UK prime minister fears easing restrictions could cause second wave of coronavirus
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson told his ministers and advisers his main concern in easing restrictions would be a potential second wave of coronavirus, a government source told CNN.
Johnson expressed his concern during a two-hour Zoom video call with his team on Friday from the UK Prime Minister’s country residence, Chequers, where he is recovering from the virus.
On Monday, Johnson's spokesperson said a potential second peak “is ultimately what will do the most damage to health and economy. If you move too fast you risk a second peak. The public will expect us to protect life. If you have a second peak, it’s not just damaging for people’s health but would end up in a second lockdown which would be damaging on the economy.”
He said the government will be “guided by the science” in terms of when to lift social distancing measures.
The UK government could however potentially relax some coronavirus restriction measures and strengthen others, when it comes to a second review of the current lockdown, the spokesperson said.
10:01 a.m. ET, April 20, 2020
Spanish official says decreasing deaths "give us hope"
From Al Goodman, Isa Tejera and Ingrid Formanek
A rise of 399 deaths from the coronavirus in the last 24 hours brings Spain's total death figure to 20,852, according to figures released by the Spanish Ministry of Health Monday.
The death toll is a 2% increase — a slower rise than last week’s average.
These are “figures that give us hope,” Fernando Simón, Spain’s Director of Health Emergencies, said.
At the government’s daily technical committee briefing Simón reported 0.8% increase in hospital admissions, and 0.7% increase in ICU admissions over the last 24 hours — a lower trend than reported Sunday.
Meanwhile, Spain’s cabinet is due to discuss the rules for loosening measures for children and seniors on Tuesday. The new measures are planned to start on April 27th.
Simón warned that the expected relaxation of confinement measures for children means personal responsibility on the part of parents.
“If people think kids are going to be going out to freely play with all their neighbors, that won’t be the case," he said.
Simón cautioned the outdoor movement of seniors saying “this virus can infect anyone, but doesn’t affect everybody equally. The risks for older people are much bigger “not because they’re more easily infected, but because the risk is much bigger if they do become infected."
8:45 a.m. ET, April 20, 2020
One of the last cruise ships at sea during the coronavirus outbreak has docked in a French port
From CNN's Stephanie Halasz
One of the last cruise ships still at sea after the coronavirus outbreak began has docked in Marseille, France, a Marseille Tourism spokesperson tells CNN.
The MSC Magnifica docked Monday morning with 1,769 mostly European passengers on board. All of them are healthy, the spokesperson told CNN, but before disembarking they are being checked by firefighters for temperature and symptoms.
The spokesperson said she knew of another cruise liner, the Costa Deliziosa, still out at sea. That cruise liner is currently off the coast of Barcelona, and is expected to dock in Genoa, Italy, tomorrow, she said.
Some context: The MSC Magnifica left port in Genoa, Italy on January 5th and since has been to several ports, the last one on the 10th of March in Wellington, New Zealand, Anne Kaufmann, spokesperson for MSC Croisieres told CNN.
Shake Shack returns $10m emergency loan to US government
From CNN’s Michelle Toh
Shake Shack is returning a $10 million loan it received from the US government under an emergency program that was touted as a way to help small businesses pay workers and keep their operations running during the coronavirus crisis.
The burger chain was awarded the loan as part of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The $349 billion stimulus package, overseen by the Small Business Administration (SBA), ran out of funding last week.
There has been a growing backlash over the way the money was distributed, with several media outlets revealing how large chunks of the package were taken up by chain restaurants, hoteliers and publicly traded corporations, rather than small, local businesses.
Shake Shack CEO Randy Garutti and chairman Danny Meyer revealed their decision to give back the funding in an open letter Monday, saying that the NYSE-listed company no longer needs the money because they are "fortunate to now have access to capital that others do not."
The company said in a filing Friday that it expects to be able to raise up to $75 million from investors by selling shares.
The executives also shared their frustrations with the PPP, arguing that many restaurants had been left out unfairly because the program "came with no user manual and it was extremely confusing."
Garutti and Meyer are now calling on the SBA to increase funding to the program. They also want the US agency to assign a local bank to work with each applicant and ease the process, and to make the forgiveness policy more flexible.
"The battle is not won," Italy's Health Minister warns, as Lombardy prepares to ease restrictions
From CNN's Sharon Braithwaite, Valentina Di Donato and Hada Messia
As the curve of new coronavirus cases begins to flatten in Italy, talks between the regions and the national government on the so-called "Phase 2" of restrictions are intensifying.
Phase 2 is the next stage of Italy's attempts to contain its devastating coronavirus epidemic; it is expected to see the government gradually reopen the country's economy following the advice of its scientific committee.
"The data indicates that the number of people with symptoms are decreasing and that the curve is in a decreasing phase. It shows a country with different zones, with a different circulation intensity," Silvio Brusaferro, head of the National Institute of Health said during a press conference on Friday.
The Institute said that Italy's number of cases won't drop to zero by mid-May, meaning that the infection will continue to circulate. Brusaffero said it will be extremely important to be able to identify possible outbreaks, carry out tests, tracing and isolation of contacts and eventually create red zones to contain the virus.
On Monday, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte is expected to hold a cabinet meeting, and on Wednesday he will talk with some of the regional governors to try and come up with a more coherent nationwide calendar for reopening.
"May 4 is a date around which we have to build Phase 2. I hope that there will be a meeting between the key figures as soon as possible ... but I want to be clear on one point: The battle is not won,” Health Minister Roberto Speranza told Italian radio on Monday.
Regarding the "Immuni" contact-tracing app, chosen by the government to track the spread of the virus in May, Speranza said it "is one of the tools in this crisis."
Speranza also stressed the importance of the question: "How we will reopen?" and not necessarily: "When?"
"We are now equipping ourselves with a national guideline on how to meet this challenge," Speranza added.
Lombardy looks to emerge from lockdown: Last week Lombardy, the Italian region worst affected by coronavirus, where nearly half of the total number of deaths have been registered, presented guidelines for a reopening of production activities: diagnosis and testing, digitalisation, social distancing, and rights of workers.
Lombardy is one of the richest regions in the EU, according to the latest Eurostat figures.
The reopening of businesses "must take place in the maximum protection of health and sanitary provisions," the Lombardy region said Sunday in a statement.
However, the mayor of Milan, Beppe Sala, criticised the Lombardy region's plan in an interview with the Financial Times on Monday.
"I am very critical of (Lombardy's governor) Fontana's proposal. Lifting restrictions too soon could lead to extreme consequences," he said.
In an interview with Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, Sala explained that next week, Milan would outline plans to reopen the city, reorganising public transport, staggering working hours to avoid rush hour, reopening schools, offering incentives to bars and restaurants, and a summer school option to help parents return to work.
"Three conditions are necessary to reopen," Sala explained. "The first is trivial: We are notified in advance, because public transport cannot be reorganised in 48 hours. The second is fundamental: We do our part by reorganising, for example, transport and subways, but if the others don't do their part, everything becomes useless," Sala told the paper.
7:54 a.m. ET, April 20, 2020
What you need to know about coronavirus on Monday, April 20
From CNN's Eliza Mackintosh
"Freedom over fear." That's just one of the messages from groups of protesters who ignored social distancing guidelines to voice their opposition to stay-at-home orders in several US states this weekend. President Donald Trump is coming under scrutiny for encouraging the demonstrations and seemingly fomenting rebellion, flouting his government's own social distancing policy. "They have got cabin fever, they want to get back," Trump said during yesterday's White House press briefing.
Meanwhile, Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro took Trump's tactic a step further, joining a rally to end quarantine measures and cheering on protesters who called on the military to shut down congress and the supreme court.
As calls grow for a return to normal life, health officials warn that additional waves of the virus are virtually inevitable, and that letting up on social distancing too early will only make matters worse. Still, many hope antibody tests could provide the key to reopening.
New York will begin the "most aggressive" antibody testing survey in the US over the next week, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who warned was "only halftime" in the battle against the "beast." Cuomo and other governors from both sides of the aisle have disputed Trump's claims that there's enough coronavirus testing.
Elsewhere, Chile is set to become the first country to issue "immunity cards" to those who recover from the virus, allowing them to go back to work. But the World Health Organization says there's no evidence that antibody tests can determine immunity.
Here's what else is important today...
UK government under fire: Hospital leaders have criticized the government for making announcements about personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies that cannot be delivered amid "critically low" stocks in some health trusts (and a shipment of PPE from Turkey, due yesterday, still hasn't arrived).
Sex workers struggle: After some controversy, sex workers in Japan are now eligible to apply for financial aid from the government, under certain conditions — a move some activists have hailed as a sign of progress for an industry that has long suffered social stigma. But sex workers say it's not enough to live on.
Beaches begin to reopen: Some beaches are beginning to reopen in Australia, but things aren't back to normal just yet. The reopening of beaches in Jacksonville, Florida was met with less caution. Crowds cheered as police took the barriers down, and people were seen swimming, biking, surfing and fishing.
The pioneering broadcaster and naturalist will educate students on topics such as mapping the world, animal behavior and the world's oceans, as part of the BBC's new virtual learning program, "Bitesize Daily," which launched Monday.
Attenborough, 93, is among the famous faces leading lessons as part of the broadcaster's plans to offer relief to parents struggling with homeschooling children during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The new series will also include Manchester City star Sergio Agüero, who will help youngsters learn to count in Spanish, and renowned physicist Professor Brian Cox, who has been recruited to bring science to life, covering topics such as force, the solar system and gravity.
Former Member of Parliament Ed Balls will revisit his past as shadow finance minister, delivering a math class, and "EastEnders" actor Danny Dyer -- who is a direct descendant of King Edward III -- will provide a history lesson on Henry VIII, the BBC said.
It is the first time in history that the Olympics have been postponed during peacetime. The Games of 1916, 1940 and 1944 were all canceled because of world wars.
"To be honest with you, I don't think the Olympics is likely to be held next year, if held anytime," said Iwata, professor of infectious diseases at Kobe University.
"Japan might be able to control this disease by next summer, and I wish we could, but I don't think that would happen everywhere on Earth, so in this regard I'm very pessimistic about holding the Olympics Games in next summer."