Relaxation of restrictions in US and Europe amid disaster in India

TALLAHASSEE, Florida – Air travel to the United States has reached its highest level since COVID-19 arrived more than 13 months ago, as European Union officials propose to ease restrictions on visitors to the continent as the vaccine drops new cases and deaths in wealthier countries.

The improved image in many places contrasts with the worsening disaster in India.

In the United States, the average number of new cases per day fell below 50,000 for the first time since October. And nearly 1.67 million people were screened at U.S. airport checkpoints on Sunday, according to the Transportation Security Administration, the highest number since mid-March last year.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has signed a law giving him sweeping powers to overturn local emergency measures put in place during the outbreak. Although the law does not come into effect until July, the Republican governor has said he will issue an executive order to get rid of local mask warrants more quickly.

“I think it creates a structure that is going to be a little more respectful, I think, of businesses, jobs, schools and people’s personal freedom,” he said.

EU officials also announced a proposal on Monday to ease travel restrictions in the 27-country bloc this summer, though the final decision rests with its member countries.

“It’s time to revive the EU tourism industry and rekindle cross-border friendships – safe and sound,” said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. “We propose to welcome once again visitors who have been vaccinated and those coming from healthy countries.”

In Greece, restaurants and cafes reopened their terraces on Monday after six months of closure, with customers flocking to soak up the sun. In France, high schools have reopened and the ban on internal movement has been lifted.

The once-hard-hit Czech Republic, where cases are now on the decline, has announced it will allow people to remove face masks from all outdoor spaces from next Monday if they keep away from others.

But with more contagious variants setting in, efforts are underway to boost vaccination efforts, which have started to fall behind schedule. The average number of doses given per day fell 27%, from a high of 3.26 million on April 11 to 2.37 million last Tuesday, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In Detroit, teams from the city’s health department have knocked on nearly 5,000 doors since the weekend to persuade people to get vaccinated. And the Massachusetts governor has announced plans to close four of the seven mass vaccination sites by the end of June in favor of a more targeted approach.

“My call to everyone: Get vaccinated now, please,” President Joe Biden said in Norfolk, Virginia. He stressed that he had worked hard to make sure there were over 600 million doses of the vaccine – enough for all Americans to receive both doses. .

“We are also going to increase that number in all areas so that we can also help other nations once we take care of all Americans,” the president said.

Brazil, once the epicenter of the pandemic, has been overtaken by a wave in India that has invaded crematoriums and made it clear that the pandemic is far from over.

As the United States and other countries rushed for aid, India reported nearly 370,000 new cases and more than 3,400 deaths on Monday – figures that experts say are vastly undercounted due to a widespread lack of incomplete testing and reporting.

In Germany, Bavarian officials have canceled Oktoberfest for a second year in a row due to security risks. Beer festivities typically attract around 6 million visitors from all over the world.

And in Italy, medical experts and politicians have expressed concern over a possible spike in infections after tens of thousands of jubilant football fans gathered in Milan’s main square on Sunday to celebrate the league title. Inter Milan.

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The editors of the Associated Press Krutika Pathi in New Delhi; Ken Ritter in Las Vegas; Samuel Petrequin in Brussels; and Mark Pratt in Boston; Corey Williams in West Bloomfield, Michigan; and Karel Janicek in Prague contributed to this report. Hollingsworth reported from Mission, Kansas.


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