The French returned to their beloved outdoor cafes on Wednesday, as the EU said it would open its borders to vaccinated travelers as life returned to normal in Europe after months of punitive restrictions.
But India was still grappling with its spiraling epidemic as it once again hit a record daily number of coronavirus deaths and hospitals have struggled to keep pace with the increase in cases.
The EU said on Wednesday it would allow fully vaccinated visitors to enter the bloc and increase the level of new cases a country can strike before being declared unsafe – a measure that would open up travel to Europe from more places.
France joined the party on Wednesday, allowing alfresco dining in cafes, bars and restaurants, as well as visits to museums, cinemas and theaters after six months of restrictions and before the economy fully reopens on June 30.
In Paris, demand for tickets to a Renaissance sculpture show was strong at the world’s most visited museum, the Louvre.
“It’s strange after so many months,” said Christoph Neubauer, 46, over coffee in Vienna with a colleague.
And in New York City, rules requiring masks and social distancing are also easing, though some residents have remained cautious.
“I think they rushed the decision.”
The slow revival of community life in Europe and the United States is fueled by the acceleration of immunization programs, after more than a year of battling a pandemic known to have claimed nearly 3.4 million lives in the world.
Almost three-fifths of the total went to three countries: China (421.9 million), the United States (274.4 million) and India (184.4 million).
Only eleven countries have yet to deploy vaccines.
– Devastation in India –
Experts say the real toll is likely much higher.
The country was grappling with a double crisis on Wednesday, as at least 55 people were killed and dozens remain missing after a monster cyclone hit its west coast.
The pandemic has also triggered an orphan crisis in the country, with thousands of children losing one or both of their parents to the pandemic.
“I keep telling girls that their parents will be home soon,” said an uncle who is now caring for them.
Elsewhere in Asia, Taiwan Singapore has seen a new spike in cases, as has Japan, where concerns are growing over the Olympic Games set to open in Tokyo on July 23.
burs-yad / jv