Global leaders have said the world needs to adapt to living with coronavirus and cannot wait to be saved by a vaccine.
Countries across the world are struggling to restart economies that have been blindsided by the pandemic. With 36 million newly unemployed people in the US alone, economic pressures are building even as authorities acknowledge that reopening risks new waves of infections and deaths.
Pushed hard by Italy’s regional leaders and weeks in advance of an earlier timetable, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte is allowing restaurants, bars and beach facilities to open on Monday, the same day that church services can resume and shops reopen.
Mr Conte said: “We are facing a calculated risk, in the awareness … that the epidemiological curve could go back up. We are confronting this risk, and we need to accept it, otherwise we would never be able to relaunch.”
Mr Conte added that Italy could “not afford” to wait until a vaccine was developed. Health experts say the world could be months, if not years, away from having a vaccine available to everyone despite the scientific gold rush now on to create one.
Mr Conte said: “We would find ourselves with our social and productive fabric heavily damaged.”
Italy’s economy is forecast to contract by 9% this year due to coronavirus amid a long, strict lockdown.
Coronavirus has infected over 4.6 million people and killed more than 312,000 worldwide, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University that experts say undercounts the true toll of the pandemic. The US has reported over 88,000 dead in the pandemic and Europe has seen at least 160,000 deaths.
Professional football matches in Germany’s Bundesliga resumed over the weekend, a move keenly watched by the rest of the sporting world.
Germany has won wide praise for its widespread testing amid the pandemic. Not all fans were happy about the restart, which took place in empty stadiums, but the games were broadcast widely around the world.
Players were warned not to spit, shake hands or hug each other to celebrate goals. Team staff and substitutes wore masks on the bench, and balls and seats were disinfected.
Bayern Munich coach Hansi Flick said: “The whole world is watching Germany to see how we do it. It can act as an example for all leagues.”
Churches throughout Greece opened their doors to the faithful after two months on Sunday, while limiting the number of congregants and dispensing disinfectants. Turkey allowed people over 65 to leave their homes only for a second time – up to six hours – but kept them under a general lockdown.
Small shops were opening in most of Spain, which on Sunday reported only 87 new deaths, the lowest daily death count since March 16. Restrictions, however, remained tighter in Madrid and Barcelona, the hardest-hit areas.
In Asia, China’s commercial hub of Shanghai announced a June 2 restart of classes for younger students amid falling virus cases. People in Thailand streamed into shopping centres, which have been closed since March.
China’s airline regulator reported that flights had returned to 60% of pre-outbreak levels, exceeding 10,000 per day for the first time since February 1. No new deaths have been reported in a month in the world’s second-largest economy, where coronavirus was first detected late last year.
China reported just five new cases on Sunday, while South Korea recorded 13, raising hopes that a new outbreak linked to nightclubs in Seoul may be waning, even though 168 patients have been infected so far.