China’s commercial hub of Shanghai announced the restart of classes for younger students amid falling coronavirus cases, while New Orleans’s famed restaurants were allowed to reopen with a limited number of diners.
China’s airline regulator also reported numbers of flights had returned to 60 per cent of pre-outbreak levels, exceeding 10,000 per day for the first time since Feb. 1. No new deaths have been reported in a month in the world’s second-largest economy where the coronavirus was first detected late last year.
China reported just five new cases on Sunday, while South Korea recorded 13, raising hopes that a new outbreak linked to nightclubs in Seoul may be waning.
And in good news for opera fans, Australian soprano Jane Ede will perform Monday for the first time since the pandemic forced the cancellation of live shows. Accompanied by several other musicians, Ede will perform in a courtyard for about 450 guests who have spent two weeks in government-ordered hotel quarantine after returning from overseas.
“It will be lovely just to have a really good sing again,” Ede said.
In New Orleans, a city famous for its cuisine, restaurants will have to limit the number of reservations as officials cautiously eased more restrictions on eateries, shops and outdoor venues. Louisiana is among a number of U.S. states trying to restart their economies without triggering a surge in new coronavirus infections.
“We’re going to trial run what it is to operate in the new normal,” said Kirk Estopinal, one of the owners of Cane & Table in the French Quarter. “We’re looking at a restaurant experience that is almost touch-less for our guests.”
Public health experts warn that the pandemic, which has killed more than 88,000 people in the U.S. and 300,000 worldwide, could pick up again if precautions are not taken or people return to work too soon. Familiar ways of dining out or watching sporting events are gone for now.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said horse racing tracks and the Watkins Glen International auto track can reopen with “no crowds, no fans.” He also said he could envision a return of Major League Baseball in New York, the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak, also without spectators.
“If it works economically, that would be great,” he said.
Former President Barack Obama again criticized some U.S. leaders overseeing the coronavirus response, telling college graduates online that the pandemic shows many officials, as he put it, “aren’t even pretending to be in charge.”
In California, more parks and hiking trails welcomed visitors again in a second phase of reopening in which businesses deemed lower risk are allowed to operate with retailers offering curbside pickup.
Similar steps took place around the world as infections declined in many cities and countries.
Germany’s top soccer league resumed season play with what fans call “ ghost games,” with no spectators in the stands and players warned to keep their emotions in check and desist from spitting, handshakes and hugging.
In New Zealand, even Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her fiance, Clarke Gayford, were initially turned away for brunch by a restaurant in the capital, Wellington, because it was too full under coronavirus guidelines.
There was a happy ending: A spot freed up, and staff chased down the street to call the couple back.
Italy’s tourism industry is focused firmly on June 3, when both regional and international borders reopen. Tourist-reliant Venice was hoping for boost in occupancy of the city’s 50,000 hotel beds that has hovered around zero since the March lockdown began. In the country’s financial capital of Milan, 3,400 restaurants planned to open Monday, along with 4,800 bars, 2,900 hairdressers, 2,200 clothing stores and 700 shoe shops.
“After a long period at home, we will all want to go out and have a good coffee in a bar, eat a pizza in a pizzeria, buy a pair of jeans or go to the hairdressers,” Milan Mayor Giuseppe Sala said in a Facebook video. Still, some protested that reopening rules were unclear and dozens protested outside Milan’s main train station calling for an abolition of taxes and more help.
France called for a co-ordinated European effort on opening, while still protecting the country from areas where the virus is still active.
As hundreds of beaches reopened, Interior Minister Christophe Castaner warned that the government would not hesitate to close them again if regulations are not respected. Under the rules, beachgoers can take a dip but may not sunbathe or picnic.
In England, officials and tourism boards discouraged people from visiting popular spots like beaches or parks on the first weekend since the lockdown was eased. Stricter rules remain place in other parts of the U.K., and English daytrippers have been warned against crossing into Scotland or Wales.
Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said he would ask Parliament for what he hopes will be the last extension of a state of emergency to battle the pandemic, until around late June.
Tourism, which accounts for 12 per cent of GDP, looks set to lose its critical summer season.
“Spain needs tourism,” Sanchez said. “But tourism needs security. It needs health guarantees.”
Villeneuve reported from Albany, New York. Associated Press journalists from around the world contributed to this report.
© 2020 The Canadian Press