Thursday 29 October, 2020

The Latest: Flights from UK to Greece can resume July 15

People wearing protective mask ride the "Transports publics lausannois", TL, Metro M2 (underground) during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Lausanne, Switzerland, Monday, July 6, 2020. In Switzerland, from Monday 6 July, people aged 12 and over must wear a mask in all public transport, trains, trams and buses, as well as in cable cars and boats. (Laurent Gillieron/Keystone via AP)

People wearing protective mask ride the "Transports publics lausannois", TL, Metro M2 (underground) during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Lausanne, Switzerland, Monday, July 6, 2020. In Switzerland, from Monday 6 July, people aged 12 and over must wear a mask in all public transport, trains, trams and buses, as well as in cable cars and boats. (Laurent Gillieron/Keystone via AP)

Greece's government has announced that direct flights from the United Kingdom to all airports in Greece can resume on July 15.

Government spokesman Stelios Petsas said Monday the decision was made "in cooperation with the British government and after the recommendation of experts." Greece had previously banned all flights from Britain due to the extent of the coronavirus spread there.

Britons are among the top tourist visitors to Greece, and the country is eager to ensure it can salvage whatever it can from this year's summer tourism season. The sector accounts for around 20 percent of Greece's economy.

Direct flights from Sweden have also been banned until at least July 15. Petsas said Greece was still "watching the epidemiological data" from Sweden, and would make announcements depending on how the situation there evolves.

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HERE'S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:

— Egypt  arrests doctors, silences critics over government's handling of virus outbreak

— Trump's  bluster doesn't beat a virus, calm a restive nation

— Coronavirus pandemic and Floyd's death merge in brutal blow to Black well-being

— Amid pandemic, fewer students  seek federal aid for college

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Follow all of AP's pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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HERE'S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

MADRID — Traffic controls are in place Monday into and out of two northern Spanish counties that have renewed lockdowns to contain significant spikes in coronavirus infections.

The restrictions to leave or enter these areas unless it's for work or extenuating reasons affect some 70,000 residents in the northwestern county of A Mariña, in the northern Atlantic coast, and over 200,000 in northeastern Catalonia's Segrià county around Lleida.

The latter is particularly worrying because it affects migrant labourers harvesting fruit who are considered highly vulnerable to contagion.

Catalonia's regional health authorities are warning that residents could be asked to stay at home if the outbreak there doesn't subside.

The small-scale lockdowns come two weeks after Spain ended a national state of emergency that enable the national government to lock down the entire country and prohibit travel between provinces or certain areas since mid-March.

Over 28,000 people are confirmed to have died from the virus in Spain.

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PAMPLONA, Spain — Residents in Spain's northern Pamplona are dressing up in white clothes and donning a traditional red scarf in a nostalgic move to mark that their annual San Fermin festival has been canceled this year due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Known for the races with bulls running along cobbled streets, the festival was popularized by Ernest Hemingway's 1926 novel "The Sun Also Rises" and was last called off during the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s.

With more than 28,000 deaths for the novel virus and an economy in the doldrums following a strict nationwide lockdown, local authorities say there is little to celebrate.

Some 400 people gathered at noon on Monday at a central square where in normal times more than 12,000 would witness the launch of a rocket known as "Chupinazo" to open the nine-day festival, bathing each other with red wine and champagne.

Instead of the rocket, a large sign from the city hall's facade displayed the slogan #WeWillExperienceThem, which is meant to invite locals and the hundreds of thousands of visitors that Pamplona usually hosts to come back for next year's celebrations.

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Children six years old and above must wear masks at school, while children of all ages will undergo temperature checks at school gates, cannot participate in festivals, concerts or field trips and must be spaced 1.5 metres apart in classrooms, according to new guidelines issued by Dubai for private schools when they reopen.

Teachers, who must also wear some form of masks, are encouraged to use clear face shields that show their facial expressions, but meetings with parents should be held online.

Only one parent, wearing a mandatory mask, is allowed to drop off and pick up their children with staggered timings to avoid crowding. Students' bags and shoes must be sprayed with sanitizer when arriving at school, while common areas and shared computers must be sanitized throughout the day.

In addition to designating an isolated room for suspected cases of the virus, schools will not be allowed to open their pools or hold sports tournaments, and showers and changing rooms must remain closed.

Schools in Dubai were closed to students in March due to the coronavirus. Most students in Dubai, who are majority foreigners, attend private schools and will be impacted by the guidelines issued Sunday.

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ISLAMABAD — Pakistan's Minister of State for Health Zafar Mirza tested positive for the coronavirus, the latest high profile government minister to contract the virus.

Foreign Minister Moahmood Qureshi announced Friday that he too tested positive for the virus.

The two men say their symptoms are mild. In a tweet on Monday, Mirza said he is self-isolating.

Pakistan has recorded 231,813 infections and 4,762 deaths. Prime Minister Imran Khan has refused to impose strict lockdowns, easing many restrictions, but ordering people to wear masks and social distance, though most people, especially among the poor and in the congested cities are not able to keep their distance.

The government has sealed hundreds of markets throughout the country where large numbers of infections have been discovered.

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BERLIN — Germany's MTU Aero Engines says it plans to cut staffing by 10-15% by the end of next year due to the coronavirus pandemic's impact on aviation.

The Munich-based engine manufacturer said Monday that the reduction in "personnel capacities" will be carried "largely through individual agreements" such as the increased use of partial and early retirement. It will also use measures already initiated such as an extensive hiring freeze and a reduction in work hours.

CEO Reiner Winkler said in a statement that it will be years before air traffic returns to pre-crisis levels. He said that the company has "no interest in compulsory redundancies" and will coordinate its approach with its employee council.

The company had more than 10,000 employees as of last year.

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LONDON — The British government has announced a big pot of money to help the country's renowned arts and cultural institutions recover from the coronavirus pandemic, after some theaters and music venues warned that without support they might never open again.

The 1.57 billion-pound ($1.96 billion) package for museums, galleries, theatres, cinemas, heritage sites and music venues includes almost 900 million pounds in grants and more than 200 million pounds in loans.

Details of how the money will be distributed have not been released, but leaders of arts organizations breathed a sigh of relief. Tamara Roja, artistic director of the English National Ballet, said: "this package gives our sector a fighting chance of survival."

Some UK arts institutions are starting to open their doors after more than three months of lockdown, starting with the National Gallery in London, which reopens Wednesday.

But theatres and concert venues have not been told when they can admit audiences, and several have already announced they will close permanently.

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BERLIN — Calls to drop rules in Germany requiring people to wear masks in shops are being rejected by the country's health minister and other senior politicians.

German states, which are responsible for setting and lifting lockdown rules, made masks on public transport and in shops compulsory in late April. On Sunday, the state economy minister in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania — the state least affected by the coronavirus pandemic — said he sees no need to keep the rule in shops if infections remain so low.

Health Minister Jens Spahn told Deutschlandfunk radio on Monday that it's important "not to be too careless."

He added: "I totally understand the wish to return to everyday life as it was before, I understand the impatience -- wearing masks isn't always pleasant. But we see that in enclosed spaces in particular, and where a minimum distance isn't always ensured, everyday masks can make a difference."

The co-leader of the Social Democrats, the junior partner in the national coalition government, said he and Chancellor Angela Merkel agree that the mask-wearing rule should stay. Norbert Walter-Borjans told the Bild daily that "we should exercise caution here."

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THESSALONIKI, Greece — Dozens of vehicles of Serb holidaymakers who were trapped at the Greek border overnight have been allowed to cross into Greece after a ban on the entry of people from Serbia came into effect due to a coronavirus flare-up in Serbia.

Greek authorities said there were around 150 Serb vehicles stuck in a roughly seven kilometre-long tailback Monday morning at the Promahonas border crossing with Bulgaria, which is the only land border into Greece that is open.

The government announced Sunday it was banning the entry of Serbs as of 6 a.m. Monday until July 15, due to the flare-up of the coronavirus outbreak in Serbia. But the announcement found many Serb tourists already at the Bulgarian-Greek border, waiting to head to Greece on vacation.

Many spent the night in their cars, and were expected to be allowed to cross even though the deadline had passed. New arrivals at the border, however, would not be allowed entry.

More than 70 of the waiting cars that had been stuck at the border were allowed to cross after 8 a.m., local officials said.

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NEW DELHI — India has overtaken Russia to become the third worst-affected nation by the coronavirus after reporting 24,248 new cases Monday.

India has now confirmed 697,413 cases, including 19,693 deaths. Russia has 680,283 cases.

The US has had the most cases, with nearly 2.9 million. Brazil is second, with over 1.6 million.

Indian authorities late Sunday withdrew a planned reopening of the famed Taj Mahal monument after new cases were detected in the area. India's Culture Ministry had decided to reopen all monuments across the country on Monday after more than three months with a cap on the number of visitors and mandatory wearing of face masks.

After a strict nationwide lockdown, India has eased restrictions in most of the country except for the highest-risk areas.

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SYDNEY, Australia — The leader of Australia's most populous state says her government's decision to close its border with hard-hit Victoria state marks a new phase in the country's coronavirus pandemic.

New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian has long been a critic of states that close their borders to her state when its capital Sydney had Australia's largest numbers of COVID-19 cases.

But she had changed her stance on keeping Australia's internal borders open because the situation in the Victorian capital Melbourne was unprecedented.

The overwhelming majority of news cases detected in Melbourne in recent weeks were from community transmission. Everywhere else in Australia, the vast majority of cases were infected overseas or had been infected by a returned traveller, Berejiklian said.

"What is occurring in Victoria has not yet occurred anywhere else in Australia," she said. "It's a new part of the pandemic and, as such, it requires a new type of response."

New South Wales police will close the Victorian border from late Tuesday. Some flights and trains services would continue for travellers who are given permits and exemptions, Berejiklian said.

Victoria announced on Monday that two men died of COVID-19 in the state within 24 hours, bringing the national death toll 106. They died in hospitals and were aged in their 90s and 60s.

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MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines has reported its biggest spike in coronavirus infections in recent days, raising the possibility its crowded capital may be placed back under a strict lockdown.

The Department of Health reported 2,434 cases in recent days, most of them in metropolitan Manila, raising the number of cases nationwide to more than 44,250, including 1,297 deaths. The infections and deaths are among the highest in Southeast Asia.

Interior Secretary Eduardo Ano said there's a possibility the capital area may revert to a lockdown if the uptick continues and hospitals get filled again.

At least one major Manila hospital, the Chinese General Hospital and Medical Center, said its COVID-19 ward was running at full capacity and appealed that new patients be taken elsewhere.

President Rodrigo Duterte eased the lockdown in metropolitan Manila, an epicentre of infections, on June 1 to bolster an economy on the brink of recession. One major commercial and tourism region, central Cebu city, was placed back under a strict lockdown in mid-June due to alarming infection spikes.

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LOS ANGELES -- Californians mostly heeded warnings to stay away from beaches and other public spaces during the long weekend.

State officials urged social distancing amid a spike in coronavirus infections and hospitalizations.

Many communities cancelled July 4 fireworks shows and other annual festivities — changes that appeared to successfully keep crowds at bay. However big waves at Southern California beaches proved irresistible to some surfers.

California reported 6,500 additional confirmed cases of the virus on Saturday. The actual number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick. ___

PHOENIX -- Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego is pointing to a "crisis" involving coronavirus testing shortages in her city due to surging cases in Arizona, which leads the US in new coronavirus cases per capita.

Gallego, a Democrat, said some residents over the weekend had to line up for eight hours by car to get tested.

Gallego told ABC's "This Week" on Sunday that Arizona went from "zero to 60" by being one of the first states to reopen after it was among the last to implement stay-at-home orders.

Arizona health officials reported 3,536 additional coronavirus cases Sunday and four more known deaths. That brings the state's documented totals to 98,089 confirmed cases of COVID-19 cases and 1,809 known deaths.

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