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Coronavirus: Louvre reopens, Swiss call for masks

July 6, 2020

Passengers on public transport in Switzerland are now obliged to wear face masks. Meanwhile the world's most-visited museum has partially reopened after 16 weeks. Follow DW for the latest.

Frankreich Corona-Pandemie | Louvre Wiedereröffnung
Image: Reuters/C. Platiau
  • The Louvre museum in Paris has partially reopened, but the Taj Mahal in India remains closed after a government U-turn
  • Switzerland has introduced the mandatory wearing of face masks, while a health minister in Germany wants its masks rule to remain
  • German health ministers opt to extend face mask requirements in public
  • The border between the Australian states of New South Wales and Victoria has been shut for the first time in more than a century
  • Court orders that local lockdown in Germany's Gütersloh must end
  • Almost 11.5 million people have contracted the virus, while some 535,000 have died

23:10 Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has ordered an investigation into increasing reports of violence against women and girls including rape, child marriage, female genital mutilation (FGM) and domestic violence — as a result of coronavirus restrictions. 

Calls to helplines for victims of gender violence have jumped more than 10-fold since lockdown measures were imposed in the East African country in late March. 

Kenyatta said he was concerned by "increasing tensions" within the home, adding that gender-based violence and mental health issues had worsened and that instances of teenage pregnancy had rocketed. One county reported more than 4,000 cases of early pregnancies since schools closed in March. Reports from some regions also suggest hundreds of girls may have been forced to undergo FGM as communities take advantage of school closures

"If the family is weak, the country is weak," Kenyatta said in a televised address. "Therefore ... I order the National Crime Research Centre (NCRC) to probe the escalating cases of gender-based violence (and) the worrying trend of cases where the girl child has been disempowered."  

Kenyatta instructed the NCRC to prepare an advisory to security agencies within 30 days and start immediate prosecution of all violators.

Rights groups in Kenya have for months been warning about the impacts of COVID-19 lockdowns on women and girls, who have not only just become more prone to physical and sexual violence, but also more vulnerable to sexual exploitation as families struggle to earn an income.

23:05 Brazil has registered 20,229 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours and 620 deaths, according to the Health Ministry.

The rise in cases comes as two major cities in Brazil reopened private schools for the first time since the epidemic began.

Some students returned to classes in Manaus in the Amazon rainforest, which has over 2 million inhabitants, and Duque de Caxias, home to just under 1 million people. The city has the third-highest virus death toll in Rio state.

Public schools in the cities and elsewhere in the country remain shut.

22:01 Israel has reimposed a number of restrictions that were in place to combat the spread of the virus as the country attempts to deal with a spike in coronavirus cases. 

"The pandemic is spreading — that's as clear as day. It is rising steeply daily and it is dragging with it, contrary to what we had been told, a trail of critically ill patients," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.

The immediate closure of bars, gymnasiums, event halls, and cultural events has been announced by the government. The country is also limiting the number of diners that can be in a restaurant to 20 for indoor spaces and 30 for outdoors.

Only 19 worshippers can be at synagogues at a given time, while buses are only allowed to ferry up to 20 passengers. 

Israel has reported just over 30,000 confirmed infections but a recent spike in cases has led to speculations that a lockdown may be reimposed. Netanyahu has said that the country will have to take strict action to avoid going into lockdown again, which could potentially paralyze the economy.

21:24 Pakistan’s health minister has tested positive for the virus, he announced on Twitter on Monday.

State Minister of Health Zafar Mirza is the latest senior politician to test positive for the virus, after the foreign minister, minister for railways, and the speaker of Pakistan’s lower house of parliament.

With 231,818 confirmed infections and 4,762 deaths, Pakistan is struggling to deal with the pandemic. At the same time, daily testing numbers have been falling.

21:15 A bus driver in France has been left brain dead after he was assaulted on Sunday evening after trying to prevent passengers without face masks from boarding, said police in the southwestern city of Bayonne.

The bus driver had tried to stop a man from boarding the bus without a mask. He also asked four other passengers who were not wearing masks to get off the bus. The bus driver, who is in his 50s, was then repeatedly punched, sustaining a serious head injury.

A man was arrested on Sunday and four more people were taken into custody on Monday, said the prosecuting service.

France, along with many other countries, has made wearing face masks obligatory on public transport as it lifted coronavirus restrictions.

"We have witnessed a particularly violent and barbaric act," said Mayor of Bayonne Jean-Rene Etchegaray to the bus company employees.

He called for the perpetrators to be brought to justice and for a punishment "severe enough" to warn others. Following the incident, several of the driver's colleagues stopped work in protest, disrupting regional bus services.

18:50 Greece closed its border to travelers from Serbia due a sudden increase of coronavirus cases on Monday.

Greece registered new COVID-19 infections for the first time in weeks with a total of 43 cases. According to local health authorities, 36 of them were tourists. The Greek State Broadcasting Corporation (ERT) said 20 of them were tourists from Serbia. Most of the cases were found at the Greek-Bulgarian border.

Since July 1, it is estimated that more than 100,000 holidaymakers crossed the Promachonas-Kulata border check-point to enter Greece. 

Serbs will not be allowed to enter Greece until July 15.

Meanwhile, Serbia declared a state of emergency in Belgrade following a recent spike in coronavirus cases in the capital. Three hospitals in Belgrade have been transformed back into coronavirus-only facilities in response. 

17:30 Several government ministers in Bolivia have either tested positive or have been quarantined as a precaution.

Labor Minister Oscar Mercado has been quarantined after having been in "direct and permanent" contact with coronavirus-infected security staff, national news agency ABI reported. Mercado went into voluntary quarantine as a precautionary measure; he had earlier tested negative for the virus.

Meanwhile, Health Minister Eidy Roca tested positive for COVID-19 after traveling around to carry out duties in containing the pandemic, her office reported Sunday. She is said to be in a stable condition and "under constant evaluation."

Minister of the Presidency Yerko Nunez was hospitalized due to coronavirus-related complications, his office also announced on Sunday.

Interim President Jeanine Anez confirmed on Saturday that Mining Minister Jorge Fernando Oropeza had also contracted COVID-19.

Bolivia has seen a rapid surge in coronavirus infections with 39,297 confirmed cases and a total of 1,434 deaths.

16:30 The National Hockey League in North America said a total of 35 players have tested positive for the coronavirus over roughly the past month. Voluntary workouts had begun on June 8.

The NHL and NHL Players' Association on Sunday night agreed on protocols to start training camps and resume the ice hockey season.

The next step, expected imminently, would be to start putting entire squads together for preseason training camps. 

Once games resume, all players, coaches and staff will be expected to be tested for the coronavirus on a daily basis.

16:15 Germany's state health ministers have agreed that face masks covering the mouth and nose should remain mandatory in all shops and on public transport. 

Earlier, the northern states of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and Lower Saxony proposed relaxing coronavirus measures and waiving the requirement to wear a mask inside retail stores. 

However, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn spoke out against this, saying masks were necessary in the fight against the coronavirus. 

The 16 health ministers also said that it was important not to give the wrong impression that the pandemic was over.

15:50  Nepal has made wearing a face mask in public places mandatory.

Nepal’s Ministry of Home Affairs  said police could arrest anyone defying public and health safety rules. Anyone caught not wearing a mask in a public place could be charged under the Infectious Disease Control Act with either up to one month imprisonment or a fine of 100 rupees ($0.84, €0.74), or both.

Spokesperson Umakanta Adhikari said the ministry had instructed police officers at the 77 district administration offices to strictly enforce the new order.

The measure comes amid a gradual rise in the number of coronavirus infections, although Nepal remains under partial lockdown. The South Asian country had only one case before going into lockdown on March 24.

To date, Nepal has recorded 15,964 infections and 35 deaths.

14:10 A court in Münster has ruled that the local lockdown in the Gütersloh area, triggered after a major outbreak at a Tönnies meat processing plant, must now end.

The court ruled that a recent extension to the limitations for the entire district was not legally valid, saying that the situation had already improved sufficiently that the state government in North Rhine-Westphalia should have found a more proportionate solution.

More than 1,000 employees at the plant tested positive during the outbreak in June. It was one of several such outbreaks to draw attention to the cramped living conditions of workers, most of whom come from eastern Europe to work at the facilities. Tönnies recently submitted a plan designed to allow the factory to start operating again, but a local CDU politician, Sven-Georg Adenauer, said he was dubious about some elements of the proposal. 

"The concept that the company has put forward doesn't come close to answering all the questions that have been raised. So it could take a while until the factory gets back to work," Adenauer said. 

Gütersloh remains one of the current hotspots within Germany for infections, but the rates have dipped considerably during the lockdown period. Free tests were introduced for locals as a part of the bid to control the outbreak; officials say these have been particular popular among locals seeking a negative result at the start of the summer holidays so that they can travel.

Read more:  Germany: Romanian workers reveal dire conditions at slaughterhouses

12:37 Renowned Broadway actor Nick Cordero, who starred in shows such as ''Waitress,'' ''A Bronx Tale,'' and ''Bullets Over Broadway,'' has died of complications from the coronavirus at the age of 41.

Cordero died on Sunday in Los Angeles, after more than 90 days in the hospital, according to his wife, Amanda Kloots. ''God has another angel in heaven now,'' she wrote on Instagram. 

''Nick was such a bright light. He was everyone’s friend, loved to listen, help and especially talk. He was an incredible actor and musician. He loved his family and loved being a father and husband.''

Cordero went to the emergency room on March 30, and subsequently became unconscious, had his right leg amputated and was put on a ventilator. During his hospitalization, his wife sent him daily videos of her and their one-year-old son, Elvis, so he could see them if he woke up. 

The actor, who often played the role of a tough guy on stage, played a mob soldier in Broadway’s Woody Allen 1994 film adaptation of ''Bullets Over Broadway,'' for which he received a Tony nomination for best-featured actor in a musical. On screen, he appeared in several episodes of ''Blue Bloods,'' ''Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,'' and in the film ''Going in Style.'' 

Nick Cordero attends Opening Night Of Rock Of Ages Hollywood At The Bourbon Room at The Bourbon Room on January 15, 2020 in Hollywood, California.
Cordero's wife Kloot also spared special tanks for the performer's doctorImage: Getty Images for Rock of Ages Hollywood/V. Killilea

11:20 Lobbyists with links to US President Donald Trump helped clients to more than $10 billion (€8.86 billion) in government funds to fight COVID-19, according to a report.

Among the forty lobbyists, five were former administration officials whose activities potentially contravene Trump's own ethics protocol, the report added.

The lobbyists have been named by the watchdog group Public Citizen. Some served in the Trump executive branch, while others worked on his election campaign trail or were part of the committee that raised money for events. There were others who were a part of his presidential transition team.

According to Public Citizen, they include Brian Ballard, who served on the transition. He is the finance chair for the Republican National Committee and has secured more than $1 million for Trump's fundraising committees.

Another who has been identified is Dave Urban, an adviser to the president. Urban has acquired in excess of $2.3 million in lobbying fees this year alone.

10:35 Passengers on public transport across Switzerland have begun wearing face masks after the government ordered citizens to do so.

Most restrictive measures were phased out last month as the number of infections across the country dropped but they have since gathered pace again as people come into closer contact, prompting the government to implement the new rule on wearing face masks on trains, trams, buses, mountain railways and ferries.

09:30 Chinese authorities have detained a law professor who published critical articles of President Xi Jinping's handling of the coronavirus pandemic, as well as his undemocratic policies, according to friends of the man.

Read more: Coronavirus — China detains professor who criticized President Xi Jinping

Xu Zhangrun was seized at his home in suburban Beijing, before being taken away by more than 20 people, one of his friends said on condition of anonymity.

The Chinese regime takes a dim view of negative publicity, particularly if it stems from its heavily censored academia.

08:38 Russia now has reported a total of 687,862 cases after officials reported a further 6,611 new infections had been added to the tally in the last 24 hours. It is, nevertheless, a slight fall on yesterday's daily figure.

Authorities also said 135 people had died overnight, bringing Russia's official death toll to 10,296. The daily fatality count is one more than the previous day's toll.

Russia has the fourth highest number of cases in the world after India overtook the eastern European country over the weekend. As a result, India is the country with the third highest number of infections behind the United States and Brazil.

07:04 The Louvre museum in Paris has partially reopened after 16 weeks of closures due to the coronavirus pandemic.

While popular attractions like Leonardo Da Vinci's the "Mona Lisa" will be accessible, other galleries where social distancing is difficult will remain closed, leaving nearly a third of the museum's galleries inaccessible to the public.

To avoid the typical crowding for a selfie in front of Da Vinci's masterpiece, the museum said it had installed markers on the floor to keep visitors at a safe distance from each other. Arrows have also been placed throughout the museum to keep crowds moving smoothly and safely. Doubling back is not allowed, the museum said.

The world's most visited museum has lost over €40 million ($45 million) in ticket sales over the near-four-month lockdown.

Around 70% of the museum's 9.6 million visitors in 2019 were from abroad. With tourism and travel sharply affected by the coronavirus outbreak, Louvre director Jean-Luc Martinez told news agency AFP the outlook for 2020 is bleak.

"We are losing 80% of our public," he said. "We are going to be at best 20 to 30% down on last summer -- between 4,000 and 10,000 visitors a day."

06:35 A Kansas county Republican Party chairman who also owns a newspaper has apologized for likening an order to wear face masks to the Nazi treatment of Jewish people during the Holocaust.

The owner and publisher of The Anderson County Review, Dane Hicks, said in a statement posted on Facebook that he was taking down a cartoon posted on the social media site following "some heartfelt and educational conversations with Jewish leaders in the US and abroad."

The weekly paper posted the cartoon on Friday, and it drew dozens of critical responses, as well as worldwide focus. To make matters worse, Hicks then posted a blog on Saturday, defending the cartoon. The blog also attracted criticism with the public disappointed in its lack of contrition.

05:30 The coronavirus crisis has hit young people in Spain, where authorities have introduced a second local lockdown, with full force.

An emergency work program — employing "beach sheriffs" — is in place in some tourist spots. For some, it's a financial lifeline through the summer. DW's Jan-Philipp Scholz reports from Andalucia on how that's helping.

Beach sheriffs in Torrox
Image: DW/J.-P. Scholz

05:05 India has overtaken Russia to become the country with the third-highest number of COVID-19 infections in the world, according to the latest figures from the Johns Hopkins Institute. 

Close 25,000 new infections recorded Monday have brought the country's total number of confirmed cases to nearly 700,000.

India trails the US and Brazil in confirmed coronavirus cases.

Nearly 20,000 people have died in India since cases were first confirmed in January.

03:45 Germany's health authority, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), reported 219 new coronavirus cases over the past 24 hours, bringing the country's total to 219,554 cases since the pandemic began.

The RKI also that the death toll from the virus increased by four to 9,016. 

03:24 Saudi Arabia has announced new health protocols for domestic pilgrims who will be attending the haj. The new measures include a ban on gatherings and meetings during the 2020 haj season, according to the state news agency.

Pilgrims will not be allowed to touch the Kaaba, Islam’s holiest site, and everyone will be required to maintain a distance of 1.5 meters during the rituals. Only those with haj permits will be allowed to access holy sites at Mona, Muzdalifah and Arafat. Wearing masks is mandatory.

Last month, Saudi Arabia limited the haj pilgrimage to only around 1,000 domestic pilgrims. For the first time, no Muslims from other countries will be allowed to curb the spread of the virus.

03:22 The border between Australia’s two most-populous states — New South Wales and Victoria — is being closed over virus fears. This is the first time that the borders are being sealed since the Spanish flu pandemic. 

Victoria reported 127 new infections overnight, the state’s biggest spike in cases since the virus was first reported in the country.

Victoria’s capital city of Melbourne has seen a rise in infections, which has led to stricter social-distancing orders. Nine public housing towers have been placed under lockdown to curb the spread of the virus.

The decision was made jointly by Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews and NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian.

While Australia has largely managed to keep the pandemic under control with just over 8,500 cases, this recent spike has raised concerns over the response moving forward.

01:49 US President Donald Trump is set to host another rally for his re-election campaign even as several states deal with a surge in coronavirus cases. The open-air rally will be held at Portsmouth airport in New Hampshire on July 11, Trump’s campaign said on Sunday.

Trump’s first major campaign event amid virus fears was held in a closed stadium in Tulsa, Oklahoma in June. The campaign was criticized as the number of infections in the southern state was on the rise at the time.

While close to a million people registered for the earlier rally, attendance was dismal.

The upcoming event will be held outdoors to combat the criticism that Trump received for holding a large event in a closed room as it may increase the chance of infection. While masks will be provided, the campaign said that all guests must agree that they "voluntarily accept all risks" and the Trump campaign will not be liable for infections.

The US has reported close to 2.9 million confirmed infections and nearly 130,000 virus-related deaths, making it the worst-hit country in the world.

00:20 Brazil has reported 26,051 new infections, taking the country's total number of confirmed cases to over 1.6 million, according to data from the health ministry. The second worst-hit country also reported 602 new fatalities, taking the death toll to 64,867.

00:12 India has reported another record daily increase in the number of coronavirus cases with close to 25,000 infections reported on Sunday. With 613 new deaths, the cumulative death toll has risen to 19,268.

The government has decided not to reopen India's popular tourist attraction, the Taj Mahal, citing the risk of coronavirus infections spreading in Agra city.

On Sunday, local authorities issued a new advisory, ordering an extension of lockdown restrictions on monuments in and around the northern city. The monuments in Agra, including the Taj Mahal, have been closed to the public since March.

"In the interest of the public, it has been decided that opening monuments in Agra will not be advisable as of now," district authorities said in a notice.

With over 673,000 confirmed cases, India is close to overtaking Russia to become the third hardest-hit country in the world, behind the US and Brazil.

00:06 Germany's Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn has warned that the virus is "still there" and getting rid of masks ahead of time is not an option.

"I understand the impatience and desire for normality. But the virus is still here," Spahn wrote on Twitter. "Where the necessary distance is not always assured in closed rooms, the everyday mask remains necessary."

Spahn seemed to be addressing concerns put forward by some states that masks should not be mandatory in shops as Germany's infection rate remains under control. The country has reported just under 200,000 infections and over 9,000 deaths from the virus.

00:00 Catch up on yesterday's coronavirus news here: Coronavirus latest: Spain imposes second local lockdown

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.

js,kp,see/aw (AFP, AP, Reuters, dpa)