after a major COVID-19 outbreak among the miners.

In recent days, tests of some 2,400 people revealed a total of 212 positive for coronavirus, mostly miners from the Darkov mine in the town of Karvina and their family members. It’s currently the biggest local outbreak in the country.

Ivo Vondrak, the head of the regional government, said Monday that only workers who are necessary to deal with ventilation and water pumping remain in the mine.

Local health authorities have limited public gatherings in Karvina county to 100, while it is 300 in the rest of the country. Visits to nursing homes and hospitals are banned

The daily increase of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the entire Czech Republic was 65 on Sunday. A total of 8,957 people have tested positive in the country, while 315 have died.

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SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea says it plans to send 370,000 face masks to tens of thousands of South Korea-born adoptees living in the West to help them weather the coronavirus.

The Foreign Ministry said its diplomatic missions will work with dozens of international adoptee groups to distribute the masks to adoptees in 14 countries, including the United States, Canada, Australia and European nations such as Britain, Germany, France and Italy.

The ministry said it initially planned to send 100,000 masks but decided to expand the supplies because most South Korean adoptees were sent abroad as infants during the 1970s and 1980s and are now old enough to have their own children.

South Korea has been a major source of babies for Western adoptive parents since the end of 1950-53 Korean War. According to official figures, there are around 167,000 South Korean adoptees living abroad, including 110,000 in the United States. But experts say the actual number would be closer to 200,000.

South Korea is also in the process of sending 1 million masks to foreign veterans of the Korean War.

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MADRID — Spain is making progress on its staggered plan out of the confinement against the new coronavirus.

Roughly half of the population, including residents in the biggest cities, Madrid and Barcelona, are entering phase 1 on Monday, which allows social gatherings in limited numbers, restaurant and bar service with outdoor sitting and some cultural and sports activities.

“It is all very strange but we missed this,” María Cámara said as she enjoyed a morning breakfast in a central Madrid terrace for the first time in over two months.

Cámara and her partner, both warehouse workers, had turned the morning coffee in a bar into a routine followed religiously after long night shifts. “We really noticed not being able to do this,” she said. “We went for a walk instead. But this is great.”

Beyond hand sanitizer, masks and tables separated by social distancing norms, coffee bar owner Roberto Fernández said that the saddest novelty is those old customers who won’t show up anymore.

“We are also a little sad today, as we have lost two of our more elderly regular customers,” Fernández said. “They used to come every day but now they have left us.”

The other half of the country, provinces with fewer infections or ready to face a possible second outbreak, are going one step further in loosening up restrictions. That includes no time limits on outdoor activities, meetings of up to 15 people, weddings, and visits to nursing homes and beaches. Some vocational schools in the Basque country are also resuming classroom activity.

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DAMASCUS, Syria — Syria’s Health Ministry is reporting 20 new cases of coronavirus in the country, the highest daily count since the new virus was first reported here in late March.

Monday’s announcement raises to 106 the number of confirmed cases. There have been four deaths.

The ministry said all 20 new cases are of Syrians who returned from abroad. They comprise 15 people who came back from Kuwait, three from Sudan, one from Russia and one from the United Arab Emirates.

Syria recently began easing restrictions imposed over the past weeks.

Earlier in May, President Bashar Assad issued a decree postponing the country’s parliamentary elections until July — the second such delay in light of restrictions in place to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

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BERLIN — A coronavirus outbreak linked to a slaughterhouse in the Netherlands has spread across the border to Germany.

Dutch regional health authorities said Monday that tests showed 147 of the 657 employees at a meat processing plant in Groenlo were positive for COVID-19.

They said 79 of those infected live in Germany, while 68 are resident in the Netherlands.

There have been several clusters of COVID-19 among slaughterhouse workers in Germany in recent weeks, prompting a government pledge to crack down on conditions in the industry. Many workers in German abattoirs are migrants from Eastern Europe employed by subcontractors. They often live in shared housing and are transported to and from the slaughterhouses by shuttle bus, increasing the likelihood of infection.

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PODGORICA, Montenegro — Montenegro’s health minister has urged citizens to help keep the small Balkan country “corona-free” in the future after authorities said there are no more cases of infection at the moment.

Minister Kenan Hrapovic on Monday described the current situation in the country as a joint success of the health authorities and the citizen of Montenegro.

The Public Health Institute said Sunday that all of the 140 tests in the past 24 hours were negative and that there are no people currently reported sick with the virus.

Hrapovic says “responsible behavior and joint health care will be out trump card in the days ahead so that we can remain proud bearers of the title of a corona-free country.”

The Balkan country of some 620,000 people imposed strict lockdown measures to curb the outbreak. A total of 324 cases have been recorded and nine people have died.

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ATHENS, Greece — Greece on Monday restarted regular ferry services to the islands, while restaurants and bars were also back open for business as the country accelerated efforts to salvage its tourism season.

Travel to the islands had been generally off-limits since a lockdown in late March, with only goods suppliers and permanent residents keeping access.

But the country’s low infection rate in the COVID-19 pandemic has prompted the government to start the holiday season earlier than expected, on June 15, as other Mediterranean countries — including Italy, Spain, and Turkey — are grappling with more deadly outbreaks.

Distancing regulations and passenger limits have been imposed on ferries and at restaurants, while state-run health services to combat new coronavirus cases are being expanded to the islands, with intensive care space being provided on five islands: Lesbos, Samos, Rhodes, Zakynthos, and Corfu, along with existing facilities on the island of Crete.

Tourism is a vital part of the Greek economy, with a direct cash contribution of more than 10%, and broad secondary benefits. More than 34 million visitors traveled to Greece last year, spending 18.2 billion euros, according to central data.

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Associated Press