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EU formalizes reopening, barring travelers from US

BRUSSELS — The European Union will open its borders to visitors from 15 countries as of Wednesday, but not to travelers from the United States, Brazil, or Russia, putting into effect a complex policy that has sought to balance health concerns with politics, diplomacy, and the desperate need for tourism revenue.

The list of nations that EU countries have approved includes Australia, Canada, and New Zealand, while travelers from China will be permitted if China reciprocates.

The plan was drawn up based on health criteria, and EU officials went to great lengths to appear apolitical in their choices, but the decision to leave the United States off the list — lumping it with Brazil and Russia — was a high-profile rebuke of the Trump administration’s handling of the coronavirus crisis.

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Travelers’ country of residence, not their nationality, will be the determining factor for their ability to travel to countries in the EU, officials said, and while the policy will not be legally binding, all 27 member nations will be under pressure to comply.

The United States was the first country to bar visitors from the EU in March as the pandemic devastated Italy and other European nations.

The bloc implemented its own travel ban in mid-March and has been gradually extending it as the pandemic spreads to other parts of the world. It had set Wednesday as the date to begin allowing non-EU travelers to return, even as Portugal and Sweden, both members, and Britain, which is treated as a member until the end of the year, still grapple with serious outbreaks.

New York Times

Slovenia minister resigns over equipment probe

LJUBLJANA, Slovenia — Slovenia’s interior minister on Tuesday stepped down in protest of an investigation against the economy minister in the procurement of medical equipment during the coronavirus outbreak.

Ales Hojs said that the probe was politically motivated and directed against the center-right government of Prime Minister Janez Jansa. Hojs said the police commissioner also has resigned.

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Slovenian media say the police conducted house searches as part of the probe by the National Bureau of Investigation against Economy Minister Zdravko Pocivalsek and other suspects.

Jansa’s coalition government took office in March after the resignation of his liberal predecessor.

The new government has faced weeks of street protests that started initially after accusations of political pressure surfaced in the procurement of medical equipment. Government critics also have accused Jansa of attempts to curb media and other freedoms in the country.

Associated Press

Toronto mandates face masks, citing problems in US

TORONTO — Canada’s largest city has made masks mandatory in public indoor spaces.

“You have told us you don’t want to see a repeat of what you see when you turn on your TV and see reports from the United States,’’ Toronto Mayor John Tory said.

Toronto’s city council approved a bylaw, and it will come into effect July 7.

Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto’s medical officer of health, said there is growing evidence that shows nonmedical masks can help prevent the spread of COVID-19, and she noted many cities in the United States are seeing a resurgence in cases since reopening.

She said masks will help indoor spaces — most of which had been closed during the earlier stages of the pandemic — stay safe.

Associated Press

In midst of chaos, one Latin American nation gets it right

Uruguay has become an oasis in the middle of a COVID-19 storm.

Despite sharing a border with Brazil, a coronavirus epicenter, the nation hasn’t had more than 100 active cases at any point for almost a month. In all, it’s reported just 932 confirmed cases since the pandemic began and 27 deaths. Next door, Argentina has had some 62,000 cases. And in Brazil, to the north, infections have totaled a staggering 1.34 million.

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On Monday, Uruguay became one of the first countries in the Americas to return to most classroom learning, with the final wave of schools reopening in the capital of Montevideo. It’s part of a phased restart of the economy -- from construction sites to malls -- that started in late April. Public events like theater performances are also set to open soon.

President Luis Lacalle Pou was faster to act than his regional peers, moving to close borders and issuing a voluntary lockdown less than a month after taking office on March 1.

Bloomberg News

India’s coronavirus cases, deaths continue to surge

NEW DELHI — India on Tuesday reported more than 18,000 new coronavirus cases and 400 deaths after an Indian company said it would start clinical trials of a potential vaccine.

Bharat Biotech said it had received government permission to go ahead with the first two phases of clinical trials after initial studies demonstrated safety. Multiple vaccine trials are in a preclinical stage in India, and several other candidates are being tested around the world.

The new infections confirmed in the past 24 hours raised India’s cases to 566,840, the fourth-highest in the world. The addition of 418 deaths raised its fatalities to more 16,000, according to India’s health ministry.

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Associated Press

Melbourne locks down after large outbreak of COVID-19

Australia’s second-largest city will lock down dozens of suburbs for a month in a bid to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

Victoria state Premier Daniel Andrews said on Tuesday 233 positive tests for COVID-19 in Melbourne since Thursday was unacceptably high. Andrews announced 36 suburbs in which residents will be required to stay at home from Wednesday night until July 29 except for four permitted reasons.

Residents will face fines if they leave home for reasons other than to give or receive care, to exercise, to buy essentials, or to go to work or school. People who live outside those suburbs will only be allowed to enter them for the same reasons.

He also announced there would be no international flights allowed into Melbourne for the next two weeks. Australia has recorded 7,734 COVID-19 cases, including 104 deaths.

Associated Press

UK allows e-scooter rentals to aid transport in pandemic

LONDON — Britain gave the green light Tuesday for trials of electric scooter rental programs, as authorities look for ways to help people get moving while maintaining distance and easing pressure on public transit as pandemic lockdown restrictions ease.

The Transport Department unveiled new regulations that take effect Saturday and pave the way for e-scooter rentals in Britain, helping it play catch-up with the United States and countries in Europe and Asia where they’ve operated for years.

Dozens of British cities are interested in hosting a trial program, run by private companies.

Legalization only applies to rentals. Under the new rules it remains illegal for e-scooters owned by individuals to be ridden on public roads in Britain, but that hasn’t stopped an increasing number of people using them.

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Rental e-scooters have already become a common sight in European cities like Paris and Brussels, often strewn across sidewalks.

Associated Press