Pubs, clubs and restaurants are emerging as front lines in global efforts to prevent the resurgence of coronavirus.
With Europe’s summer season kicking into high gear for millions weary of months of lockdown, fears are rising of a spike in infections in countries that have battled for months to flatten the Covid-19 curve. Concerns have been raised by scenes of drunken German and British tourists in Majorca. They were condemned by Germany’s foreign minister condemned for putting at risk hard-won gains in efforts to contain the virus.
“We just recently managed to open the borders again in Europe,” Heiko Mass said.
“We cannot risk this by reckless behaviour. Otherwise, new measures will be inevitable.”
Regional authorities in the Balearic Islands ordered the closure from Thursday of bars and nightclubs in beachfront areas popular with young and foreign visitors. Images that have gone viral on social media of tourists packing Majorca streets were in stark contrast to a solemn commemoration service on Thursday morning in Madrid.
Relatives of about 100 Covid-19 victims sat, socially distanced, with representatives of health workers and other vital professions and with Spain’s king and queen to pay tribute to the dead and those fighting the pandemic.
In France, which has experienced new outbreaks, Prime Minister Jean Castex said masks will be mandatory in closed public places as of next week – sooner than August 1 as previously announced. One of the Catholic Church’s holiest sites, Lourdes, held its first online pilgrimage to mark the anniversary of claims by 19th-century girl Bernadette Soubirous that the Virgin Mary appeared to her there.
While stringent lockdown measures have slowed the spread of the virus across much of Europe, there are growing signs of second waves of infections, and the pandemic is still gathering pace elsewhere. More than than 13.5 million people have been infected worldwide and more than 580,000 have died, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.
The true numbers are thought to be far higher for a number of reasons, including limited testing.
India’s record daily increase of nearly 32,700 cases has pushed its total close to one million and led authorities to reimpose a three-day lockdown and night curfew in the popular western beach state of Goa, two weeks after it was reopened to tourists.
The state’s top elected official, Pramod Sawant, said people there were flouting social distancing rules and not wearing face masks.
Nearly 40,000 people have been fined in the past two weeks for not wearing masks.
Israel also registered a new daily record of confirmed coronavirus cases and a new nationwide lockdown appears imminent. Hezi Levi, the Health Ministry director general, told Army Radio he will be pushing for more stringent movement restrictions, including a possible nationwide lockdown on weekends.
In Japan, which has fewer than 23,000 confirmed cases and about 1,000 deaths, officials are fretting about moves to revitalise the hard-hit tourism industry. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe acknowledged a need to re-examine a government campaign offering discounts for travelling within Japan that is set to start next week.
“We are looking at the situation with a high level of nervousness,” he said.
Tokyo’s bars, clubs, cabarets and karaoke parlours have been seen as a weak link in efforts to contain the virus. But the most recent data show the illness also spreading in offices, nursery schools and care homes, undoing earlier progress.
Confirmed coronavirus cases in Tokyo for Thursday totalled 286, a record for the capital, governor Yuriko Koike said. At the southern tip of Mexico’s Baja California peninsula, the laid-back resort city of La Paz closed its beaches once again after reopening them in June.
Authorities reported that this week, 1,230 people and 673 vehicles were turned back or removed from beaches as part of the closure after people largely ignored social distancing, maximum capacities and other sanitary measures.
In California, US, organisers cancelled the 2021 New Year’s Day Rose Parade in Pasadena for the first time in 75 years, fearing that even six months from now infections could spread among participants and the hundreds of thousands who line the route.
That move came two days after California governor Gavin Newsom shut bars and indoor dining statewide, and ordered closures of hair salons, gyms, shopping centres and other indoor businesses in Los Angeles and other counties experiencing the most significant surge of virus cases.