Europe moves ahead with lock down easing, but caution in Asia

PARIS – Several European countries including France and Britain on Thursday moved to further lift crippling coronavirus lockdown measures, but fresh restrictions in parts of Asia signalled the crisis is far from over.

As much of the world grapples to find the path forward, with the deadly virus still spreading in some places and a vaccine at best a distant reality, Europe is slowly emerging from isolation.

France is set to reopen its bars, restaurants and museums next week — when Britain will send some children back to school and shops throw open their doors.

On the sporting front, the English Premier League and Italy s Serie A unveiled plans to resume play in mid-June.

“Freedom will be the rule and restriction the exception,” French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said.

But of course, there was sombre news as well.

The death toll mounted to more than 357,000 around the world. More than 5.7 million have been confirmed as infected since the virus emerged in China late last year.

On the economic front, the number of unemployed climbed as well — more than 40 million in the United States have filed jobless claims since the crisis began, and Brazil shed five million jobs in the first quarter.

British carrier EasyJet said it would axe up to 30 percent of its staff, and Japanese car manufacturer Nissan reported a huge $6.2-billion annual net loss.

And in Asia, restrictions were reimposed in South Korea and Sri Lanka after a spare of new infections sparked fears of a second wave of contagion.

The picture remained grim in Latin America, now fully in the throes of the pandemic, with deaths in Brazil topping 25,000, and Chile recording a new record daily death toll Thursday.

In the Chilean capital Santiago, residents have taken to the streets to demand state aid as their livelihoods vanish.

“We don t even get a little help from the government here. They believe that we can live without money. But how can we buy food?” asked welder Oscar Gonzalez.

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