The Latest: Netherlands, Greece take next steps to reopen

By The Associated Press
Posted 5/11/20

The Latest on the The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or …

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The Latest: Netherlands, Greece take next steps to reopen


The Latest on the The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death.


— South Korea nightclub cases of virus 2nd wave.

— Dutch schools welcome back students.

— Greece enters its second phase of lifting lockdown measures.

— Czech Republic loosens more erstrictions.


AMSTERDAM — Dutch elementary schools are welcoming back students who had been forced to stay home for two months as part of measures to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Schools, libraries and businesses such as hairdressers were allowed to reopen Monday in the Netherlands on condition that they take measures to enforce social distancing.

Some hairdressers opened their doors at midnight to welcome customers desperate for a trim.

Antoinette van Zalinge, principal of the public elementary school De Notenkraker in Amsterdam, dressed up to welcome back students who walked over a red carpet to get back to their classes.

Van Zalinge wore a wide white skirt and a hula hoop slung from her shoulders by red and white tape and carried a long stick with a hand at one end so she could shake hands with students while maintaining the government-mandated 1.5-meter (5-foot) social distancing.


ATHENS, Greece — Greece has entered the second phase in lifting its lockdown, with all remaining retail stores that had been shut down in March allowed to reopen and the final grade of high school resuming classes.

Shopping malls and department stores remain shut, while some businesses such as electronics stores and opticians were included in the first phase of reopening. All other retail businesses, including clothing, hardware and beauty product stores, were reopening Monday morning, with social distancing measures applying to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus.

Stores must limit the number of customers inside at any one time depending on the size of the property. Students preparing to take university entrance exams this year returned to class, while other junior high and senior high school students return next week.

Greece imposed a lockdown early in its outbreak, a move that has been credited with keeping the number of deaths and crucially ill at low levels. On Sunday, health authorities announced zero new deaths and just six new confirmed infections, bringing the death toll over 150 and the confirmed infections to more than 2,700 in the country of nearly 11 million.


PRAGUE — The Czech Republic is taking a step to normalcy amid the coronavirus pandemic by easing more restrictions adopted by the government to contain it.

The shopping malls, hairdressers and beauty parlours are allowed to return to business on Monday under strict conditions. Theaters, exhibition halls and cinemas can reopen as well for a maximum of 100 people.

Outdoor seating of bars, restaurants, cafes can start to serve the first consumers since March 14 on Monday. Interiors still remain closed.

The government rules on social distancing and mandatory face masks in public remain in place.

The day-to-day increase of COVID-19 cases has been under 100 for the 10th straight day, according to Health Ministry figures released on Monday. Two people died on Sunday for a total of 280 with the fatalities remaining under 10 a day since April 13.


BRUSSELS — Belgium is taking a major step in relaxing its coronavirus lockdown by opening shops under strict conditions.

Even still, public transportation in the capital city of Brussels was hit by a strike because bus drivers didn’t feel safe under the current virus precautions.

Authorities on Sunday permitted people to start meeting with four close relatives or friends, allowing many families to celebrate a restricted Mother’s Day.

Some hospitals began treating patients with non-urgent problems and courthouses opened again for limited business.

Protective masks are mandatory on public transportation, and many shop owners had prepared their facilities with alcohol disinfectant and plexiglass dividers at the register.


NEW DELHI, India — India’s train network, one of the world’s largest, will gradually restart operations on Tuesday as the country eases its coronavirus lockdown amid a steep rise in infections.

The country reported 4,213 new COVID-19 cases over the past 24 hours, its biggest single-day spike. India has had more than 67,000 cases, including 2,206 deaths.

The rise in infections comes on a day when Prime Minister Narendra Modi will meet various state heads to discuss the country’s lockdown exit strategy.

India’s train network, closed in late March when a strict nationwide lockdown was implemented, will be the first mode of transport to resume in the country of 1.3 billion people.

Passengers would have to wear masks and undergo health screenings before being permitted to board, the railway ministry has said. Only asymptomatic passengers will be allowed on trains, which will make fewer stops than usual.

The announcement comes after the government arranged for trains to transport thousands of migrant workers stranded in Indian cities back to their homes.

The railway system is often described as India’s lifeline, transporting 23 million people across the vast subcontinent each day, some 8.4 billion passengers each year.

India’s 54-day coronavirus lockdown is expected to end on May 17.


WELLINGTON, New Zealand — New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Monday announced a plan to re-open the economy and the nation’s schools over the next 10 days.

Life is expected to resemble what it was like before the coronavirus outbreak in many respects, although social distancing rules will still apply, and social gatherings will be limited to 10 people at events like weddings and funerals. The nation’s borders will also remain closed.

Under the plan, almost all businesses will be able to re-open beginning Thursday, including retail stores, malls, restaurants, hair salons and gyms. People will also be able to take flights around the country. Schools will then re-open starting next Monday. Bars will be the last businesses allowed to reopen, on May 21.

Ardern said bars pose a high risk: “We don’t want to be South Korea — to open our bars only to close them again,” she said.

New Zealand has been successful in reducing new cases of the virus to a trickle, including two days last week when no new cases were recorded. In total, the country has reported close to 1,500 cases and 21 deaths.

Ardern said New Zealanders need to remain cautious: “We may have won a few battles but we have not won the war,” she said.


GALLUP, N.M. — A 105-year-old New Mexico woman who beat back the 1918 flu that killed millions, including her mother and infant sister, is battling COVID-19.

The Gallup Independent reports Lubica “Luby” Grenko, who will turn 106 in August, has been fighting the new coronavirus since being diagnosed April 29 at the Little Sisters of the Poor in Gallup, New Mexico.

Grenko was born when World War I began and survived the 1918 flu before enduring the Great Depression and World War II.

The flu took the lives of her mother, Marijeta Kauzlaric, 28, and younger sister, Annie Kauzlaric, 1 month old.

Grenko’s granddaughter, Misty Tolson, says her grandmother remembers her mother going into the hospital and never coming out.

Tolson says she doesn’t think her grandmother understands the current virus because she told one of the aides who walked in with protective gear on, “What the heck do you have on?”


SHANGHAI — Visitors wearing face masks streamed into Shanghai Disneyland as China’s most prominent theme park reopened Monday in a new step toward rolling back anti-coronavirus controls that shut down its economy.

The park, which closed Jan. 25, will limit visitors and is keeping some attractions closed in line with social distancing guidelines. Disney guests, many wearing Mickey Mouse ears, and children dressed as movie characters were checked for fevers at the gate, and decals were used to designate a safe distance between visitors.

China, where the pandemic began in December, was the first economy to shut down and the first to reopen in early March. Factories and shops have reopened but cinemas, karaoke parlors, gyms and other businesses remain closed.


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