News you might have missed
The US has not made a “final decision” on whether to permanently withdraw World Health Organization funding, after freezing support for the global health body last month. The president, Donald Trump, wrote on Twitter on Saturday that funds were “frozen” but “numerous concepts” were being considered, including “partial” funding for the WHO.
Mr Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, offered a rare public rebuke of the current administration on Saturday, telling graduating students that the coronavirus crisis has “fully, finally torn back the curtain on the idea that so many of the folks in charge know what they are doing”. He added: “A lot of them aren’t even pretending to be in charge.”
Canada’s prime minister, Justin Trudeau, said his government is working with Air Canada after the flag carrier announced plans to lay off half its staff. Air Canada furloughed 16,500 workers in March, and yesterday said it would lay off about 20,000 people after seeing its traffic collapse by 95 per cent as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Gavin Williamson, the UK education secretary, has said “we owe it to the children” to get students in England back to school amid strong resistance from teaching unions. He insisted that proposals for the phased return of schools is based on the “best scientific advice with children at the very heart of everything we do”.
Giuseppe Conte, Italy’s prime minister, said that the country is taking “a calculated risk” in loosening its lockdown restrictions that had to be taken to avoid further damage to its economy. Mr Conte on Saturday provided further details of a decree published earlier in the day that said Italians would be able to travel freely around the country from June 3.
Crowds flocked to beaches around Greece on Saturday, the first day restrictions on swimming were lifted. Beaches around Athens were packed as temperatures soared to 42 degrees Celsius. Umbrellas were spaced 4 metres apart and sunbeds were tied down, while drones reminded people to stay 1.5 metres apart. Alcohol and music were banned.
Hungary will lift its lockdown in Budapest starting on Monday, two months after it began, prime minister Viktor Orban announced in a Facebook video on Saturday. “The number of people who have been infected is low and the number of infections is also favourably low…because we all behaved responsibly,” he said.
Germany’s Bundesliga has become the first major football competition in Europe to restart after a suspension of fixtures due to the coronavirus pandemic. Five matches including a derby between Borussia Dortmund and Schalke 04 mark the restart of the league. Stadiums are empty, coaches are wearing face masks and handshakes are banned.
Thailand has extended its ban on incoming passenger flights to June 30, in a move certain to have repercussions for the kingdom’s tourism-reliant economy. The Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand said state and military aircraft, humanitarian, medical and repatriation flights are exempted from the ban, as are cargo flights.
Kenya has banned the movement of people, except truck drivers carrying freight, across its borders with neighbouring Somalia and Tanzania for 30 days from midnight on Saturday. In the last week, there has been an increased number of imported cases from people crossing the borders into Kenya with 43 new cases arriving from Tanzania and Somalia.
Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund snapped up stakes worth at least $7.7bn in US and European blue-chip companies this year as it hunts assets at knockdown prices during the coronavirus pandemic. The largest investments by the Public Investment Fund include a holding in UK energy major BP worth $827.8m, and a stake in Boeing valued at $713.6m.