U.S. Bans Travel From India; Mask Mandate Extended: Virus Update

President Joe Biden banned most travel to the U.S. from India beginning Tuesday as the country struggles to combat the worst surge of coronavirus cases in the world. Passengers on airplanes, buses and other forms mass transportation in the U.S. will have to keep wearing masks as officials extended the mandate.

New York City restaurants can expand their indoor dining capacity to 75% on May 7. Mayor Bill de Blasio said that 80,000 city employees are expected to return to their offices May 3, providing an “important indicator” to the private sector to follow suit. Connecticut will also ease curbs on bars and restaurants.

Los Angeles will close the mass vaccination site at Dodgers Stadium by the end of May as demand for shots falls across the region. Disneyland reopened after 13 months, though only to California residents for now.

Key Developments

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U.S. Bans Travel From India; Mask Mandate Extended: Virus Update

Mexico Seeks More Doses From U.S. (4:22 p.m. NY)

Mexico’s president said on Friday that he’s seeking another 5 million Covid-19 vaccine doses from the U.S., his latest appeal to countries including Russia and China to help the nation speed up its vaccination pace.

The U.S. already lent Mexico over 2.7 million vaccines in March and April, and declined to comment about whether it plans to share more shots with its southern neighbor.

TSA Extends Mask Requirement (3:42 p.m. NY)

Passengers on airplanes, buses and other forms mass transportation in the U.S. will have to keep wearing masks to guard against the spread of Covid-19 as federal officials extended a mandate that was set to expire within days through the busy summer travel season.

The Transportation Security Administration on Friday announced it was extending the mandate through Sept. 13. The move is in step with the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which still advises face coverings to limit the spread of coronavirus in crowded indoor spaces, even for those who have been vaccinated.

Connecticut Eases Restrictions (3:27 p.m. NY)

Governor Ned Lamont signed an order easing restrictions at bars and restaurants in Connecticut. The move means these outlets will be able to serve alcohol outdoors without food orders starting Saturday, and lifting the same limit for indoors on May 19.

Biden Bans Travel From India (2:28 p.m. NY)

President Joe Biden banned most travel to the U.S. from India beginning Tuesday as the country struggles to combat the worst surge of coronavirus cases in the world, the White House said.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended the travel ban, which won’t apply to U.S. citizens or permanent residents.

“The policy will be implemented in light of extraordinarily high Covid-19 caseloads and multiple variants circulating in the India,” her statement said.

India recorded 387,000 new infections on Thursday, a record high, and nearly 3,500 deaths, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

Russia Revises Up March Death Toll (1:15 p.m. NY)

Russia’s death toll from Covid-19 grew to 23,715 in March, up 86% compared with early official reports, as the government says it’s handling the pandemic as well or better than most countries.

The data released by the Federal Statistics Service after working hours on Friday includes people who were infected with the virus where it was not regarded as the cause of death. Fatalities in Russia linked to the epidemic rose to more than 85,000 in the first quarter.

NYC Indoor Dining Moves to 75% (1:07 p.m. NY)

New York City restaurants can expand their indoor dining capacity to 75% on May 7, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on Friday. The announcement aligns New York City with the rest of the state, Cuomo said in a news release.

Hair salons, barber shops and other personal care services also can open at 75% capacity on May 7, and gyms and fitness centers in the city can open at 50% capacity on May 15, Cuomo said. The easing of restrictions comes as new cases continue to fall in the state.

NYC Sees Example in Worker Return (1 p.m. NY)

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said that 80,000 city employees are expected to return to their offices May 3, providing an “important indicator” to the private sector to follow suit after the pandemic kept millions of people at home.

“People need to come back because we have work to do,” de Blasio said Friday on a WNYC radio interview.

Less than 16% of workers in the New York metropolitan area were back at their desks as of April 30, according to data from Kastle Systems.

Variants a Risk After One Pfizer Shot (12:42 p.m. NY)

People who haven’t fought off Covid-19 before are still vulnerable to infection from variants after getting the first dose of Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE’s vaccine, underscoring the need for fast and full inoculation regimens, according to a U.K. study published Friday.

Among those who previously had mild or asymptomatic cases of Covid, the protection was “significantly enhanced” after a single dose against the variants first seen in the U.K. and South Africa, researchers said in the study, published Friday in the journal Science.

Disneyland Reopens (12:35 p.m. NY)

Walt Disney Co.’s Disneyland is opening its gates after being closed for 13 months due to the pandemic.

The theme park in Anaheim, along with the nearby Disney California Adventure, will initially be opened only to California residents with capacity limits and social distancing measures in place. Disney has laid off 32,000 employees over the past year, most of them in the theme-park unit. The company plans bring back more than 10,000 furloughed employees for the reopening.

The theme park is sold out for weekends through May, an indication of pent-up demand for leisure activities as the pandemic eases.

U.S. Bans Travel From India; Mask Mandate Extended: Virus Update

U.S. Supports Taiwan at WHO Event (11:43 a.m. NY)

The U.S. said Taiwan deserves to be heard at a key World Health Organization event next month due to its contributions to global health, a call likely to anger officials in Beijing who have blocked the island’s participation in recent years.

“Taiwan’s outstanding control of Covid-19 and its donations of PPE demonstrate its strong contribution to global health,” State Department spokesman Ned Price tweeted on Friday, referring to personal protective equipment. “Taiwan has some of the world’s leading experts in combating this disease, and we need to hear from Taiwan at the World Health Assembly.”

India Strain Suspected in Austria (11:18 a.m. NY)

A woman who recently returned to Austria from India may be infected with the Indian variant of the coronavirus, according to preliminary tests in the province of Salzburg. The suspicion has yet to be confirmed by genome sequencing, according to the province’s health secretary Petra Juhasz. It would be the first time the variant has been detected in Austria.

CDC Probes Vaccine Anxiety (11:06 a.m. NY)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention investigated 64 cases of anxiety-related events, including 17 instances of fainting, among people who received Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine at five mass vaccination sites in different states over the span of a few days. A total of 64 people of 8,624 people who received J&J’s shot at the sites between April 7 and 9 experienced some anxiety-related event, such as light-headedness or dizziness, excessive sweating, nausea or vomiting or low blood pressure.

Most people recovered within the 15 minutes of observation. Some were transported to the hospital for follow up and were released that day. J&J’s single dose option may attract more people who are afraid of needles or have a history of fainting following vaccination, the CDC said. About one-quarter of the people involved said they experienced similar symptoms after receiving other shots.

Australia Bars India Travelers (10:48 a.m. NY)

Australia will bar any travelers who have been in India within 14 days of their arrival date, Health Minister Greg Hunt said in a statement. The pause begins Monday and will be reconsidered on May 15.

Dodgers Stadium to Stop Shots (10:03 a.m. NY)

Los Angeles will close the mass vaccination site at Dodgers Stadium by the end of May as demand for shots falls across the region. Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a statement doses will be shifted across the city, expanding no-appointment vaccinations and mobile clinics.

The stadium is one of the largest vaccination sites in the U.S. The closure also comes as L.A. County has met the yellow tier’s criteria for one week and could be moved into the less restrictive tier in the middle of next week, health officials said. That would allow local authorities to increase capacity in more sectors and for bars to provide indoor services at 25% capacity.

Argentina Keeps Covid Measures (8:45 a.m. NY)

Argentina will maintain limits on circulation and social gatherings until May 15 due to a Covid-19 spike in the Buenos Aires metropolitan area, President Alberto Fernandez said in a televised message.

Norway Lengthens Dose Timing (8:31 a.m. NY)

Norway lengthened the interval between the first and second doses for the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines so that people aged 18 to 44 can be offered a shot sooner. The gap has been increased to as long as 12 weeks for all age groups under 65, from the current six weeks.

Biden’s ‘Tough Call’ on Troops (7:25 a.m NY)

President Joe Biden said in an NBC News interview that it will be a “tough call” on whether to order U.S. troops to get vaccinated for Covid-19.

“It is a tough call whether they should require that for the military because they are in such close proximity with other military personnel,” Biden said.

Shot Approval Sought for Ages 12-15 (7:05 p.m. HK)

BioNTech and Pfizer submitted a request to expand conditional marketing authorization of their vaccine in the European Union to 12-15 year-olds.

France to Expand Eligibility (7:01 p.m. HK)

France will allow all adults to get vaccinated against the coronavirus from June 15, President Emmanuel Macron said in a tweet.

Starting this weekend, all “vulnerable” adults, and from May 15, all those above 50, will be entitled to get vaccination.

Vaccine Delays Hit EU Economy (6:10 p.m. HK)

The euro zone tipped into a double-dip recession in the first quarter, highlighting the cost of slow coronavirus vaccinations that have left the economy lagging far behind the U.S.

More Flights Out of India (5:01 p.m. HK)

International and domestic airlines are adding flights out of India to bring home residents and citizens as the nation’s coronavirus outbreak goes from bad to worse. Air India Ltd. plans to increase its weekly frequency of flights to the U.S. to 32 starting May 11, up from the current 29.

Korean Air Lines Co. and Asiana Airlines Inc. meanwhile are planning to charter flights from India to help South Koreans there wanting to return.

Call for New Probe Into Covid Origin (4 p.m. HK)

The World Health Organization should convene another investigation into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic that looks beyond animal sources, a group of scientists said in an open letter. The signatories proposed specific steps on what any new probe should take into account.

Astra to Seek U.S. Clearance (3:09 p.m. HK)

AstraZeneca Plc confirmed it will apply for U.S. emergency authorization of its Covid-19 vaccine in the first half of 2021 after it missed an original target this month that raised questions over whether the company would pursue the clearance at all.

France Finds India Variant Cases (2:03 p.m. HK)

The first three cases of the coronavirus variant first detected in India have been identified in metropolitan France, the health ministry said late on Thursday in a statement. All three individuals returned from India and tested positive this month.

Record India Cases (11:46 a.m. HK)

India added a record 386,452 coronavirus cases in a day, according to government data. Deaths rose by 3,498. The country’s total cases increased to 18.8 million.

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