Japan’s is pinning part of its hopes of its economic recovery on creating a deal with Australia, New Zealand, Thailand and Vietnam to ease entry conditions for businesspeople, then students and eventually tourists.
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Thursday’s key moments:Japan looking to entice Australia tourists
Japan has been in discussions to ease entry restrictions for Australians and travellers from three other countries in order to kick start the nation’s struggling economy.
To control the spread of coronavirus, the country has enforced entry bans for citizens of more than 100 nations.
Now Japan is looking at resuming travel with places that have brought the virus under control.
The Japanese Government has been in talks with Australia, New Zealand, Thailand and Vietnam — with businesspeople, then students and eventually tourists of those countries being allowed to return.
There is no timeframe for when the bans will be eased.
Foreigners would need to show test results to prove they do not have coronavirus, submit a detailed itinerary and download Japan’s contact tracing application, which is set to be released on Friday.
“We need to resume international travel, partially and gradually, in order to put the economy on a recovery track,” Japan’s Prime Minister Shizno Abe said.
More than 18,000 people have tested positive for the virus in Japan, with almost 950 deaths.
This includes 712 infections and 13 deaths from the Diamond Princess cruise ship.
China, Russia, Iran exploiting crisis: UK Foreign Secretary UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab says Russia is “engaged systematically in misinformation and propaganda”.(Reuters: Lim Huey Teng)
UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has accused China, Russia and Iran of looking to exploit weaknesses shown by the coronavirus outbreak.
“We certainly know Russia is engaged systematically in misinformation and propaganda, through cyber and other ways,” Mr Raab told Sky News.
“Others engage in the same too, China and Iran, but I don’t think it had any outcome on the electoral process in the UK.”
Mr Raab said the pandemic had created a “perceived opportunity for various different state and non-state actors.”
“I think we’ve seen it in relation to Hong Kong, I think some people are arguing — it’s difficult to glean whether it is true or not — that this is something, the national security legislation that is being put forward, is being done at a time when the world’s attention has been on coronavirus,” Mr Raab told the news program.
China and Russia have repeatedly denied that they are seeking to exploit the West and say that many of the allegations indicate anti-Chinese or anti-Russia hysteria.
China raises emergency level over Beijing outbreak Chinese officials described the situation in Beijing as “extremely grave.”(AP: Ng Han Guan)
China has raised its emergency warning to its second-highest level and cancelled more than 60 per cent of flights to Beijing amid a new coronavirus outbreak in the capital.
It’s a sharp pullback for China, which declared victory over the virus in March, and stands as a warning to the rest of the world about how tenacious the virus is.
Chinese officials described the situation in Beijing as “extremely grave.”
“This has truly rung an alarm bell for us,” Party Secretary Cai Qi told a meeting of Beijing’s Communist Party Standing Committee.
The party’s Global Times newspaper said 1,255 flights to and from the capital’s two major airports were scrapped by Wednesday morning, about two-thirds of those scheduled.
Beijing Capital Airport is traditionally the world’s second busiest in passenger capacity.
The Beijing outbreak is connected to the Xinfadi market, the city’s largest wholesale food market.(AP Photo: Mark Schiefelbein)
Since the virus emerged in China late last year and spread worldwide, there have been more than 8.1 million confirmed cases and at least 443,000 deaths, according to a tally kept by Johns Hopkins University.
Experts say the true toll is much higher, due to the many who died without being tested and other factors.
Meanwhile, Chinese and Norwegian authorities have concluded that Norwegian salmon was likely not the source of the new Beijing outbreak, which has centred on a food market in the capital.
China had halted salmon imports from the Nordic nation after the virus was discovered on cutting boards used to prepare salmon.
Cases rise by 18 in Victoria
Another 18 coronavirus cases were reported in Victoria on Thursday, following an increase of 21 cases on Wednesday.
Thursday’s cases included a young child who attended a childcare centre while infectious and a third person who attended Black Lives Matter protests earlier this month.
It also includes six returned overseas travellers in hotel quarantine.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said health officials believed the state could continue to “slowly, cautiously, safely” ease restrictions if social distancing is maintained.
“Today’s numbers and yesterday numbers are a timely reminder, if anyone needed that, that this is far from over,” he said.
Hong Kong Disneyland reopens Face masks were handed out at the reopening of Hong Kong Disneyland.(Reuters/Tyrone Siu)
After nearly five months, Hong Kong Disneyland has reopened its doors to a new COVID-19 world.
The theme park closed in late January due to the virus outbreak, but welcomed guests back for the first time on Thursday at reduced capacity.
“The health and safety of our guests and cast continues to be at the forefront of our mind,” managing director Stephanie Young said.
“Our cast members have been working diligently to make sure all the necessary measures are in place for guests to enjoy a magical visit.”
The park says a limited number of people will be able to access its shopping and dining areas and social-distancing measures will be implemented in any queues and throughout the park.
Hong Kong Disneyland will be regularly disinfected as the park reopens to visitors.(AP/Kin Cheung)
Visitors will have access to hand sanitiser, and are required to go through temperature screening and wear a face mask.
Dozens of visitors queued to get into the park on Thursday morning, many of whom were families with children.
Visitor Vicky Lam told Reuters she missed coming to the park while it was closed.
”I am extremely happy as I had the annual pass and used to come here from time to time,” she said.
“Now I have the feeling of coming back home.”
Honduran President hospitalized for COVID-19 Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez and his wife Ana Garcia have tested positive for COVID-19.(AP: Fernando Antonio)
Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez, is undergoing treatment in hospital for pneumonia after he tested positive for COVID-19 this week, the Government says.
Francis Contreras, a spokesman for Honduran health agency SINAGER, said while Mr Hernandez needed specialised medical care in a military hospital, including receiving medicines via intravenous drip, he was generally in good health.
The health news was a fresh blow to the 51-year-old, who had come under increasing pressure at home after one of his brothers was swept up by a drug-trafficking probe in the United States which threatened to engulf him too.
“His general health status is good,” Mr Contreras told reporters outside the military hospital. However, he said X-rays of Mr Hernandez revealed lung problems.
Mr Hernandez’s wife, Ana Garcia, also tested positive for the coronavirus, along with two presidential aides, but had not presented any symptoms of the disease, Mr Contreras said.
The Central American country ordered strict containment measures and confirmed nearly 10,000 coronavirus cases and more than 300 deaths due to the COVID-19 disease caused by the virus.
Brazil’s death toll increases to second-highest globally More than 46,000 coronavirus deaths have been reported in Brazil.(AP/Silvia Izquierdo)
The coronavirus death toll in Brazil is now the second-highest in the world behind the United States, with an extra 1,269 deaths reported on Wednesday.
More than 955,300 cases have been reported in Brazil in total, also the second-highest number of cases worldwide behind the US.
The country’s total death toll is now more than 46,500 according to Johns Hopkins University data, overtaking the United Kingdom, Italy and France.
The virus has also heavily impacted nearby Peru, which has the second-highest number of confirmed cases in Latin America and the seventh-highest globally.
Despite implementing lockdown measures in March, Peru has reported more than 240,000 cases and over 7,000 deaths to date.
Hundreds contract COVID-19 at German abattoir The coronavirus cluster centres on an abattoir operated by the Toennies Group.(dpa via AP)
More than 400 new cases of COVID-19 have been recorded among workers at a large meatpacking plant in western Germany, in an outbreak that may have been linked to the easing of travel restrictions.
The new cluster centres on an abattoir operated by the Toennies Group in Rheda-Wiedenbrueck, authorities said.
Company officials say it may have been linked to workers taking the opportunity to visit their families in eastern European countries as border controls were relaxed.
Authorities tested 1,050 people at the plant on Tuesday, and so far 589 results are in, with over 400 of them are positive, the local council said.
Officials ordered the closure of the abattoir, as well as isolation and tests for everyone else who had worked at the Toennies site — putting about 7,000 people under quarantine.
There have been several outbreaks at German abattoirs in recent weeks, prompting the Government to impose stricter safety rules for the industry and ban the practice of using sub-contractors.
The outbreak in Rheda-Wiedenbrueck, one of Germany’s biggest abattoirs, could cut the available supply of meat in Germany.
Sven-Georg Adenauer, head of the regional administration, said a fifth of Germany’s meat products could be unavailable while the plant is shut.
New York infection rates among lowest in the US
New York, once the US epicentre of coronavirus infections, now has the country’s lowest rate of virus spread as the state’s death toll and number of people hospitalised with COVID-19 continues to decline.
“We once again have demonstrated that we’ve gone from the worst infection rate in the country to the best infection rate in the county,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said at his daily briefing.
Fewer than 1 per cent of some 60,000 New York residents tested on Tuesday were positive for the virus, Mr Cuomo said.
The number of people entering hospitals in the state with COVID-19 dropped to 1,479 on Tuesday, the lowest level since March 20, while the number of deaths fell to 17, the lowest number since the outbreak began.
The Governor, who has at times been at odds with US President Donald Trump over the handling of the outbreak, will also no longer hold a daily COVID-19 briefing.
Barty’s French Open defence pushed back again Ash Barty is still yet to defend her French Open title, the tournament is now set to begin on September 27.(AAP: Darren England)
Roland Garros 2019 was the biggest Barty party yet as Australian world No.1 Ash Barty claimed her maiden grand slam singles title but once again she will have to wait a little longer to defend the title.
The already re-scheduled French Open has been pushed back another week and will begin on September 27, organisers have confirmed after the ATP and WTA Tours announced their revised calendars.
The year’s second grand slam should have started at the end of May but was moved originally by the French Tennis Federation (FTT) to a September 20-October 4 slot after the coronavirus pandemic forced a suspension of tennis.
An new statement said it had consulted with the ATP, WTA and International Tennis Federation (ITF) to allow the Roland-Garros showpiece the benefit of an extra week.
The three-week span means that, unlike the US Open that starts on August 31, a qualifying event can be held.
While warning that everything was dependant on the COVID-19 crisis continuing to abate in France, the FTT did not specifically state that the tournament would have no fans.
“The FFT is preparing the tournament with the state services in order to define the appropriate measures which will guarantee the health and safety of all the populations present at the stadium,” it said in a statement.
“All options are thus studied and evolving.”
Pandemic forces a rethink for fashion houses Gucci and other high-end fashion houses have taken a hit due to the pandemic.(ABC News: Kathryn Diss)
From Armani to Gucci, top fashion houses are re-designing their calendars to slow down the frantic pace of catwalk shows and new collections, as the coronavirus pandemic forces a rethink of the way the industry works.
Luxury labels are scaling back the number of collections they show at fashion weeks across the year in London, Paris, Milan and New York or at other events in exotic locations.
After more than two months of lockdown, with shops shut across the globe and manufacturing sites idled, the $310 billion [$449.35 billion] luxury goods sector is on course for a 2020 sales drop of up to 35 per cent, consultancy firm Bain estimated.
Brands are grappling with piles of unsold stock and the prospect of widespread discounts that risk denting their aura of exclusivity as well as their profits.
US designer Michael Kors was the latest to call for a post-virus slowdown in the fashion calendar on Monday, as he pulled out of New York’s shows in September.
He said he would only make two collections a year, one for spring/summer and one for fall/winter, skipping so-called resort and pre-fall collections that many high-end labels have recently begun producing.
Robert Burke, founder of luxury retail consultancy Robert Burke Associates, said the move towards fewer collections fits with a consumer shift away from disposable fashion.
“Buying things that you know you’ll only have for a short time period or go out of fashion immediately doesn’t seem attractive right now.”
Londoners left waiting in the wings till 2021 for Hamilton and other musicals Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical Hamilton will not reopen in London this year.(Supplied: Joan Marcus)
Some of London’s biggest West End shows including Hamilton and The Phantom of the Opera won’t reopen until next year, producers have announced, as arts bodies warned that Britain faces a “cultural catastrophe” because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Producer Cameron Mackintosh, his producing partners and his Delfont Mackintosh Theatres group said productions of Hamilton, The Phantom of the Opera, Mary Poppins and Les Miserables would be affected.
The company said it was talking to staff about “potential redundancies.”
Mr Mackintosh, one of Britain’s biggest and wealthiest theatre producers, said the decision was “heartbreaking” and criticised UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Government for offering stage producers “no tangible practical support beyond offers to go into debt, which I don’t want to do.”
He said the Government’s “inability to say when the impossible constraints of social distancing will be lifted makes it equally impossible for us to properly plan for whatever the new future is.”
Music, theatre, art, design, architecture and publishing generate billions for the British economy each year, but the country’s clubs, theatres, cinemas, concert halls and art galleries shut down in March as part of a nationwide lockdown.
Shops and outdoor spaces such as zoos are now starting to reopen, but indoor venues remain closed because of social distancing rules that require people to remain two metres apart.
The Government says it is reviewing the distance rule amid pressure from retailers, restaurateurs and others to cut it to one metre.
A study released Wednesday by research firm Oxford Economics projected that the UK’s creative industries could lose 74 billion pounds [$134.6 billion] in revenue this year and a fifth of the UK’s two million creative-sector jobs could disappear.
What you need to know about coronavirus:Sweden’s Parliament holds memorial for victims Sweden did not put strict lockdown measures in place during the pandemic.(TT via AP: Janerik Henriksson)
Flags flew at half-mast in front of Sweden’s Parliament as politicians inside held a memorial service for the more than 5,000 people with COVID-19 who have died in the country.
Sweden has declined to adopt the strict lockdown measures widely seen in Europe, and the Government has consistently defended its softer approach to controlling the spread of coronavirus despite growing criticism from opposition parties
Members of the 349-seat Riksdag stood up to observe a minute of silence during the 15-minute memorial.
“This particular moment is for all of them: those who lost their jobs, their health, their lives,” Riksdag Speaker Andreas Norlen said.
“We say to all those who now mourn and suffer: You are not alone.”
Sweden has had the most virus-related deaths in the Nordic region, with 5,041 reported as of Wednesday.
However the number of COVID-19 deaths recorded daily has declined, and weekly statistics show that mortality is now close to normal for this time of year after peaking in April.
A number of European countries have maintained travel restrictions on visitors from Sweden due to the country’s rate of new confirmed cases.
Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said this week he thought it was “a little strange” that fellow Nordic nations — Denmark, Norway, Iceland and Finland — have not reopened their borders to Swedes.