Cities and states around the world returned to tighter coronavirus restrictions to battle recurring outbreaks, as global infections passed 13 million and the World Health Organization warned there were “no shortcuts out of the pandemic”.
Hong Kong will impose strict new social distancing measures from midnight on Tuesday, the most stringent there since the start of the pandemic, as authorities warned the risk of a large-scale outbreak was extremely high.
The measures dictate that face masks will be mandatory for people using public transport and restaurants will no longer provide dine-in services and offer only takeaway after 6pm.
Both are new rules that were not implemented during the city’s first and second coronavirus waves earlier this year. If a person does not wear a mask on public transport, they face a fine of HK$5,000 ($645).
The new restrictions led to Hong Kong Disneyland being closed again, after reopening in June.
In the Philippines, a quarter of a million people in Manila will return to lockdown in an attempt to stall the infection rate there. With just over 57,000 cases, the Philippines has the second highest number of infections in south-east Asia. Nearly 1,600 people have died in the country over the course of the pandemic so far.
In the US, which has reported roughly 60,000 new cases a day for almost a week, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker, California’s governor ordered all bars to close statewide and all restaurants, cinemas and museums to halt indoor operations, in a dramatic rolling back of reopening efforts as cases continue to surge.
In addition to the statewide closures, the 30 counties on the state’s monitoring list must also shut down indoor operations at places of worship, fitness centres, hair salons, barbershops and malls.
California is contending with a rapidly growing caseload; the state has seen an average of 8,211 daily cases over the past week, a rise from the 7,876 average from the week before.
The Trump administration ramped up its war with Anthony Fauci, the federal government’s top public health expert, over the handling of the crisis. The New York Times reported that about 5.4 million Americans lost health insurance in the pandemic, more than have ever lost coverage through job losses in a year, according to a new study.
As Australia’s cases passed 10,000 on Tuesday, the state of New South Wales also introduced restrictions on bars, limiting group bookings to a maximum of 10 people, capping the maximum number of customers allowed in a venue at 300 people, and requiring large venues to have dedicated hygiene marshals in “distinctive clothing” to oversee social distancing, cleaning and hygiene at all times. The measures are partly in response to a new cluster at a Sydney pub called The Crossroads.
NSW recorded 13 new cases as of Monday evening, in addition to 10 cases connected to the pub. The new restrictions will be enforced withe help of fines of up to AU$55,000 ($38,000), with further AU$27,500 penalties to apply for each additional day an offence continues.
In the state of Victoria, staff from the private sector including airlines, telecommunications companies and banks, as well as 1,000 additional Australian defence force personnel, will be deployed to help efforts to contain Covid-19 after 270 new cases of the virus were identified overnight.
Other key developments from around the globe include:
- Health officials in Tokyo, Japan, appealed on Tuesday for more than 800 theatregoers to get tested after a production starring a Japanese boy band was found to be the source of at least 20 cases.
- Britain must start “intense preparations” for a second wave of coronavirus that has the potential to kill as many as 120,000 hospital patients in a worst case scenario, experts have warned.
- Face masks will become mandatory in shops across England, ministers are to announce on Tuesday, following mixed messages, a cabinet split and mounting pressure on the country’s prime minister Boris Johnson to change public advice.
- More than 880 employees of private contractors running US immigration detention centres have tested positive, according to congressional testimony given by company executives.
- An entire hospital in Mexico’s southern Oaxaca state has been put in quarantine after 68% of its remaining staff tested positive.