Memorial Day weekend draws crowds and triggers warnings
ST. PETERSBURG, Florida. (AP) — Big crowds turned out for the Memorial Day weekend in the U.S. amid warnings from authorities about people disregarding the coronavirus social-distancing rules and risking a resurgence of the scourge that has killed nearly 100,000 Americans.
On the Navajo Nation, which sprawls across the states of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah, the number of virus cases rose by 56 on Sunday to 4,689, according to the local health department.
Meanwhile, the White House broadened its travel ban against countries hit hard by the virus, saying it would deny admission to foreigners who have recently been in Brazil.
Japan moved further toward reopening Monday, with plans to end the state of emergency in Tokyo and surrounding areas that has lasted for more than a month and a half.
Millions of Australian children returned to school as the number of coronavirus patients across the country continues to fall. The states of New South Wales and Queensland were the latest to resume face-to-face learning.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said Monday that students and teachers had to observe one key message: Stay home if sick. “We’re not out of the woods yet,” she said. “We have to take each day as it comes, each week as it comes and we keep our fingers crossed.”
China reported 11 new cases of the coronavirus, 10 of them among passengers arriving from overseas in the vast Inner Mongolia region north of Beijing, according to the National Health Commission.
China, where the virus was first detected late last year, is holding the annual session of its ceremonial parliament, part of efforts to show that the country is returning to normal and shaking off the devastating economic efforts of having locked down tens of millions of citizens in order to contain the pandemic.
South Korea reported 16 new cases as 2 million more children begin returning to school this week. Thirteen of the new cases came from the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area, where more than 200 infections have been linked to nightclubs and other entertainment outlets. The transmissions have raised concern as officials proceed with a phased reopening of schools.
All South Koreans will be required to wear masks while using public transportation starting Tuesday, Health Ministry official Yoon Taeho told reporters. Masks will also be required on all domestic and international flights beginning Wednesday.
Dr. Deborah Birx, coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force, said she was “very concerned” about scenes of people crowding together over the weekend.
“We really want to be clear all the time that social distancing is absolutely critical. And if you can’t social distance and you’re outside, you must wear a mask,” Birx said on ABC’s “This Week.”
In Missouri, people packed bars and restaurants at the Lake of the Ozarks, a vacation spot popular with Chicagoans.
On Georgia’s Tybee Island, the beach was filled with families, but at a nearby grocery store, staff members handed customers gloves and a number to keep track of how many people were inside.
In California, beaches and parks were open for swimming, running and other activities.
At New York’s Orchard Beach in the Bronx, kids played with toys, and people sat in folding chairs. Some wore winter coats on a cool and breezy day, and many wore masks and sat apart from others.
“Good to be outside. Fresh air. Just good to enjoy the outdoors,” said Danovan Clacken, whose face was covered.
The U.S. 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 that almost certainly understates the toll. Worldwide, more than 5.4 million people have been infected and nearly 345,000 have died.
The issue of wearing masks in public and staying several feet apart has become fraught politically, with some Americans arguing that such rules violate their rights.
Republican Gov. Mike DeWine of Ohio, who has been targeted by such demonstrations, insisted the precautions should not be a partisan issue.
“This is not about whether you are liberal or conservative, left or right, Republican or Democrat,” he said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
The Trump administration said Sunday that it would ban foreign nationals who have been in Brazil 14 days or less before planning to enter the United States. The ban does not apply to U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents or some of their relatives. Brazil is second only to the U.S. in reported coronavirus cases.
Across Europe, meanwhile, a mishmash of travel restrictions appears to be on the horizon, often depending on what passports visitors carry.
Beginning Monday, France is relaxing its border restrictions, allowing in migrant workers and family visitors from other European countries. Italy is only now allowing locals back to beaches in their own regions with restrictions.
For the first time in months, the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the traditional Sunday papal blessing. Some 2,000 Muslims gathered for Eid al-Fitr prayers at a sports complex in a Paris suburb, spaced 3 feet (1 meter) apart and wearing masks.
Greece restarted regular ferry services Monday as the country accelerates efforts to salvage its tourism season. Bars and restaurants were also accepting customers again.
Travel to Greece’s popular tourist islands had been generally off-limits since a lockdown in late March, with only goods suppliers and permanent residents allowed access.