• Thursday, Aug 13, 2020
  • Last Update : 08:36 am

Spain locks down 200,000 as US gears up for July 4 crowds

  • Published at 10:38 pm July 4th, 2020
Spain coronavirus
Health workers, police officers and NGO staff members with their families visit the Sagrada Familia basilica, in Barcelona, Spain on July 4, 2020 Reuters

14 US states are reportedly seeing their weekly averages hit record highs heading into the holiday weekend

Spain put 200,000 people back in confinement and England reopened its beloved pubs on Saturday as Europe stuttered its way out of lockdown while the United States braced for large crowds hitting the streets to celebrate Independence Day.

The death toll in Russia surpassed 10,000 and Brazil's right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro, who once called the coronavirus a "little flu", diluted facemask rules even though his country's death rate is the world's second-highest and steadily rising.

The announcement from Spain's north-eastern Catalonia region came as Europeans began converging on their favourite holiday spots thanks to an easing of border restrictions put in place to stop the spread.

"We have decided to confine the Segria zone following data confirming a sharp rise in Covid-19 infections," Catalonia's regional president Quim Torra said.

Gatherings of more than 10 people would be banned -- a relatively light lockdown similar to one Britain imposed this week in the city of Leicester.

A virus that has touched almost every country since emerging in China late last year is making an uneven retreat after forcing billions to spend months confined to their homes.

Australia high-rise shut

Governments across the world are trying to calibrate their reopenings -- rousing their economies without triggering outbreaks and more lockdowns.

Thousands of residents in high-rise apartments in Melbourne went into lockdown for at least five days as Australia recorded its biggest daily increase of infections in months.

The United States also broke a record for new cases for a third day running on Friday as the world's largest economy prepared to celebrate its July 4 holiday under a shadow.

The disease has claimed nearly 130,000 US lives already and new waves of cases that followed an easing of some measures "puts the entire country at risk," according to infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci.

US beaches close

At least 14 US states are reportedly seeing their weekly averages hit record highs heading into the holiday weekend.

States such as Florida are recording more cases daily -- around 10,000 -- than European countries such as Italy at their peaks of the crisis.

Miami's usually-crowded South Pointe Beach was closed on Friday, save for patrolling police and a wandering cat. 

Beaches in Los Angeles will also be closed over the weekend and Major League Baseball cancelled its 2020 All-Star Game for the first time since World War II.

The United States further failed to make the list of nations whose visitors Britain will not require to self-isolate for two weeks on arrival, days after the EU took a similar step.

Latin American cases soar

Cases have been skyrocketing across Latin America as well.

Brazil now has 1.5 million confirmed infections and 63,000 deaths while the caseloads in Peru and Chile have also exceeded those in any part of Europe except for Russia.

Yet Brazil's Rio de Janeiro authorised bars and restaurants to reopen at 50 percent capacity in a bid to draw in tourists to Copacabana beach.

Cases also surpassed 200,000 in Saudi Arabia as the virus continued to spread through the Middle East.

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