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Coronavirus live updates: Greece faces ‘huge difficulties’ when flights resume; Toronto makes masks mandatory

Governments in Nigeria and Senegal are the latest in West Africa to ease restrictions on internal travel and reopen schools, amid increasing steps by countries to adapt daily life to the risks of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Senegal’s state of emergency and curfew, imposed on March 23rd will be lifted from tomorrow, President Macky Sall said in a televised address yesterday. Air borders will reopen from July 15, with international flights resuming under a raft of health protocols set to be announced.

Land and sea borders will remain closed, yet Sall, who is himself under quarantine after coming into contact with an infected person, said the loosening of measures would support the country’s economy. Growth is predicted to collapse from 6.2% last year to 1.1% this year or less, due to the epidemic.

Two-thirds of Senegal’s 6,800 infections have recovered, while 112 people have died.

Officials in Nigeria, have also lifted bans on interstate travel and allowed domestic flights to resume. Universities and secondary schools will reopen for final-year students too to sit exams while primary schools and nurseries remain closed.

There are 25,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Nigeria, the third largest outbreak in Africa, doubling over the last three weeks. 9,400 people have recovered and 573 people have died.

Officials are keen to ease measures as quickly as possible amid bleak projections for Africa’s largest economy.

Last week, the World Bank said 5 million people could fall into poverty this year, in what could be the worst economic recession since the 1980s, caused by the pandemic and a global oil price crash.

Nigeria already has the highest number of people living in extreme poverty in the world, 94 million according to the World Poverty Clock, which monitors global progress against poverty.

Canada’s largest city will make face masks mandatory in public spaces as it works to control the spread of the coronavirus. On Tuesday morning, Toronto’s mayor and the city’s medical officer announced the new rules, which will take effect on 7 July if the city council passes the motion today.

“You have told us you don’t want to see a repeat of what you see when you turn on your TV and see reports from the United States,” said mayor John Tory, in reference to a surge in coronavirus infections throughout the south-western parts of the US.

While Canada is believed to be over the worst of the virus, the majority of new Covid-19 cases have been centred around the greater Toronto area.

The announcement comes a day after municipalities in Ontario asked the province to implement a mask requirement. But premier Doug Ford had said a provincial order would be difficult to enforce, instead suggesting that municipalities put their own rules in place.

On Tuesday morning, the neighbouring cities of Brampton and Mississauga also announced new requirements that residents wear masks when possible in indoor public locations.

Tory said there wouldn’t be “aggressive” enforcement of the new rules, instead working with residents to educate them about the importance of masks.

“It is about respecting and protecting each other,” he said, expecting the requirement to be in place until at least September.

With travel restrictions in place, dozens of American universities based in Italy could close their doors for good, leaving hundreds of professors jobless unless US students are allowed to return to Europe, Lorenzo Tondo reports.

According to the Open Door report, more than 35,000 students enrolled in American universities in Italy may not return, given the restrictions put in place to contain the spread of Covid-19.

“It is a very dramatic situation in which almost all in-person summer study sessions have already been cancelled,” says Matteo Duni, president of ASAUI, the Association of Scholars at American Universities in Italy. “Some small- and medium-sized institutions risk closure for lack of enrolments, and other American universities with programmes in Italy could decide to keep their students in the States.”

There are more than 160 American institutions of higher learning in Italy, among colleges, summer schools and universities, the majority of which are based in Rome and Florence. Among the most famous are Syracuse, New York University, Kent State in Florence, and Cornell, Notre Dame, and Temple University in Rome. With the onset of the coronavirus emergency in Italy, between the end of February and early March, all American students in Italy were sent back to the US by their home campuses. It is by no means clear when students may return to Italy.

“This is not just an Italian problem,” says Duni. “Other European countries, like France and Spain, are also affected because they, too, host hundreds of American institutions.”

Most US visitors are set to remain banned from entering the European Union because of the country’s rising infection rate.

Universities are studying various solutions, among which the possibility of European students enrolled in the US, if not allowed to return there, to attend classes in American universities based in Europe.

Over in Greece prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis says the nation should brace for “a very difficult tourist period” ahead of international flights resuming to all destinations tomorrow, Helena Smith reports.

Hosting a virtual cabinet meeting earlier the centre right leader warned the tourist-dependent country was likely to face “huge difficulties” as it grapples with the economic fallout of the pandemic. “We are aware that the bar is set very low and that this will be a very difficult tourist period but we will do the best we can,” he told ministers.

As Greece’s heavy industry, tourism accounts for over 25 percent of GDP according to the Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE). Last year it brought in more than 18.1 billion euros in earnings – revenue that played a pivotal role in reviving the country’s debt-stricken economy – employing close to a million people.

This year tourism officials say they will be lucky if revenues hit the 4-5 billion euro mark not least because the UK, US, Russia and Sweden are among the countries that generate almost a quarter of that income and as a result of their ‘epidemiological profiles’ have yet to be given the green light to resume flights to the popular holiday destination.

Announcing what the Greek media described as a “strategic deal” with the travel giant TUI, the Greek tourism minister Harry Theoharis said the hope this year was to attract 50 percent of the total number of holidaymakers who had travelled to Greece with the company in 2019. “We have a common target to bring 50 percent of last year’s tourists,” he said noting that TUI brought between 2.8 to 3 million visitors to the country in 2019.

On Monday Athens announced that it would continue to suspend air links with the UK and Sweden until July 15th when travel from both countries will be reviewed again.

Read the original article at The Guardian

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