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Coronavirus latest: Europe reopens borders for travel

June 15, 2020

Germany and France are among many European countries reopening their borders to fellow European travelers, three months after coronavirus lockdown measures went into force. Follow DW for the latest.

COVID-19 in Cayeux-sur-Mer
Image: Reuters/P. Rossignol
  • Many European countries, including Germany and France, are reopening their borders to Europeans wishing to make non-essential journeys or visit tourist spots 

  • Germany has removed travel warnings for 27 European nations, with Health Minister Jens Spahn urging caution when traveling abroad 

  • Germany's seven-day virus reproduction rate has risen to 1.09

  • More than 7.8 million confirmed cases globally and over 432,000 fatalities

All times in GMT/UTC  

22:56 The United States could record more than 200,000 deaths from COVID-19 through the beginning of October, according to a new forecast by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), a global health institute at the University of Washington in the western city of Seattle.  

The new projection in COVID-19 related deaths is a revised estimate that's up by 18% from 169,890, and is mainly due to the lifting of lockdowns currently underway in dozens of states.

The IHME bases its projections on how well people adhere to social distancing and sanitary measures as mobility patterns return to normal. Although higher mobility does not "inherently equate to higher COVID-19 infections" if health and safety measures are followed, their "uptake and continuance" are "highly variable" across the US, the IHME said.

Florida would be one of the hardest-hit states, with a revised death toll projection of over 18,600, up from a previous estimate of 6,500. The projection for California is up by 72%  to over 15,000 from 8,800 and Arizona's projection is up by 56% to over 7,400 fatalities from 4,700.

22:14 The government of Peru has reported a 40% year-on-year contraction in GDP in April, as the country's previously healthy economy feels the effects of an ongoing coronavirus lockdown.

Peru had registered 127 months of consecutive growth before ongoing quarantine measures were started in March, making it one of the strongest economies in Latin America. The country's vital mining sector alone has contracted by more than 40%. Construction, hydrocarbon production and transportation have also been underperforming.

Peru is the second worst-hit country by COVID-19 in Latin America after Brazil, and has recorded nearly 230,000 cases and 7,000 deaths. A nationwide lockdown has been extended until June 30.

20:06 The Oscars are being postponed because of the pandemic's effects on the movie industry. The 93rd Academy Awards will now be held April 25, 2021 — eight weeks later than originally planned. Oscar nominations will be announced on March 15.

It's the fourth time the awards are being defered. The ceremony was delayed by a week in 1938 because of flooding in Los Angeles. Three decades later, it was delayed by two days following the assassination of Dr Martin Luther King Jr. And in 1981, it was put off for 24 hours after President Ronald Reagan was shot in Washington DC.

19:35 Tönnies, one of Germany's biggest meat processors, announced on Monday that a further 46 of its workers had tested positive for COVID-19. One hundred of its employees have been quarantined after either testing positive, or coming into contact with somebody who tested positive for COVID-19. Since the start of the coronavirus outbreak, the company has carried out 13,000 tests resulting in 130 positive results.   

17:00 The US' Food and Drug Administration has stripped the drugs touted by Donald Trump of their authoritization for use as a treatment for COVID-19 patients. Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) and chloroquine (CQ), medications with severe known side effects for unrelated conditions like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, were adopted by several countries after Trump's repeated recommendations but most trials to explore its possible effectiveness have since ceased. 

"It is no longer reasonable to believe that oral formulation of HCQ and CQ may be effective in treating COVID-19, FDA chief scientist Denise Hinton wrote. "Nor is it reasonable to believe that the known and potential benefits of these products outweigh their potential risks." 

Read more:  WHO stops clinical test for malaria drug hydroxychloroquine

14: 30 Doctors working in Nigeria's underfunded public health system have gone on strike to demand more pay and better conditions.

COVID-19 patients will continue receiving treatment during the walkout. Resident doctors on the coronavirus frontline have threatened to down tools in two weeks if the demands are not met.  

14:00 Iran has seen a spike in COVID-19 related deaths, shortly after the country started easing its restrictions. The Ministry of Health said that 220 deaths in the last 48 hours where likely the result of coronavirus. 

Iran has logged almost 190,000 infections and 8,950 COVID-19 deaths since the end of February, Health Ministry spokeswoman Sima Lari told state television. The country was hit hard by the epidemic in March. 

President Hassan Rouhani ordered the easing of restrictions and by the end of the May, workers from almost all industries in the country were back to work. 

Authorities had hoped that the warm summer weather would help reduce the risk of infection, but it is precisely in the hottest provinces, currently known as "red zones," that have the most coronavirus deaths and infections. 

Some officials believe that Iranians are no longer taking social distancing rules and contact restrictions seriously, with the Ministry of Health saying that only about 30% of the population was complying with the hygiene regulations. 

The Iranian government said it was ready to reimpose tough measures to ensure social distancing if the situation deteriorates.

13:29 The World Health Organisation and United Nations children's agency UNICEF have warned that the coronavirus pandemic could result in the deaths of an additional 51,000 children under the age of five across the Middle East and North Africa by the end of 2020.

The figure would represent an increase of almost 40% over pre-COVID-19 numbers.

The UN agencies said that the disruption of vital health and nutrition services risked "reversing progress of child survival in the region by nearly two decades." The region has seen cases of rising malnutrition and a lack of access to vaccinations due to the impacts of the outbreak.

Overburdened health facilities with little personal protective equipment as well as parents' concerns of contracting the virus at clinics are also among factors that could lead to an increase in child deaths.

"While we do not have many cases of COVID-19 among children in the region, it is evident that the pandemic is affecting children's health first hand," the agencies warned. They called for a "full and safe resumption" of immunization campaigns and nutrition services, following "strict precautionary measures for infection prevention."

12:55 Health authorities in Norway halted the design of a coronavirus contact-tracing mobile app, after the country's national data protection agency Datatilsynet said the app was too invasive. 

The smartphone app, called Smittestopp ("Infection stop"), was created to help authorities trace the spread by tracking people's movement data.

Users would download the app on a voluntary basis and it would inform them if they had been exposed to someone infected with coronavirus. Some 600,000 of Norway's 5.4 million inhabitants had been using the app. 

Deaths from coronavirus in Norway totaled 242 as of last week and only a handful of new infection cases are being logged each day. 

Datatilsynet said this limited spread of coronavirus in the country, coupled with the app's limited use and therefore, limited effectiveness, meant that the app's invasion of privacy in relation to its use was disproportionate. 

Camilla Stoltenberg, the public health institute's director, did not agree with Datatilsynet's assessment, but said the institute would now delete all the app's data and suspend its work. 

Stoltenberg warned that the deletion of the app would weaken Norway's response to the spread of coronavirus. "The pandemic is not over," she said. 

11:40 Italy, Germany, the Netherlands and France are set to invest €750 million euros to secure 300 million doses of drug maker AstraZeneca's potential COVID-19 vaccine.  

The four-country bloc, known as Europe's Inclusive Vaccines Alliance (IVA), also have an option to buy a further 100 million doses, an Italian government spokesman said. The IVA is hoping to secure vaccine doses for all member states as soon as possible 

Under the deal, doses are split between countries on a pro-rata basis based on population, a source at the French President's office said on Monday. 

"What we've asked for and what has been agreed is for production to take place in Europe." The French government also said it hoped to strike similar deals with other pharmaceuticals companies soon, the source added. 

11:15 German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier confirmed Monday that the government is investing in biotech firm CureVac.

The move follows attempts by the US in March to acquire a stake in the company. Germany will pay €300 million ($337.4 million) for a 23% share.

"The German government has decided to invest in this promising company because it expects that this will accelerate development programmes and provide the means for CureVac to harness the full potential of its technology," Altmaier said at a news conference.

He added that Germany wants to strengthen its sectors in life sciences and biotech and that the government would not have any authority over CureVac's business strategy.

10:50 Filming of the sequel of sci-fi blockbuster film "Avatar" resumed in New Zealand, now that the country has declared itself coronavirus-free. Filming had been suspended in March, shortly before New Zealand began its strict lockdown. 

As the government lifted all restrictions and declared the nation free of the virus, it has still maintained border controls. 

But the film's director James Cameron and producer John Landau, plus dozens of crew members, were allowed to enter New Zealand on economic grounds. The movie is set to boost the economy, by providing fresh jobs.  

"This one production alone is going to hire 400 New Zealanders to work on it," Landau told local media, after completing a quarantine in a hotel in Wellington. 

"We're going to spend, in the next five months alone, over $70 million here," he said. 

Avatar is among a handful of productions that are resuming in New Zealand, which hopes to win more film business after its successful campaign against the coronavirus.

09:43 A plane carrying holidaymakers from Germany has landed in Mallorca for the first time since the Spanish island shut down to non-essential air travel.  

The TUI flight, fully packed with 189 passengers, had taken off from the west German city of Düsseldorf on Monday morning. Later this afternoon, a second flight is scheduled to arrive from Frankfurt.

Only holidaymakers from Germany have been allowed to travel to the Balearic Islands of Mallorca, Ibiza, Menorca and Formentera.  

According to the regional government, Germany was selected not only because it's where the Balearic Islands receive a majority of its tourists, but also because it considers the pandemic to be well under control in Germany.

The pilot project is intended to test security measures against COVID-19, which will then be used nationwide when the rest of Spain reopens mass tourism to visitors from Schengen countries on June 21. In its first contingent, a total of up to 10, 900 travellers are permitted.

09:09 South Korea could face a second wave of coronavirus infections with as many as 800 new cases a day by July if the government does not implement stricter social distancing measures, a  prominent infectious disease specialist has warned.

Referring to his research model, Ki Moran, a professor of cancer control and population health at South Korean's  National Cancer Center, said that if the infection rate remains at this level, the country will report 254 new cases daily by June 25 and 826 by July 9.

Ki's warning comes after South Korean health authorities extended coronavirus prevention and sanitation guidelines on Friday until daily new infections drop to single digits.

Seol Dai-wu, an expert in vaccine development, said the Seoul government is wary of losing its hard-won recognition and global praise for how it has handled the pandemic.

08:45 Non-essential retailers including clothes shops, books and toys stores are reopening across England for the first time since the country went into lockdown in late March.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged people to return to stores. "People should shop, and shop with confidence," he said.

To meet the UK's COVID-19 guidelines, shops and malls must ensure shoppers and workers can stay safe. Shops have also deployed plastic screens at payment counters and organizing a one-way traffic system inside. Some shops will only take payments by card and not cash. Stores in London's Oxford Street, the capital's most famous shopping street, have prepared hand sanitizing stations and introduced social distance markings for the occasion.  

According to analysts, the pandemic has created a significant shift to online shopping. To entice shoppers back, the upend department store Selfridges has taken on street performers to entertain customers queuing outside, while DJs play music indoors. Selfridges said the last time it had to close its doors was during World War II when it was hit by a bomb in 1941.

07:52 As France looks to accelerate the reopening of its economy, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire has signalled that he also hopes citizens will gradually return to the office. 

"Working from home remains preferable, in the sense that it allows us to have a gradual return and can limit the circulation of the virus. But I've always considered that working from home was not the panacea," Le Maire told France Info radio.

Even though many of France’s eateries and shops have resumed business, many white-collar employees are still working from home, particularly in the capital Paris. 

Meanwhile, Health Minister Olivier Veran urged for caution, telling French news channel LCI that "the largest part of the epidemic is behind us but the virus is not dead. We did not completely defeat it and we are controlling its circulation. We continue testing.”
France reported on Sunday nine new coronavirus deaths over the previous 24 hours, taking the total to 29,407 and marking the fifth day with under 30 deaths.

07:36 Tokyo's benchmark Nikkei index has dropped more than 3.4% over fears of a second wave of coronavirus infections following a surge in US cases and a new outbreak in China.

The Nikkei 225 index lost 774.53 points, to close at 21,530.95, while the broader Tokyo Stock Price Index, commonly known TOPIX, dropped 2.54%, or 39.90 points, to 1,530.78.

"Concerns over a second wave of infections are growing as clusters of new infections were reported in the US and China, while the number of new cases increased in Tokyo," said Okasan Online Securities, a stand-alone Japanese security group.

07:03 Denmark has agreed to a series of initiatives to stimulate its deteriorating economy amid the pandemic including cash handouts and a fund to support struggling companies.

The Nordic country is facing its biggest economic contraction since World War II this year due to the coronavirus lockdown measures.

According to Denmark's finance ministry, it has injected more than 300 billion crowns ($45 billion, €40 billion) into the economy in aid packages including tax and VAT payment extensions and direct subsidies, but most of the aid will now be phased out.

The cash injection will be financed by Danes' own holiday allowance, which had been frozen over an overhaul of its holiday pay system. Three out of five of the frozen weeks, earned by Danes themselves, will be paid out before October, amounting to around 60 billion Danish crowns.

As part of the new deal, citizens on public benefits will also receive a separate 1,000 crowns one-off payment. A fund worth 10 billion crowns will be allocated to support struggling companies.

Closed borders hit German shops

06:37 Indian Interior Minister Amit Shah has offered 500 railway carriages for use as makeshift coronavirus hospital wards following reports of hospitals overflowing with virus patients.

Shah, India's second-most powerful politician after Prime Minister Narendra Modi, was scheduled for a meeting with all major political parties to discuss New Delhi's struggles to contain a spike in infections.

Delhi currently has about 9,000 beds allocated to COVID-19 patients among public and private hospitals. However, a state government panel of experts has warned that the capital will need at least 15,000 beds by the end of June.

India has reported a surge with more than 11,000 new coronavirus infections nationwide for a third consecutive day, taking the total to more than 332,000, including 9,520 deaths. The South Asian country is the fourth hardest-hit by the pandemic after the US, Russia and Brazil.

06:13 Greece has announced zero new fatalities for the fifth consecutive day, the longest run since mid-March.

The country's death toll remains at 183. Nine new confirmed cases of the virus in the past 24 hours have increased the total number of infections to 3,121.  

Slowly resuming tourism, Greece is opening a second airport to international visitors in the city of Thessaloniki. Depending on the country of origin, arriving passengers might all be required to be tested or be tested at random.

Flights will be allowed only from European Union countries, at least until June 30. Land travel with neighbouring EU country Bulgaria has also resumed.

Greek museums are also reopening following a three-month shutdown. Visitors are required to wear masks and adhere to social distancing measures.

05:50 France is fully reopening its economy, including all restaurants, President Emmanuel Macron has announced.

"We must relaunch our economy," Macron said. The French president said restaurants in the Paris region will be allowed to open indoor seating starting today in addition to outdoor sitting. Restaurants in other French regions have already reopened.

From June 22, all nursery schools, primary schools and junior high schools will reopen.

Macron also confirmed that the second round of local elections that were suspended due to the coronavirus lockdown will now take place on June 28.

05:39 Hong Kong Disneyland will reopen as of June 18 — following a similar move by Shanghai Disneyland last month.

The park will reopen with limited visitor capacity and upon arrival, visitors must fill out health forms and have their temperature taken.

It will also implement social distancing measures on rides, in restaurants and other facilities. All visitors will be asked to wear masks. Activities requiring close interaction such as photo sessions with Disney characters have been suspended.

The city's social distancing measures, which prohibits gatherings of more than eight individuals and limits the capacity of  eateries, are set until June 18. Hong Kong currently has 1,110 reported cases of the coronavirus with four deaths.

Meanwhile, China has reported 49 new coronavirus cases as Beijing reinstated measures to contain a resurgence. Of the new cases, 36 were reported in the capital.

05:15 Thailand has lifted its nightly curfew and allowed alcohol to be served in restaurants again starting today.

Domestic flights are also resuming at full capacity but incoming international flights have been banned until June 30. Borders are still closed to foreign arrivals and bars and pubs are still closed.

Thailand has not reported any domestic transmissions of the virus for 20 days as of Sunday. On Monday, the Southeast Asian country recorded no new coronavirus infections or deaths, maintaining the total of 3,135 confirmed cases and 58 deaths.

04:41 EU and UK leaders are set for further Brexit talks today. But with regular EU meetings being put on ice amid the coronavirus crisis, freelance interpreters have been losing work. The people who facilitate communication within a multilingual Europe are now fighting for survival.

Read the full story here

04:20 As in many cities, Berlin residents were cooped up in their homes in the coronavirus lockdown. But a lucky few had a lifeline in the form of a garden plot. The German capital has 70,000 allotments, green spaces that are threatened by development.  

03:45 Germany on Monday reported 192 new cases of coronavirus infections and four new deaths. According to the latest figures from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), a total of 186,461 confirmed cases have been reported since the start of the pandemic, with 8,791 deaths.

The number of reproductions, or R-value, was above the critical mark of 1.0 — coming in at 1.05. 

03:01 Chile will now include suspected coronavirus cases in its official death toll, Health Minister Enrique Paris said on Sunday. The inclusion of "probable deaths" to the country's epidemiological report could double the current figure. 

Paris took office as the new health minister on Saturday, after his predecessor Jaime Manalich resigned amid controversy over Chile's official coronavirus death toll. The health minister added that quarantine measures in the Santiago metropolitan region would be extended "at least through June."

The government had said publicly that the pandemic has claimed over 3,000 lives in the country since it began, but a report published by investigative journalism organization CIPER on Saturday said Chile had informed the World Health Organization that the death toll stood at more than 5,000.

01:40 The US on Sunday reported 382 coronavirus deaths in the last 24 hours — the lowest daily death toll since the country’s mid-April peak. 

The US is the worst-hit country in the pandemic globally, with 2,093,335 cases of infections and 115,729 deaths. 

Prior to Sunday, the deaths were averaging 800 a day.

01:33 Ghana's Health Minister Kwaku Agyeman Manu has tested positive for COVID-19. He is in a stable condition, President Nana Akufo-Addo announced on Sunday, as the country starts a phased lifting of restrictions.

Ghana has reported 11,964 confirmed cases of coronavirus, making it one of the worst affected countries in the region. 

The death toll is one of the lowest in the continent, with 54 fatalities. 

01:07 New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has threatened to reimpose closings in areas where local governments have failed to enforce coronavirus rules.

Cuomo mentioned Manhattan and Long Island as problem areas, while citing 25,000 complaints of reopening violations statewide. The state governor said that large gatherings, violations of social distancing, and lax face-covering enforcement are a risk to the state’s fragile progress against the coronavirus. 

On Saturday, Cuomo had a stern reaction to a short video from New York City, posted on Twitter, that showed young residents enjoying the day on a packed city street — many without masks. 

00:10 British carrier EasyJet is resuming flights on Monday after being grounded since March 30 due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

The airline will start operations for a small number of mainly domestic flights. It will also resume some domestic and international routes from France, Switzerland, Italy and Portugal. 

Passengers will have to follow strict COVID-19 protocols, including wearing face masks. 

00:05 Several European countries are opening their borders for EU travelers on Monday after nearly three months of coronavirus restrictions. 

The move comes a week after European Union home affairs commissioner, Ylva Johansson, told member states they "should open up as soon as possible."

Germany is relaxing all inter-EU travel and travelers from neighboring countries will no longer have to prove a valid reason for entering the country. 

The country's Foreign Ministry also removed travel warnings for 27 European countries from its website at midnight. However, warnings are still in place for Spain, Finland, Norway and Sweden.  

German passport holders are still being told to avoid non-essential travel abroad, except to the countries cleared on Monday. 

France is opening its borders to all arrivals from the EU and nations that fall under the border-free Schengen zone. People arriving in the country from within Europe will not be put under quarantine. However, different protocols will be in place for those coming in from Spain, as well as Britain, because those countries have different reopening schedules. 

Spain, which will reopen its borders for EU visitors on June 21, is allowing thousands of Germans to fly to the Balearic Islands for a two-week trial run from Monday. The travelers will not be required to undergo the 14-day quarantine.  

The Czech Republic will require travelers from Sweden to show a negative coronavirus test or to self-quarantine, along with travelers from Portugal and Poland's Silesia. 

Denmark will open its borders only for those from Germany, Norway and Iceland — provided they can prove that they are staying for at least six nights. 

The Commission has recommended a gradual lifting of travel restrictions after June 30 for non-EU citizens seeking to travel to Europe.

00:00 Catch up on yesterday's coronavirus updates here. 

In reporting on the coronavirus pandemic, unless otherwise specified, DW uses figures provided by the Johns Hopkins University (JHU) Coronavirus Resource Center in the United States. JHU updates figures in real-time, collating data from world health organizations, state and national governments, and other public official sources, all of whom have their own systems for compiling information.  

 Germany's national statistics are compiled by its public health agency, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI). These figures depend on data transmission from state and local levels and are updated around once a day, which can lead to deviation from JHU.  

mvb, dvv/rt (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)
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