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Disney World reopens as coronavirus cases surge in Florida

Guests wore masks as required to attend the official reopening day of the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World.
Guests wore masks as required to attend the official reopening day of the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World.Joe Burbank/Associated Press

ORLANDO — “The Most Magical Place on Earth” has reopened after nearly four months with new rules in place to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom reopened Saturday, while Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios will follow four days later.

“It’s the chance to come back and be in the magic,” said Diane Watkins, a preschool teacher from Helena, Ala., who visits the park about eight times a year. “Hot or not, mask or not, we’re just happy to be here. I feel like everybody here is in the same frame of mind. Everybody is just so excited to be here.”

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Watkins said that when she and her 16-year-old daughter walked into the Magic Kingdom on Saturday morning, then saw all the cast members lined up and clapping on Main Street, she cried.

“It was very emotional,” she said.

The reopening comes as a huge surge of Floridians have tested positive for the new coronavirus in recent weeks. On Saturday, there were about 10,000 new cases reported, according to state statistics. Many cities and counties around the state have recently reinstated restrictions that had been lifted in May, when cases seemed to drop.

All of Disney’s Orlando parks closed in mid-March in an effort to stop the virus’s spread. Universal Orlando and SeaWorld Orlando closed around the same time but reopened several weeks ago after instituting similar rules to protect employees and customers from the virus.

Lori Lovell of Evansville, Ind., strolled around Frontierland on Saturday morning with friends.

“I have missed coming here. It just feels really good to be back. This is where I’ve made so many memories. It’s kind of our second home. Not being able to come here was hard.”

Disney’s new rules include mandatory masks and social distancing. Visitors will need reservations to enter a park, and they won’t be allowed to hop between parks. Both visitors and employees will receive temperature checks when they enter. Fireworks shows and parades have been suspended to prevent drawing too many people together.

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Park-goers say that nearly everyone in sight wore masks on Saturday morning.

Associated Press

Trump wears a face mask in visit to Walter Reed

President Trump wore a face mask during a visit to the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, a rare instance of doing so publicly as coronavirus cases continue to pile up. Trump on Saturday was photographed walking with about a dozen officials in the halls of the hospital, wearing a Navy blue mask adorned with a gold presidential seal.

The president was to meet combat-wounded service members and their families, as well as health care workers who’ve been on the front lines of the pandemic.

The event was the first public photo opportunity in which Trump has appeared wearing a mask since the beginning of the outbreak. Trump spent about an hour at the hospital in Bethesda, Md.

An image of a masked Trump surfaced during his visit to a Ford Motor Co. factory in Michigan in May. The president didn’t wear the mask during the public portion of the visit to the plant, which was making ventilators, masks, and other medical supplies, saying he didn’t “want to give the press the pleasure of seeing” him in the face covering.

Despite repeated calls to do so, including from members of his own party, Trump has stubbornly refused to wear a mask, defying official guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and behavior modeled by members of the White House coronavirus task force, including Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx. Trump hinted in an interview with Fox News on Thursday that he was planning to wear a mask during his hospital visit. “I expect to be wearing a mask when I go into Walter Reed. You’re in a hospital setting, I think it’s a very appropriate thing,” Trump told host Sean Hannity. “It’s fine to wear a mask if it makes you feel comfortable.”

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Trump’s remarks were in contrast with others he’s made on face coverings during the pandemic. The president at times has mocked his Democratic challenger, Joe Biden, for wearing one. Surveys have shown mask wearing has become a topic of partisan debate.

Bloomberg News

Cuomo predicts increase in cases from outside N.Y.

NEW YORK — The number of New Yorkers hospitalized with the coronavirus fell to the lowest point in nearly four months, state officials said Saturday.

But Governor Andrew Cuomo is predicting a new increase in cases amid outbreaks in other states.

“The only question is how far up our rate goes,” Cuomo said in an interview with WAMC radio on Friday. “You can’t have it all across the country and not come back.’’

The governor acknowledged the limitations in enforcing quarantine rules for travelers returning from states with rising rates of transmission. The travel advisory currently applies to people entering New York from 19 states, including California, Texas, and Florida.

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“How do you catch somebody driving in, right? I mean, it’s very very difficult, it’s trying to catch water in a screen,” Cuomo said. “And there’s a certain inevitability to it. It was in China, got on a plane, went to Europe, people in Europe got on a plane, came here. Then it went down south, down west, and it’s going to come back.”

The state on Saturday reported 799 COVID-19 hospitalizations — the lowest number since March 18.

Six people in the state died of the coronavirus on Friday, but state officials said the three-day average death toll had fallen to its lowest since March 16.

Associated Press

In Serbia, protests over lockdown plan intensify

BELGRADE — Serbian police detained 71 people after clashes during the fourth night of antigovernment protests that were initially sparked by the Serbian president’s plans to reintroduce a coronavirus lockdown.

Fourteen policemen were injured in the rioting Friday evening when hundreds of right-wing demonstrators tried to storm the parliament building in downtown Belgrade, police director Vladimir Rebic said Saturday. Many demonstrators and several reporters were also injured in the protests. More protests were expected Saturday night.

The protesters, defying an antivirus ban on gatherings, threw bottles, rocks, and flares at police who were guarding the parliament building, and police responded with tear gas to disperse the angry crowds.

The protests started when populist President Aleksandar Vucic announced a strict curfew for this weekend to curb a surge in new coronavirus cases in the Balkan country

Vucic later scrapped the plan to impose the lockdown. Authorities instead banned gatherings of more than 10 people in Belgrade, the capital, and shortened the working hours of indoor businesses.

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Many in Serbia accuse the increasingly authoritarian Vucic and his government of letting the virus crisis spin out of control in order to hold a parliamentary election on June 21 that tightened the ruling party’s grip on power.

Associated Press

Bus driver’s widow calls for ‘exemplary punishment’

BAYONNE, France — The wife of a French bus driver who was beaten to death after he asked four passengers to wear face masks aboard his vehicle called Saturday for “exemplary punishment” for his killers.

The assault on Philippe Monguillot has scandalized France. President Emmanuel Macron on Saturday dispatched the interior minister to meet the driver’s widow after his death was announced Friday. He had been hospitalized in critical condition after the July 5 attack.

Veronique Monguillot said she told the minister, Gerald Darmanin, that she and their three daughters were “destroyed” by the attack.

The Bayonne prosecutor said Monguillot was assaulted after he asked four passengers to wear face masks, which are required aboard French public transport. The driver waspushed off the bus and beaten and kicked in the head, the prosecutor said.

Four people are in custody.

Associated Press