Friday, 10 July 2020: Pools, gyms, team sport and outdoor gigs to open from 25 July, EU Parliament adopts reform of road transport sector, Serbian protesters criticise mismanaged pandemic response, Biden to review Trump decision to cut troops in Germany if elected


Pools, gyms, team sport and outdoor gigs to open from 25 July: Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has announced that indoor gyms and sports facilities will reopen from 25 July. Gyms must use timed booking systems to limit the number of people in the building at one time and allow for social distancing, while equipment must be spaced out and cleaned regularly. Outdoor pools and outdoor theatres will be able to reopen this Saturday. Beauticians, tattooists, spas, tanning salons and other close-contact services can reopen subject to some restrictions on particularly high-risk services from Monday. Dowden said all the data was continuing to move in the right direction, despite the reopening of pubs and restaurants last weekend. “I’m really urging people to get out there and to play their part,” he said. “Buy the tickets for outdoor plays and musical recitals, get to your local gallery and support your local businesses.” But he warned the measures were conditional and reversible, adding that the government would impose local lockdowns if cases started to spike. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said on Thursday he will spell out soon how people will be able to visit relatives in care homes., (Dowden); (Hancock)

UK investment in OneWeb satellite firm: The government’s decision to invest in bankrupt satellite operator OneWeb is as much about competing globally with other space powers as it is boosting broadband coverage, Business Secretary Alok Sharma said Thursday. Last week, Downing Street confirmed plans to participate in a $500 million deal to rescue OneWeb. During a parliamentary committee hearing Thursday, Sharma said the plan is not only to use the constellation to amp up broadband provision in the UK, and to offer services for aviation and shipping, but also about geopolitical positioning.

Sunak serves food without wearing mask: The Chancellor of the Exchequer has been criticised for a PR stunt in which he served customers in a Wagamama branch food without wearing a mask. Following his mini-budget in the House of Commons, Rishi Sunak visited a Wagamama restaurant near the Royal Festival Hall and served lunch to customers. But the photo-op drew criticism as he was not wearing a mask while holding the plates of food.

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EU Parliament adopts reform of road transport sector: The European Parliament has backed revised rules to improve drivers’ working conditions and stop distortion of competition in road transport. The new rules will help to ensure better rest conditions and allow drivers to spend more time at home. Companies will have to organise their timetables so that drivers in international freight transport are able to return home at regular intervals. The mandatory regular weekly rest cannot be taken in the truck cab. If this rest period is taken away from home, the company must pay for accommodation costs. The mobility package has long been a source of tension within the EU. Talks lasted three years and exposed a bitter divide between Europe’s west and east. Some accuse the new rules of undermining the freedom to provide services and restricting access to the transport market for Eastern European companies, which are generally cheaper than their Western counterparts.,,

Ireland’s Donohoe wins Eurogroup presidency: Irish Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe is the next president of the Eurogroup. Euro zone finance ministers elected Donohoe on Thursday in a secret ballot conducted online. Donohoe prevailed over Luxembourg’s Pierre Gramegna and Spain’s Nadia Calviño, who was considered a favorite for the position. He will begin a two-and-a-half-year term on Sunday, succeeding Mário Centeno of Portugal. Donohoe wrote on Twitter that he was deeply honored to be elected as new Eurogroup president and was looking forward to working with all of his Eurogroup colleagues in the years ahead.,

Croatia and Bulgaria to join euro, sources say: Euro zone officials are ready to let Croatia and Bulgaria into the European Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM 2), a preliminary stage for adopting the euro as their currency in the next three years, four sources told Reuters. European officials said a decision was imminent after a final backing from euro zone and EU finance ministers, who hold video conferences later on Thursday and Friday. Two sources said the decision was likely to be announced outside market hours, probably over the weekend, to prevent market speculation.

EU urges more G20 cooperation in coronavirus crisis: Global powers should cooperate better on monetary and fiscal policy to tackle the economic crisis caused by the pandemic, EU finance ministers and central bankers will tell their G20 counterparts at a meeting next week. The group of the world’s 20 most industrialised nations should also aim for a global deal on digital taxation this year and avoid rolling back planned and ongoing financial regulation reforms during the pandemic, an EU document seen by Reuters says.

Ministers decline Washington’s G7 summit invite: Germany’s finance and foreign ministers declined an invitation to take part in a Washington gathering of ministers from the G7 group of large industrial countries, the “Spiegel” magazine reported on Thursday. According to the magazine, Germany told the US government that it would send state secretaries to the mini-summit, planned for 29 July, instead of Finance Minister Olaf Scholz and Foreign Minister Heiko Maas.

EU bets on blood plasma in search for coronavirus therapy: The EU wants to fast-track funding to treat Covid-19 patients with blood plasma collected from survivors, according to an EU document seen by Reuters. The EU Commission has invited national blood authorities to apply for possible emergency funding by 10 July to boost their collection of convalescent plasma, which is obtained from people who have recovered from the virus.

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The world is not asleep. And after this crisis, the cards will certainly be reshuffled.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has called for reforms to strengthen Europe after the coronavirus crisis.


Serbian protesters criticise mismanaged pandemic response: Authorities in Serbia are deciding on measures to try to curb the spread of coronavirus, after a second night of clashes between police and people protesting against a second lockdown. The country’s crisis team is expected to ban gatherings in the capital, Belgrade, and limit the operations of cafes and nightclubs following a rise in infections that they say threatens the health system. The initial announcement of a weekend curfew had triggered violent protests in Belgrade and three other cities. Marchers rejected the idea that they were protesting against the lockdown. Instead, they said they were angry at President Aleksandar Vucic and his government for botching the pandemic response. Government critics view the state’s anti-pandemic efforts as a combination of staggering incompetence and politically motivated calculus.,

Chechen leader blames foreign spies for killing his critic: The regional strongman leader of Russia’s province of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, has blamed unidentified foreign spy agencies for the recent killing in Austria of a Chechen man. Kadyrov claimed on his blog that the ethnic Chechen who was shot dead in a Vienna suburb over the weekend fell victim to “special services working against Russia and myself.” Police in Austria didn’t name the victim. Russian news reports identified him as Mamikhan Umarov, who had recently put out a video in which he denounced Kadyrov using obscenities.,

Two popular Spanish tourist destinations make masks compulsory: Spain’s Balearic Islands will make wearing face masks in public compulsory at all times, joining Catalonia in going further than a national directive that mandates their use only when in close proximity to others. The Balearics’ order will take effect on Monday while Catalonia’s began on Thursday, just as tourists are starting to return after coronavirus lockdowns and travel restrictions lift.

French PM backs interior minister accused of rape: France’s new prime minister Jean Castex has defended the appointment of Gerald Darmanin as his interior minister. Darmanin is under preliminary investigation over a rape accusation that he firmly denies. President Emmanuel Macron’s office has said the probe was not an obstacle to Darmanin’s appointment to his new role in charge of police and other law enforcement bodies.

Italy prohibits German migrant rescue ship from leaving harbour: Authorities in Italy have forbidden the German rescue ship “Sea-Watch 3” from leaving the harbour where it is docked. The Coast Guard claimed that the ship was found to have several irregularities of technical and operational nature which were at risk of compromising the safety of the crew and the migrants who had been or could be rescued. A spokesman for “Sea Watch” said the so-called technical problems found on board the ship were a cover to stop the ship from operating. Meanwhile, the head of the European Stability Initiative (ESI), Gerald Knaus, has accused the EU of illegal treatment of refugees and has called on the German EU presidency to help end this situation. (Sicily), (ESI)

Biden to review Trump decision to cut troops in Germany if elected: Democrat Joe Biden will review a decision by US President Donald Trump to withdraw thousands of troops from Germany if he is elected president, a top aide to the candidate told Reuters. “We would review all of the decisions that President Trump has taken, including that one,” Antony Blinken, Biden’s senior adviser for foreign policy, said in an interview on Wednesday. “It certainly begins with the way it was done,” he added, referring to Trump’s decision not to consult Germany before making the move. “But we have a profound problem with the substance of it as well.”

Austria: Former Wirecard manager Marsalek was allegedly an FPÖ informant
Italy sees slump in tourism


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Melania Trump statue in Slovenia set on fire: A life-sized sculpture of American First Lady Melania Trump was burned near her hometown in Slovenia on 5 July, Slovenian Police confirmed Thursday. American artists Brad Downey had commissioned a local conceptual artist named Ales Zupevc to carve the statue from a tree using a chainsaw. Media reports said the statue had divided public opinion.,


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