Lockdowns ease as tourism slowly gets restarted

By Nicole Winfield and Curt Anderson | Associated Press

ROME — The first day of June saw coronavirus restrictions ease from Asia to Europe to the United States on Monday, even as U.S. protests against police brutality sparked fears of new outbreaks.

The Florida Keys welcomed visitors for the first time in two months, the Colosseum opened its ancient doors in Rome, ferries restarted in Bangladesh, golfers played in Greece and students returned to classes in Britain.

But even as the tourist-dependent Keys took down barriers to allow visitors, Miami-Dade County kept its beaches closed because of protests in South Florida and across the country over the May 25 death of George Floyd, a black man pinned at the neck by a white police officer in Minneapolis.

Meanwhile, a California biotech company said its experimental drug remdesivir improved symptoms when given for five days to moderately ill, hospitalized patients with COVID-19. Gilead Sciences gave few details on Monday but said full results would soon be published in a medical journal. Remdesivir is the only treatment that’s been shown in a rigorous experiment to help fight the coronavirus.

Roadblocks were taken down shortly after midnight near Key Largo, the northernmost island in the Florida chain, where almost half of all workers are employed by hotels, bars and other hospitality industries, and many of the rest are involved in commercial and sport fishing.

Richard Stanczyk, owner of Bud N’ Mary’s marina in Islamorada, said the 40 captains who operate fishing boats out of the 76-year-old business have had virtually no customers for weeks and welcomed the reopening of the area to visitors.

“There has been a real uptick in phone calls. There have been more charter bookings,” Stanczyk said. “We are encouraged. It’s going to come back.”

Yet the carefree, party atmosphere that surrounds the Keys and was popularized by singer Jimmy Buffet in songs like “Margaritaville” may not return for some time. The Monroe County Tourist Development Council made clear on its website that visitors must adhere to health guidelines related to the coronavirus.

“Bring facial coverings, gloves, hand sanitizer, reef-safe sunscreen and personal essential medicines. If you’re feeling unwell, please stay home,” it said.

The Keys have been relatively unscathed by the coronavirus. As of Sunday, the island chain had 100 confirmed positive cases of the disease, three deaths and 12 hospitalizations. The total population is a shade under 80,000.

Countries around the Mediterranean Sea also tentatively kicked off a summer season where tourists could bask in their famously sunny beaches while still being protected by social distancing measures from the virus marching relentlessly around the world.

“We are reopening a symbol. A symbol of Rome, a symbol for Italy,” said Alfonsina Russo, director of the Colosseum’s archaeological park. “(We are) restarting in a positive way, with a different pace, with a more sustainable tourism.”

Greece lifted lockdown measures Monday for hotels, campsites, open-air cinemas, golf courses and public swimming pools, while b eaches and museums reopened in Turkey and bars, restaurants, cinemas and museums came back to life in the Netherlands.

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Source:: The Mercury News – Latest News

      

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