Italy orders all major sports events played without fans

UNTV News   •   March 5, 2020   •   1274

REUTERS – Italy has ordered all major sporting events throughout the country, including top-flight Serie A soccer games, to be played without fans for one month in a bid to curb Europe’s worst coronavirus outbreak.

The move, announced in a government decree, will also affect the Six Nations rugby international between Italy and England, due to be played in Rome on March 14, and the Champions League soccer match between Juventus and Olympique Lyonnais on March 17.

All schools and universities were closed on Wednesday (March 4) to try to slow the spread of the coronavirus in Italy where there have been more than 3,000 cases and the death toll has reached 107.

The ban on the public watching sports events, which had already been in force in three regions in the north but has now been extended nationwide, will last until April 3 at the earliest.

The decree said that “sports events and competitions of any order and discipline, carried out in any place, both public and private, are suspended” but could go ahead if there were no spectators.

It added that “sports associations and clubs, through their own medical staff, are required to carry out appropriate checks to limit the risk of spreading (the coronavirus) among athletes, technicians, managers and all accompanying persons participating.”

Until now, Serie A has preferred to call off games in the affected regions rather than play them in empty stadiums and 10 matches have been postponed as well as this week’s two Coppa Italia semi-final ties.

However, after a meeting of club and Serie A representatives earlier on Wednesday, Inter Milan chief executive Giuseppe Marotta said that playing without fans could be the only way of finishing the Serie A season.

Marotta suggested that the six matches which had been postponed last week — including the heavyweight Juventus v Inter clash — could be rescheduled for the coming weekend.

Six Nations organisers have postponed the match between Ireland and Italy in Dublin on March 7 but said on Monday (March 2) that all other games would go ahead, including Italy’s game against England in Rome, which was not affected by the original ban in the northern regions.

The organisers and the Italian rugby federation could not immediately be reached for comment.

UEFA has said it is in constant contact with local authorities and decisions over whether games should be played behind closed doors, or postponed, would be taken at the last minute.

(Production: Stefan Haskins)

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Apple to re-close more stores in seven states, bringing total to 77

UNTV News   •   July 2, 2020

REUTERS – Apple Inc said on Wednesday (July 1) that it would re-close more than two dozen stores in seven states, including its home state of California, bringing the total closures to 77 as coronavirus cases continue to rise.

Starting Thursday (July 2), stores will close in Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, and Oklahoma.

As of Wednesday, additional stores had already closed in Florida, Mississippi, Texas, and Utah.

Apple has taken an city-by-city approach to opening and closing stores, evaluating data for each community.

In cities where stores remain open, Apple requires face coverings for employees and customers while also performing temperature checks and frequent cleaning, the company said.

Apple has said its retail employees will continue to be paid through the closures. (Production: Angela Moore)

Number of Californians with COVID-19 keeps rising; governor declares budget emergency

UNTV News   •   June 26, 2020

California Governor Gavin Newsom on Thursday (June 25) declared a budget emergency in the most populous U.S. state, blaming expenses and the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Declaring a budget emergency allows the state to tap into its rainy day fund. California anticipates a $54.3-billion budget deficit due to costs and a drop in revenue linked to the pandemic.

The state’s budget crunch lies in the shadow of coronavirus cases that continue to mount.

Nearly 5,350 people tested positive for the coronavirus in California the past 24 hours, Newsom said. The increase was smaller than Wednesday’s (June 24) record of 7,149 new cases. But the number of Californians becoming very ill continued to rise, using about 34% of the available intensive care beds in the state, up from 29% on Wednesday.

A total of 4,240 patients were hospitalized with COVID-19 on Thursday in the state, using about 9% of total available beds, Newsom said.

The surging cases have prompted the state to put 11 counties, representing about half of California’s population, on a watch list of places that might be required to roll back recent efforts to reopen their economies. (Reuters)

(Production: Jane Ross)

Paris airport’s ‘new normal’ comes with UV tunnel and thermal cameras

UNTV News   •   June 26, 2020

Orly Airport has ramped up security measures as it prepares to resume commercial flights after a nearly three-month hiatus.

With lockdown restrictions easing and Europe starting to open up its borders, scheduled flights will start on Friday (June 26), with a 6:00 a.m. Paris-Porto flight kicking off departures.

Passengers can no longer enter the terminals with non-flying companions, and wearing masks is required, Orly Airport’s passengers control officer Nathalie Chailly said.

Alcohol gel dispensers are available across the terminals, and floor markings urge social distancing. Thermal cameras are in place at the arrival area, where passengers with a temperature of 38 degrees or above can benefit from a medical consultation, but will not be forced to go under quarantine.

Tech firm LabScience has a developed a prototype of an ultraviolet-rays decontaminating tunnel, being tested at Orly Airport. The tunnel uses a high concentration of ultraviolet light over 4 to 5 seconds to kill micro-organisms on a piece of luggage or a coat, before the objects are scanned by x-ray.

Orly, the second biggest airport serving the capital, was shut to passengers on March 31.

Around 74 departures and arrivals in total are scheduled for Friday, compared to a usual load of 600 flights a day, according to Orly Airport.

Only domestic flights and flights to and from Schengen countries and France’s overseas departments will be flying out of Orly, through companies including Air France, Air Caraibe, Transavia and Wizz Air. The airport is expecting around 8,500 passengers on Friday, sharply down from the daily average of 90,000 passengers before the pandemic.

Duty-free shops will also re-open on Friday. (Reuters)

(Production: Antony Paone, Michaela Cabrera)

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