PARIS — It’s a grand day for the French. Cafe and restaurant terraces are reopening Wednesday after a pandemic shutdown of more than six months deprived people of what feels like the essence of life in France.

The French government is lifting restrictions incrementally to stave off a resurgence of the coronavirus and give citizens back some of their signature “joie de vivre.” As part of the first stage, France’s 7 p.m. nightly curfew is being moved back to 9 p.m. Museums, theaters and cinemas are reopening with limited capacity, along with outside areas of restaurants.

Starting June 9, France will welcome tourists from non-EU destinations provided they have some sort of coronavirus passport or health pass. The final phase of the three-stage reopening plan is scheduled for June 30, when the curfew will end and all other restrictions will be lifted, if pandemic conditions allow.

Belgium, Hungary and other nations already started allowing outdoor dining, while drinking and eating indoors began Monday in Britain’s pubs.




— India reaches global record of 4,529 confirmed daily deaths

— Restrictions reimposed as virus resurges in much of Asia

— ‘City in transition’: New York vies to turn page on pandemic

— Mexico pushes to get all 3 million school teachers vaccinated to reopen schools, perhaps by June.


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BRUSSELS — The European Union has taken a step toward relaxing travel for visitors from outside the bloc, with EU ambassadors agreeing on measures to make it easier for fully vaccinated visitors to get into countries.

They also agreed on easing the criteria for nations to be considered a safe country, from which all tourists can travel. Up to now, that list included only seven nations. EU countries have yet to formally approve the measures.

The EU imposed strict measures last year to contain coronavirus outbreaks. The 27 ambassadors now say many of those measures for non-essential travel should lifted.

The European Council “will now recommend that member states ease some of the current restrictions” for those who have been vaccinated, says EU Commission spokesman Christian Wigand. He didn’t give a precise date for when the borders will reopen.



NEW DELHI — India has recorded the highest single-day death toll since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Health Ministry reported 4,529 deaths on Wednesday as the coronavirus spreads beyond cities into the vast countryside, where health systems are weaker. The number is considered an undercount by health experts.

The U.S. held the previous record for daily deaths at 4,475 on Jan. 12, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

India also reported 267,334 new daily infections, with daily cases dropping below 300,000 for the third consecutive day. The number of daily administered doses has fallen by about half in the last six weeks because of shortages. It’s decreased from a high of 4 million a day on April 2 to around daily 2 million or fewer this week.

India has reached 25.4 million confirmed cases and 283,248 confirmed deaths, second highest in the world.


TAIPEI, Taiwan — Taiwan recorded 267 new cases Wednesday and raised COVID-19 restrictions for the entire island.

Up until now, indoor gatherings of more than five people and outdoor gatherings of more than 10 had been banned in the capital Taipei and neighboring New Taipei city. They’re now in force elsewhere on the island.

Taiwan is facing its worst outbreak yet, with more than 1,000 confirmed cases since last week.

Since the start of the pandemic, Taiwan has largely kept the virus at its borders, but had faced a few outbreaks. Last week, it shut schools, restaurants, gyms and other public venues as it attempts to break the chain of transmission.

The most recent surge is likely driven by a variant first discovered in Britain.


BERLIN — Restaurants, theaters, cinemas and sports facilities in Austria reopened Wednesday after more than six months of closure due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Hotels are allowed to receive guests as normal again, provided they can prove they’ve been vaccinated or tested negative. Digital or paper proof of one’s health status is required for anyone wanting to visit bars, spas, cinemas and other sites too. Children under 10 are exempt.

Customers are still required to wear masks, respect a 2-meter (6-foot) distancing rule and register their personal details to facilitate contact tracing. Up to 3,000 people can attend outdoor events with designated seating, or 1,500 people if the event is indoors. Events without seating are limited to 50 people.

To attract foreign visitors, Austria has also eased its quarantine requirements for people arriving from many European countries.

Official figures showed Austria had a rate of 62.2 new weekly cases per 100,000 inhabitants on Tuesday. About one in three Austrians have received a first vaccination for COVID-19.


LAS VEGAS — The Las Vegas Strip and its surroundings will fully reopen to vaccinated diners, dancers, shoppers and club-goers on June 1.

Clark County lawmakers on Tuesday followed CDC guidelines and dropped plans to tie business occupancy to coronavirus vaccination rates.

The unanimous vote came after public speakers expressed anger and frustration with pandemic restrictions — especially their effects on schoolchildren.

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak on Friday aligned state requirements with CDC recommendations issued a day earlier. The CDC says fully vaccinated people can stop social distancing and mask-wearing outdoors in crowds and in most indoor settings.

Most Las Vegas casinos have already returned to 100% occupancy and no social distancing under oversight of the Nevada Gaming Control Board.


KYIV, Ukraine — Ukrainian lawmakers have voted to dismiss the health minister who has faced criticism for the slow pace of the nation’s coronavirus vaccination effort.

Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal held Health Minister Maksym Stepanov responsible for the failure to quickly procure more vaccine. Shmyhal says the nation of 41 million people so far has received only 2.3 million doses, and only 948,3300 Ukrainians had received at least one shot as of Tuesday.

Stepanov argued in his defense that the ex-Soviet nation has faced tough competition as nations try to procure vaccines amid the pandemic. Supplies of the Indian-made AstraZeneca vaccine were suspended after infections in India surged.

Ukraine has registered more than 2.1 million infections and 48,469 confirmed deaths from COVID-19.


AUSTIN, Texas — Texas’ governor says public schools must end mask requirements starting in June and is ordering Texas’ cities and counties to drop nearly all face covering mandates by the end of the week.

Tuesday’s announcement from Gov. Greg Abbott doesn’t affect private businesses, which can still require customers or workers to wear masks. But the change is the biggest rollbacks of Texas’ pandemic safeguards since Abbott ended a statewide mask mandate in March.

Public hospitals, jails and state-supported living centers will be allowed to require masks.

The move comes as Texas’ coronavirus cases and COVID-19 deaths continue to plunge and vaccines are available to children as young as 12. Some Texas school have already ended mask mandates. The Texas State Teachers Association criticized Abbott’s decision as premature.


MEXICO CITY — Mexico is mounting a final push to get all of the country’s 3 million school teachers vaccinated so it can reopen schools, perhaps by the second half of June.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador says getting kids back into classrooms is an urgent necessity, as much for their social development as anything else. He says: “School is like a second home, and we need all students at all levels to return to in-person classes.”

Officials estimate 2.1 million teachers at private and public schools have already been vaccinated, and hope to inject almost 520,000 this week and a similar number in the last week of May.

Schools in four of Mexico’s least-affected states have gone back to in-person classes, but on a very limited scale. The other 28 states have been giving online classes since early last year.


PORTLAND, Oregon — Oregon health officials say businesses and churches can choose to no longer require masks and social distancing for fully vaccinated people, but those places must have individuals show proof of vaccination and review it.

Under new rules announced Tuesday, people will still be required to wear masks while on public transportation and in schools, hospitals and clinics, homeless shelters, correctional facilities and long-term care facilities.

Oregonians have been required since last summer to wear masks inside public spaces such as grocery stores, shops, gyms and restaurants and outside in situations where people cannot remain 6 feet apart.


CONCORD, N.H. — New Hampshire will end its participation in all pandemic-related federal unemployment compensation programs June 19 but will offer “signing stipends” totaling $10 million to encourage people to find jobs.

The state was among the first to expand eligibility for unemployment benefits when the pandemic first struck. Between March and April 2020, its unemployment rate jumped from 2.7% to over 16%, but as of this month, was back down to 2.8%.

Gov. Chris Sununu says unemployed workers who find full-time jobs will get $1,000 bonuses after completing eight weeks of work and part-time workers will get $800 until the $10 million bonus fund is depleted.

Connecticut is offering a similar incentive, though it is maintaining the federal $300 supplemental payments for those who remain unemployed.


LOS ANGELES — Five more California counties will move to less restrictive pandemic rules because of improving COVID-19 conditions.

The state Department of Public Health said Tuesday that Orange, Santa Cruz, Santa Clara and Amador counties are moving from the orange, or moderate, tier to the yellow, or minimal, tier. Tehama County is improving from the red, substantial, tier to orange.

The moves will put 13 counties in yellow, 35 in orange and 10 in red. No counties are in the purple, or substantial, tier.


WASHINGTON — A top White House adviser for the coronavirus is encouraging young people to get vaccinated, sharing his son’s struggles after acquiring the virus.

Andy Slavitt revealed during a White House briefing Tuesday that one of his sons was diagnosed with the virus late last year and still suffers from lingering side effects.

He’s appealing to younger Americans to roll up their sleeves, even if they feel they’re at less risk than older Americans for serious medical consequences.

Slavitt says his teenage son was “young and fit and in the prime of his life. But six months later, he still suffers from tachycardia, shortness of breath, and ongoing and frequent flu-like symptoms. His hands are cold to the touch.”

Slavitt adds: “Many young people are in this situation, and many, many have it worse. According to the CDC, more than 3 million kids under 17 have contracted COVID-19.”