Atlanta- Spain called off the Running of the Bulls in July, the US scrapped the national spelling bee in June and Germany cancelled Oktoberfest five months away, making it clear on Tuesday that the effort to beat back the coronavirus and return to normal could be a long and dispiriting process.
Amid growing impatience over the shutdowns that have thrown tens of millions out of work, European countries continued to reopen in stages, while in the US, one state after another – mostly ones led by Republican governors – began taking steps to get back to business.
Business owners in the US who got the go-ahead weighed whether to reopen, and some hesitated, in a sign that commerce won’t necessarily bounce back right away.
Mark Lebos, owner of Strong Gym in Savannah, Georgia, where Governor Brian Kemp announced that gyms and salons can reopen this week, said it would be professional negligence to do so right now.
“We are not going to be a vector of death and suffering,” he said.
With deaths and infections still rising around the world, the push to reopen has set off warnings from health authorities that the crisis that has killed well over 170,000 people globally – including more than 45,000 in the US – is far from over and that relaxing the stay-at-home orders too quickly could enable the virus to come surging back.
The economic damage mounted as oil prices suffered an epic collapse and stocks registered their worst loss in weeks on Wall Street.
The crisis hit home at Trump ‘s Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida, which laid off 153 workers, including bartenders, cooks, dishwashers and housekeepers.
The US Senate on Tuesday approved nearly USD 500 billion in coronavirus aid for businesses, hospitals and testing after a deal was reached between Congress and the White House. Trump urged House members to quickly pass the measure.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said during the daily White House briefing Tuesday that while some big businesses obtained access to government loans under an earlier aid package, its intent was to help mostly companies with 10 or fewer workers. He and the president said bigger businesses should return those funds.
Trump also said he will stop issuing certain immigration green cards for 60 days to limit competition for jobs and protect American workers already suffering in an economy devastated by the pandemic.
In Europe, meanwhile, Denmark, Austria, Spain and Germany began allowing some people back to work, including hairdressers, dentists and construction workers, and some stores were cleared to reopen or will soon get the OK.
But in an indication that it will be a long time before life returns to normal, Spain canceled its Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, the more than 400-year-old event made world-famous by Ernest Hemingway’s 1926 novel The Sun Also Rises.
It was also called off during the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s.
The Scripps National Spelling Bee in the US was cancelled. The competition has been held since 1925 and was last scrubbed in 1945, during World War II.
Germany called off the centuries-old Oktoberfest beer festival in Munich, which draws about 6 million visitors each year. It was previously canceled during the two world wars; during a period of hyperinflation in Germany in 1923; and twice because of cholera outbreaks in the 1800s.
We agreed that the risk is simply too high, Bavarian governor Markus Soeder said.
In Italy, Premier Giuseppe Conte confirmed that businesses can start reopening on May 4 but dashed any hopes of a full end to the country’s strict lockdown any time soon, saying: “A decision of that kind would be irresponsible.”
In the US, some states, including Tennessee, West Virginia and Colorado, announced plans this week to begin reopening in stages in the coming days.
Sunbathers quickly flocked to the sand after some South Carolina beaches reopened with the governor’s backing.
Political tensions were high.
Some sheriffs in Washington state, Michigan and Wisconsin said they won’t enforce stay-at-home orders. Angry protesters demanding the lifting of restrictions marched in Alabama, North Carolina and Missouri with signs like Enough is enough. And Wisconsin Republicans asked the state’s high court to block an extension of the stay-at-home order there.
During an online ceremony Tuesday to donate masks, ventilators and other desperately needed medical supplies to hard-hit New York City, Chinese Consul-General Huang Ping indirectly appealed to Trump to tone down his recent rhetoric against the Asian country where the virus first emerged.
After weeks of elaborate praise of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s response to the pandemic, Trump has turned to blaming China and halting US contributions to the World Health Organisation, accusing it of parroting misinformation from Beijing.
This is not the time for finger-pointing,”Huang said. This is the time for solidarity, collaboration, cooperation and mutual support. (AP)
Be Part of Quality Journalism
Quality journalism takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce and despite all the hardships we still do it. Our reporters and editors are working overtime in Kashmir and beyond to cover what you care about, break big stories, and expose injustices that can change lives. Today more people are reading Kashmir Observer than ever, but only a handful are paying while advertising revenues are falling fast.