Some countries take tiptoe steps in easing restrictions.
At least 12 countries began easing restrictions on public life on Monday, as the world tries to figure out how to placate restless populations tired of being inside and reboot stalled economies without creating opportunities for the coronavirus to spread.
The measures, which included reopening schools and allowing airports to begin domestic service, offer a preview of how areas that have managed to blunt the toll of the coronavirus might work toward resuming pre-pandemic life, though with strict parameters around what will be allowed.
They also serve as test cases for whether the countries can maintain positive momentum through the reopenings, trying to find a delicate balance between protecting lives and reinvigorating livelihoods, or whether a desire for normalcy could put more people at risk.
Spain on Monday kicked off the start of a four-stage plan to return the country to a “new normalcy” by late June, with small stores and businesses like hairdressers reopening.
In Lebanon, bars and restaurants will reopen, while Poland plans to allow patrons to return to hotels, museums and shops.
India allowed businesses, local transportation and activities like weddings to resume in areas with few or no known infections. Wedding ceremonies with fewer than 50 guests will be permitted, and self-employed workers like maids and plumbers can return to work.
On Monday, Japan announced an extension of its state of emergency through the end of this month. And Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said in a news conference that the government was considering allowing public facilities like museums and libraries to reopen if they maintain social distancing controls.
China, where the virus first appeared and which became the initial center of the outbreak, has taken steps toward a return to normal life. And South Korea, which had a significant early outbreak, has also begun limited reopenings. Restaurants and art galleries are returning to a semblance of normal operation, although the introduction of hand sanitizer and other preventive measures remains a constant reminder of how Covid-19 has changed much of the world.
Other countries planning to lift some restrictions beginning on Monday include Belgium, Greece, Iceland, Hungary, Monaco, Nigeria, Poland and Portugal.
Beijing wants to come out top in the race to find a coronavirus vaccine — and by some measures it is doing so. Four Chinese companies have begun testing their vaccine candidates on humans, more than the United States and Britain combined.
China also wants to deflect accusations that its silencing of early warnings contributed to the pandemic. And developing a vaccine for the world would burnish its standing as a global scientific and medical power.
The situation has given a boost to the country’s vaccine industry, which has long experienced quality problems and scandals. Two years ago, Chinese parents erupted in fury after they discovered ineffective vaccines had been given mostly to babies.
But finding a vaccine isn’t the entire goal. The companies also want to win over the trust of a Chinese public that might be more inclined to choose a foreign-made vaccine.
“The Chinese now do not have confidence in the vaccines produced in China,” said Ray Yip, a former head of the Gates Foundation in China. “That’s probably going to be the biggest headache.”
As Italy began its gradual reopening on Monday after the longest lockdown in Europe, success seemed to depend on how relative the meaning of the word “relative” is.
In preparing for the easing of the restrictions last month, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, not known for plain speaking, said that Italians could visit their congiunti, a word that could be translated as relatives but is also broader. Things then got muddier when he said it meant a person of “stable affection.”
A national semantics debate ensued and this weekend, hours before the lockdown lifted, the government tried to settle the issue.
Just friends just didn’t cut it.
Spouses, partners in civil unions and people who had moved in together but found themselves separated by the lockdown could see one another again. But so could people with a “stable affectionate connection.” Also, Italian privacy laws mean that the police cannot force anyone to reveal the identity of the object, or destination, of their affection.
Even despite the confusion, many Italians expect things to be very different in the country starting today.
Donatella Mugnano, a 45-year-old lawyer, sat in a small piazza next to Rome’s Coliseum on Saturday watching her daughter play with friends. She said she felt “serene” to do so, because she knew the other family well and trusted that they had followed the restrictions.
“People can’t wait to get out,” she said, adding that already over the weekend “there are a lot more people out on the street.” She said that at the beginning of the lockdown, people looked at one another as if everyone on the street were “an enemy.”
But she also worried that Italians would take advantage of the liberty allotted them and act in a way that sets off another lockdown.
“There is this tendency to question every rule, to say that it is explained badly and so there is no need to follow it. The feeling,” she said was, “It’s over, enough.”
The global monitoring and combating the coronavirus pandemic, while coordinated by the World Health Organization, largely relies on countries’ abiding by its guidelines and transparently assessing the situation within their borders.
But now, as the crisis deepens, the failure of nations to do both is being called into question.
Tanzania’s government has drawn criticism for its handling of a coronavirus outbreak, with the W.H.O. saying last month that delays in introducing restrictions might have contributed to a rapid increase in cases in the east African nation.
The reluctance to quickly tackle the disease has mostly come from the country’s top officials, particularly President John Magufuli. From the onset, Mr. Magufuli declined to close churches, saying that the virus “cannot survive in the body of Christ — it will burn.” He also said that updates from the country’s the health ministry on coronavirus cases and deaths were “causing panic.”
Tanzania has reported just 480 coronavirus cases and 16 deaths, but experts say the toll is probably much higher. The deaths of three lawmakers in just over a week, including the justice minister, have also raised suspicions, though it is unclear whether they died as a result of the coronavirus.
This has pushed the main opposition party to call for the suspension of Parliament and for all lawmakers and staff to be tested for the virus.
President Trump said on Sunday night that the death toll from the coronavirus in the United States might reach as high as 100,000 — far higher than he forecast just weeks ago — even as he pressed states to begin reopening shuttered businesses.
Mr. Trump, who last month said that 60,000 lives could be lost in the country, acknowledged that the virus has proved more devastating than he had expected. He nonetheless said he believed that parks and beaches should begin reopening and that schools should resume classes in person by the fall.
“We’re going to lose anywhere from 75, 80 to 100,000 people,” he said in a virtual town hall meeting on Fox News. “That’s a horrible thing. We shouldn’t lose one person over this.”
During the two-hour broadcast, he acknowledged that he had been warned about the coronavirus in his regular intelligence briefing on Jan. 23, but said that the information had been characterized as if “it was not a big deal.”
“On Jan. 23, I was told that there could be a virus coming in but it was of no real import,” Mr. Trump said. “In other words, it wasn’t, ‘Oh, we’ve got to do something, we’ve got to do something.’ It was a brief conversation, and it was only on Jan. 23.”
His comments come as warmer weather and fatigue over weeks of confinement lured millions of Americans outside this weekend, adding to pressure on city and state officials to enforce, or loosen, restrictions imposed to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
The website made its debut last week after Mayor Eric Garcetti said that Los Angeles would become the first major U.S. city to offer all residents tests for the coronavirus, which health officials said on Sunday had caused 1,229 deaths in Los Angeles County.
The pandemic has changed not just the way the world’s cities look these days, but also how they sound. Damien Cave, The Times’s bureau chief in Sydney, Australia, shares his reflections on how a part of the day that would typically be frantic has come to be a magical time.
Five weeks into Australia’s coronavirus isolation, children are the opening beat for an afternoon soundtrack that also includes barking dogs, shouting parents and buff 20-somethings jogging while talking about lust and love at volumes that belong onstage.
The time may shift — sometimes the noise rises at 3 p.m., sometimes later — but the swell of sound signals the start of Magic Hour, that ad hoc interlude when our very human need to move and chatter, even at a distance, breaks through the routine of quiet isolation.
And let’s be clear: It is heavenly. Actual voices! Kids! Couples! Arguments! What I hear outside my home office window, or passing by when I run, is the elevator music I never used to notice, and now eagerly anticipate for connection and to mark the passage of time.
“The more formal arrangements, from sports to events, are off the table, and even the informal interactions in shops and bars — that’s gone too,” said David Rowe, a sociologist at Western Sydney University. “People are finding that they need to interact with someone even if it’s just someone walking around a green space with you. You just want some kind of shared purpose.”
Ibrahim Milhim, a government spokesman for the Palestinian Authority, said that thousands of workers crossed into Israel on Sunday and that thousands more would do so this week.
Last week, an Israeli Defense Ministry body that liaises with the Authority said Palestinians with permits to work in construction, agriculture and other sectors would be allowed to cross into Israel. It also said their employers would be asked to provide them with accommodations until Eid al-Fitr, the festival at the conclusion of Ramadan in about three weeks.
Rami Mehdawi, a spokesman for the Palestinian Authority Labor Ministry, said Palestinian officials remained concerned that infected workers could return to their homes and spread the virus, but he said the Palestinian authorities had worked with their Israeli counterparts to prevent such a scenario. He said Israel and the Palestinian Authority would coordinate the workers’ return to the West Bank.
After Palestinian laborers were last permitted to travel to their jobs in Israel in late March, Palestinian officials accused the Israeli authorities of abandoning some of them at checkpoints and allowing others to cross back to the West Bank through areas they do not control.
The Palestinian Authority has said that more than 70 percent of the 336 known cases of the virus in the West Bank are linked to Palestinians employed in Israel.
Separately, for the first time since mid-March, schools opened for some grades in Israel on Sunday, but local authorities in several cities, including Tel Aviv, kept them closed, citing concerns about safety and preparedness.
Up and down Britain, local newspapers are struggling. Hundreds of journalists have been put on leave. More than 50 small and regional publications have suspended producing their print or online products. For those still printing, some communities are depending on volunteers to deliver newspapers.
For many, cash has all but stopped coming in. With most retailers shuttered, advertising revenues have dwindled to near zero for many publications, leaving the print copies a skeleton of what they used to be.
And in Britain, where home delivery subscriptions are less common than in the United States, newspapers rely more heavily on street sales — and many newsstands and other stores are closed.
Readers may be hungry for local news during the pandemic — traffic to the newspapers’ websites is higher than normal — but relatively few outlets have pay walls to collect digital subscriptions.
The economic calamity facing publishers has not gone unnoticed by the government. It said on Thursday that it would scrap a tax on e-books and e-newspapers in an effort to help both publishers and readers. And it recently announced a three-month advertising campaign to support the National Health Service that will inject up to 35 million pounds (more than $43 million) into publishers across the country.
Still, while experts and publishers say the advertising campaign is a welcome influx of revenue, few expect it to save the industry.
From the early days of the Trump administration, Stephen Miller, the president’s chief adviser on immigration, has repeatedly tried to use an obscure law designed to protect the nation from diseases overseas as a way to tighten the borders.
The federal law on public health that Mr. Miller has long wanted to use grants power to the surgeon general and president to block people from entering the United States when it is necessary to avert a “serious danger” posed by the presence of a communicable disease in foreign countries.
Mr. Miller pushed for invoking the president’s broad public health powers in 2019, when an outbreak of mumps spread through immigration detention facilities in six states. He tried again that year when Border Patrol stations were hit with the flu. And when caravans of migrants surged toward the border in 2018, Mr. Miller looked for evidence that they carried illnesses.
On some occasions Mr. Miller and President Trump, who also embraced the ideas, were talked down by cabinet secretaries and lawyers who argued that the situation did not provide sufficient legal basis for such a proclamation.
Reporting was contributed by Sui-Lee Wee, Abdi Latif Dahir, Jason Horowitz, Raphael Minder, Megan Specia, Tess Felder, Ben Dooley, Damien Cave, John Branch, Adam Rasgon, Peter Baker, Neil Vigdor, Michael Levenson, Claire Moses, Caitlin Dickerson and Michael D. Shear.