2nd virus wave threatens Europe | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, August 16, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:41 AM, August 16, 2020

2nd virus wave threatens Europe

S Korea reports spike in cases as NY museums, galleries to reopen from Aug 24

British holidaymakers returning home from parts of Europe began having to quarantine under new restrictions yesterday, as a second wave of virus infections threatened more disruption and economic chaos on the continent.

The UK opted to remove France, the Netherlands, Malta and several other countries from its list of places exempt from self-isolation rules, sparking a rush for plane, train and ferry tickets by Britons desperate to get back before the 0300 GMT change.

All travellers arriving from the three countries -- as well as Monaco, and Caribbean island states Turks & Caicos and Aruba -- after the deadline must quarantine for 14 days.

French student Antoine, 23, cut short his holiday to rush back to Bristol, in southwestern England, where he is at university.

"I'm a waiter in a small cafe near college, I can't afford to spend 14 days in the house," he said at London's St Pancras railway station after arriving on a Eurostar train.

France is facing a resurgence of the disease that emerged in China late last year and has so far infected over 21 million people and killed more than 766,000 globally.

French authorities have reported more than 2,500 new cases on each of the past three days -- levels not seen since May.

Meanwhile Germany added most of Spain -- where cases have also surged in recent weeks -- to its list of regions from where arrivals must show a negative Covid-19 test or quarantine for two weeks.

Austria urged its citizens to return from popular Mediterranean destination Croatia before similar rules come into effect Monday, while Serbia introduced mandatory testing for travellers from four neighbouring countries.

And thousands of Albanians queued for miles in their cars at the Greek border before tougher entry requirements designed to brake mounting infections began.

The United States also said it was extending a ban on non-essential travel through border crossings with Canada and Mexico throughout most of September "to slow the spread" of the disease.

TRAVEL RUSH

Britain's new quarantine rules, announced late Thursday, prompted a frenzied 36-hour scramble to get home.

Eurotunnel, which operates a drive-on train service for cars through the Channel Tunnel, was fully booked Friday while some air fares from France to the UK were more than six times more expensive than normal.

Fiona Nicholson, 47, a professor from the English city Portsmouth on holiday in southern France, told AFP from Nice airport Friday that she had cut short her trip.

French holidaymakers in Britain will face tough choices of their own, as Paris pledged to impose a "reciprocal measure".

The Netherlands said it would advise against all but essential travel to Britain, but will not introduce a quarantine of its own for arrivals.

Meanwhile, just 10,000 of the usual 250,000 pilgrims visited France's Lourdes Roman Catholic shrine yesterday for the annual Assumption mass, with mask-wearing compulsory, according to organisers.

Denmark has made the wearing of facemasks mandatory on public transport across the country from August 22 to try to contain the virus.

NEW NZ STRAIN

Elsewhere, New Zealand is battling its second outbreak of infections and extended a lockdown of its largest city Auckland by at least 12 days, after officials detected a variant of the virus previously unseen in the country.

The Pacific island nation's initial response to the pandemic was hailed a success, but a run of 102 days with no reported community transmission ended on Tuesday and a cluster of 30 virus cases was recorded in recent days.

India recorded a single-day spike of 65,002 fresh cases of infection in the past 24 hours. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal yesterday said the government will not open schools unless it is "fully convinced" about the improved situation in the national capital.

Meanwhile South Korea tightened restrictions in Seoul and its surrounding areas yesterday, as the country reported the highest number of new daily infections since March.

The tightened social distancing guidelines involve restrictions on gatherings and activities including professional sports, which will be played behind closed doors in the capital area again.

But in the US -- which has more registered infections than any other country in the world -- museums, art galleries and other cultural institutions in New York will be allowed to reopen later this month following a five-month shutdown.

However, there will be mandatory face masks, timed ticketing with staggered entry and just 25 percent occupancy, the state governor Andrew Cuomo tweeted.

 

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