As the global death toll from COVID-19 passed the 400,000 mark, and protests sparked by the death of George Floyd continue around the world, U.S. cities and European nations are this week relaxing measures that have seen millions confined to their homes.
Shops will partially reopen and thousands are expected to go back to work in New York City on Monday, for many weeks the hardest-hit city in the country.But New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo warns "it doesn't mean we're going to back to the way we were."
Spain, Belgium, Ireland and Germany are among the countries to further lighten lockdown restrictions, while the prime minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern, has declared the country free of COVID-19.
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European countries continue to ease lockdown measures
Countries across Europe continued to ease their coronavirus lockdowns Monday with Ireland, Belgium, Denmark and Spain all relaxing their rules.
Belgium moved to phase 3 of its plan to lift the lockdown and permitted the reopening of gyms, bars, restaurants religious services and amateur sports. Denmark, likewise, expanded the limit on public gatherings from 10 people to 50.
In Ireland, small businesses were permitted to begin reopening, the business minister announced on Twitter, and in Spain, many regions were moved from 'phase 2' to 'phase 3' meaning sidewalk cafes and bars can reopen with patrons keeping a safe distance. Barcelona and Madrid will, however, face tighter restrictions than other parts of the country as they move to 'phase 2.'
'I did a little dance': New Zealand leader celebrates no active cases of COVID-19
New Delhi orders hospitals to be reserved for residents only as cases surge
The Indian capital New Delhi ordered state hospital beds to be reserved for residents only on Sunday as the city registered a large increase in new cases. Typically, Indians from all across the country travel to New Delhi to get treatment as the capital has some of the nation's best hospitals.
"Delhi is in big trouble . . . corona cases are rising rapidly," state Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said in a video message on Twitter, "if we open Delhi hospitals for patients from all over, where will Delhi residents go when they get infected with coronavirus?"
Kejriwal began self isolating himself Monday after developing symptoms. He'll be tested for the virus Tuesday Sanjay Singh, leader of the chief minister's AAP party said on Twitter.
New Delhi now has over 10 percent of India's approximately 250,000 coronavirus cases. The country now has the fifth highest number of cases in the world, with almost 10,000 more people testing positive Sunday.
U.K. quarantine rules begin despite travel industry anger
New quarantine rules impacting travelers entering the U.K. began Monday morning despite widespread criticism from airline and travel industry.
New arrivals into the U.K., regardless of their nationality, will be required to self-isolate for 14 days. Enforcement action will take place to ensure that the rules are being followed and those who are found to have breached the requirements face a fine of up to £1,000 ($1,270). Exemptions have been made, including for truck drivers and travelers from Ireland.
However airlines including British Airways and Ryanair — already hit hard by a massive decline in air travel — have been highly critical of the approach. Willie Walsh, the chief executive of national flag-carrier British Airways, claimed the rules were "irrational and disproportionate" and threatened legal action. Getlink, the operator of the cross-channel tunnel linking Britain and France, also wrote to Prime Minister Johnson claiming the plans are "fraught with problems."
New York City begins to reopen after coronavirus lockdown, curfew lifted
New York City is set to begin the first phase of re-opening on Monday after nearly three months of coronavirus lockdown restrictions that were capped off last week with a curfew enacted in the wake of protests.
In the wake of the protests that roiled the city after the death of George Floyd, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Sunday a series of new reforms to the New York City Police Department. He also said the city will shift funding from the police force to youth and social services for communities of color.
As many as 400,000 people are expected to return to work on Monday, NBC New York reported. Full subway service and construction work are also set to resume. As of Sunday, the city had 210,166 confirmed coronavirus cases and 21,752 deaths, approximately one-fifth of the entire U.S. death toll.
New Zealand declares itself free of coronavirus, reopens economy
New Zealand is free of coronavirus, the country's health ministry said Monday as it confirmed that the last remaining patient had been "symptom free for 48 hours."
In a televised statement, Prime Minister Jacinda Adern announced that the economy would be fully reopened and the alert level lowered to one. All lockdown restrictions — apart from the border, which remains closed — were lifted as a result.
New Zealand has managed to successfully contain the coronavirus while many other western nations have been much more severely impacted. The country last reported a new case 17 days ago, and has only 1,154 confirmed cases to date.
Global coronavirus death toll tops 400,000 as protesters continue to defy lockdowns
The coronavirus pandemic has now claimed more than 400,000 lives, according to the latest data from Johns Hopkins University. More than a quarter of these were in the U.S., according to the NBC News' tally.
The grisly toll was reached after tens of thousands of people around the world defied COVID-19 lockdown restrictions to protest against the death of the death of George Floyd, a black man who died under the knee of a former Minnesota police officer last month. More protests are planned for Sunday.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, warned about the dangers of such protests on Friday. He told told Washington D.C. radio station WTOP that he was “very concerned” about large crowds congregating in geographic areas where there is active infection transmission.
More than 5,000 cases confirmed in Florida in 4 days
Florida reported more than 1,000 confirmed cases on Saturday, the fourth straight day of cases hitting that threshold as the state continues with its reopening plan.
The Florida Department of Health reported 1,270 new cases Saturday and another 28 deaths, bringing the state's total to 62,758 cases. More than 5,000 cases have been confirmed in the state between Wednesday and Saturday.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis chose to go ahead with the second phase of the state's reopening plan Friday despite the new numbers. As of Friday places such as movie theaters, concert houses, auditoriums, playhouses, bowling alleys and arcades can begin operating at a 50 percent capacity.
Soccer World Cup to go on as planned despite the pandemic
The 2022 soccer World Cup will go on as planned despite the coronavirus pandemic, host country Qatar said Saturday.
The event could be a "cure for the world," Qatar's Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani told the U.K.'s Sky News. Sky News and NBC News are both owned by Comcast.
“Qatar is working very closely and strongly with different healthcare organizations to make sure to deliver a healthy and safe World Cup,” he said.
He added the designs of the stadiums will comply with any changes to health and safety guidance as a result of COVID-19. The Gulf nation has so far reported more than 67,000 virus cases, according to Johns Hopkins University data.
India reports almost 10,000 new cases on the day before lockdown ends
India reported 9,971 new virus cases Sunday in another biggest single-day spike, according to the Ministry of Health, a day before it prepares to reopen shopping malls, hotels and religious places after a 10-week lockdown.
India has now surpassed Spain as the fifth hardest-hit by the pandemic globally with 246,628 confirmed cases and 6,929 fatalities.
India has already partially restored train services and domestic flights and allowed shops and manufacturing to reopen. E-commerce companies have started to deliver goods, including those considered nonessential, to places outside containment zones.