Israel’s confirmed coronavirus cases reached 15,443 on Sunday night, the Health Ministry said, with 145 new infections recorded over the previous 24 hours — the lowest daily tally since March 20 — raising hopes that the outbreak is abating.
Israel has registered 23 deaths per million citizens, according to the Worldometer tally on Sunday evening, which places it at around 40th in the world, slightly better than the world average of some 26 deaths per million.
The updated count came as Israel eased its restrictions on commercial activity.
Most stores, hairdressers and beauty salons were allowed to resume operations from midnight Saturday, if hygiene regulations related to the virus were adhered to.
In addition, restaurants and food shops were allowed to sell products for takeaway, not just home deliveries, as long as a physical barrier is placed between the cashier and the customers.
However, hundreds of large businesses remained closed, despite approval to reopen, in protest against the government, and as they demand compensation for the recent closures and ongoing restrictions.
Spanish children ventured outside for the first time in weeks on Sunday, and Italy and New York laid out partial reopening plans as marked decreases in deaths from the global coronavirus pandemic stirred hopes.
Even as confirmed virus infections around the world approached three million, governments were increasingly itching to revive shuttered economies — although there was intense debate on how quickly to move forward.
In a sign of the turnaround, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson returned to his Downing Street official residence, a month after he tested positive for the virus and later went into intensive care.
On the streets of hard-hit Spain, children hopped on bicycles and scooters — some wearing small masks and gloves — as the government allowed children outside for the first time since mid-March.
“They are super excited, very, very impatient. They were up at 6:30 am, saying ‘We are going out, We are going out!’,” Inmaculada Paredes said in Madrid, readying to take her seven- and four-year-old children outdoors.
One six-year-old, Ricardo, said it felt “very good” to be able to run around with his younger sister in the city.
“We played hide and seek, we raced. We found a ladybug that was lost,” he said.
Under the revised rules, children are allowed out once per day between 9:00 am and 9:00 pm, but cannot venture more than one kilometer (0.6 miles) from home.
With more than 23,000 fatalities, Spain has the third highest death toll in the world after Italy’s 26,000 and more than 53,000 in the United States.
We cannot continue
In New York, whose signature bustle has been reduced to an eerie halt, Governor Andrew Cuomo said that a first stage of a reopening would start on May 15 if hospitalizations decrease.
Italy, which shut down in March as the disease’s devastation became clear, prepared to let “a large number of companies” reopen from May 4.
“We cannot continue beyond this lockdown — we risk damaging the country’s socioeconomic fabric too much,” said Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.
The pandemic has forced more than half of humanity into lockdown, upending life as we know it and tipping the global economy toward a recession not seen in decades.
But Europe’s worst-hit countries — Italy, Spain, France and Britain — all reported drops in daily fatality rates Sunday, a sign the peak of the weeks-long crisis may have passed.
Britain’s daily tally was the lowest since March 31, while Italy and Spain’s were the lowest in a month. France’s toll was a drop of more than a third on the previous day’s figures.
In Switzerland, hairdressers, massage parlours, florists and garden centers were among some businesses allowed to reopen come Monday.
“It’s super,” said Florian, a barbershop manager in Lausanne who was asking customers to wait their turn outside.
“We have to start paying the bills,” he said.
Millions of Muslims are under restrictions as they begin Ramadan, the month of dusk-to-dawn fasting that in happier times involves large family meals.
How quickly back to normal
Rejecting the advice of top disease experts, the US state of Georgia allowed thousands of businesses to resume operations, from hairdressers to bowling alleys.
Oklahoma, another conservative-led state, will let restaurants, movie theaters and other public places reopen from May 1.
Governor Kevin Stitt said the goal of the lockdown had been to boost hospital capacity.
“People are still going to get it. But Oklahomans are safe and we’re ready for a measured reopening,” he told Fox News.
President Donald Trump, bracing for November elections, has been impatient to resume business in the world’s biggest economy, although he criticized Georgia’s decision.
While cases and deaths plateau, the world remains in wait as scientists race to develop treatments and, eventually, a vaccine for the virus.
Some governments are studying measures such as “immunity passports” as one way to get people back to work.
“If I’ve already had corona then I’m not infectious,” said Berlin resident Lothar Kopp, hoping to test positive for antibodies as it could allow him to visit his elderly mother.
Several countries, including France and Germany, are planning to introduce coronavirus tracing apps to alert users if they are near someone who has tested positive.
The technology has already rolled out in Australia, sparking privacy concerns, and has been widely used in Singapore.
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