CHICAGO — Restrictions aimed at limiting the spread of the coronavirus in Chicago’s restaurants and bars will ease slightly this week, letting more customers dine and drink indoors.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced the decision Monday as Illinois officials said 1,709 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus have been reported statewide and 13 more people have died.
Since the start of the pandemic, Illinois has reported 289,639 confirmed cases and 8,614 deaths. According to state health data, 79,765 of those cases and 2,956 deaths have involved residents of Chicago, the third-largest city in the U.S.
Statewide, 3.7% of the tests performed during the last seven days have been positive. In Chicago, Lightfoot said that figure is at 4.5%.
The changes to Chicago’s rules will let restaurants increase capacity from 25% to 40% — with a cap at 50 people within one room. Bars without food service, which the city shut down this summer after a brief reopening, can resume indoor service at 25% capacity or a maximum of 50 people.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK
— India’s confirmed coronavirus tally reaches 6 million cases
— Zimbabwe begins gradual reopening of schools amid virus
— For Israel’s ultra-Orthodox Jews, coronavirus restrictions raise numerous questions about how to maintain their religious lifestyle during the outbreak
— Coronavirus outbreak for crew on cruise ship in Greece
— U.S. to ship millions of tests in push to reopen K-12 schools
Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
STILLWATER, Okla. — Stillwater Public Schools students and their families are suffering personal and financial hardships as a result of the district’s distance and remote learning plan enacted because of the coronavirus pandemic, a group of parents allege in a lawsuit filed Monday.
The lawsuit, filed in Payne County against the district, superintendent and board members, is demanding the district provide access to in-person classroom instruction and reopen all public school facilities.
The district is currently offering a mixed schedule, dubbed the A-B plan, with students reporting to in-person classes two days a week and distance learning three days a week. Payne County is among about two dozen Oklahoma counties in the Orange 2 designation, the second-highest level, with between 25 and 50 confirmed coronavirus cases per 100,000 population, according to State Health Department data.
A spokesman for the district, Barry Fuxa, declined to comment on the lawsuit specifically but noted the district is following Oklahoma State Department of Education guidelines for determining when to limit in-person instruction.
TOPEKA, Kan. — Kansas is reporting another seven-day record for new coronavirus cases, with 16% of tests for the virus during that period coming back positive.
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment said Monday that the U.S. state had 2,037 new confirmed and probable coronavirus cases since Friday, an increase of 3.6%, for a total of 58,629 since the pandemic reached the state in early March.
Kansas had an average of 667 new cases a day for the seven days ending Monday, or 7% higher than the previous record of 622 for the seven days ending Wednesday.
The state also reported five new COVID-19-related deaths, bringing the pandemic total to 637. Deaths continued to represent about 1.1% of the total cases.
ROME — More Italian regions are mulling outside mask mandates amid a steady increase in infections and indications that testing capacity can’t keep up with the demand.
Italy added 1,494 coronavirus infections and 16 deaths to its confirmed COVID toll Monday, in line with its daily increase for the past few weeks. While Italy has managed to test around 105,000 people a day during weekdays, processing slows down considerably over the weekend, and Italian labs managed only 51,109 tests in the past 24 hours.
The Lazio region around Rome is the latest to announce it is considering requiring residents to wear masks outdoors as its infections grow and testing capacities lag. Residents are reporting a weeklong wait for results, prompting officials to announce they’ll start using quicker but less accurate rapid tests in schools next week.
Sicily over the weekend joined southern Campania and the city of Genoa in announcing outdoor mask mandates. The Campania region around Naples led the country in adding the most new infections Monday, at 295; Sicily added 102 — almost as many as Europe’s original virus epicenter in Lombardy.
MADRID — After ending a meeting with Madrid regional officials without agreeing how to tackle a wave of coronavirus infections, Spain’s health minister has pleaded again for tougher measures in the Spanish capital.
Salvador Illa said that the Madrid region, home to 6.6 million, “has community transmission and the pandemic is not under control.”
“It’s already too late and we need to act with determination,” he said.
The national government wants to see existing restrictions against the spread of the virus extended to the entire city while regional officials say time is needed to see if the current limitations have an effect and that drastic measures would hurt further Spain’s economy.
The disagreement has played out publicly, raising concern among many in Madrid and the rest of Spain.
The country’s coronavirus tally on Monday reached 748,266 infections since the onset of the pandemic, 31,785 more since Friday, official data showed. There were 179 new fatalities for COVID-19, bringing the total death toll to 31,411, although experts think many more deaths have not been recorded due to limited testing.
With 290 cases per 100,000 people in two weeks, Spain is by far leading Europe’s infections during this second wave. The rate is particularly high in the capital, Madrid, with 775 new cases per 100,000 over the past 14 days.
Madrid has limited all social gatherings to a maximum of 6 people, reduced attendance in shops and restaurants, and restricted mobility from and to 45 neighborhoods of the region.
BRATISLAVA, Slovakia — Slovakia is imposing further restrictive measures in an effort to curb a recent record surge of coronavirus infections in the country.
Calling the current situation “extraordinary serious,” Prime Minister Igor Matovic says most public gatherings will be banned, starting Thursday.
All family, sports, cultural or religious events are affected by the ban. Soccer matches and other similar competitions will be allowed to take place only if everyone involved tests negative for the coronavirus within 12 hours.
The exceptions include weddings, baptisms and funerals.
Also, all bars, restaurants and clubs must close at 10 p.m.
Similar to the restrictions adopted in the spring, face masks will be mandatory outside if people are closer to one another than 2 meters (yards). The number of people in stores will be limited to one customer per 10 square meters (108 square feet).
Slovakia faced a spike in day-to-day increases of new COVID-19 cases for several days last week, with a record of 552 set on Friday.
Still, the country has not been as hard hit as most other European countries. Slovakia has had a total of 9,343 people infected, with 44 deaths.
GENEVA — The head of the World Health Organization says it and partners have agreed to a plan to roll out 120 million rapid diagnostic tests for the coronavirus to help lower- and middle-income countries make up ground in a testing gap with richer countries — even if it’s not fully funded yet.
At $5 apiece, the cost of the antigen-based rapid diagnostic test for which WHO issued an emergency-use listing last week, the program initially requires $600 million. It is supposed to get started as early as next month to provide better access in areas where it’s harder to get the PCR tests that are used often in many wealthier nations.
The rapid tests look for antigens, or proteins found on the surface of the virus. They are generally considered less accurate, though much faster, than higher-grade genetic tests, known as PCR tests. Those tests require processing with specialty lab equipment and chemicals. Typically that turnaround takes several days to deliver results to patients.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus hailed the program as “good news” in the fight against COVID-19.
“These tests provide reliable results in approximately 15 to 30 minutes, rather than hours or days, at a lower price with less sophisticated equipment,” he told a news conference in Geneva. “This will enable the expansion of testing, particularly in hard-to-reach areas that do not have lab facilities or enough trained health workers to carry out PCR tests.”
“We have an agreement, we have seed funding and now we need the full amount of funds to buy these tests,” he said, without elaborating.
STOCKHOLM — The Swedish chief epidemiologist best known for being the man behind Sweden’s much debated COVID-19 approach of keeping large parts of the society open says the 1 million virus-related deaths "is a fairly small number compared to many other diseases that cause death.”
Anders Tegnell of Sweden’s Public Health Agency told Swedish radio on Monday that “we must not be fooled into thinking that this is the only problem we have in the world when it comes to global health.”
While most of Europe locked down their populations early in the pandemic by closing schools, restaurants, fitness centers and even borders, people in Sweden kept enjoying many freedoms.
The milestone of 1 million deaths comes more than nine months into a crisis that has devastated the global economy, tested world leaders’ resolve, pitted science against politics and forced multitudes to change the way they live, learn and work.
HONOLULU — The Hawaii Department of Public Safety says 19 inmates tested positive for COVID-19 a day after officials declared that an outbreak in an Oahu jail was under control.
Hawaii Public Radio reported the confirmed infections followed a round of testing at the Oahu Community Correctional Center.
The department says 131 of 150 inmates tested tested negative and that tests on 22 staff members were negative. The department adds that there have been 310 inmates overall at the Oahu jail who have tested positive for the coronavirus and that 93 staff have tested positive.
Officials say mass testing continues at other Hawaii lockups.
TOPEKA, Kan. — Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly has moved a Kansas Statehouse meditation room created by Republicans as a place for prayer and reflection to a less-visible space to create more room for her staff and enable them to follow social distancing.
The new meditation room is on the northwest side of the building’s basement floor, down an out-of-the-way hall. The meditation space was until earlier this month on the Statehouse’s second floor, where Kelly and her staff have their offices.
Kelly spokeswoman Lauren Fitzgerald says the change ensures that the governor’s expanding constituent-services staff can follow social distancing.
But Senate President Susan Wagle, a Wichita Republican and frequent Kelly critic, suggested the governor “increased government so much that staffers need to take over a long-standing room for prayer.”
LONDON — British politicians will have to curb their late-night drinking after authorities in Parliament ordered alcohol sales restricted as part of anti-coronavirus measures.
Bars and restaurants in the U.K. have been ordered to shut at 10 p.m. under restrictions imposed last week to curb the spread of COVID-19. But catering facilities in Parliament were exempt under a loophole that allows workplace canteens to keep longer hours.
But after a backlash a parliamentary spokesman clarified Monday that “alcohol will not be sold after 10 p.m. anywhere on the parliamentary estate,” though food can be sold during late-night sessions of Parliament.
Some lawmakers had pointed out that the anomaly would do little for politicians’ public image.
Health Minister Helen Whately said members of Parliament “shouldn’t be sitting round late at night drinking. We have got a job to do when we are there.” Opposition Labour Party legislator Wes Streeting tweeted: “This is ridiculous and makes parliament look ridiculous. This has got to change immediately. We can’t have one rule for parliament and one rule for everyone else.”
PARIS — French President Emmanuel Macron has justified new restrictions in the country to limit the spread of the virus as restaurant and bar owners forced to shut down expressed anger at the measures.
The virus situation in French big cities is “serious and worrying,” Macron said in comments reported by government spokesperson Gabriel Attal on Monday.
New restrictions focus on areas where health authorities report a “rapid and significant” spreading of the epidemic, Attal said.
Bars and restaurants in Marseille, France’s second-biggest city, closed on Sunday evening for at least one week, prompting demonstrations against the government order.
Milder restrictions have been ordered in 10 other cities including Paris, with gyms shut down, public gatherings of more than 10 people banned and bars ordered to close at 10 p.m.
Finance minister Bruno Le Maire promised business owners “we will stay by your side and we will keep deploying arrangements to allow you to overcome that extraordinarily difficult moment.”
French authorities have reported a steady increase in new infections and hospitalizations in recent weeks. The country has reported a total of 31,727 virus-related deaths, one of Europe’s highest tolls.
BRUSSELS — The coronavirus has forced at least four senior EU officials into self-isolation in recent days.
EU council president Charles Michel went into quarantine last week and EU commission spokeswoman Dana Spinant said Monday that three members of the college of commissioners also went into self-isolation “by prudence.”
The EU commissioners propose laws and make decisions on the EU’s executive arm’s policies.
Spinant did not identify the three commissioners.
ATHENS, Greece — Greek authorities say 12 crew members of a Maltese-flagged cruise ship on a Greek island tour with more than 1,500 people on board have tested positive to the coronavirus and have been isolated on board.
The Mein Schiff 6, operated by TUI Cruises, began its trip in Heraklion on the southern Greek island of Crete on Sunday night with 922 passengers and 666 crew members on board. It had been due to sail to Piraeus, the country’s main port near the Greek capital Athens, and later to the western island of Corfu.
Greece’s Shipping Ministry says that sample tests for the coronavirus were carried out on 150 of the crew members and 12 of them were found to be positive. The passengers had undergone coronavirus tests before boarding and were not part of the sample testing.
Those who tested positive for COVID-19 have been isolated on board, and the cruise ship was headed to Piraeus. It was not immediately clear when it would arrive.
YANGON, Myanmar —- Myanmar health authorities have reported 743 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus, bringing the country’s total over the 10,000 mark.
The Health Ministry has announced a total of 10,734 coronavirus cases since March, including 226 deaths. There were 28 new deaths recorded Sunday.
Myanmar’s biggest city, Yangon, tightened lockdown measures last week. Residents cannot travel outside their officially designated wards. Police on Monday were manning checkpoints to ensure that vehicles driving through have valid exemptions such as medical reasons.
Most businesses must have their employees work from home and many factories are closed. There are exemptions to the restrictions for services deemed essential, including banks, petrol stations and food production.
The authorities have said there is a pressing need for increasing the capacity of quarantine centers and hospitals and other COVID-19 treatment facilities, and upgrading hospital staffing and equipment.
MOSCOW — Russian health officials have reported more than 8,000 new coronavirus cases for the first time since mid-June.
The 8,135 new confirmed cases brought the country’s total to nearly 1.16 million, the fourth largest caseload in the world. Almost 27% of Monday’s new cases — 2,217 — were registered in Moscow.
The number of daily new cases started to rapidly grow this month in Russia, which had earlier lifted most of the virus-related restrictions and resumed air traffic with several countries.
Officials have repeatedly dismissed rumors of a second lockdown, saying the growth in the autumn was expected and Russia’s health care infrastructure was prepared for it.
Last week Moscow authorities asked the elderly to stay at home starting from Monday, and employers to allow as many people as possible to work from home amid the surge of new cases.
Russia was the first country in the world to approve a vaccine against the virus last month. The move elicited criticism from experts worldwide as the shots have only been tested on a few dozen people and further studies are needed to establish the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness.
BERLIN — The German government has expressed concern about the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the country.
Official figures released Monday show almost 1,192 confirmed infections in the past 24 hours. The actual number is likely to be higher due to reporting delays over the weekend.
Government spokesman Steffen Seiber says “the development of the infection numbers is causing us great concern." He says that the number of cases in Germany has roughly tripled since June.
While some regions have seen few new cases, others have recorded a sharp jump.
Chancellor Angela Merkel is scheduled to meet Tuesday with the governors of Germany’s 16 states to discuss which measures are needed to cope with the pandemic going into the fall.
The country has managed better than many of its neighbors to contain the spread of the virus and keep the mortality rate low.
According to official figures, there have been 285,332 confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany since the start of the outbreak, and 9,460 deaths.