Italy begins chaotic reopening
Italy, which has had the deadliest outbreak in Europe, will enter a reopening phase today, although protests from politicians, business leaders and mayors confused about the government’s plans have created a sense of chaos.
Restaurants can provide takeout services, but trattorias, bars and coffee shops cannot seat customers for some weeks. Thousands of small-business owners have given their mayors the keys to their eateries in complaint, saying requirements will make business impossible.
Dispatch: After being sacked, conquered and abandoned, Rome has forged an irreverent, if somewhat cynical, character. Our Rome bureau chief wonders: Can that survive the coronavirus?
In other news:
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke of his ordeal battling the coronavirus in an interview with The Sun newspaper. Even after receiving “liters and liters of oxygen” while hospitalized, Mr. Johnson said, he was not getting better and could not understand why.
On Sunday, Spain reported 164 deaths and 838 confirmed infections, its lowest daily numbers since March when the nation went into lockdown.
President Vladimir Putin of Russia is doing little to help his country’s small businesses through a coronavirus lockdown, even as the restrictions threaten to undo decades of economic success.
Former President George W. Bush called on Americans to put aside partisan differences and show empathy for those stricken by the coronavirus. President Trump swiped at him in response.
French Muslims, unable to repatriate bodies to their countries of origin, face a shortage of burial grounds for their relatives.
In London, at least 28 bus drivers have died since the coronavirus outbreak began. And while new measures have been put in place to protect them, some worry it’s too little, too late.
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Australia has called for an inquiry into the origin of the virus. Germany and Britain are having second thoughts about doing business with the Chinese tech giant Huawei. President Trump has said he will punish China, and other governments want to sue Beijing for damages and reparations.
China has responded aggressively, mixing medical aid with economic threats. The tough tone is a sign of how dangerous China’s leaders consider the fallout of the virus to their standing at home.
Quotable: “The mistrust of China has accelerated so quickly with the virus that no ministry knows how to deal with it,” said one expert in Germany.
A coronavirus mystery: Why some places fare better
The coronavirus has touched almost every country, but its impact has been uneven. Big metropolises like New York, Paris and London have been hit hard. Others, like Bangkok, New Delhi and Lagos, have so far fared much better.
Our team of correspondents reporting from around the world — Hannah Beech in Southeast Asia, Alissa Rubin in the Middle East, Anatoly Kurmanaev in South America and Ruth Maclean in Africa — delved into the puzzle of why the virus has overwhelmed some places and left others relatively unscathed.
Research: Younger populations, earlier lockdowns and cultural factors that encourage social distance may offer some protection. Hundreds of studies are underway on how demographics, public health and genetics could possibly explain the virus’s differing impact.
But each explanation seems to come with counter evidence. If older people are highly vulnerable, for instance, then Japan, with its aging population, should be devastated. (It is far from it.)
Asia’s new normal: As cities in Australia, Asia and elsewhere control their outbreaks, churches, schools, restaurants and even sports venues are starting to reopen.
Still, residents are returning to a different world, where social distancing and government restrictions infuse nearly everything — a reality that will likely continue until a vaccine or treatment is found.
The business of the vaccine race
Above, a laboratory in Belgrade, Serbia. The search for a vaccine for the coronavirus has taken on an intensity never before seen in medical research. But outside of the science, there’s more at play.
Our reporters look at the political and business interests of the endeavor, the balance of speed with safety — and the challenges of distributing billions of vaccine doses.
Here’s what else is happening
Afghan migrants in Iran: Afghanistan is investigating claims that dozens of Afghans being smuggled into Iran to work were tortured by Iranian border guards and thrown into a river, where many drowned.
Journalist death: Sajid Hussain, a Pakistani journalist in exile in Sweden who covered the violence, crime and insurgency in his home country, was found dead in a river near Stockholm on Friday. Journalism groups suggested he might have been abducted by a Pakistani intelligence agency.
Snapshot: Above, a waterfront park in Brooklyn, N.Y., on Saturday, as the arrival of warm spring weather tempted New Yorkers to abandon the discipline of weeks of lockdown. Worried officials are warning them to wear masks and maintain social distance.
Murder hornets: Beekeepers are worried a vicious insect, the Asian giant hornet, is making a home in the U.S. and devastating bee populations.
Now, a break from the news
Cook: Warming and gently spiced, Melissa Clark’s easy snickerdoodle loaf cake comes together in just about an hour — and may not last nearly as long.
Celebrate: A socially distant birthday party calls for a dash of corniness and a pinch of magical thinking. Here’s how to blow out those candles via video chat.
Gardening: It’s not too late to start a flower garden. Get some homegrown color with zinnias, marigolds and sunflowers.
And now for the Back Story on …
Believing New York would never change. Until it did.
Our reporter Vivian Lee left New York in late 2018 and moved to Beirut to cover the Middle East. The city had been home for six and half years, and it was where she started as a Times metro reporter.
When I arrived here as a foreign correspondent, I found stories — civil war in Syria, authoritarianism in Egypt. But now the loudest headlines are all at home.
I text people in New York in the same tones my mother has taken to using since I moved to the Middle East: “Are you OK? Be careful.”
Every space in New York is its own theater. If the city offers absolution in anonymity, it also offers fleeting fame in the simple act of walking around.
But now the streets of New York are empty.
Disaster is making New Yorkers pine for the city that is as much out of their reach as mine. From Beirut, I scroll through the Instagram accounts devoted to immortalizing New Yorkers, read the essays about choosing to stay, follow the #BestNYAccent contest.
When I left, everyone said, Oh, you’ll come back, and it’ll be exactly the same. You’ll change, but New York never does. Even then I didn’t believe them, though I trusted that a certain timelessness would prevail. Now they don’t believe it either.