May 15 coronavirus news
The hair salon has always been an especially intimate environment. It is a place where close contact is non-negotiable -- a hair stylist massages your scalp with the pads of their fingers; a barber leans in close to shape up your hairline.
All that stopped when the coronavirus forced salons and barbershops in many countries to close, temporarily breaking the bond between stylist and loyal client, and curtailing the camaraderie and community of many barbershops.
And as lockdowns ease around the world, salon owners and employees are returning to workplaces that have been crucially transformed.
"It's like opening a brand new salon," said colorist Maria Dowling, whose namesake salon in Dubai reopened on April 26 after a month-long shutdown. "It's the new era."
Under Dubai's rules, she is only allowed to operate with 30% of her workforce, which means a maximum of five of her 17 employees can be on the salon floor at a given time.
At Delphine Courteille's salon in Paris, which reopened on May 11, she says stylists must not only wear masks, but also protective visors. Clients must bring their own masks to appointments (two if they're coming in for a lengthy color service) or risk being turned away. Complimentary magazines and beverages -- a mainstay of high-end salons -- have been removed indefinitely.
At Chinese branches of the global salon chain Toni & Guy, clients who have recently traveled overseas must show proof of a recent medical report.
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Germany is in recession after its economy saw two consecutive quarters of negative growth.
The country's GDP shrank 2.2% in the first quarter of 2020, the German economy's worst performance since the financial crisis.
Growth for the fourth quarter of 2019 was also downgraded to -0.1%.
At a press briefing on Friday, Federal Statistics Office official Albert Braakmann warned that the country's economic downturn due to the coronavirus pandemic is expected to accelerate in the current quarter.
Most forecasts predict the economy contracting by about 10% in the second quarter of 2020, although Braakmann said the final result will depend on how coronavirus restrictions are eased.
The United States House of Representatives will vote on Friday on a $3 trillion Covid-19 aid package and a historic rules change to allow lawmakers to vote remotely during the pandemic.
The legislation, which provides funding for state and local governments, coronavirus testing, and a new round of direct payments to Americans, sets up an immediate clash with the Senate, where Republican leaders have said another round of emergency funding is not yet needed.
The partisan debate: The legislation, which reflects Democratic priorities and was not a product of bipartisan negotiations, would stand as the largest relief package in US history.
House Republican leaders have voiced opposition to both the relief package and the rules change for remote voting. House Democrats' leaders have expressed confidence that both measures will pass the House on Friday. The relief package is not expected to be taken up by the Senate, however, due to Republican opposition.
What's in the stimulus package?
- Nearly $1 trillion for state and local governments
- A $200 billion fund for essential worker hazard pay
- $75 billion for Covid-19 testing, tracing and isolation efforts
- Direct payments to Americans of up to $6,000 per household
Democrats are also pushing for temporary remote voting: This would authorize temporary implementation of remote voting by proxy in the event of a public health emergency due to the coronavirus. It also allows for remote committee proceedings during the pandemic.
Once enacted, the authorization for remote voting and remote committee work would remain in place for a 45-day period, after which it could be extended if the public health emergency persists.
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Spain's Mallorca island in the Mediterranean plans to welcome a limited number of Germans and other travelers in late June in a "pilot project" to restart tourism that has been halted due to coronavirus, Francina Armengol, the Regional President of the Balearic Islands said Thursday.
The plan would have the large German tour operator TUI fly in Germans or others from European countries or regions that, like Mallorca, have low infection rates, Armengol told CNN and other journalists on a video call.
"We are ready to do the pilot project at the end of June, so that groups can come assured of health safety," Armengol said, speaking from Palma de Mallorca, the island's capital. "We have to learn how to live with Covid-19 and how to do that safely."
In Germany, TUI confirmed that it sees renewed tourism in Mallorca and beyond.
"We are in constructive talks with a number of local governments where we believe there may be summer holidays," Martin Riecken, TUI's Head of Communications, told CNN by phone. "We don't believe that Spain as a whole, but the Balearics, also the Canary Islands, with low infection rates, where local governments have made good progress."
TUI, he added, is also in talks with tourist destinations in Greece, Cyprus, Croatia and Bulgaria.
The restart of tourism will depend on national governments re-opening borders and lifting 14-day mandatory quarantines for travelers, where they are in effect, Riecken said.
Spain has announced mandatory 14-day quarantines for all international travelers to the country, starting May 15, and the rule will last through Spain's state of emergency.
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Chinese health officials said Friday that citywide testing is needed in Wuhan to identify the scope of the local outbreak there and allow work, school, and business to resume.
Eleven new asymptomatic cases were found in Wuhan today, according to city health officials. The city of 11 million people, capital of Hubei province in central China, is considered ground zero for the coronavirus pandemic.
“The main purpose is to further identify the scope of the epidemic, initiate searching efforts, strengthen detection and inspection,” said Vice Minister Zeng Yixin of the National Health Commission on Friday.
He added that expanding the scope of testing would also promote the “comprehensive recovery of social, economic and living order.”
Officials in Wuhan have already started testing residents, but other cities can also “adjust testing strategies and the scope of testing based on local needs and testing capabilities,” he said.
Fears of a second wave: Zeng’s comments come after China's National Health Commission said yesterday that the country needs to expand coronavirus testing to prevent a resurgence in cases.
After several new local transmissions were detected in Wuhan, officials there said they would test every resident within 10 days.
Russia reported 10,598 new cases of coronavirus on Friday from the past 24 hours, as the country struggles to rein in the pandemic.
It has consistently reported more than 10,000 new cases a day for the past two weeks, only dipping below once in the past 13 days -- and, even then, only by a small margin. It reported 9,974 new cases yesterday.
Friday's numbers bring the nationwide total to 262,843 confirmed cases, according to Russian officials.
Only the United States has reported more coronavirus cases than Russia, according to Johns Hopkins University.
The United States has recorded at least 1,417,889 cases of coronavirus and 85,906 related deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.
The totals includes cases from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and other US territories, as well as repatriated cases.
CNN's live tracker of US cases is updated every 15 minutes. Check it out here.
Germany’s coronavirus reproduction rate has fallen to 0.75, according to the country’s disease and control center -- a small but hopeful decrease.
It had previously been 0.81, according to the Robert Koch Institute.
The reproduction rate, also known as the R-value, indicates how much the virus is spreading; an R-value of 1 means each infected person is transmitting it to one other person.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has repeatedly warned that if the number rises above 1, the country's health system would eventually be overwhelmed.
The Robert Koch Institute says a total of 3.1 million coronavirus tests have been carried out in Germany since the outbreak began.
The country has reported 174,478 cases and 7,884 related deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. But this doesn't reflect the total number of active cases; at least 151,700 people have recovered from the virus, according to the institute.
Industrial output increased 3.9% in April from a year ago, according to data released Friday by the National Bureau of Statistics. That's well above the 1.5% uptick that analysts polled by Refinitiv expected, and the first time output has grown since December.
This growth can be attributed to the political pressure that Beijing is putting on factories to resume production, Julian Evans-Pritchard, senior China economist for Capital Economics, wrote in a research note on Friday.
He expects factory output to continue to grow, since policymakers in China have signaled that more stimulus measures are on the way.
But it wasn't all good news: Domestic demand remains very weak, and retail sales in China dropped 7.5% in April from a year earlier.
And the official unemployment rate -- which tracks jobless numbers in urban areas -- reached 6%, up from 5.9% in March and just shy of February's record of 6.2%.
Evans-Pritchard said that the true unemployment rate is "likely double" what was announced Friday, since the urban rate does not include people in rural communities or a large number of the 290 million migrant workers who work in China.
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