Friday, 22 May 2020: Johnson will not face criminal investigation over Jennifer Arcuri, EU provides guidance on air travel during pandemic, Hungary closes transit zones for asylum-seekers, Italy plans fund to buy stakes in strategic companies


Johnson will not face criminal investigation over Jennifer Arcuri: Prime Minister Boris Johnson will not face a criminal investigation into his dealings with US businesswoman Jennifer Arcuri when he was the mayor of London. The Independent Office for Police Conduct said that there was some evidence the pair had an intimate relationship, but there was no evidence Johnson had influenced payments to Arcuri or her companies. Johnson’s spokesman welcomed the fact that “this politically motivated complaint had been thrown out”, saying it was a waste of police time. The Greater London Authority had alerted the Independent Office for Police Conduct because Innotech, Arcuri’s then company, had received 11,500 pounds from London & Partners, Johnson’s promotional agency, for two events in 2013 and 2014. Johnson now faces a separate inquiry by the Greater London Assembly into allegations of conflict of interest during his time as London mayor, between 2008 and 2016.,

Locals shocked and angry at beach crowds: People living in seaside resorts have said they are horrified by the influx of visitors as temperatures soared ahead of the bank holiday weekend. Thousands of people have headed to English beaches, with many apparently unconcerned about public health issues. Roads to many beaches in south-west England were congested and so many people parked illegally at a surfing spot in north Devon that police said traffic wardens were running out of penalty tickets. Norfolk Chief Constable Simon Bailey said he feared there was a perception that the lockdown was done. Bailey said some parts of Norfolk had seen numbers typical of a regular summer bank holiday and he was concerned at the lack of respect for communities who had done their best to protect themselves.,

Scotland’s lockdown to ease from end of May: Some coronavirus lockdown restrictions are likely to be eased in Scotland from next week, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced Thursday. She unveiled her four-phase route map for easing restrictions while still suppressing the virus. Phase one measures will provisionally begin from 28 May, though the first minister confirmed this is subject to public health advice and some steps could be postponed. People in Scotland will be allowed to meet people from outside their own household and play some sports such as tennis and golf, providing they practice social distancing. Traveling for exercise will also be permitted, though people are asked to stay as close to their own homes as possible. Recycling and garden centres will reopen, and some outdoor work will also resume. Indoor cafes, restaurants and pubs will remain closed as part of phase one, and visiting other houses will also not be allowed.

China: Johnson wants self-sufficiency to end reliance on Chinese imports
UK coronavirus death toll rises by 338 to 36,042
Track and trace system: Health secretary Hancock confident Covid-19 tracking system will be place before lockdown eased
Swab test: Virus test with 20-minute results being trialled
National Health Service: NHS fees to be scrapped for overseas health staff and care workers
House of Lords: Lib Dem peer says sorry for claiming furlough and Lords allowance


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EU provides guidance on air travel during pandemic: EU regulators called on passengers to wear face masks, observe physical distancing and frequently wash their hands in new guidelines for air travel in the age of the coronavirus pandemic. Significant changes will also be needed for airlines and airports, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said on Wednesday. Carriers and airport operators must ensure that passengers keep a distance of 1.5 metres from each other when feasible. When that isn’t possible, extra measures such as hand washing and respiratory etiquette must be implemented. Passengers must refrain from travelling if they have symptoms compatible with coronavirus or if they have come into contact with people who have the virus. Passengers should not expect a lingering goodbye with loved ones at the terminal. With few exceptions, nobody who is not travelling or working there will be allowed inside.,

EU considers solvency aid for companies: The European Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Paolo Gentiloni, is considering offering financial aid to companies in countries hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic. He said the EU’s recovery plan will be even bigger than the Franco-German proposal agreed by French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel last week. “We are considering introducing a new instrument in our recovery plan: Solvency aid for companies that are not receiving aid from their home countries,” Gentiloni said, adding that it was important for pan-European value chains, not least in the car industry. The EU is set to announce their plan in full next week.

China set to impose new Hong Kong security law: China is set to impose new national security legislation on Hong Kong, a Chinese official said on Thursday. Details of the legislation would be given this Friday when the parliament holds its annual session. The law, which is expected to ban sedition, secession and subversion of the central government in Beijing, will be introduced through a rarely used constitutional method that could effectively bypass Hong Kong’s legislature. The move could enable the Chinese government to crack down on anti-government protests in Hong Kong and has raised further fears that the city’s autonomy is being eroded. China’s action could spark fresh protests in Hong Kong.,

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Pandemic: United States maintains entry ban for Europeans
Gas supply: EU court throws out challenge from Russian-backed Nord Stream 2
Red Cross: International Committee of the Red Cross warns of dire humanitarian crisis in northeast Syria
Aerial surveillance: US to withdraw from arms control deal “Open Skies Treaty”


They closed the borders without thinking about the people who’d be the victims of such an arbitrary decision.
Former EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has voiced his opposition to internal border closures across the EU.


Hungary closes transit zones for asylum-seekers: The Hungarian government has announced that it is shutting down the transit zones on its southern border with Serbia where asylum-seekers are being kept while their asylum requests are decided. Around 280 asylum-seekers who are being held in the border camps while their applications are being processed will now be moved to reception centres across the country, Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s chief of staff said. He added that in the future, asylum requests can only be submitted at Hungarian embassies and consulates. The decision comes after the European Court of Justice last week ruled that holding asylum-seekers in Hungary’s transit zones amounted to detention and said it was allowed for a maximum period of four weeks. Meanwhile, new findings suggest Greek authorities are illegally deporting refugees across the Turkish border., (Hungary); (Greece)

Italy plans fund to buy stakes in strategic companies: The Italian treasury plans to create a new 44 billion euro fund with initial resources of at least 4 billion euros to buy stakes in the country’s strategic companies, two political sources told Reuters. The new fund will be able to invest in non-financial Italian companies with revenues of more than 50 million euros, the government’s latest stimulus decree, unveiled this week, said. The fund will be managed by state lender Cassa Depositi e Prestiti. The government’s stimulus decree also authorises the Cassa Depositi e Prestiti to increase the firepower of the equity fund by selling state-guaranteed bonds to private investors. According to a recent survey by the Food and Agriculture Association Coldiretti, the number of poor people in Italy has increased by one million since the beginning of the coronavirus crisis. Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said on Thursday that Italy has left the worst part of the coronavirus emergency behind and as lockdown restrictions are slowly lifted the country must now enter the new phase with confidence and responsibility.,,

Protests as Spain extends lockdown: Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez won parliamentary backing to extend the coronavirus lockdown for another two weeks Wednesday, despite opposition from his rightwing opponents and protests against his minority coalition government. The government’s management of the crisis has drawn a barrage of criticism from right-wing parties, while several hundred protesters have hit the streets demanding freedom and Sanchez’s resignation. But the government says the state of emergency has allowed it to battle the epidemic and dramatically reduce the daily death toll which by Wednesday had fallen to 95 – a far cry from the 950 registered at the beginning of April. Air travel to Spain decreased by 99.7% in April due to coronavirus restrictions. Tourism is an important source of income for the country. Holidaymakers will be allowed back to Spain’s islands ahead of the biggest cities, Spanish Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez has said.,,

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Austria plans heavy virus testing to reassure tourists: Austria plans a hefty expansion of its coronavirus testing just to screen hotel staff, in the hope of luring tourists this summer. Austria has been gradually easing restrictions for over a month. Shops, restaurants, bars and some museums have re-opened and hotels will follow from 29 May. Tourism accounts directly for 8% of Austria’s economic output, or about 15% including related sectors. Neighbouring Germany is the biggest source of foreign visitors, and the shared border will open fully next month.

Germany: Lufthansa rescue decision soon
France: Government vows opposition to Renault plant closures
Serbia opens borders for foreigners, no coronavirus restrictions
Denmark eases entry restrictions for foreigners
Greece announces VAT tax cuts to support tourism
Poland: Censorship allegations against public broadcaster
Malta: United Nations urge European states to disembark rescued migrants and refugees on board the Captain Morgan vessels


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UN launches initiative to fight misinformation: The new United Nations initiative “Verified” will create a cadre of digital first responders to increase the volume and reach of trusted, accurate information surrounding the coronavirus crisis. Information will be provided around three themes: science – to save lives; solidarity – to promote local and global cooperation; and solutions – to advocate for support for populations that have been impacted by coronavirus. The initiative will also promote recovery packages that tackle the climate crisis and address the root causes of poverty, inequality and hunger.


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