Europeans and Americans soak up sun as restrictions eased

Europe and America eases restrictions

People across Europe and America were soaking up the sun where they could on Sunday, taking advantage of the first holiday weekend since coronavirus restrictions were eased.

All this while European governments grapple with how and when to let in foreign travellers, in hopes of salvaging the summer tourist season.

Police and beach patrols watched to ensure people abided by social-distancing rules and spread out across the sand and at parks.

The US is on track to surpass 100,000 coronavirus deaths in the next few days, while Europe has seen over 169,000 dead, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

Across Europe, a mishmash of travel restrictions appear to be on the horizon, often depending on what passports visitors carry.

Germany, France and other European countries aim to open their borders for European travel in mid-June. But it is not yet clear when intercontinental travel will resume.

Spain, one of the hardest-hit countries and also one of the world’s top destinations for international travellers, says it will not reopen for foreign tourists until July.

To boost the economy, the country’s leader has encouraged Spaniards to start planning their vacations for late June inside Spain.

Come July, we will allow the arrival of foreign tourists to Spain under safe conditions,” prime minister Pedro Sanchez said.

“We will guarantee that tourists are not at risk and that they don’t represent a risk” to Spain.

In Germany, domestic tourists will be allowed to return to the country’s Baltic Sea coast and to hotels in Berlin on Monday.

But tourism campaigns will require a new approach.

We don’t think people want closely packed big-city bustle at the moment,” Burkhard Kieker, the chief of visitBerlin, said.

His agency has launched a campaign showing “how much green space and how much water there is” in Berlin.

In France, families flocked to the beach at La Grande Motte on the Mediterranean, swimming and sunbathing, with eight-square-metre spaces marked off with ropes and wooden stakes to keep people apart. Reservations were required, and there was already a two-day waiting list.

Other beaches in France have also reopened, but only for exercise, with visitors not allowed to sit or lie down.

In Paris, where all city parks remain closed, locals soaked up the sun along the embankments of the Seine River and lounged on ledges outside the Tuileries Gardens.

As of Monday, France is relaxing its border restrictions, allowing in migrant workers and family visitors from other European countries.

But it is calling for a voluntary 14-day quarantine for people arriving from Britain and Spain, due to those countries imposing a similar requirement on the French.

Italy, which plans to open regional and international borders on June 3 in a bid to boost tourism, is allowing locals back to beaches in their own regions — with restrictions.

In the northwestern Liguria region, people were allowed a dip in the sea and a walk along the shore, but were not allowed to sunbathe.

We cannot forget that the virus exists and is circulating,” deputy health minister Pierpaolo Sileri said.

Even if the numbers of new cases are low, we must respect the rules.”

For the first time in months, the faithful gathered in the Vatican’s St Peter’s Square for the traditional Sunday papal blessing, but they kept their distance from one another.

And some 2,000 Muslims gathered for Eid al-Fitr prayers at a sports complex in the Paris suburb of Levallois-Perret, spaced one metre apart and wearing masks.

Meanwhile, in the US, restrictions have been eased state by state, although hundreds of people are still dying from Covid-19 every day.

The New York Times marked the horror by devoting Sunday’s entire front page to a long list of names of those who have died in America during the pandemic, with the headline “An Incalculable Loss”.

New York state reported its lowest number of daily coronavirus deaths – 84 – in many weeks on Sunday in what governor Andrew Cuomo described as a critical benchmark.

New Orleans stirred back to life as some of its famed restaurants and businesses opened for the first time in over two months.

While in California, where many businesses and recreational activities are reopening, officials in Los Angeles County said they will maintain tight restrictions until July 4.

President Donald Trump played golf at one of his courses during the Memorial Day weekend — the unofficial start of summer — as he urged states to ease their lockdowns.

Worldwide, more than 5.3 million people have been infected and 342,000 have died, according to the Johns Hopkins tally that experts say undercounts the true toll.

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