Italy’s coronavirus lockdown measures to be extended to April 13 – minister

UNTV News   •   April 2, 2020   •   328

Italy will extend anti-coronavirus lockdown restrictions imposed last month to April 13, Health Minister Roberto Speranza said on Wednesday (April 1).

“We must not confuse the first positive signals that we are seeing in these hours with an ‘all clear’ signal,” Speranza told the upper house Senate.

After days of steep rises in cases, data this week has suggested the pace of growth in the number of total cases in Italy is slowing, with new infections coming in at 4,053 on Tuesday (March 31). Deaths have remained largely steady at over 800 a day.

Italy was the first Western country to introduce the restrictions and has tightened them week by week, banning all but core activities.

In an effort to make the lockdown more bearable for families, the government said on Tuesday (March 31) that parents would be allowed to take their children out for short walks around the block, although parks will remain closed.

In the morning some Rome residents took advantage of the sunny day and jogged in the stunning Piazza Navona and some parents were spotted holding their children in the streets near the River Tiber.

But Attilio Fontana, governor of Lombardy region, the epicentre of Italy’s contagion, opposed the decision made by Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese and said the government’s move will not be applied in his region.

(Production: Remo Casilli, Guglielmo Mangiapane, Cristiano Corvino, Fabiano Franchitti)

Spain imposes second local coronavirus lockdown

UNTV News   •   July 6, 2020

The northwestern Spanish region of Galicia imposed restrictions on about 70,000 people on Sunday (July 5) following a COVID-19 outbreak, a day after Catalonia also introduced a local lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

People living in La Marina along Spain’s northern coast in the province of Lugo will not be able to leave the area from midnight on Monday (July 6) until Friday (July 10), two days before regional elections in Galicia on July 12.

In the town of Foz in La Marina, an unidentified caravan driver said that the best part of the caravans parked by the sea left early in the morning when they read about the lockdown.

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, speaking at a local political rally in Bilbao on Sunday, urged people not to lower their guard, but called for calm as “the early detection of these outbreaks shows the health system is much better prepared” than in March.

The regional government said people will be allowed to move around La Marina, but only those who need to travel for work will be allowed to leave or enter the area.

Regional Health minister Jesus Vazquez Almuina told a news conference on Sunday that the biggest outbreaks were linked to several bars in the area. Regional health authorities said there were now 258 cases in Galicia, of which 117 were in Lugo.

Capacity in bars and restaurants will be reduced to 50% and people will have to wear a face mask even if outdoors on beaches or at swimming pools, the authorities said.

Spain’s Health Minister Salvador Illa said on Sunday that the ministry was following the situations in Galicia and Catalonia very closely.

“Social distancing and lockdown measures were the key to flattening the curve. Now they are needed again to stop the outbreaks,” he said in tweet.

Spain has registered 205,545 coronavirus cases and 28,385 deaths according to health ministry data, making it one of Europe’s worst-affected countries. (Reuters)

(Production: Silvio Castellanos, Jessica Jones)

Check in but go nowhere: Taiwan offers fake flights for travel-starved tourists

UNTV News   •   July 3, 2020

Starved of the travel experience during the coronavirus lockdown? One airport in Taiwan has the solution – a fake itinerary where you check in, go through passport control and security and even board the aircraft. You just never leave.

Taipei’s downtown Songshan airport on Thursday (July 2) began offering travellers the chance to do just that, with some 60 people hungry to get going, albeit to nowhere.

Around 7,000 people applied to take part, with the winners chosen at random. More fake flight experiences will take place in coming weeks.

The passengers got boarding passes, and proceeded through security and immigration before boarding an Airbus A330 of Taiwan’s largest carrier, China Airlines, where flight attendants chatted to them and explained coronavirus prevention methods.

The airport is using the event as a publicity opportunity to show off renovations it has completed while passengers have stayed away.

Songshan usually has flights to Tokyo, Seoul and several Chinese cities, and is also an important domestic hub.

Taiwan has emerged relatively unscathed from the pandemic thanks to early and effective prevention steps, but has largely closed its borders since mid-March and advised its citizens against all overseas travel unless absolutely necessary.

While a handful of international flights have continued, passenger numbers plummeted almost 64 percent in the first five months of 2020 compared with the same period last year, according to the government.

Still, in one bright spot, internal travel is booming.

Taiwan’s two main domestic carriers – China Airlines unit Mandarin Airlines and Eva Air’s Uni Air – have added extra capacity over the summer to Taiwan’s sun-soaked offshore islands and rugged east coast. (Reuters)

(Production: Ann Wang, Martin Pollard, Ben Blanchard)

Switzerland reopens its border to Italians as coronavirus travel restrictions ease

UNTV News   •   June 15, 2020

The Italian-Swiss border reopened on Monday (June 15) allowing people living in the border towns of Como and Chiasso to freely cross the border which separates the two countries.

A long line of cars carrying Italian cross-border commuters working in the Italian-speaking southern canton of Ticino reached Switzerland through the border of Chiasso as coronavirus (COVID-19) travel restrictions across Europe are gradually eased.

It is hoped the opening of borders with fellow European Union countries could help salvage the summer season for the country’s battered travel and tourism industry.

The Schengen area of 22 EU countries plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland operates control-free crossings, but they have been mostly closed for three months to all but goods traffic and critical workers.

Before the crisis, an average of 3.5 million people crossed an internal EU border every day, according to a European Parliament report last year, some 1.7 million of the commuting to work. (Reuters)

(Production: Alex Fraser, Gabriele Pileri, Fabiano Franchitti)

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