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Coronavirus live news: Australia puts 300,000 back into lockdown; tourist flights to Greece resume – The Guardian

Workers at a chicken processing facility in western North Carolina reportedly underwent widespread testing for Covid-19 in early June.

Workers at the plant were scared. Several employees had already tested positive and the company, Case Farms – which has been repeatedly condemned for animal treatment and workers’ rights violations – was not providing proper protective equipment.

“We don’t have a lot of space at work. We are shoulder to shoulder,” said one worker, who declined to be identified, during a recent union call. “I’m afraid to go to work, but I have to go.”

The testing turned up 150 positive cases at the facility, the worker said.

On 8 June, the health department for Burke county, where the Case Farms facility is located, reported 136 new Covid cases, a 25% increase in its total caseload. Yet neither the company, county officials nor the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services would confirm whether those cases were connected to Case Farms. It is just one example of the currently taut relationship between public health and the economy in North Carolina, as the number of Covid-19 cases and hospitalisations rises.

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In Greece the first flights bearing tourists have begun flying into airports nationwide.

A charter plane carrying 172 passengers from Hamburg landed at Heraklion airport on Crete at 8am, minutes after another aircraft had arrived from the Czech Republic, reopening the island’s air links with the outside world. The visitors received an enthusiastic welcome with airport ground staff spraying the planes with water jets as they taxied to their gates and local musicians greeting tourists as they emerged from the arrivals hall.

“Tourism has got off to a dynamic start on Crete,” the airport’s manager, Giorgos Pliakas, told local TV, saying 40 international flights were expected on Wednesday. “It’s encouraging that all the flights are full.”

Until late last night 150 flights had been scheduled to land at regional airports around Greece including the popular destinations of Mykonos, Rhodes, Corfu and Kos.

A passenger from Germany stands outside Rhodes airport after the lifting of travel restrictions.

A passenger from Germany stands outside Rhodes airport after the lifting of travel restrictions. Photograph: Alkis Konstantinidis/Reuters

By this morning that figure had dropped to 104, an abrupt change highlighting the last-minute flight cancellations that are likely to become the new normal in the age of coronavirus.

With the exception of the UK and Sweden, from where flights continue to be suspended until 15 July – illuminating the lack of headway made by both countries in containing the virus – there are no restrictions on arrivals from other European countries. Athens, following EU guidelines, has also permitted air traffic to resume with 15 other nations including Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

But in a country that has managed to keep infection and casualty rates low, tourism’s resumption also resembles a military operation. In Crete, as in other airports, public health officials have created special screening areas with mask-wearing travellers being subject to Covid-19 tests upon arrival – depending on the findings of an electronic form all are obliged to complete 48 hours before entering Greece.

Sinn Féin is facing accusations of imperilling Northern Ireland’s fight against Covid-19 after its leaders allegedly breached guidelines and regulations by leading hundreds of mourners at the funeral of an IRA commander.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) said it will review footage of the funeral in Belfast on Tuesday that drew more than a thousand people in apparent violation of rules limiting outdoor gatherings to 30 people.

Mary Lou McDonald and Gerry Adams, Sinn Féin’s respective current and former leader, and Michelle O’Neill, a deputy leader who is also Northern Ireland’s deputy first minister, attended the send-off for Bobby Storey, a veteran republican and IRA figure.

Politicians from other parties who share executive power with Sinn Féin at Stormont accused it of undermining efforts to contain the coronavirus pandemic.

“What we are seeing … was a breach of the guidance that has been issued and has been worked on by the executive and has been supported by the executive,” said the health minister, Robin Swann. “I sincerely hope that this isn’t the Dominic Cummings effect in Northern Ireland because in our health service we can’t afford it to be.”

It was a reference to the Downing Street adviser taking long drives during England’s lockdown.

Naomi Long, the justice minister and Alliance party leader, said in a tweet that when the rule-makers break the rules it was more hurtful “for all who made huge sacrifices to obey the regulations”.

O’Neill, who is expected to face tough questions at Stormont on Wednesday, defended her attendance at the funeral and said it respected regulations and guidelines.

The cortège had a “maximum of 30 people” and the service inside St Agnes’ Church was “exemplary” in terms of social distancing and hygiene, with only three people per pew, she told the Irish News. “It was all done in accordance with the guidelines.”

The loosening of lockdown restrictions has prompted loyalist Orange Order marching bands to ask permission to hold traditional parades this month.

When Jacinda Ardern urged New Zealanders to stand firm behind her government’s decision to keep the country’s borders tightly closed against Covid-19, the prime minister described a reality that many around the world could only imagine with envy. “We get to enjoy weekend sport, go to restaurants and bars, our workplaces are open, and we can gather in whatever numbers we like,” she said.

New Zealanders returned in June to normal life with strict border controls the only remnant of a pandemic that months ago had threatened to sweep the country as it had in most others before a strict lockdown quashed its spread.

But now its inhabitants now face a burgeoning anxiety that some find more difficult to cope with than the fear of the pandemic, analysts say: an open-ended uncertainty about their own futures and New Zealand’s place in the world if the virus continues to rage elsewhere.

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