ROME—The first day of June saw CCP virus restrictions ease from Asia to Europe to the United States on June 1, even as U.S. protests against police brutality sparked fears of new outbreaks.
The Florida Keys welcomed visitors for the first time in two months, the Colosseum opened its ancient doors in Rome, ferries restarted in Bangladesh, golfers played in Greece, and students returned to classes in Britain.
But even as the tourist-dependent Keys took down barriers to allow visitors, Miami-Dade County kept its beaches closed because of protests in South Florida and across the country over the May 25 death of George Floyd, a black man who died after Minneapolis police had handcuffed him and a white officer forcefully pinned Floyd’s neck to the ground.
Meanwhile, a California biotech company said its experimental drug remdesivir improved symptoms when given for five days to moderately ill, hospitalized patients with COVID-19, the disease caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus. Gilead Sciences shared few details on June 1 but said full results would soon be published in a medical journal. Remdesivir is the only treatment that’s been shown in a rigorous experiment to help fight the CCP virus.
Roadblocks were taken down shortly after midnight near Key Largo, the northernmost island in the Florida chain, where almost half of all workers are employed by hotels, bars, and other hospitality industries, and many of the rest are involved in commercial and sport fishing.
Richard Stanczyk, owner of Bud N’ Mary’s Marina in Islamorada, said the 40 captains who operate fishing boats out of the 76-year-old business have had virtually no customers for weeks and welcomed the reopening of the area to visitors.
“There has been a real uptick in phone calls. There have been more charter bookings,” Stanczyk said. “We are encouraged. It’s going to come back.”
Yet the carefree, party atmosphere that surrounds the Keys and was popularized by singer Jimmy Buffett in songs like “Margaritaville” may not return for some time. The Monroe County Tourist Development Council made clear on its website that visitors must adhere to health guidelines related to the coronavirus.
“Bring facial coverings, gloves, hand sanitizer, reef-safe sunscreen, and personal essential medicines. If you’re feeling unwell, please stay home,” it said.
The Keys have been relatively unscathed by the CCP virus. As of May 31, the island chain had 100 confirmed positive cases of the disease, three deaths, and 12 hospitalizations. The total population is just under 80,000.
Countries around the Mediterranean Sea also tentatively kicked off a summer season in which tourists could bask in their famously sunny beaches while still being protected by social distancing measures from the CCP virus.
“We are reopening a symbol. A symbol of Rome, a symbol for Italy,” said Alfonsina Russo, director of the Colosseum’s archaeological park. “[We are] restarting in a positive way, with a different pace, with more sustainable tourism.”
Greece lifted lockdown measures on June 1 for hotels, campsites, open-air cinemas, golf courses, and public swimming pools, while beaches and museums reopened in Turkey, and bars, restaurants, cinemas, and museums came back to life in the Netherlands.
“Today, we opened two rooms and tomorrow three. It’s like building an anthill,” Athens hotel owner Panos Betis said as employees wearing face masks tidied a rooftop restaurant and cleaned a window facing the ancient Acropolis. “We can’t compare the season to 2019. We were at 95 percent capacity. Our aim now is to hang in there till 2021.”
A long line of masked visitors snaked outside the Vatican Museums, which include the Sistine Chapel, as they reopened for the first time in three months. Italy is eager to reboot its tourism industry, which accounts for 13 percent of its economy.
The Vatican Museums’ famous keyholder—the “clavigero” who holds the keys to all the galleries on a big ring on his wrist—opened the gate in a sign both symbolic and literal that the Museums were back in business.
Still, strict crowd control measures were in place at both landmarks: visitors needed reservations to visit, their temperatures were taken before entering, and masks were mandatory.
“Having the opportunity to see the museums by making a booking and not having to wait in line for three hours is an opportunity,” said visitor Stefano Dicozzi.
The Dutch relaxation of CCP virus rules took place on a major holiday with the sun blazing, raising immediate fears of overcrowding in popular beach resorts. The new rules let bars and restaurants serve up to 30 people inside if they keep social distancing, but there’s no standing at bars and reservations are necessary.
Britain, which with more than 38,500 dead has the world’s second-worst death toll behind the United States, eased restrictions despite warnings from health officials that the risk of spreading COVID-19 was still too great. Some elementary classes reopened in England and people could now have limited contact with family and friends, but only outdoors and with social distancing.
Around 6.22 million infections have been reported worldwide, with more than 373,000 people dying, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University on June 1. The true death toll is believed to be significantly higher since many died without ever being tested.
In the United States, the often-violent protests over Floyd’s death have raised fears of new outbreaks in a country that has more confirmed infections and deaths than any other. The United States has seen nearly 1.8 million infections and more than 104,000 deaths in the pandemic, which has disproportionately affected racial minorities.
Protests over Floyd’s death have shaken the United States from New York to Los Angeles. Demonstrators pack into streets, many without masks, many shouting or singing. The virus is spread by microscopic droplets in the air when people cough, sneeze, talk, or sing.
“There’s no question that when you put hundreds or thousands of people together in close proximity when we have got this virus all over the streets … it’s not healthy,” Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said.
Some efforts to contain the spread of the CCP virus are being upended by the protests. In contact tracing, newly infected people list everyone they’ve interacted with over several days in order to alert others that they may have been exposed. That may be a daunting task if someone has been to a mass gathering.
By Nicole Winfield & Curt Anderson
The Epoch Times contributed to this report.