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Slovenian cyclists stage anti-government #Coronavirus protest

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Thousands of cyclists took over streets in the centre of the Slovenian capital Ljubljana on Friday evening (8 May) to protest against the government of Prime Minister Janez Jansa and the restrictions it has imposed to fight the coronavirus, writes Marja Novak.

Cyclists sounded horns and shouted “thieves, thieves”, following allegations of government corruption in purchasing face masks and ventilators reported by TV Slovenia last month.

The government has denied wrongdoing.

The centre-right government took over after the previous centre-left administration resigned because it lacked sufficient support in parliament.

The protest, organised by civil society groups, was the largest in recent weeks. Cyclists staged a smaller demonstration in Maribor, Slovenia’s second city, on Friday.

The cyclists carried Slovenian flags and held banners saying “Raise workers’ wages”, “Careful, the government is falling”, and “Stronger together”. Most wore face masks.

“I want this government to go. They are taking away our future,” said a young protester who did not want to give her name for fear of being fined for breaking rules against public gatherings during the epidemic.

Police fenced off parliament while a police helicopter flew above the protesters.

“We call upon people to respect decrees aimed at protecting public health,” police said. They gave no immediate estimate of the number of protesters but reported no violence.

Slovenia imposed a wide-ranging lockdown in mid-March. So far it has confirmed 1,450 coronavirus cases and 100 deaths.

The government started lifting restrictions on April 20 when car service centres and some shops reopened, while bars and restaurants have been allowed to serve food outdoors since Monday.

Next week, public transport will resume gradually and some pupils will return to school on May 18.

People must still wear face masks in indoor public places and stand at least 1.5 meters apart in any public space.

The government has set aside €3 billion euros ($3.25 billion) to help citizens and companies hit by the coronavirus.

Slovenia’s economy is expected to contract by about 8% this year although the fall could exceed 15% if lockdown measures last longer than expected, according to the government’s UMAR macroeconomic institute.

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Scotland extends hospitality restrictions until 2 November - PA Media

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Coronavirus restrictions in Scotland, which include the closure of pubs and restaurants in the central belt area and a curfew on indoor hospitality elsewhere, are to be extended until 2 November, PA Media reported on Wednesday (21 October), citing Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, write Sarah Young and Andy Bruce.

 

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Coronavirus risks running out of control in Germany, warns Soeder

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The leader of Bavaria’s Christian Social Union (CSU), Markus Soeder (pictured), warned on Wednesday (21 October) that the coronavirus is at risk of spiraling out of control in Germany, writes Paul Carrel.

While Germany’s infection rates are lower than in much of Europe, they have been accelerating and hit a daily record of 7,830 on Saturday, according to the Robert Koch Institute.

“Corona is back with full force ... the second wave is here,” Soeder told the Bavarian state assembly, adding caution and prudence were required.

On Tuesday, residents in the Bavarian district of Berchtesgadener Land went back into lockdown, the first area in Germany to do so since April.

Soeder said he nonetheless wanted to keep open borders with neighbouring countries. Bavaria borders Switzerland, Austria and the Czech Republic. He was also determined to keep the economy functioning and schools and nurseries open as long as possible.

“Our priority is to avoid a blanket lockdown,” he told the Bavarian state assembly, adding that he would introduce a “dark red” alert level with tougher restrictions for areas in Bavaria that have 100 new cases per 100,000 people over seven days.

Earlier, a spokeswoman for German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said he was staying in quarantine at home until Oct. 29 after a bodyguard tested positive for the virus.

Steinmeier, whose role is largely ceremonial, has now twice tested negative for the virus, the spokeswoman added.

“There is light on the horizon,” said Soeder. “Of course, the vaccine will come, of course the situation will be very different in spring next year ... There is a tomorrow after corona.”

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Commission approves €2.3 million Czech scheme to support health SPA facilities affected by coronavirus outbreak in the Karlovy Vary Region of Czechia

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The European Commission has approved a CZK 62 million (approximately €2.3m) Czech scheme to support providers of SPA medical procedures and curative rehabilitation treatments in the Karlovy Vary Region (Czechia) in the context of the coronavirus outbreak. The measure was approved under the state aid Temporary Framework. The public support will take the form of direct grants. The scheme aims at mitigating the liquidity shortages that health SPAs in the region are currently facing due to the drop in the number of patients caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

This scheme complements a scheme to support health SPA facilities in the whole of Czechia that the Commission approved in August 2020  (SA.58018). The Commission found that the Czech scheme for the health SPA facilities in the Karlovy Vary Region is in line with the conditions set out in the Temporary Framework. In particular, the support (i) will not exceed €800,000 per company as provided by the Temporary Framework; and (ii) will be granted no later than 30 June 2021.

The Commission concluded that the scheme is necessary, appropriate and proportionate to remedy a serious disturbance in the economy of a member state, in line with Article 107(3)(b) TFEU and the conditions of the Temporary Framework. On this basis, the Commission approved the measure under EU state aid rules. More information on the Temporary Framework and other actions taken by the Commission to address the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic can be found here.

The non-confidential version of the decision will be made available under the case number SA.58198 in the state aid register on the Commission's competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved.

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