Trump's plan to reopen virus-ravaged US economy: Will others follow suit?

US President Donald Trump speaks about the coronavirus in Washington | Photo: AP/PTI
With United States President Donald Trump stating that coronavirus has passed its peak in the country, the White House has issued guidelines outlining a phased approach to restore normal commerce and services, but only for places seeing a decrease in Covid-19 cases.

The new guidelines are aimed at clearing the way for easing of restrictions in areas with low transmission of the coronavirus, while keeping them in place in harder-hit places.

Places with declining infections and strong testing would begin a three-phased gradual reopening of businesses and schools, which each phase lasting at least 14 days, meant to ensure that the virus outbreak doesn't accelerate again. Those most susceptible to the respiratory disease would be advised to remain sheltered in place until the final phase.

According to worldometer, the US has reported over 677,570 coronavirus cases, 34,617 deaths.

'At delicate, dangerous stage': UK extends lockdown

Lockdown in the UK, imposed last month, will continue for "at least another three weeks" to tackle the coronavirus outbreak, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab announced, saying any relaxations now will harm both public health and the economy. "The infection rate had not been brought down as far as needed," he added.

The announcement came as the UK recorded another 861 coronavirus deaths in hospital, taking the total to 13,729.

Strict restrictions, such as requiring people to stay at home, shutting many businesses and preventing gatherings of more than two people - were introduced on March 23, as the government tried to limit the spread of coronavirus. Ministers are required by law to assess whether the rules are working, based on expert advice, every three weeks.

"There is light at the end of the tunnel but we are now at both a delicate and a dangerous stage in this pandemic. If we rush to relax the measures that we have in place we would risk wasting all the sacrifices and all the progress that has been made," Raab added.

Italy's Lombary pitches to end lockdown

The head of Milan's economically vital Lombardy region began waging a lonely campaign to get Italy to end its Covid-19 lockdown and reopen for business. "Many other European countries are already beginning to reopen. We need to immediately start thinking about our future." Attilo Fontana said on Facebook.

His online messages created a political firestorm in a country that is still coming to terms with coronavirus that has killed 22,170 and brought the economy to its knees.

The International Monetary Fund expects Italy's total output to shrink by 9.1 percent this year -- the worst peacetime decline in nearly a century. Millions of Italians are either furloughed or suddenly unemployed.

Lombardy boss Fontana sounded like he had had enough when he posted a message outlining his 10-million-strong region's "road to freedom".

He said businesses should follow basic social distancing rules and reopen when the current nationwide lockdown expires on May 4. "We are not courting controversy," Fontana insisted, in response to a chorus of political criticism.

Denmark starts reopening schools, while Switzerland unveils plan for businesses

Denmark has started reopening schools for younger children and Switzerland unveiled a plan Thursday to allow some shops and services to resume business on April 27. But bigger European nations are extending the closures for at least a few more weeks.

No chances of reopening US-Canada border in weeks: Trudeau

Canadian PM Justin Trudeau said that his country's border with the United States would not fully reopen for at least several weeks, rejecting US President Donald's Trump overtures to do so sooner.

The border -- the world's longest international frontier at 8,900 kilometers -- was shut to all non-essential travellers on both sides on March 21 in response to the coronavirus crisis. However, cross-border trade has continued.

"We must protect our citizens, as every country does," Trudeau added. "Most countries in the world have restricted travel, and Canada and the United States are no exception."

Canada recorded around 30,000 reported cases and over 1100 deaths.

Israel plans a 'cautions and gradual' reopening

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu has announced a "cautious and gradual" plan to resume business activity and ease closure restrictions amid Covid-19, based on principles suggested by Israel's National Security Council (NSC).

As part of the plan, the Ministry of Finance will prepare within 48 hours several pilot businesses to reopen, subject to the Ministry of Health's guidelines.

Some sports activities will possibly reopen, individually or on pairs, as far as 500 meters from home. Schools and kindergartens will remain closed.

Ireland may take months to open up after Covid-19

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar has said that the relaxing of the Covid-19 restrictions in the country will be a gradual process and could take months while addressing the lower house of parliament on the pandemic that has paralysed much of the country's life since late March.

He told the deputies that he does not know yet if his government will be able to relax restrictions on May 5, the date when the current restrictions are supposed to end.

On March 27, the Irish government issued a stay-at-home order, under which all the people across the country are required to not leave their homes unless in some special circumstances.

Ireland reported its first confirmed Covid-19 case in late February. To date, a total of 13,271 confirmed cases have been reported in the country with 486 deaths, according to the Irish Department of Health.

Jair Bolsonaro fires health minister after virus dispute

Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro fired his health minister on Thursday after a series of disagreements over government efforts to contain the new coronavirus. "I just heard from the President \the news of my dismissal from the health ministry," Luiz Henrique Mandetta posted on his verified Twitter profile, adding that he wished success to his replacement, who is yet to be named officially.

Bolsonaro, for his part, repeatedly characterized the virus as the little flu, said shutting down the economy would cause more damage than confining only high-risk Brazilians, and touted the yet-unproven efficacy of an anti-malarial drug.

Mandetta has drawn comparisons to Dr. Anthony Fauci, US President Donald Trump's top virus expert. Fauci and Mandetta have often made public statements about the virus that differed from those of their bosses.

According to worldometer, Braxil has reported over 30,000 coronavirus cases, 1947 deaths.

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