Spain to reopen to tourists as South America named virus hotspot
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by Emmanuelle Michel with AFP bureaus
Spain said on Saturday it would let in foreign tourists and restart top league football in the coming weeks, accelerating Europe’s exit from strict coronavirus lockdowns, even as the disease continued its deadly surge in parts of South America.
Brazil saw its death toll passing 22,000 on Saturday from more than 347,000 infections, the second biggest caseload of any country in a pandemic.
And as much of the United States tiptoed out of lockdown at the start of the Memorial Day weekend which unofficially marks the beginning of summer, President Donald Trump sent a clear signal he was personally embracing normalization — he went golfing, his first such outing since March 8.
Some 5.26 million people have been infected globally, and 340,000 killed by the virus.
But with infection levels stabilizing across Europe, many governments were trying move away from economically ruinous lockdowns toward lighter social distancing measures that they hope will revive moribund business and tourism sectors.
In Spain, which has enforced one of the world’s strictest lockdowns since mid-March, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez announced the resumption of tourism — a vital sector for much of Europe — and football.
Sanchez sought to reassure visitors, saying that from July 1, “entry for foreign tourists into Spain will resume in secure conditions” and La Liga football could return on June 8.
The United States, meanwhile, still faces the world’s worst outbreak — the toll is less than 3,000 deaths away from the grim milestone of 100,000 — but Trump has aggressively pushed to reopen the economy, defying the advice of health experts.
The US economy has shed almost 40 million jobs this year and many companies, most recently car rental giant Hertz, have gone to the wall. But most states have begun easing their lockdowns and many on Saturday reopened public beaches.
“We just get tired of being stuck in the house. There’s not much else to do. So I came to the beach,” stay-at-home mother Kayla Lambert said, as her two children played in the surf in Galveston, Texas.
New York, once a virus epicenter, on Saturday announced its lowest daily statewide death toll since early March — 84.
“We are making real progress,” said Governor Andrew Cuomo. (AFP)