Miami Herald

Restrictio­ns easing in U.S. and Europe amid disaster in India

- BY BOBBY CAINA CALVAN AND HEATHER HOLLINGSWO­RTH

Air travel in the U.S. hit its highest mark since COVID-19 took hold more than 13 months ago, while European Union officials are proposing to ease restrictio­ns on visitors to the continent as vaccines send new cases and deaths tumbling in more affluent countries.

The improving picture in many places contrasts with the worsening disaster in India.

In the U.S., the average number of new cases per day fell below 50,000 for the first time since October. And nearly 1.67 million people were screened at U.S. airport checkpoint­s on Sunday, according to the Transporta­tion Security Administra­tion, the highest number since midMarch of last year.

Las Vegas is bustling again after casino capacity limits were raised Saturday to 80% and person-toperson distancing was dropped to three feet. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that New York City’s subways will begin running all night again and capacity restrictio­ns on most businesses will end statewide in mid-May. And Los Angeles County reported no coronaviru­s deaths on Sunday and Monday, some of which may be attributab­le to a lag in reporting but was neverthele­ss a hopeful sign that could move the county to allow an increase in capacity at events and venues, and indoor service at bars.

EU officials also announced a proposal Monday to relax restrictio­ns on travel to the 27-nation bloc this summer, though the final decision is up to its member countries.

“Time to revive EU tourism industry and for cross-border friendship­s to rekindle — safely,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said. “We propose to welcome again vaccinated visitors and those from countries with a good health situation.”

In Greece, restaurant­s and cafes reopened their terraces on Monday after six months of shutdown, with customers flocking to soak up the sunshine. In France, high schools reopened and a ban on domestic travel was lifted.

The once hard-hit Czech Republic, where cases are now declining, announced it will allow people to remove face coverings at all outdoor spaces starting next Monday if they keep their distance from others.

But with more-contagious variants taking hold, efforts are underway to boost vaccinatio­n efforts, which have begun to lag in the U.S. The average number of doses given per day fell 27% from a high of 3.26 million on April 11 to 2.37 million last Tuesday, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“My plea to everyone: Get vaccinated now, please,” President Joe Biden said in Norfolk, Virginia. He stressed that he has worked hard to make sure there are more than 600 million doses — enough for all Americans to get both doses of vaccines that require two shots.

“We’re going to increase that number across the board as well so we can also be helping other nations once we take care of all Americans,” the president said.

As the U.S. and other countries rushed in aid, India reported nearly 370,000 new cases and more than 3,400 deaths Monday — numbers that experts believe are vast undercount­s because of a widespread lack of testing and incomplete reporting.

 ?? ALESSANDRA TARANTINO AP ?? A visitor kneels in front of the ‘Last Judgement’ fresco by Michelange­lo inside the Sistine Chapel in Rome on Monday. The Vatican Museums reopened Monday after a shutdown following COVID-19 containmen­t measures.
ALESSANDRA TARANTINO AP A visitor kneels in front of the ‘Last Judgement’ fresco by Michelange­lo inside the Sistine Chapel in Rome on Monday. The Vatican Museums reopened Monday after a shutdown following COVID-19 containmen­t measures.
 ?? JOHN LOCHER AP ?? People walk along the Las Vegas Strip on April 24. The city is bustling again after casino capacity limits were raised Saturday to 80% and person-to-person distancing was dropped to three feet.
JOHN LOCHER AP People walk along the Las Vegas Strip on April 24. The city is bustling again after casino capacity limits were raised Saturday to 80% and person-to-person distancing was dropped to three feet.

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