CategoryReopen

New York City announces ticker tape parade for Covid-19 pandemic heroes

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New York City will hold a ticker tape parade to celebrate the health care staff, first-responders and other essential workers who got the city through the Covid-19 pandemic, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Monday.

The event will be the first official parade hosted in the city since the pandemic began early last year.

The parade will be held July 7 on the Canyon of Heroes parade route in downtown Manhattan and will include groups of essential workers marching and standing on floats.

The mayor said the event is meant to celebrate “the people who kept us alive, the people who kept this city going — no matter what.”

It will be “a day to celebrate and appreciate the heroes who often go unsung,” de Blasio said, calling it “a parade you will remember for the rest of your life.”

The announcement comes as the city has a Covid-19 positivity rate of just 0.59% — setting a new record for the city’s lowest rate since tracking that statistic, de Blasio said. Now, about 65% of adults have had at least one Covid-19 vaccine, and the average daily deaths is in the single digits.

https://edition.cnn.com/2021/06/14/us/new-york-parade-health-care/index.html

Germany takes US, Canada off travel risk list, most others from July

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Germany no longer classifies some regions, including the United States, Canada and Austria, as areas of a high coronavirus risk, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases said on Friday.

The RKI listed 19 countries and regions that are “no longer considered risk areas” thanks to their low coronavirus infection rates.

Countries that have been removed from the travel risk list include Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, Cyprus, Kosovo, Lebanon, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, Ukraine and the US.

Some regions in Portugal, Norway, Croatia, Greece and Switzerland are also no longer considered risk regions by Germany.

Travelers entering Germany by plane must provide a negative test result, proof of vaccination or proof of recovery before their departure, whether or not they spent time in a risk area, the RKI said.

The decision takes effect on June 13.

https://www.dw.com/en/germany-takes-us-canada-off-travel-risk-list-most-others-from-july/a-57851397

UK to donate more than 100m surplus vaccine doses, says PM

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Boris Johnson says the UK will start donating coronavirus vaccines to poorer countries in the next few weeks.

More than 100 million surplus doses will be delivered in the next year, he announced ahead of the G7 summit.

US President Joe Biden has promised 500 million doses of Pfizer vaccines to 92 low and middle-income countries and the African Union.

Five million doses will be given by the UK by the end of September, with 25 million more by the end of the year.

The prime minister said: “As a result of the success of the UK’s vaccine programme we are now in a position to share some of our surplus doses with those who need them.

“In doing so we will take a massive step towards beating this pandemic for good.”

He said he hoped his fellow leaders at the summit in Carbis Bay, Cornwall, which starts on Friday, would “make similar pledges so that, together, we can vaccinate the world by the end of next year”.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-57436535

Israel to drop indoor mask requirement on June 15, as daily cases near zero

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The Health Ministry announced Sunday that the requirement for masks to be worn indoors will be lifted on June 15, marking the end of one of the only major coronavirus restrictions remaining in Israel.

For the time being, schools will be excluded from the easing of limitations, with children still required to wear masks in class, since the majority of those under 16 have yet to be vaccinated.

The ministry said that if the declining trend in morbidity continues and the campaign to vaccinate 12- to-15-year-olds, which began Sunday, succeeds, there would be another discussion to consider dropping the mask requirement in schools as well.

Announcing the decision at a Sunday government ceremony recognizing the efforts of health workers during the pandemic, Health Minister Yuli Edelstein said, “At the peak of morbidity, five months ago, there were over 10,000 cases a day; yesterday, there were only four cases.”

https://www.timesofisrael.com/israel-to-drop-indoor-mask-requirement-on-june-15-as-daily-cases-near-zero/

Chicago, Illinois enter full reopening with nearly all COVID restrictions lifted

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Illinois and Chicago have entered Phase 5 and are fully reopen, with nearly all COVID restrictions lifted.

Chicago is now the largest city in the country to fully reopen. As of Friday, there are no capacity limits for bars, restaurants, gyms, or other large venues and no social distancing requirements.

Masks are still required on public transportation, in airports, at schools, in hospitals and in some other congregate settings. However, businesses can make their own rules when it comes to masking and distancing.

Gov. JB Pritzker said in a statement Thursday: “I invite all Illinoisans to feel the hope and joy of this moment while also recognizing that this pandemic is still very present for the world at large… As we take this next step forward, let’s do so with a renewed commitment to empathy, to community, and to making each day together count. You did it, Illinois.”

Mayor Lori Lightfoot, Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady and other city leaders spoke on the reopening Friday morning outside Gibsons Italia.

“Due to the incredible progress we’ve made in our mission to stop the spread of COVID-19, I am thrilled to announce that we are able to safely transition into Phase 5 and become the first major city in the country to fully reopen,” said Mayor Lightfoot. “Our ongoing vaccination efforts, which prioritize equity and inclusion, have made a remarkable difference in our COVID-19 journey and have resulted in the lowest positivity rate since the beginning of the pandemic. This progress, as well as ongoing initiatives such as Open Chicago, have allowed us to safely lift capacity limits and reconnect our residents back to the activities they love the most. With today’s announcement and even more residents continuing to do their part and get vaccinated, we are one step closer to being able to put this pandemic in our rearview mirror.”

https://abc7chicago.com/phase-5-reopening-illinois-mask-mandate-chicago-covid/10774912/

France is back: Borders reopen to American tourists, others

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After “a very bad year,” Paris tour operator Marc Vernhet sees a ray of light with the promised return of tourists from the United States and elsewhere who are welcome in France as of Wednesday if they have been vaccinated against the coronavirus.

His agency, 2CVParisTour.com, is starting to get bookings again from Americans for its sightseeing tours conducted in quirky, bug-eyed Citroen cars. June is still very lean, but July is looking better, Vernhet said as France took the first steps toward rebuilding its position as a top destination for foreign tourists.

Before the pandemic, Vernhet ran three or four tours of the capital per day. The work dried up when France locked down, and he’s only doing around three tours per week now, nearly exclusively for French visitors. Vernhet hailed the reopening of France’s borders for vaccinated tourists as “excellent news” but said it is going to take a few more weeks for business to pick up and that “I’m not expecting to work correctly before mid-July.”

“We’ve been waiting for this for months and months,” he said.

To be allowed in for tourism, Americans and other visitors from most countries outside of Europe will need to show that they have been fully inoculated against the coronavirus with vaccines approved by the European Union’s medicines agency.

France’s acceptance of only the Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccines means tourism isn’t immediately coming back from the lucrative markets of China and Russia, which use vaccines not approved by the European Medicines Agency.

Without one of the those four vaccines, most non-EU visitors will still need to prove that they have a compelling reason to visit France and must quarantine on arrival.

But European visitors and those from a handful of low-risk countries are being welcomed back with open arms, even if they are not vaccinated. These so-called “green” countries include Japan, South Korea and Singapore, Australia and New Zealand, Lebanon and Israel. All EU countries as well as Iceland, Norway and Switzerland are also “green.” Vaccinated tourists from these countries can waltz right in; the unvaccinated need a recent negative test.

“Treat yourself, reserve now,” France’s tourism minister, Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, said in a video message Wednesday.

https://apnews.com/article/france-europe-coronavirus-vaccine-coronavirus-pandemic-lifestyle-5a3e32a35f13c90ba0b8b75967216c80

Australia economy climbs back to pre-pandemic size

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Australia’s economy has continued its rapid rebound, to grow larger than it was before the Covid-19 pandemic.

Official figures show that gross domestic product (GDP) rose by 1.8% in the first quarter, beating expectations.

Growth was spurred by a soaring demand for commodities around the world and spending by consumers and businesses.

Last year, Australia was tipped into recession after lockdown measures were imposed across the country.

Rising household spending, investment by businesses, and higher prices of iron ore and gas exports helped drive the expansion, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

The country’s speedy recovery has been helped by its ability to contain coronavirus outbreaks, which boosted consumer and business confidence.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-57326054

Memorial Day weekend is first maskless holiday in over a year for many Americans as mandates lift

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Travel is up, Covid-19 cases are down, and vaccines have been put in many arms.

The coronavirus pandemic isn’t over, but Memorial Day weekend is set to look more like it did before the virus upended life more than a year ago.

Americans Saturday were experiencing their first holiday weekend since the CDC changed its masking guidance on May 13 — that fully vaccinated people don’t need to wear masks indoors, and they don’t have to keep their distance from others.

Mask mandates melted away. As of Friday, California, Hawaii, New Mexico were the only states with mask mandates for everyone.

People are increasingly on the move. AAA estimated that more than 37 million people in the US would travel at least 50 miles from home over the Memorial Day weekend — 13% down from 2019, but 60% above last year.

President Joe Biden on Friday praised what vaccination progress has been made, expressing a sense of hope ahead of the unofficial start of summer.

“We’re not just saving lives. We’re getting our lives back, ” Biden said during remarks at Sportrock Climbing Center in Alexandria, Virginia on Friday.

https://edition.cnn.com/2021/05/29/health/us-coronavirus-saturday/index.html

N.Y.C. will eliminate remote learning for the fall, in a major step toward reopening

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New York City will no longer have a remote schooling option come fall, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced during a television appearance on Monday, a major step toward fully reopening the nation’s largest school system.

This school year, most of the city’s roughly one million students — about 600,000 — stayed at home for classes. When the new school year starts on Sept. 13, all students and staff will be back in school buildings full-time, Mr. de Blasio said.

New York is one of the first big cities to remove the option of remote learning altogether for the coming school year. But widespread predictions that online classes would be a fixture for school districts may have been premature. Gov. Philip D. Murphy of New Jersey announced last week that the state would no longer have remote classes come fall, after similar announcements by leaders in Connecticut and Massachusetts.

New York City’s decision will make it much easier to restore the school system to a prepandemic state, since students and teachers will no longer be split between homes and school buildings.

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/24/education/nyc-will-eliminate-remote-learning-for-the-fall-in-a-major-step-toward-reopening.html

Israel to end COVID-19 restrictions after vaccine success

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Israel will end local COVID-19 restrictions following a successful vaccine rollout that has nearly stamped out new infections, the country’s Health Ministry said on Sunday.

With the majority of the population having received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, and about 92% of those 50 and older inoculated or recovered, Israel has been gradually reopening its economy after three lockdowns.

The country reported just 12 new virus cases on Saturday, down from a daily peak of more than 10,000 in January.

Curbs on higher-risk activities and limits on how many people can gather in a specific area remain, with a government-issued “Green Pass” that indicates immunity post-vaccination or recovery from COVID-19 allowing greater freedom.

Health Minister Yuli Edelstein said on Sunday that he will not be extending the arrangement, meaning the restrictions and the Green Pass system will be revoked from the start of June.

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/24/education/nyc-will-eliminate-remote-learning-for-the-fall-in-a-major-step-toward-reopening.html