While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, May 18

Beaches, parks busy as Europe heatwave and US spring test new coronavirus rules

Summer weather is enticing much of the world to emerge from coronavirus lockdowns as centres of the outbreak from New York to Italy and Spain gradually lift restrictions that have kept millions indoors for months.

People are streaming back to beaches, parks and streets just as a heat wave hits southern Europe and spring-like temperatures allow Americans to shed winter coats. As they venture out again, most are keeping their distance and some are wearing masks.

However, protests are also heating up from Germany to England to the United States, arguing the government restrictions demolish personal liberties and are wrecking economies.

Greeks flocked to the seaside on Saturday when more than 500 beaches reopened, coinciding with temperatures of 34 degrees Celsius.

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White House says CDC ‘let the country down’ on coronavirus testing

The White House rebuked the top US health agency on Sunday, saying “it let the country down” on providing testing crucial to the battle against the coronavirus outbreak.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been under intense scrutiny since producing a faulty test for Covid-19 that caused weeks of delays in the US response.

Critics have pointed out that it could simply have accepted kits made by the World Health Organisation, which has been producing them since late January, instead of insisting on developing its own test.

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Italy to reopen shops, restaurants as coronavirus lockdown eases further

Shops, restaurants and hair salons prepared to reopen in Italy on Monday as the government further eased one of the world’s strictest coronavirus lockdowns, saying it was taking a “calculated risk” to put the country back on its feet.

The euro zone’s third biggest economy is slowly emerging from more than two months of hibernation, with businesses allowed to gradually go back to work as long they can enforce tight sanitary protocols and keep people at least 1 metre apart.

At Milan’s upscale Rinascente department store, guards will keep count through an app of how many people are in the store at any one time. 

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Pompeo warns China over interference with US journalists in Hong Kong

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sunday said it had come to his attention that the Chinese government had threatened to interfere with the work of US journalists in Hong Kong, and said any decision impinging on Hong Kong’s autonomy could affect the US assessment of Hong Kong’s status.

“These journalists are members of a free press, not propaganda cadres, and their valuable reporting informs Chinese citizens and the world,” Pompeo said in a statement.

Pompeo announced on May 6 that the State Department was delaying a report to Congress assessing whether Hong Kong enjoyed sufficient autonomy from China to continue receiving special treatment from the United States.

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Michael Jordan’s first Air Jordan sneakers sold for record $800,000 in auction

NBA great Michael Jordan’s autographed match-worn sneakers from his rookie season fetched a record US$560,000 (S$800,000) in an online auction, Sotheby’s said on Sunday (May 17).

The Air Jordan 1s, designed for Jordan in 1985 and the first ever signature sneakers, were expected to fetch between US$100,000 to US$150,000 in the auction that closed on Sunday.

Known for selling multimillion-dollar art, Sotheby’s held its first auction dedicated entirely to sneakers last year and had then set a world record of US$437,500 for a pair of 1972 Nike running shoes known as the “Moon Shoe.”

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