Coronavirus: Restaurants and cafes reopen in Israel under strict rules

Boris Johnson has said he is “optimistic” about pubs and restaurants reopening in the UK soon, but how easy will it be?

“I’m much more optimistic about that than I was.” the prime minister told MPs on Wednesday.

“We may be able to do things faster than I had previously thought.”

Countries are moving at different speeds, with their lockdown reductions dependent largely on the success they have had at containing the coronavirus.

Israel is one of a small number of nations which is now pushing ahead quickly with the reopening of society.

This week, the hospitality sector was allowed to reopen with businesses and customers being asked to stick to a set of rules.

But a couple of hours at one west Jerusalem cafe and the sense I get is that it is going to be extremely challenging.

So what are the rules?

The details will differ from country to country, but broadly they centre around extra hygiene and social distancing.

The Israeli government has issued guidelines for businesses which say:

  • Establishments with capacity of 100 or less can operate at 100%
  • Those with capacity of over 100 people must operate at 85%
  • A distance of 1.5m must be placed between tables
  • Tables and chairs must be fully disinfected between customers
  • Tables must only be set after customers are seated
  • Menus must be disposable
  • Salt, pepper and other condiments must be disinfected after each sitting
  • Antibacterial gel must be readily available
  • All food on display must be covered
  • Customer temperatures must be taken before they enter premises
  • A staff member in every restaurant must be assigned as being responsible for monitoring that regulations are followed

The reality seems to be a little different though.

Customers tend to bunch up subconsciously, waitresses’ masks slip down from their noses, and some people unintentionally walk past the waiter with the thermometer. It’s all a bit chaotic, naturally.

And this is all at a cafe, which is, on the face of it, taking the regulations seriously.

The owner was armed with a tape measure and had been diligently spacing out the tables to meet the required 1.5m (almost 5ft) distance.

The Israeli government and local authorities are acutely aware of how important it is to get the economy moving again, but balancing that against the regulations is hard.

The authorities here have given restaurants permission to spread out along pavements and even into parking bays, allowing them to seat more people at a safe distance. The weather in Israel is on their side.

In Tel Aviv, 115 bars, restaurants and cafes have been given the go-ahead to expand into public space around their premises.

The city’s mayor, Ron Huldai, said: “We will continue to fight for the 70,000 workers from the restaurants, bars, cafes, and clubs sector in Tel Aviv.

“These businesses are the beating heart of the urban economy and I have instructed the municipal executives to turn every stone to find ways to put them again on their feet.”

After a couple of hours at the Jerusalem cafe, on just day two of their reopening, it looks to me like the drive to return to normal is overwhelming the necessity to adapt our behaviour.

Whether it is retail, hospitality or travel, as we try to return to normal, or at least an “adapted normal”, the requirements seem to go against all our natural pre-corona instincts.

Nowhere is this clearer than in the social environment of a restaurant or pub.

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Disneyland and other California theme parks can reopen in Stage 3, state says – The Denver Post

Disneyland and other California theme parks currently closed by the COVID-19 pandemic can reopen during Stage 3 of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s four-stage road map for reopening the state’s economy, according to state officials.

Disneyland, Universal Studios Hollywood, Knott’s Berry Farm, Six Flags Magic Mountain, SeaWorld San Diego, Legoland California and other theme parks fall into Stage 3 of California’s road map for reopening, according to state officials.

“Theme parks are slated to open in Stage 3 if the rate of spread of COVID-19 and hospitalizations remain stable,” according to California Health and Human Services Agency spokesperson Kate Folmar.

California theme parks have been closed since mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Newsom announced on Tuesday, May 26 that Orange County and other counties in the state approved for accelerated reopening could move into the early phase of Stage 3 for the first time with the reopening of hair salons and barber shops.

“Phase 3 is not a year away. It’s not six months away. It’s not even three months away. It may not even be more than a month away,” Newsom said during a daily press briefing in mid-May. “We just want to make sure we have a protocol in place to secure customer safety, employee safety and allow the businesses to thrive in a way that is sustainable.”

Newsom has not set a specific date when Stage 3 could begin in California.

“The science and data of how COVID-19 hospitalizations are progressing, how prepared hospitals are for increased cases and whether hospitals have adequate personal protective equipment will guide when the state enters stage 3,” Folmar said via email.

California theme parks are among the “higher risk” businesses and gatherings that would reopen in Stage 3 with adaptations and limits on the size of gatherings, according to Folmar.

“The California Department of Public Health will issue detailed guidance with suggested modifications for how to minimize the risk of COVID-19 spread when theme parks reopen,” Folmar said via email.

Other Stage 3 close-contact businesses and gatherings include salons, gyms, theaters, religious services, weddings and sporting events without live audiences.

The state will work with California theme parks on developing COVID-19 health and safety reopening plans, according to Folmar.

“We will work with employers and employees on developing guidance,” Folmar said via email.

The state could issue guidance on theme parks in the “near term,” according to Anaheim spokesman Mike Lyster.

Disneyland has not submitted a COVID-19 health and safety reopening plan to the city, county or state, according to Lyster. Anaheim will be closely watching the phased reopenings of Shanghai Disneyland in China and the Walt Disney World resort in Florida to learn best practices, according to Lyster.

“Disney is fantastic at crowd control,” Lyster said by phone.

The Shanghai Disneyland theme park reopened with advance reservations on May 11. The Disney Springs and Universal CityWalk outdoor malls at the theme park resort properties in Florida have reopened with new health and safety protocols.

Legoland Florida plans to reopen on June 1. Universal Orlando is scheduled to reopen on June 5. SeaWorld Orlando hopes to reopen in June. Disney World is expected to submit a theme park reopening plan to Florida officials this week.

No California theme parks have announced firm reopening dates after 10 weeks of coronavirus closures.

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Hana Kimura: Pro wrestler and star of Netflix’s The Terrace dies aged 22

Japanese pro wrestler Hana Kimura, who starred in Netflix reality show The Terrace, has died at the age of 22.

Stardom Wrestling, who Kimura was signed with, confirmed the news in a statement on Twitter.

“Stardom fans, we are very sorry to report that our Hana Kimura has passed away. Please be respectful and allow some time for things to process, and keep your thoughts and prayers with her family and friends.

“We appreciate your support during this difficult time.”

Reports have suggested that Kimura was the victim of cyber-bullying. The cause of death has not been confirmed.

Kimura, whose mother Kyoko was also a professional wrestler, began her career in March 2016 and scooped the title of JWP Junior Championship six months later.

She won the Goddess of Stardom Championship in 2017 after teaming up with fellow pro, Kagetsu. Two years later she was awarded Stardom’s 2019 Fighting Spirit Award at the Goddess of Stardom Championship.

Earlier this year Kimura joined the cast of Terrace House, a show where six strangers live together under one roof.

It has restarted after a month-long break due to coronavirus, however, Netflix Japan has paused plans to release a new episode in response to the news.

Tributes have been paid to Kimura from several pro wrestlers and wrestling groups around the world.

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Coronavirus: Wirral and Bury join councils that say reopening schools not safe yet

Two more councils have said they will defy government instructions for schools in England to start reopening from next month because it is not safe to do so.

Politicians in Wirral and Bury said children should not be forced to go back to the classroom under the timeline to gradually loosen coronavirus lockdown measures drawn up by Boris Johnson.

The prime minister wants all pupils in reception, year one and year six to start lessons again from 1 June.

Several councils – including Hartlepool and Liverpool – have already declared they think it is too early for this to happen.

Now two more have joined them, as the number of deaths in the UK climbed to at least 34,000.

Wirral’s deputy leader Janette Williamson told Sky News it’s “not safe” yet and still a “life or death” situation so the council is taking a “more cautionary approach to this”.

“We’re not confident the health and wellbeing of children and staff are guaranteed,” she said.

Thomas Usher, Wirral council’s cabinet member for education, added “we don’t expect parents and carers to send their children in from 1 June if they’re not comfortable with doing so” to any of the around 140 schools in the area.

He added “it’s up to the government to make it clear” what punishment those who don’t want their children to return to school might face.

In Bury, cabinet member for children Tamoor Tariq said reopening schools would “pose an unacceptable risk to pupils, staff and communities of vulnerable people”.

He cited “real concerns” with COVID-19 testing, availability of PPE, “limitations” of the proposed “track and trace” programme and an “inconsistent level of central government support for our recovery”.

The Department for Education was asked to comment but none was received at the time of publication.

Schools are currently only open for the youngsters of key workers.

England’s deputy chief medical officer Prof Jon Van-Tam tried to dampen down fears about schools reopening by explaining that children are not “high output transmitters” of the virus.

Speaking at the daily Downing Street briefing on Monday, he said: “Unlike flu, where we are very clear that children drive transmission in the community to adults, it really does not seem to be the same kind of signal with COVID-19.

“Children are not these kind of big high output transmitters as they are with flu,” he added.

He also said that most children have only “extremely mild” COVID-19 symptoms and the infection rate among them is “about the same” as in adults, but “possibly a little lower” in younger aged children.

Cabinet Minister Michael Gove also vowed on Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday that “we can provide a safe environment for teachers and for children”.

Talks between teachers’ union representatives and government scientific advisers, intended to provide assurance about the government’s proposals to enable children to return safely, ended on Friday with union leaders saying the meeting had raised more questions than answers.

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North and South Korea exchange gunfire

North and South Korea have exchanged gunfire in the Demilitarised Zone which divides the two countries.

Gunshots fired by North Korea at 07:41 (23:41 BST) hit a South Korean guard post in the central border town of Cheorwon, Seoul’s military said.

No casualties were reported on the South Korean side.

In response, South Korea fired “two rounds of gunfire and a warning announcement according to our manual”, the military statement said.

It is not clear what provoked the initial gunshots. The joint chiefs of staff (JCS) said that they were trying to contact North Korea through their military hotline to determine the cause of the incident.

This is the first time in five years that North Korean troops have directly fired on the South.

The demilitarised zone (DMZ) was set up after the Korean War in 1953 in order to create a buffer zone between the two countries.

For the past two years, the government in Seoul has tried to turn the heavily fortified border into a peace zone.

Easing military tensions at the border was one of the agreements reached between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and the South Korean President Moon Jae-in at a summit in Pyongyang in September 2018.

This exchange of gunfire comes a day after Kim Jong-un appeared in public, following an almost-three-week unexplained absence that sparked intense global speculation about his health.

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The ups and downs of Harrison Ford’s flying career

The film industry loves a franchise. And with that thought, we bring you the latest instalment in the long-running series, Harrison Ford’s Aerial Mishaps.

The Star Wars, Indiana Jones and Blade Runner actor – and keen aviator – is being investigated after US air authorities said he wrongly crossed a runway where another aircraft was landing.

It is not the first time the 77-year-old has got into trouble.

Part I: A Star is Airborne

Ford first took flying lessons after leaving university but ran out of money to do more.

Once he reached his 50s, and with cash less of a problem, he renewed his training in part to “see if I could learn something new”.

It was while training in a helicopter in 1999 that he saw his first accident, when he made an emergency landing in a dry river bed in California.

He had been practicing landing safely in an emergency. Both Ford and his instructor walked away unhurt although the craft was badly damaged.

Part II: Caddyshock

Ford was less lucky in 2015, leaving in a stretcher after bringing his plane down on a golf course in Los Angeles.

He reported engine failure shortly after taking off and crash-landed at a course near to the airport.

Onlookers had the presumably surprising task of pulling one of Hollywood’s biggest stars from plane wreckage. He suffered a broken arm and head injuries.

Ford won praise from air experts and witnesses for bringing the plane down in open space rather than a built-up area.

Christian Fry of the Santa Monica Airport Association said it was “an absolutely beautifully executed emergency landing by an unbelievably well-trained pilot”.

Part III: Return of the ‘Schmuck’

In 2017 Ford escaped sanction after mistakenly landing his plane on a US airport taxiway, narrowly missing an airliner carrying more than 100 people.

Shortly after the incident the actor acknowledged his mistake in a phone call to air traffic control.

“I’m the schmuck who landed on the taxiway,” he says in his unmistakeably growly voice.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) decided against taking action, only requiring him to take extra training.

Part IV: The Runway Strikes Back

The latest incident involving Ford again involves a runway.

The FAA says he was piloting a small plane that wrongly crossed a runway where another aircraft was landing.

There was no danger of a crash, the FAA said, and a representative for the actor says he apologised.

Part V: Solo Mission

Ford has put his skills to better use. He has volunteered to fight wildfires and in 2001 found and rescued a 13-year-old boy scout missing in Yellowstone National Park.

Cody Clawson was missing for 19 hours and Ford joined the massive rescue operation to find him.

Ford spotted the teen and set his helicopter down on a nearby hill to collect him.

Remembering his rescue years on, Mr Clawson said: “I was like, ‘Oh my God, Han Solo has just rescued me, how cool is that’.”

Bonus material

After years of real-life flying that saw near misses and dramatic rescues it is ironic that one of the most serious incidents would involve a spaceship.

While filming a new instalment of the Star Wars series in 2014 he was crushed by a hydraulic door of the Millennium Falcon, the craft piloted by his character Hans Solo.

He suffered a broken leg and had to be airlifted to hospital. A court heard that he could have been killed.

Ford described what happened on UK talk show, saying during the filming of the first series such props would be operated by pulleys.

“Now we had lots of money and technology and so they built a [expletive] great hydraulic door which closed at light speed and somebody said, ‘Ooh I wonder what this is?'”

“And the door came down and hit me on my left hip,” he said.

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China and the US trade coronavirus conspiracy theories

From the early stages of the coronavirus outbreak, conspiracy theories about the origin and scale of the disease were spread on online platforms.

Among these were the false claim that the virus was part of a Chinese “covert biological weapons programme”, and a baseless claim that a Canadian-Chinese spy team had sent coronavirus to Wuhan.

The claim that the virus was man-made has been pushed by numerous conspiracy groups on Facebook, obscure Twitter accounts and even found its way on to primetime Russian state TV.

And months into the outbreak, not only have these theories not faded away, but new, unverified claims have been promoted by government officials, senior politicians and media outlets in China and the US.

‘Doubts’

Zhao Lijian, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman, has repeatedly promoted the idea – without evidence – that Covid-19 might have originated in the US.

On 12 March, he said in a tweet that it might have been the US army that brought the virus to Wuhan.

A day later, he tweeted an article by the website Global Research headlined “Further evidence that the virus originated in the US”, and urged users to read and share it. The article has since been deleted.

Chinese daily The Global Times echoed Mr Zhao’s sentiment. While stressing the diplomat had made the claim in a “personal capacity”, his remarks resonated “with similar doubts raised by the Chinese public”, the paper said.

Mr Zhao’s claims have also been amplified by a number of Chinese embassies and social media users in different parts of the world.

BBC Monitoring’s China specialist Kerry Allen said that while Mr Zhao is known for being an outspoken figure – particularly on social media – he has a different persona within mainland China and does not necessarily always represent the view of the leadership.

Founded in 2001 in Canada, Global Research is the website of the Center for Research on Globalization. According to PolitiFact, a US-based independent fact-checking website, Global Research “has advanced specious conspiracy theories on topics like 9/11, vaccines and global warming”.

The article Mr Zhao tweeted was penned by regular contributor Larry Romanoff, who reiterates the conclusion from his earlier piece – now deleted – that the virus did not originate in China.

But the Chinese research and articles in the magazine Science that he quotes do not actually call into question China being the place where the outbreak started. Instead, they only suggest that specifically the animal market in Wuhan may not have been the origin of the new coronavirus.

Mr Romanoff also claims that Japanese and Taiwanese scientists “have determined that the new coronavirus could have originated in the US”.

But the conclusion appears to be based on a now debunked Japanese TV report from February and claims made on Taiwanese TV by a pharmacology professor-turned-politician from a pro-Beijing party who Mr Romanoff wrongly describes as a “top virologist” on first mention.

Mr Romanoff also claims – without evidence – that the US military germ laboratory in Fort Detrick, Maryland, may have been the original source of the virus. He adds that “this would not be a surprise” since the facility was “totally shut down” last year due to “an absence of safeguards to prevent pathogen leakages”.

In fact, as the New York Times reported at the time, the facility was not shut down, but only suspended its research, and a spokeswoman said there were “no leaks of dangerous material outside the laboratory”.

‘Chinese-specific’

Mr Romanoff identifies himself as a “retired management consultant and businessman” and a “visiting professor at Shanghai’s Fudan University, presenting case studies in international affairs to senior EMBA classes”.

According to The Wall Street Journal, officials at the university’s two MBA programmes were unfamiliar with Mr Romanoff.

BBC News asked Fudan University to confirm whether Mr Romanoff had any affiliations to it as a visiting professor but did not get a response.

A frequent contributor to Global Research, most of his writings seem to be critical of the US and supportive of China, including an article in which he described the 1989 Tiananmen Square student protests as an “American-instigated colour revolution”.

Among several other questionable claims, he told a podcast this month that during its early stages, Covid-19 was “Chinese-specific” and did not infect peoples of other origins and racial backgrounds.

BBC News approached Mr Romanoff for comment but did not get any response.

‘Accidentally escaped’

Claims by elements in the Chinese government and media about the US being a possible origin of the virus prompted a response from US President Donald Trump who referred to Covid-19 as a “Chinese virus”. And Secretary of State Mike Pompeo demanded that China stop spreading “disinformation”.

President Trump recently announced that he was going to halt funding for the World Health Organization (WHO), accusing it of being “very China-centric”. In response, Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said it was “not the time” to cut funds to the UN agency.

But a number of US politicians and commentators have also made unfounded claims about the origin of the virus.

Fox News primetime host Tucker Carlson cited a study raising the possibility that the coronavirus “accidentally escaped from a lab in Wuhan”.

And Republican senators Tom Cotton and Ted Cruz have both raised the same prospect.

The study was published in early February as a “pre-print”, or early draft, by two Chinese researchers – Botao Xiao and Lei Xiao from Guangzhou’s South China University of Technology – and was not formally peer-reviewed. It concluded that “the killer coronavirus probably originated from a laboratory in Wuhan”.

But Mr Xiao has since told the Wall Street Journal that he subsequently withdrew the study. “The speculation about the possible origins in the post was based on published papers and media and was not supported by direct proofs,” the Wall Street Journal quoted him as saying.

The Washington Post reported in mid-April that two science diplomats from the US embassy paid several visits to the Wuhan Institute of Virology in 2018 and warned Washington about “inadequate safety at the lab, which was conducting risky studies on coronaviruses from bats”.

Jeremy Konyndyk, who led the US government’s response to the Ebola outbreak, tweeted in response to reports about an accidental lab leak: “The science doesn’t preclude a lab origin but does indicate it’s quite unlikely.”

BBC Monitoring reports and analyses news from TV, radio, web and print media around the world. You can follow BBC Monitoring on Twitter and Facebook.

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Covid brings tears and spilt milk to Canadian dairy

Dairy farmers in one of Canada’s largest milk-producing province are poised to dump millions of litres of milk due to coronavirus.

Dairy Farmers of Ontario has told farmers to get rid of raw milk to keep prices stable and prevent oversupply.

The industry group says demand has crashed as restaurants and other bulk buyers shutter due to Covid-19.

Some 500 farms have been asked to dump 5 million litres a week, according to a trade report.

The policy is a volte-face from last week, when Dairy Farms of Ontario, which oversees nearly a third of Canada’s dairies, had asked farmers to increase production amid concerns about a shortage.

“In its 55-year history, Dairy Farmers of Ontario has only once before had to ask producers to dispose of raw milk,” Cheryl Smith, the association’s CEO, told BBC.

Canadian dairy is produced under what is known as a supply-management system, which strictly controls production quotas and imports to support prices.

At first, the industry co-op was concerned there would not be enough milk to meet demand, as Canadians panic-bought at the grocery store. But hoarding has died down, and the dairy frenzy has waned.

Meanwhile, bulk-buyers like restaurants, hotels and schools have been forced to close due to federal restrictions. That means there’s milk on the shelves not being sold, risking a price plummet.

Dairy Farmers of Ontario is hoping that by spilling fresh milk, the supply will balance out and prices will remain stable. The group has not confirmed how much milk they are asking farmers to dump, but says it will be done on a “select and rotating” basis.

Producers told Ontario Farmer, a trade publication, that about 500 farms across the province have been asked to dump as much as five million litres a week. The province produces about 3 billion litres of milk a year, or about a third of Canada’s total supply.

“We are working very closely with processors and industry groups to respond to the unpredictable market fluctuations that are now part of our current environment,” Ms Smith said in a statement.

Dairy Farmers of Newfoundland and Labrador, another provincial dairy association, asked farmers to dump 170,000 litres last week. The province produces about 50 million litres a year.

Dairy Farmers of America, the largest dairy cooperative in the US, has also asked farmers to dump milk.

Dairy farmers aren’t the only industry struggling with how coronavirus has affected their supply and demand. Global oil prices have tanked with demand, as factories close down and air travel grinds to a halt.

But unlike dairy groups that have asked members to dump milk to keep prices stable, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) has decided to ramp up production. The move, spurred by a price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia, has pushed prices even lower.

The supply war has wrought havoc on another key Canadian industry- oil, based largely in the province of Alberta.

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Coronavirus: Catholics and Protestants unite to answer COVID-19 call to pray

Catholics and Protestants across Ireland have united in a Palm Sunday call to pray in the face of the common threat they face from COVID-19.

Denominations from both sides of the religious divide had asked their members to kneel together for prayer at the same time in their separate homes.

Earlier, Archbishop Eamon Martin, leader of Ireland’s 3.5 million Roman Catholics led mass in an empty St Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh.

He said: “When people think of Ireland, they think of divisions and differences, even the scandal of difference within the Christian family.

“The coronavirus has taught us that borders and barriers and divisions are irrelevant.

“This virus is everywhere and it’s all around us.”

Separated by the restriction on public gatherings, many who would usually attend church services welcomed the opportunity to pray together.

Jasper Rutherford, one of those behind the initiative, said: “One of the beautiful things that has happened with this call to pray is that there’s been a rising up of a collective Christian voice right across the island of Ireland.”

Amy Barry, a Methodist from Dublin who participated in the event, explained: “Prayer is important to me and although we are unable to physically be together, we have found a way to continue to connect.”

Some churches were streaming their services online before the current crisis but many are now doing so, a virtual response to an increasing pastoral need.

Ireland, like many places, had witnessed a sharp decline in church attendance – but denominations across Ireland are reporting a sudden increase in participation, with people worshipping online instead of in the pew.

Dr Arthur Cassidy, a psychologist, believes it is the fear of death that causes people to look towards the transcendent.

He said: “A man said to me two days ago, I don’t know whether I’ll be dead by the weekend and he’s a perfectly healthy person.

“The more we hear about death and the immanency of death and the rising statistics, which are simply phenomenal, then people are beginning to question where will I be if I die?”

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