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World News

EU warning: How Mark Rutte resigned over austerity measures

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The Netherlands, Austria, Denmark and Sweden have submitted their own COVID-19 recovery plan to the European Commission as a row over the EU’s strategy for offsetting the impact of coronavirus continues. The Netherlands and its partners, known as the ‘Frugal Four’, say they support the establishment of a one-off emergency fund but do not back debt sharing or a significant increase in the EU’s next seven-year budget. The Netherlands has been at the forefront of a campaign not to “give gifts” to southern European countries and this proposal is based on a “modernised” EU budget that will make sure countries are “better prepared for the next crisis”, a report by Politico claims.

The fund would be temporary and one-off and should not lead to “debt mutualisation”, regarded as a mortal danger because it would open the door to the dreaded Eurobonds – meaning Dutch taxpayers could become liable for Italian debt.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte was extraordinarily captured on film this month, as he reassured one worker that taxpayers’ money was not going to go to the Italians or the Spanish.

The video sparked fury, particularly in Italy, where anti-EU sentiment is growing stronger than ever.

As the row is set to continue, unearthed reports shed light on how Mr Rutte’s government fell in 2012 because of the European debt crisis.

Until then, the Dutch enthusiastically sided with Berlin in the demand that financially troubled nations curb their spending.

But Mr Rutte’s government found itself in the hot seat when official figures showed that its deficit in 2012 was on track to hit 4.6 percent of gross domestic product, well above the 3 percent limit for eurozone countries.

Negotiations over what to cut and by how much consumed Dutch political leaders for weeks.

Mr Rutte’s cabinet was plunged into crisis when Geert Wilders’ Freedom Party (PVV) quit talks aimed at slicing €16billion (£13.1billon) from the budget.

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His party was not part of the coalition but supported the minority government.

Mr Wilders fiercely attacked any EU-imposed budget cuts, vowing not to let “our pensioners bleed for Brussels’ diktats”.

This led to the early collapse of the government, and Mr Rutte submitted his resignation to Queen Beatrix on the afternoon of April 23, 2012.

His government had lasted for 558 days, making it one of the shortest Dutch cabinets since World War 2.

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The subsequent general election saw Mr Rutte’s party winning its highest number of seats ever, leading to a coalition between The People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) and the Labour Party.

The government became the first to see out its full term since 1998, and while at the 2017 general election the VVD lost seats, it remained the largest party.

After a record-long formation period, Mr Rutte agreed to a new coalition between the VVD, Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA), Democrats 66 (D66) and Christian Union (CU) parties.

He was sworn in for a third term as Prime Minister on October 26, 2017.

In a clear warning to the EU today, the row and subsequent success of Mr Rutte in 2012 suggests he cannot back down in the current negotiations as he will lose popularity domestically.

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World News

Australian PM calls for economic overhaul to fuel post-coronavirus recovery

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Tuesday called for an ideological truce between employers and workers to revive the country’s A$2 trillion ($1.3 trillion) economy, which has been badly damaged by the coronavirus pandemic.

Australia’s more than 7,100 COVID-19 infections and 102 deaths are low compared to many other developed countries, but the measures imposed to contain the disease have pushed the economy to the brink of its first recession in 30 years.

Morrison said that with the virus now under control and the government’s A$250 billion ($164.5 billion) stimulus spending package winding down, the economy needed to stand on its own feet.

“At some point you’ve got to get your economy out of intensive care,” Morrison said in a speech in Canberra.

The conservative leader promised to bring together unions and business chiefs to discuss industrial relations reform, a move reminiscent of the 1983 Prices and Incomes Accord which modernised the economy under Labor prime minister Bob Hawke.

Hawke, a union leader before he entered parliament, won support from the political left to float the Australian dollar, remove controls on foreign exchange and interest rates and lower tariffs on imports.

The divide between employers and workers within Australia has grown in recent years amid stagnant wage growth, but with unemployment set to top 10% this year, Morrison said the time was right for a conciliatory approach.

“We need people to get together and sort this stuff out. As I say, they’ve been caught in grooves for too long, and grooves going in parallel lines and not coming together. And that’s why I’m hoping this process will achieve,” he said.

Morrison also said Australia would streamline its vocational training programmes to ensure trades are valued paths of employment for young people.

TENSIONS WITH THE STATES

When Morrison announced last week a three-staged plan to ease social distancing restrictions by July, he warned further coronavirus outbreaks were likely.

Western Australia (WA) state on Tuesday said six people aboard a livestock vessel that docked last week from the United Arab Emirates had tested positive for COVID-19, an outbreak the state government blamed on Morrison’s government.

WA Premier Mark McGowan said Australia’s Department of Agriculture gave permission for the vessel – carrying 48 people – to dock despite being aware some crew members were sick.

None of the crew had left the ship, he added.

Tensions between McGowan and Morrison are already high as WA refuses to open state borders – which risks delaying the opening of a travel link between Australia and New Zealand.

Life for many Australians is beginning to return to normal with schools returning to face-to-face learning and the National Rugby League competition set this week to become the world’s first contact sport to resume.

U.S. biotechnology company Novavax Inc (NVAX.O) said it had begun the first phase of a clinical trial of a novel coronavirus vaccine candidate in Australia. Preliminary results are expected in July.

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Economy

Singapore overall inflation turns negative for first time since late 2016 amid Covid-19 measures

SINGAPORE – With consumption stymied by Covid-19 circuit breaker measures, overall inflation in Singapore turned negative in April for the first time since October 2016 on a sharp drop in car prices, while core inflation slid deeper into the same territory, official data released on Tuesday (May 26) showed.

Core inflation, which excludes accommodation and private road transport costs, fell to minus 0.3 per cent year on year last month, due to steeper declines in the costs of services and retail and other goods. It had dropped to minus 0.2 per cent in March and minus 0.1 per cent in February.

Overall or all-items inflation fell to minus 0.7 per cent in April from zero in March, driven mainly by a larger decline in the cost of private transport on top of the slide in core inflation, said the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI)  in a joint release on Tuesday.

Private transport costs fell more steeply to minus 5.5 per cent in April, from minus 0.3 per cent in March, reflecting a sharp drop in car prices and a larger decline in petrol prices. The suspension of Electronic Road Pricing charges in April also lowered private transport costs.

The cost of retail and other goods saw a larger decline year on year to  minus 1.6 per cent in April, from  minus 0.9 per cent in March. This was due to a sharp drop in the price of telecommunication equipment, as well as a bigger fall in the prices of personal effects such as travel goods.

Accommodation costs were unchanged at 0.5 per cent year on year in April as housing rents rose at a steady pace.

The cost of electricity and gas fell 5.2 per cent year on year in April, a slower pace of decline than the 6.2 per cent drop in March. The pace of decline in the cost of electricity and gas had eased as the Open Electricity Market had a smaller dampening effect on electricity prices due to a slowdown in new take-up rates.

Food costs rose by 2.1 per cent year on year in April, from the 1.5 per cent increase in March, due to non-cooked food items recording larger price increases. Meanwhile, inflation in prepared meals remained broadly unchanged.

Services inflation fell to minus 1.1 per cent year on year in April and was up from minus 0.7 per cent in March, due to steeper declines in holiday expenses and airfares, as well as a smaller increase in domestic household services costs.

MAS and MTI are expecting inflation to remain subdued, keeping to its previously lowered 2020 forecast range for both core inflation and overall inflation of  minus 1 per cent to 0 per cent.

MAS said earlier on Tuesday that its monetary policy is unchanged and appropriate, and that the next review will be at its scheduled October meeting.

“We believe the monetary policy response has been appropriate and our inflation projections remain unchanged,” said Mr Edward Robinson, MAS deputy managing director, speaking at the virtual press conference on Singapore’s first-quarter economic survey.

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Education

TikTok and a shoulder to cry on: why pupils in Gloucestershire wish lockdown school would never end

“We call it ‘strange school’,” says Caitlin, 15, slightly raising her voice across the the open space of the school hall where the pupils are carefully observing physical distancing. “Literally everything here is different now.”

Since lockdown, Caitlin has been coming to school five days a week, as she is among those whose schooling is considered a priority. With three younger siblings at home, she has to take on “a lot of responsibility for helping out”. Even in normal times, school is a haven for her. Over the past seven weeks it has become even more than that: an oasis of calm.

Rednock secondary is a specialist science college in the small market town of Dursley, Gloucestershire. This is not the affluent north Cotswolds of honeyed stone cottages, and the school is a typical comprehensive. Usually 1,500 students troop through its gates every morning. Today, 42 pupils are in.

At the moment there is one teacher to four students, which means pupils such as Caitlin can be given unprecedented tailored pastoral and academic support, without the usual pressures of time. “I think without school right now I’d be an emotional mess,” Caitlin says with a nervous smile. “It’s my GCSEs and I’m worried – we’re missing a massive chunk of learning. But I’ve had a teacher to help me whenever I’ve wanted. It’s given me that extra confidence.”

Here at Rednock, pupils have been encouraged to try a huge range of new creative and practical activities: knitting, Zumba, TikTok, baking, kite-making and sign language.

The school has ripped up timetables in a way no state school could normally contemplate. “We’ve said, we will be completely flexible to your needs,” says Kerala Cole, assistant headteacher. “We work in partnership with parents to personalise the deal for the students. It can be that they come in for just a couple of hours. And I think we are seeing huge benefits to that.”

One boy who had refused to attend for eight months, has been coming in every day, thanks to this flexibility and the attention he can now be given. Another year 8 child, “who arrived midway through this year and has been struggling … he’s been attending for four weeks now and he’s really benefited”, says Cole. “You can just see how his shoulders have relaxed.”

The gap in GCSE results between children from disadvantaged backgrounds and the rest is thought to be around 19 months and, without changes in policy priorities, at the current rate it will take 50 years to close, according to the Education Policy Institute thinktank.

Many fear children will fall even further behind during the pandemic, one reason the government gives for wanting to reopen schools to more pupils by 1 June. Rednock was hoping some 240 pupils would attend during lockdown, but numbers have been lower than expected.

The corridors of the school’s spacious modern building are hushed. Children walk around alone, and don’t wear uniform. For many, “strange school” has huge advantages. “Before, I had quite a few classmates who were really annoying and distracting, but now this new way, it’s quieter,” says Edie, 13.

“Teachers are ever so supportive, and it’s calmer because there’s not tonnes of people crowding around,” adds Molly, 11.

“There’s less people who intimidate other people,” says Alfie, 12, whose parents, both nurses, have been at work during the crisis. “You can be yourself more rather than be the person other people think you should be.” His mum has had Covid-19, he says, and has recovered.

Everyone nods. “Before, people used to sometimes judge you,” says Samira, 11. “You can sometimes have fake friends who really bring you down. This has given you a little bit of a break.”

Because the school is being so careful about physical distancing, I meet students in the hall, with one child per desk. This small group either have key-worker parents, are under the care of a social worker, have an education, health and care plan (EHCP) for their special needs, or are otherwise defined as “high priority” by their teachers. They miss their friends but, to a child, say they feel immense relief from the pressures of “normal” school.

“The teachers have more time to spend with you, and you get the help you need,” says Maisie, 12, whose mother works in food manufacturing. Samira agrees. “Teachers feel more like family now.” There is enthusiastic nodding from her schoolmates.

The headteacher, David Alexander, and Cole, went through their entire roll to identify pupils they felt should have the opportunity to attend – those who were vulnerable, although not in the government’s stated categories.

When the Covid-19 crisis finally ends, schools must never return to normal

“We want as many to come in as possible,” Alexander says. As schools closed across the country, Rednock staff telephoned 280 families to make sure they knew their child had a place. “Some parents and carers are hesitant,” Alexander acknowledges. “And some prefer to have their children at home.” But efforts are unstinting to support the 160 or so students who, Cole says, “we would class as vulnerable, and who we’d prefer to be in school but aren’t”.

Cole feels anxious for the welfare of some children who haven’t been seen for the past seven weeks. She is in regular contact with their social workers and, in some cases, the police. Teachers continue to check in, ringing some children weekly, some daily.

In school, staff are sensitive to new needs. “Some here have really difficult home lives and they feel safer in school. And they feel worried about their parents who are at work. We’ve had tears, shouting, aggression,” says Cole.

“Or they go quiet, or go off on their own,” adds Alexander. “Or you get over-the-top laughter, or clinginess,” says Cole.

When all students do come back, Alexander and Cole are hoping there will be lessons they can use from lockdown. They know, too, that the return of the hurley burley will affect the more vulnerable children.

And the pupils have mixed feelings about normal school resuming. Samira hopes there might be smaller classes, but says: “I’m not excited about going back – all the madness and screaming in corridors.” Molly agrees.: “It’ll probably be more stressful. Everything crowded again.”

Caitlin is looking to the positives. “I’ve had the opportunity to reflect on who I want to be when I’m older,” she says. “I can be quite negative, and this time has given me a break. The extra support from school means that I know even when things get tough – because we’re in a pandemic and I’m getting through it – I can get through other things now.”

Alexander and Cole emphasise that even in normal times this school tries to create a family atmosphere. But to these children, a caring school has never felt as much of a reality as it does now. There is no testing or targets, no pressure to achieve academically. They feel adults are there for them. And despite the immense stresses and limitations of living in a time of pandemic, they are blossoming.

* All children’s names have been changed.

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Economy

Singapore factory output surges 13% in April, propped up again by biomedical manufacturing

SINGAPORE – Biomedical manufacturing was the main bright spot in Singapore’s factory production for April, propping up the sector’s surprising recovery for a second straight month.

Singapore’s manufacturing output rose 13 per cent on a year-on-year basis in April, according to data released by the Economic Development Board (EDB) on Tuesday (May 26). This follows a 16.5 year-on-year jump in factory production in March.

However, excluding biomedical manufacturing, overall output in April fell 3.5 per cent, due to Covid-19 related measures both locally and globally, EDB said.

The robust growth in the biomedical manufacturing cluster, which expanded 100.5 per cent in April compared with the same period last year, was largely due to the pharmaceuticals segment.

Higher production of active pharmaceutical ingredients and biological products drove a 141.3 per cent increase in the pharmaceuticals segment.

Overall, the biomedical manufacturing cluster grew 62.2 per cent from January to April this year, compared with the same period last year.

Biomedical manufacturing was the key driver for Singapore’s 6.6 per cent year-on-year manufacturing growth in the first three months of the year, according to data released by the Ministry for Trade and Industry (MTI) on Tuesday. 

The cluster’s robust performance, on the back of a surge in pharmaceutical production activity, was a main contributor to the manufacturing sector’s turnaround after three consecutive quarters of contraction, MTI said. 

Biomedical manufacturing is expected to remain resilient and expand in coming months, despite the overall gloominess surrounding the global economy. 

The precision engineering cluster provided a smaller boost to manufacturing growth in April, with output expanding 5.9 per cent compared with the same month last year.

A higher production of semiconductor equipment led to a 10.3 per cent surge in the machinery and systems segment.

On the other hand, the precision modules and component segment shrank 5.6 per cent due to dampened demand and disrupted operations in Singapore and its key export markets, amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Overall, the precision engineering cluster saw a 16.5 per cent growth between January and April, compared with the same period last year.

The key electronics sector, which accounts for about two-fifths of total production, eked out a 0.8 per cent year-on-year increase in output in April. It was supported by growth in the semiconductors segment, despite contraction in the other segments.

Overall output for the electronics cluster fell 7.4 per cent in the first four months of the year compared with the same period in 2019.

Meanwhile, the transport engineering cluster was the worst hit in April, with output plunging 24.1 per cent year-on-year in April, with declines recorded across the board.

Lower repair and maintenance activities with airlines grounding aircraft amid the virus pandemic led to a 28.1 per cent contraction in the aerospace segment.

The cluster saw a 3.7 per cent fall between January and April this year, compared with the same period last year.

The chemicals and general manufacturing clusters also recorded year-on-year declines in April.

General manufacturing output contracted 20.2 per cent in April, due to softer export demand and scaling down of production during the circuit breaker period.

The chemicals cluster was weighed down by plant maintenance shutdowns and a slowdown in demand due to lockdowns in key export markets as part of Covid-19 containment measures.

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World News

Owners of Castle Rock diner sue health departments, Gov. Polis over decision to shut down restaurant – The Denver Post

The owners of a Castle Rock restaurant which was closed by the state for defying the state’s public health order over Mother’s Day weekend are suing Governor Jared Polis and other state entities, claiming their constitutional rights were violated.

The lawsuit, filed Friday in Douglas County District Court by attorney Randy Corporon on behalf of the Jesse and April Arellano, owners of C&C Breakfast & Korean Kitchen in Castle Rock, alleges the governor’s actions to suspend the café’s license indefinitely, which the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) has authority to do under the Colorado Food Protection Act, “is unlawful, unprecedented and highly suspect.”

The restaurant blames Gov. Polis, the State of Colorado, the CDPHE, the Tri-County Health Department (TCHD), and the executive director of the CDPHE, Jill Hunsaker Ryan, of depriving the Arellanos “of their livelihood and ability to operate their business after they simply allowed customers onto their premises to serve food and beverages.”

The complaint goes on to state the aforementioned defendants in the case “arbitrarily and irrationally” selected small businesses like C&C Coffee and Kitchen in Castle Rock “to continue to bear the burden of what can only be deemed a speculative concern” over the risks associated with the novel coronavirus and the disease it causes, COVID-19.

Read the full story at thedenverchannel.com.

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Economy

Coronavirus: Calgary Transit at ‘a turning point,’ moving to ensure fares are paid

Calgary Transit is looking at returning to enforcing the payment of fares.

Transit has been bleeding red ink since the middle of March when self-isolation protocols came into effect.

“We are at a beginning of a turning point where we’re looking at re-instituting, re-focusing a dialogue with customers to ensure that fares are being paid June 1,” Acting Transportation General Manager Doug Morgan said.

He was responding to a question at a city council meeting Monday morning. At a previous meeting, Morgan told council members that Calgary Transit could face a potential loss of $89 million in revenue this year.

“We’ll restart some of our revenue programs that we had suspended during the COVID(-19) response in order to do as much as we can to ensure our revenue streams are protected,” Morgan said.

He added Calgary Transit is talking with other cities across the country on what steps they’re taking to address a similar problem.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi said the city did not stop charging fares but Calgary Transit has been operating on the honour system.

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“Once we start boarding from the front door again and return to slightly more normal operation, we will see an increase in the fare collection but it’s not going to be nearly enough.

“We have to wait for the ridership to come back.”

While there are still 100,000 riders a day using Calgary Transit, there has been a dramatic drop in ridership — a 92 per cent reduction in C-Train riders and an 80 per cent drop in people taking the bus.

Calgary Transit says it is losing $13 million a week in revenue.

All-door boarding is expected to resume on July 1. Passengers have been entering buses from the back door and a sign on the vehicles say that cash payments are not accepted.


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World News

White House brings forward Brazil travel restrictions by two days

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The White House on Monday brought forward by two days restrictions on travel to the United States from Brazil that were announced after the Latin American country became the world’s No. 2 coronavirus hotspot.

A White House statement amended the timing of the start of the restrictions to 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on Tuesday, May 26 (0359 GMT on Wednesday, May 27).

In its original announcement on Sunday, it said the restrictions would come into force on May 28.

The statement did not give a reason for the move. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which oversees immigration issues, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The travel ban was a blow to right-wing Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who has followed the example of U.S. President Donald Trump in addressing the pandemic, fighting calls for social distancing and touting unproven drugs.

The White House said on Sunday the restrictions would help ensure foreign nationals do not bring additional infections to the United States, but would not apply to the flow of commerce between the two countries.

Trump’s national security adviser, Robert O’Brien, said on Sunday the measures were needed to protect American people and he hoped they would be temporary. The United States has the largest number of coronavirus cases in the world.

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World News

RCMP in Northwest Territories believe suspect in deadly crash may be in Edmonton

A man wanted by police in connection with a deadly crash in the Northwest Territories last month may be in the Edmonton area, according to police.

In a news release issued Monday, Behchoko RCMP said an arrest warrant has been issued for 44-year-old Steven Theriault after he allegedly left the scene of a fatal, single-vehicle crash on April 22.

“The collision claimed the life of a female passenger and injured two others,” police said. “Drugs and alcohol may have contributed to the collision.

“Theriault is believed to be the driver of the vehicle.”

RCMP said they believe if he is not in the Northwest Territories, Theriault may be in Edmonton or somewhere in northern Alberta.

He is five-foot-eight and 230 pounds with black hair and brown eyes.

Anyone with information about Theriault’s whereabouts is asked to call the Behchoko RCMP detachment at 1-867-392-1111.

Anonymous tips can also be submitted by phoning Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

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World News

Memorial Day weekend draws crowds at beaches, pools across the country

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Memorial Day weekend marking the unofficial start of summer in the U.S. meant big crowds at beaches and warnings from authorities Sunday about people disregarding the coronavirus social-distancing rules and risking a resurgence of the scourge that has killed nearly 100,000 Americans.

Meanwhile, the White House broadened its travel ban against countries hard hit by the virus by saying it would deny admission to foreigners who have recently been in Brazil.

Sheriff’s deputies and beach patrols tried to make sure people kept their distance from others as they soaked up the rays on the sand and at parks and other recreation sites around the country.

In the Tampa area along Florida’s Gulf Coast, the crowds were so big that authorities took the extraordinary step of closing parking lots because they were full.

On the Sunday talk shows, Dr. Deborah Birx, coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force, said she was “very concerned” about scenes of people crowding together over the weekend.

“We really want to be clear all the time that social distancing is absolutely critical. And if you can’t social distance and you’re outside, you must wear a mask,” she said on ABC’s “This Week.”

In Missouri, people packed bars and restaurants at the Lake of the Ozarks, a vacation spot popular with Chicagoans, over the weekend. One video showed a crammed pool where vacationers lounged close together without masks, St. Louis station KMOV-TV reported.

In Daytona Beach, Florida, gunfire erupted Saturday night along a beachside road where more than 200 people had gathered and were seen partying and dancing despite the restrictions. Several people were wounded and taken to the hospital, authorities said.

“Disney is closed, Universal is closed. Everything is closed so where did everybody come with the first warm day with 50% opening? Everybody came to the beach,” Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood said at a Sunday news conference, referring to crowds in the Daytona Beach area.

On Georgia’s Tybee Island, the beach was filled with families, bicyclists, beach chairs, games, swimmers and more. On a main drag, people lined the sidewalk at Wet Willie’s, a chain bar that sells frozen cocktails. Most stood close together — not nearly 6 feet (2 meters) apart — and none wore masks.

But at a nearby grocery store, staff members handed customers gloves and a number to keep track of how many people were inside at a time. Shoppers had their own masks.

Officials in California said most people were covering their faces and keep their distance even as they ventured to beaches and parks. Many Southern California beaches were open only for swimming, running and other activities.

At New York’s Orchard Beach in the Bronx, kids played with toys, and people sat in folding chairs. Some wore winter coats on a cool and breezy day, and many wore masks and sat apart from others.

“Good to be outside. Fresh air. Just good to enjoy the outdoors,” said Danovan Clacken, whose face was covered.

The U.S. is on track to surpass 100,000 coronavirus deaths in the next few days, while Europe has seen over 169,000 dead, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University that almost certainly understates the toll. Worldwide, more than 5.4 million people have been infected and nearly 345,000 have died.

The New York Times marked the horror by devoting Sunday’s entire front page to a long list of names of those who have died in the United States. The headline: “An Incalculable Loss.”

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump, who went golfing for the second day in a row after not playing for weeks, said on the syndicated Sunday program “Full Measure With Sharyl Attkisson” that he is feeling fine after a two-week course of the unproven drug hydroxychloroquine and a zinc supplement.

The president has spent weeks pushing the drug against the advice of many of his administration’s top medical professionals. Hydroxychloroquine can have deadly side effects.

The issue of wearing masks in public and staying several feet apart has become fraught politically, with some Americans arguing such rules violate their rights.

Republican Gov. Mike DeWine of Ohio, who has been targeted by such demonstrations, insisted the precautions should not be a partisan issue.

“This is not about whether you are liberal or conservative, left or right, Republican or Democrat,” DeWine said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “Its been very clear what the studies have shown, you wear the mask not to protect yourself so much as to protect others.”

Critics chided Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam, who has repeatedly urged Virginians to cover their faces in public, for not heeding his own words when he posed mask-less for photographs with residents this weekend. A spokeswoman for the governor’s office said that Northam should have brought a mask out with him — but that he hadn’t been expecting to be near anyone.

Jeff Chiu, The Associated PressSan Francisco Police Auxiliary Law Enforcement Response Team (ALERT) volunteer David Flynn offers face masks to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus at Dolores Park in San Francisco, Sunday, May 24.

On Sunday, the Trump administration added Brazil to the list of countries it has banned travel from. Brazil is second only to the U.S. in reported coronavirus cases.

The ban, which takes effect Thursday, applies to foreign nationals who have been in Brazil in the 14 days before they hoped to enter the United States. It does not apply to U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents or some of their relatives.

Across Europe, meanwhile, a mishmash of travel restrictions appears to be on the horizon, often depending on what passports visitors carry.

Beginning Monday, France is relaxing its border restrictions, allowing in migrant workers and family visitors from other European countries. Italy, which plans to open regional and international borders on June 3 in a bid to boost tourism, is only now allowing locals back to beaches in their own regions with restrictions.

For the first time in months, the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the traditional Sunday papal blessing, but they kept their distance from one another. Some 2,000 Muslims gathered for Eid al-Fitr prayers at a sports complex in a Paris suburb, spaced 3 feet (1 meter) apart and wearing masks.

Beachside communities in England urged Londoners and others to stay away after rules were eased to allow people to drive any distance for exercise or recreation. The southern coastal city of Brighton said: “Wish you were here — but not just yet.” Wales kept up its “Later” tourism campaign, reminding people that its hotels, restaurants and tourist sites are still closed.

Mahoney reported from New York. Associated Press writers around the world contributed to this report.

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