A worker wearing a protective mask gives out hand sanitiser to customers during happy hour at the Oscar Wilde bar in New York, US, on Wednesday, June 10, 2020.

Puerto Rico eases limits – Global virus update

A worker wearing a protective mask gives out hand sanitiser to customers during happy hour at the Oscar Wilde bar in New York, US, on Wednesday, June 10, 2020.

Key Developments:

  • Virus Tracker: Cases pass 7.5 million; deaths exceed 422,000
  • Universal Studios’ crowds look thin after reopening
  • Johnson & Johnson is speeding up its vaccine timetable
  • Europe’s time-starved traders want to keep working from home
  • Americans return to car dealers, thwarting expected shift online
  • Boris Johnson’s team is broken by the virus and losing faith

Puerto Rico Eases Limits

Puerto Rico Governor Wanda Vazquez authorised a broad expansion of business activity — including gyms, movie theatres, retail stores and tourism operations — as the US commonwealth emerges from a virus lockdown that went into effect March 15. Parts of the economy have been reopening gradually. In a televised address Thursday, Vazquez said tourists from the US and abroad would be welcomed starting July 15. While the island never cancelled flights, officials had asked visitors to stay away.

Greece to Extend Ban on UK Flights

Greece will maintain a ban on flights from the UK, which has the second-most COVID-19 deaths, until June 30 and will require mandatory tests for travellers from all airports in Italy, Spain and the Netherlands. Only the land border with Bulgaria will reopen June 15 with Albania and North Macedonia set for July 1. The Greek border with Turkey remains closed, except for trucks, until July 1.

US Isn’t Seeing Second Wave: Kudlow

The top White House economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, said health experts aren’t seeing a second wave of outbreaks and echoed other officials in saying the US economy will not be locked down again. He said certain spots are seeing a bit of a jump in infections.

Texas, California, Florida and Alabama are among states where infections and hospitalizations are reaching new highs.

Kudlow said 100% or 97% of small businesses will reopen next month.

Lisbon Reports New Cases

Portugal reported 270 new cases on Friday, taking the total to 36,180. Daily new cases have ranged from 192 to 421 in the past two weeks. The additional cases are mostly in the greater Lisbon region, where authorities have increased testing after new clusters were identified.

EU Approves Virus Purchasing Plan

European Union regulators won the go-ahead to seek deals with pharmaceutical companies on developing a coronavirus vaccine. Health ministers cleared a plan to pursue advance purchase agreements with drug companies to supply countries with hundreds of millions of doses.

The European Commission would dip into an emergency pot of more than 2 billion euros ($2.3 billion) to help finance vaccine research. The goal is to strike accords with a handful of businesses that have sufficient production capacity in the 27-nation bloc.

Masks Can Reduce Virus Spread, Study Finds

Masks could reduce the growth rate of coronavirus infections by 40%, according to a study of German towns and cities that introduced face-covering rules for public transit and shopping in April. After running models designed to remove the effects of other public-health measures, the researchers concluded that masks are a cheap and efficient way to manage the outbreak.

Chinese Vaccine Maker Inks Deal in Brazil

China’s leading coronavirus vaccine developer signed an agreement with a research center in Brazil to conduct further testing of its shot’s efficacy, as the global race intensifies to come up with the first viable candidate to prevent COVID-19.

Beijing Reports Cases for a Second Day

Beijing declared two positive tests on Friday after Thursday’s confirmation of a case broke a 55-day spell of no detections. Officials temporarily closed a food market visited by one of the newly infected persons while primary schools won’t fully reopen as previously scheduled.

UK Economy Contracts by Record 20% in April

The UK economy shrank a record 20.4% in April as businesses and workers reeled under the lockdown designed to control the coronavirus pandemic. The contraction, which followed a 5.8% drop in March, will prompt louder calls for the government to press ahead with plans to ease restrictions.

Thailand Eases Lockdown

Thailand will end most of its remaining lockdown curbs and allow more businesses in the country to reopen on June 15 after no local coronavirus transmissions were found for over two weeks. The civil aviation authority will allow the beach resort island of Phuket to resume airport operations from June 13.

Japan Passes Second Record Extra Budget

Japan’s parliament passed a record 31.9 trillion yen ($298 billion) extra budget Friday in an effort to counter the economic impact of the virus. The new spending provides financing help for struggling companies, payroll subsidies and aid to the medical system. The budget will help fund a 117 trillion yen stimulus package unveiled last month that doubles the scale of Japan’s virus response.

India Overtakes UK in Cases

India’s coronavirus infections rose by 10,930 to overtake the total number of recorded cases in the UK, making it the world’s fourth-worst affected nation. The South Asian nation recorded 297,535 infections by Friday, compared to the UK’s 292,860, according to data collated by Johns Hopkins University. After burgeoning infections in May and June, India now trails only the US, Brazil and Russia.

Tokyo Lifts Alert, Japan May Extend Entry Ban

Tokyo lifted the city’s virus alert and moved into the next and final phase of its reopening as the Japanese capital continued its recovery. Bars will now be permitted to stay open until midnight and a host of businesses from karaoke boxes to theme parks will be able to restart.

“We’re entering a phase where all economic and social activities can be carried out,” Governor Yuriko Koike said, announcing the decision to remove the “Tokyo Alert” imposed nine days earlier.

Trump Campaign Asks Rally-Goers to Waive Virus Liability

President Donald Trump’s campaign is asking people attending his campaign rally in Oklahoma next week to waive liability if they contract COVID-19 — even as he hurtles forward to reopen the country. The president travelled to Texas on Thursday for two events as that state struggled with a new surge in coronavirus cases and Houston prepared to possibly reopen a COVID-19 hospital at a football stadium.