Here’s what you need to know:
- Nations forge ahead with reopenings, as global cases pass 6 million.
- A country convulsed by a pandemic and police violence.
- Merkel rejected Trump’s invitation to attend the G7 in person. Then Trump postponed the summit.
- Catching up with an octogenarian couple once separated by border closures.
- ‘Safety concerns’ amid U.S. protests close coronavirus testing centers in Los Angeles.
- As beach towns reopen, few masks are seen.
- Two of Islam’s holiest sites reopen to worshipers.
Nations forge ahead with reopenings, as global cases pass 6 million.
This week begins a pivotal period in the coronavirus pandemic, as countries give students, shoppers and travelers more freedom to return to some sense of normalcy after months under lockdown.
In Britain, more stores will be allowed to open from Monday, and small groups from different households can meet outdoors. Primary schools will open their doors in England, though with new social-distancing rules and spaced seating. The government also gave the green light for professional sports to resume under strict protocols, according to government guidelines published on Saturday.
But fans of the Premier League should not expect to stream back into stadiums any time soon. All events will all be behind closed doors; no fans are allowed, everyone will be screened for coronavirus symptoms, and players will observe social distancing where possible. League practices are set to return June 17, but the first competitive matches will be in horse racing and snooker.
But even as Britain begins to open up for residents, anyone flying into the country will have to self-isolate for 14 days, part of an effort to stem a second wave of the outbreak.
Other countries are creating “travel bubbles” to rev up their economies, allowing visitors from nations with low infection rates. The moves comes as the number of global case of the virus grew to more than six million, with more than 1.7 million in the United States.
Greece will open its airports to visitors from 29 countries from June 15, the tourism ministry said, but Britain is not among them. Norway and Denmark will allow leisure travel between the two countries, creating a travel bubble that excludes Sweden, where coronavirus infections are higher. Norway will also allow entry to business travelers from the other Nordic countries from Monday, the government said.
A country convulsed by a pandemic and police violence.
They are parallel plagues ravaging America: The coronavirus, and police killings of black men and women.
Jimmy Mills’s life has been upended by both. His barbershop in Midtown Minneapolis was one of many small, black-owned businesses that have struggled to survive the pandemic. But Mr. Mills was hopeful because, having been shut down for two months, he was due to reopen next week.
Then early Friday, the working-class neighborhood where Mr. Mills has cut hair for 12 years went up in flames as chaotic protests over the death of George Floyd and police killings of African-Americans engulfed Minneapolis and cities across the country.
“To have corona, and then this — it’s like a gut shot,” Mr. Mills, 56, said.
The upheaval sparked by a video capturing Mr. Floyd’s last minutes as a white police officer knelt on his neck is pulsing through a country already ragged with anger and anxiety. Emotions are raw over the toll of a pandemic that has killed more than 100,000 Americans and cost tens of millions of jobs.
The outbreak has inflicted disproportionate economic and health tolls on racial minorities and immigrants. Black and Latino workers have been more likely to have lost their jobs. Many others are among the low-paid hourly workers with jobs that cannot be done remotely. And African-Americans are being infected and dying at higher rates.
Merkel rejected Trump’s invitation to attend the G7 in person. Then Trump postponed the summit.
President Trump told reporters on Saturday that he was postponing a Group of 7 meeting scheduled to be held in the United States next month. Earlier Saturday, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany said she would not attend in person, citing concerns about the coronavirus.
Mr. Trump also said that he wanted to invite Russia to rejoin the group.
Making the announcement while returning from the SpaceX launch in Florida, the president said he also planned to invite Australia, India and South Korea to the summit, with an adviser adding that the idea was to bring together traditional allies to discuss China. He said he now wanted to hold the meeting in September.
“I don’t feel that as a G7 it properly represents what’s going on in the world. It’s a very outdated group of countries,” Mr. Trump said. But his intention to unilaterally invite Russia — which was indefinitely suspended in March 2014 after the annexing of Crimea — is certain to inflame other member nations.
In March, Mr. Trump announced that the June summit would take place virtually as the coronavirus outbreak was spreading around the world and international travel was curtailed. But he changed plans this month, saying he might invite the leaders of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan to Washington, as a demonstration of a return to normalcy.
Earlier Saturday, Ms. Merkel’s spokesman said in an emailed statement, “As of today, considering the overall pandemic situation, she cannot agree to her personal participation, a trip to Washington.”
On Sunday, however, Australia said it would welcome an official invitation, and Prime Minister Scott Morrison and the United States had made contact to discuss the matter, a government spokesman told reporters.
Catching up with an octogenarian couple once separated by border closures.
Our correspondent Patrick Kingsley profiled a couple who were separated by the coronavirus lockdown in March. This month, he returned for an update.
In a bungalow near the Danish-German border on Saturday afternoon, an 89-year-old German man and an 85-year-old Danish woman sat side by side in front of the television. Then they held hands, turned to each other and smiled.
“I feel 100 times better!” said Karsten Tüchsen Hansen, the German.
Following weeks of separation, Mr. Tüchsen Hansen and Inga Rasmussen are finally returning to a normal romantic rhythm.
When I last saw them in March, the couple were separated when the police shut the border that runs between Mr. Tüchsen Hansen’s home in northern Germany, a mile south of the border, and hers in southern Denmark. To maintain their relationship, the pair met daily at the border itself — a show of devotion that caught the attention of the international media and turned them into a symbol of hope in a troubled time.
In early May, his doctor decided that his mental health was suffering in Ms. Rasmussen’s absence, leading the German authorities to give her special dispensation to stay at Mr. Tüchsen Hansen’s home every night.
The Danish government subsequently decreed that any couple in a cross-border relationship could meet again on Danish soil. But Ms. Rasmussen still prefers to spend each night in her partner’s bungalow — watched over by his collection of stuffed ferrets and garden gnomes.
When I stopped by, driving from Amsterdam to Copenhagen, I found them chatting happily on the patio outside. They were getting ready to eat mince meat with white cabbage, one of Ms. Rasmussen’s specialties.
Mr. Tüchsen Hansen was the more garrulous of the two. But as the afternoon wore on, Ms. Rasmussen also began to open up.
Their separation had been tough, but helped to affirm their commitment to each other, she said.
“I realized I can’t sleep without him at my side,” Ms. Rasmussen said. “We need each other.”
‘Safety concerns’ amid U.S. protests close coronavirus testing centers in Los Angeles.
Mayor Eric M. Garcetti of Los Angeles said on Saturday that the city’s coronavirus testing centers had closed that afternoon “because of safety concerns” amid escalating nationwide protests over the death of a black man in police custody.
Mr. Garcetti mentioned the 3 p.m. closures at a news briefing where he declared an 8 p.m. curfew.
“Go home,” Mr. Garcetti said. “Let us put the fires out. Let us learn the lessons. Let us re-humanize each other.”
The death of George Floyd, 46, last week after being pinned down by a Minneapolis police officer and the unrest it has provoked has tugged at painful memories in Los Angeles of the beating of Rodney King in 1991 and the riots that occurred the following year after the acquittal of the four police officers involved in the case.
Mr. Garcetti said he would not be calling for the deployment of the National Guard, which patrolled the streets of Los Angeles during those riots. “This is not 1992,” he said.
The curfew is needed to clean up debris and restore order, Mr. Garcetti said.
Before the riots started in Los Angeles on Saturday afternoon, several hundred people reflecting the diversity of the city — white, black, Latino, Asian-American — had protested peacefully.
As beach towns reopen, few masks are seen.
Thousands of maskless vacationers flocked to the Maryland town of Ocean City this weekend as the Greater Washington region began to emerge from coronavirus lockdown.
And yet, as Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland has emphasized, the state is only at Phase 1 of his “Roadmap to Recovery,” which still requires the public to abide by restrictions to keep the virus from spreading.
By the governor’s order, face coverings are required inside businesses, but at the Quiet Storm Surf Shop, a clerk folding T-shirts said, “we make them optional.” On the boardwalk outside, a police officer who asked not to be identified because he was not authorized to speak to the news media said, “the problem is merchants have to enforce” the mask order, but many are reluctant to alienate their first customers of the summer.
Not all the tourists were nonchalant about following restrictions. Sitting on the wall dividing the boardwalk from the beach, Kelly and Dan Goddard, who live in a Baltimore suburb, were wearing masks. Their children were sporting tie-dyed cloth ones sewn by relatives.
“There are a lot of unknowns and not a lot of real clear guidance,” Mr. Goddard said. “But I don’t think people realize how serious things are, or they don’t care.”
Two of Islam’s holiest sites reopen to worshipers.
Throngs of Muslim worshipers returned to formal services in Israel and Saudi Arabia on Sunday as two of Islam’s holiest sites reopened for the first time since they were closed more than two months ago over coronavirus fears.
At the Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, Islam’s third-holiest site, worshipers entering the massive compound for dawn prayers were greeted by officials who took their temperatures, distributed masks and implored them to follow social-distancing guidelines.
“We are depending on your heedfulness,” Omar Kiswani, the director of the mosque, could be heard saying through a loudspeaker system.
Ibrahim Zaghed, 25, an unemployed resident of Jerusalem, was weeping as he laid down his blue and silver prayer mat on an elevated outdoor space on the eastern side of the mosque.
“Today is no different than a holiday,” said Mr. Zaghed, who was not wearing a mask. “I feel like a complete person again.”
The compound, which Jews revere as their holiest site and refer to as the Temple Mount, is often at the center of tensions between Israelis and Palestinians.
In Saudi Arabia, the government said that 90,000 mosques across the kingdom had reopened on Sunday, including parts of the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina, considered Islam’s second-holiest site. The most revered site in Islam, the Kaaba in Mecca, remains closed to the Muslim public.
Imam Kiswani of the Aqsa Mosque, who estimated that about 3,000 people participated in the prayers on Sunday, said that while most of them followed social-distancing guidelines, some needed to exercise “greater attentiveness.”
Manal Balala, 50, a housekeeper from Jerusalem who was wearing a mask and gloves, was overjoyed as she socialized with her friends after prayers.
“I feel like my soul has been restored,” she said.
Asked whether she was concerned about the virus spreading at the mosque, Ms. Balala replied: “We all need to follow the rules, but I believe we will survive because God is protecting us from above.”
Romania’s prime minister pays a fine after breaking his own coronavirus rules.
The Romanian prime minister, Ludovic Orban, paid a fine on Saturday for breaking his own coronavirus restrictions, after a photo widely shared on social media showed him with other cabinet members smoking in his office and not wearing a mask.
Mr. Orban paid 3,000 lei, or $690, for the breach, Reuters reported, citing the state news agency Agerpres. None of the officials in the image wore masks, which were thrown on the table, according to Reuters.
In a statement, Mr. Orban admitted to breaking the lockdown rules on May 25, his 57th birthday, when some cabinet members gathered at his office after work.
His fine comes the same week that Prime Minister Boris Johnson defended his closest aide, Dominic Cummings, for breaching Britain’s lockdown rules by driving across the country to visit relatives, even when he was falling ill with the coronavirus.
In April, Mr. Cummings drove to visit his parents in Durham, in the north of England. He said there was no other way to get care for his young child after he and his wife began showing symptoms of the virus.
“He followed the instincts of every father and every parent, and I do not mark him down for that,” Mr. Johnson said at a news briefing. “I believe that in every respect, he has acted responsibly, and legally, and with integrity.”
But that account came under question after The Observer and the Sunday Mirror reported that Mr. Cummings and his family had been spotted elsewhere on Easter Sunday.
With gay pride events canceled, world leaders will headline a 24-hour livestream to celebrate virtually.
World leaders, royals and human rights activists will headline a 24-hour online celebration of gay pride on June 27 that was organized after the coronavirus pandemic forced the cancellation or postponement of hundreds of L.G.B.T.Q. pride events around the world.
Organizers announced on Saturday that the Global Pride event would feature remarks by Prime Minister Erna Solberg of Norway, Prime Minister Xavier Bettel of Luxembourg and President Carlos Alvarado Quesada of Costa Rica, which legalized same-sex marriage last week. Mary Elizabeth, crown princess of Denmark, and Manvendra Singh Gohil, India’s first openly gay prince, are also expected to deliver taped remarks.
The virtual pride celebrations may allow some L.G.B.T.Q. people to participate for the first time, according to a president of InterPride, one of the chief organizers.
“This means people who aren’t out, or who are living in socially conservative countries, can take part,” the president, Julian Sanjivan, said in a statement.
The names of musicians and bands who will perform in the event, which will be streamed on the Global Pride website and YouTube, will be announced throughout June, organizers said.
India and Thailand are easing their lockdowns, but grim prospects remain for both.
India on Saturday extended a nationwide lockdown until the end of June, but lifted many restrictions outside hot spots, allowing places of worship, restaurants, hotels and malls to reopen.
Though the number of infections in India is still skyrocketing, officials said easing the lockdown was necessary to rescue an ailing economy. The restrictions, which were imposed more than two months ago, have been brutally hard on migrant workers and poor people.
The country’s Home Ministry said the new rules, which will take effect on June 8, were part of a broader plan to reopen. Movie theaters and schools will remain shut, but people are now free to move around outside “containment zones,” areas with a high number of infections.
“This battle will stretch on, but we are on the way to victory, and to be victorious is our common resolve,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi wrote in a letter to the country on Saturday.
Officials began lifting some restrictions early this month, hoping to ease suffering in India, a nation of 1.3 billion. But in recent weeks, as industry has resumed and more people have poured onto the streets, the country has emerged as a worrisome outbreak zone.
India’s number of daily new infections is among the highest in the world, surpassed only by Brazil, the United States and Russia. The country has reported more than 170,000 total infections and 4,971 deaths.
India’s struggles with the virus stand out, as other countries in southern Asia have recently held infections low enough to reopen more aggressively. Thailand, which as of Sunday had recorded fewer than 3,100 cases and 57 deaths, has already begun reopening pet salons and restaurants, with other businesses like some salons and gyms cleared to resume operations on Monday.
Unlike India, though, Thailand relies disproportionately on tourism as a source of revenue, and the industry has suffered since incoming commercial flights were suspended in early April. The flight ban will last until at least the end of June, jeopardizing millions of tourism jobs.
Advice in Japan: Keep your voice down to prevent virus transmission.
President Shinzo Abe has lifted Japan’s state of emergency, but his government is urging people to continue avoiding what it calls the “Three Cs”: close contact in closed-off, crowded places.
A group of Japanese amusement parks has also issued its own guidelines for how to prevent the virus from spreading. Among the tips? Keep your voice down on roller coasters.
That’s not a joke: The Japanese news media has lately helped to popularize the notion that talking loudly may be linked to increased aerosol transmission of the virus that causes Covid-19.
But is that true?
Scientists who study the transmission of respiratory illnesses like influenza say that infections typically happen when a healthy person comes into contact with respiratory droplets from an infected person’s cough, sneeze or breath.
Some emerging scientific research, however, suggests that the rate of transmission may also be linked to how — and at what volume — you speak.
A 2019 study in the journal Scientific Reports, for example, found that the rate of particle emission increased as speech grew lower, regardless of language. It also said that “speech superemitters” consistently released “an order of magnitude more particles than their peers.”
And in January, a study in the journal PLOS One found that certain vowels and consonants — “i” and “d,” for example — were linked to higher particle emission rates, among other speech patterns.
How all of that may affect coronavirus transmissions, or not, has yet to be studied, a team of scientists from the University of California, Davis, wrote in a recent ScienceDaily editorial.
Among the questions to be studied further, they wrote, is why some people are “superemitters”; how far droplets travel once expelled from one’s mouth; and how fast they fall to the ground.
Reporting was contributed by Jack Healy, Dionne Searcey, Patrick Kingsley, Elizabeth Williamson, Yonette Joseph, Hannah Beech, Maggie Haberman, Mike Ives, Aimee Ortiz, Suhasini Raj, Adam Rasgon, Kai Schultz and Derrick Bryson Taylor.