From the United States to Europe and Asia, people in many parts of the world are emerging from their homes as virus-related restrictions begin to ease and springtime temperatures climb.
Chinese were flocking to tourist spots, many newly reopened, after a relaxation of domestic travel restrictions ahead of a five-day holiday that runs through Tuesday.
Nearly 1.7 million people visited Beijing parks on the first two days of the holiday, and Shanghai’s main tourist spots welcomed more than a million visitors, according to Chinese media reports. Many spots limited the number of daily visitors to 30% of capacity or less, keeping crowds below average.
Masks were worn widely, from runners in Spain to beach-goers in the southern United States. In New York City’s Central Park, joggers moved past each other without a glance on Saturday, and a steady stream of folks left tips for a trio working their way through a set of jazz standards alfresco.
“It’s great to have an audience after all these weeks,” saxophonist Julia Banholzer, a native of Germany, said. “All my dates have been canceled through September, and I don’t know if any will come back this year. New York is a tough place, but this is just another tough period we need to get through.”
Neighboring New Jersey reopened state parks, though several had to turn people away after reaching a 50% limit in their parking lots. Margie Roebuck and her husband were among the first on the sand at Island Beach State Park. “Forty-six days in the house was enough,” she said.
U.S. Navy and Air Force fighter jets drew people outside as they flew over Atlanta, Baltimore and Washington, D.C., in honor of health care workers.
In Spain, many ventured out Saturday for the first time since a lockdown began on March 14.
“I feel good, but tired. You sure notice that it has been a month and I am not in shape,” Cristina Palomeque said in Barcelona. “Some people think it may be too early, as I do, but it is also important to do exercise for health reasons.”
Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez asked citizens to remain vigilant. COVID-19 has caused more than 25,100 deaths in Spain.
“Until we have a vaccine, we are going to see more outbreaks,” Sánchez said. “What we need to guarantee is that these outbreaks do not put our national health system in danger.”
The divide in the United States between those who want lockdowns to end and those who want to move cautiously extended to Congress.
The Republican-majority Senate will reopen Monday, while the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives stays shuttered. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s decision to convene 100 senators gives President Donald Trump, a Republican, the imagery he wants of America getting back to work, despite health worries and a lack of testing.
Elsewhere, the pandemic’s danger remained evident. Pakistan followed Russia in reporting its biggest one-day spike in new infections.
Pakistan announced nearly 1,300 new cases Saturday, raising the total in the country of 220 million people to about 18,000. The government has said it might ease controls, but doctors have pleaded for stricter lockdowns, warning an explosion of infections would overwhelm hospitals.
Moscow is considering establishing temporary hospitals at sports complexes and shopping malls to deal with the influx of patients. Russia has reported around 125,000 cases and more than 1,200 deaths, but the actual numbers are believed to be much higher because not everyone is tested.
The virus has killed more than 240,000 people worldwide, including more than 66,000 in the United States and more than 24,000 each in Italy, Britain, France and Spain, according to a count kept by Johns Hopkins University. Health experts warn a second wave of infections could hit unless testing is expanded dramatically.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms. For some, especially older adults and those with health problems, it can cause severe illness such as pneumonia, or death.
There are economic factors to consider as well. The shutdown of businesses has plunged the global economy into its deepest slump since the 1930s and wiped out millions of jobs.
Singapore announced Saturday it will let selected businesses reopen from May 12 in a cautious rollback of a two-month partial lockdown, and Sri Lanka said the government and private sector should resume work from May 11 “to ensure a return to normalcy in civilian life and to revive the economy.”
Bangladesh, which opened thousands of garment factories last month, confirmed 552 new cases on Saturday. The South Asian country’s health care system is fragile, and authorities say they would not be able to provide ventilation and intensive care support for more than 500 people at one time.
Porter reported from New York. AP journalists around the world contributed to this report.
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