Broadway poised to announce September return


The Broadway League says it expects shows to officially return in September.

Sources say a formal announcement is set for May 11.

Mayor Bill de Blasio hinted at Broadway’s return during an appearance on MSNBC Thursday in which he said he would like to see the city fully reopen on July 1.

The initial plan is for some of the bigger blockbuster shows like “Wicked,” “The Lion King” and “Hamilton” to return first, most likely around Labor Day. Another source says the cast of “Moulin Rouge!” was called into a Zoom meeting this week and informed that the show will reopen in mid-September.

This news comes on the heels of Telecharge putting tickets for “Chicago,” “Jagged Little Pill” and “Ain’t Too Proud” on sale for performances for early to mid-September. No official reopening dates have been announced for those shows, but it is possible they will also be making a return sooner rather than later.

The US is taking a major step toward resuming normal life


As May arrives, the US is taking a major step toward resuming normal life, with cities, businesses and entertainment venues announcing plans to begin reopening after the deadly winter surge of Covid-19 infections.

New York City indoor dining capacity will expand to 75% beginning May 7, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Friday, detailing a swath of other measures that will ease restrictions.

The travel industry is gearing up for a big summer season. This week, Delta will resume filling the middle seat on flights while Disneyland in California is opening its park gates for the first time in more than a year at around 25% attendance capacity.

In sports, the Atlanta Braves and Atlanta United are among the first teams in their leagues to return to 100% capacity for games starting in May, with the condition that fans wear face coverings. The Kentucky Derby will have thousands of spectators Saturday, although attendees will also have to wear masks, following a state requirement for outdoor events with more than 1,000 people.

The latest data is offering hope as the seven-day average Covid-19 death rate is at its lowest point of the year, according to a CNN analysis of Johns Hopkins University data. The daily average number of deaths in April was 684, down from the January average of 3,431 deaths per day. It’s the lowest point since October.

Almost 44% of the population — nearly 144 million people — have received at least one dose of vaccine, according to the latest numbers from the CDC. Around 30% of the US population is fully vaccinated.

Vaccinated Americans no longer need to wear masks outside except in crowds, CDC says


Joe Biden has told fully vaccinated Americans they can go outdoors without a face mask, except in big crowds, as he attempts to steer a lockdown-weary nation back towards normality.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, the president used the bully pulpit of the White House to assure the public science shows the risk of coronavirus infection is very low for vaccinated people in outdoor spaces.

“Starting today, if you’re fully vaccinated and you’re outdoors and not in a big crowd, you no longer need to wear a mask,” said Biden, beside a tree and lawn, in warm spring sunshine.

“I want to be absolutely clear. If you’re in a crowd, like a stadium or at a conference or a concert, you still need to wear a mask, even if you’re outside. But beginning today, gathering with a group of friends in a park, going for a picnic as long as you are vaccinated and outdoors, you can do it without a mask.”

“The CDC is able to make this announcement because our scientists are convinced by the data that the odds of getting or giving the virus to others is very, very low if you’re both fully vaccinated and out in the open air.”

Biden also hailed the “stunning progress” the US has made against the virus since he took office on 20 January, with 215m vaccine shots administered and cases and deaths “down dramatically”. Two thirds of elderly people are now fully vaccinated, he said, resulting in an 80% drop in deaths and 70% drop in hospitalisations among that group.

‘No sign’ of infection after Barcelona Covid-19 concert trial


There has been “no sign” of coronavirus infection among 5,000 unvaccinated people who took part in an indoor trial concert last month in Barcelona seeking pandemic-safe ways to celebrate mass events, organisers said on Tuesday (April 27).

The participants underwent PCR tests two weeks after the March 27 event and “there is no sign that suggests transmission took place during the event”, Mr Josep Maria Llibre, a specialist in infectious diseases from the Germans Trias i Pujol hospital told a news conference.

Organised by the hospital and a group of Spanish music promoters, the concert in the Palau de Sant Jordi was billed as Europe’s biggest indoor rock concert since the start of the pandemic.

78,113 people attend the traditional ANZAC Day AFL match in Melbourne, the biggest attendance at a global sporting event since the start of the pandemic


A crowd of 78,113 packed into the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) for an Australian rules match between Collingwood and Essendon on Sunday, the highest attendance at a sports stadium anywhere in the world since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Authorities in Australia’s southern state of Victoria, of which Melbourne is the capital, on Friday raised the cap on the attendance at the 100,000-seater arena to 85,000 ahead of the traditional Anzac Day blockbuster.

Sunday’s attendance was higher than the 67,200 and 66,352 crowds attracted to the first two Twenty20 cricket matches between India and England at the 132,000-capacity Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad in March.

Anzac Day, which commemorates a bloody battle fought by the Australia and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) during World War One, is an iconic day in the regional calendar with bumper crowds guaranteed at sporting fixtures.

The Collingwood Magpies and Essendon Bombers, two of the best-supported teams in the Australian Football League (AFL), have met since 1995 on what is a public holiday when it falls on a weekday.

Last year, the match was played at an empty MCG but the fans were back with a vengeance at the cavernous stadium on Sunday, emitting a roar when the commemorative pre-match preliminaries were completed.

Israel records no new daily COVID deaths for first time in 10 months


For the first time in ten months, no new COVID-19 daily deaths were reported Thursday in Israel, according to the latest Health Ministry figures.

In data released Friday, the death toll remained unchanged from the day before at 6,346. The last date there were no new fatalities was June 29, when morbidity levels remained subdued following the initial coronavirus wave.

The ministry said of the 35,027 tests performed Thursday, 129 new cases were recorded, a positive test rate of 0.4 percent. The country has logged 837,870 confirmed infections since the pandemic began.

Israel has seen a sharp drop in daily mortality and infection rates since the pandemic peaked in late-January, as the country pushes forward with its world leading vaccination drive.

On Thursday, the Jewish state passed the milestone of over 5 million people having received both vaccine shots.

Masks, Distancing Can Be Relaxed If You Are Vaccinated, EU Says


Social distancing rules and mask requirements can be relaxed for those who get vaccinated, the European Union’s agency for disease prevention said, adding to signs that an accelerated rollout of shots against the coronavirus can pave the way for a gradual return to normality.

When fully vaccinated individuals meet other fully vaccinated individuals, physical distancing and the wearing of face masks can be relaxed, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control said in a set of guidelines published Wednesday. The rules can be relaxed even when vaccinated meet people who have still to get the shot, as long there are no risk factors for severe disease or lower vaccine effectiveness in anyone present.

The reasoning is that people who have received the vaccines have a very low risk of developing severe illness, while the risk of contracting the virus from someone who has been vaccinated is also low.

Israel mask wearing outside to no longer be required as of Sunday


Israel will lift the requirement to wear masks outdoors starting on Sunday, Health Minister Yuli Edelstein announced on Thursday. The requirement will remain for indoor spaces.

“The masks are intended to protect us from the coronavirus,” said Edelstein. “After our health professionals came to the conclusion that they are no longer needed outdoors, I decided to allow it according to their recommendation. The level of morbidity in Israel is very low thanks to our successful vaccination campaign, and thus we can ease up further restrictions for you, citizens of Israel. I ask you to still carry a mask in order to enter closed buildings. Together we will keep the morbidity low.”

The move had been under discussion for several weeks, but authorities decided to wait until the end of Remembrance Day and Independence Day, fearing that mask-less celebrations might lead to a spike in cases.

The majority of experts agree that the risk of contracting the coronavirus outdoors is very limited.

“We know that wearing masks outdoors is not as effective as doing it indoors,” Dr. Eyal Leshem, the director of the Center for Travel Medicine and Tropical Diseases at Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer, said last week. “Moreover, we see that many people don’t actually wear masks anymore anyway. Therefore at this point, with a low number of cases and a majority of the population vaccinated or recovered, it would make sense from epidemiological and public health perspectives to lift the requirement.”

Israel may have reached a ‘sort of herd immunity’ from COVID, expert says


Israel may have reached “a sort of herd immunity” and can safely ease further restrictions, a top expert said Saturday.

With over 4.9 million Israelis fully vaccinated, the number of daily coronavirus cases has plummeted by 97 percent, Eran Segal, a computational biologist at the Weizmann Institute of Science, told Channel 12.

“It is possible that Israel has reached a sort of herd immunity and regardless, we have a wide safety net,” Segal said. “I think that makes it possible to remove some of the restrictions immediately.”

Segal underlined that with most Israelis immunized, the reopening of swathes of the economy and gatherings over the Purim and Passover holidays did not contribute to a spike in cases.

If confirmed, Israel could be the first country in the world to hit the milestone of herd immunity.