Daily News Roundup

June 16, 2020

AP: Joan Mateu

 

TUESDAY, JUNE 16

European nations eased border controls on Monday as coronavirus cases declined after three months of lockdown.

German tourists headed for the Spanish island of Mallorca and French bargain-hunters streamed into Belgium to buy cheap cigarettes.

Greek airports allowed more international flights as the country sought to salvage its summer season, while German tourists flocked to neighbouring Denmark causing an eight kilometre road jam. 

Spain is initially allowing in 1,500 holidaymakers from Germany as the Madrid government works out how to handle mass tourism before opening up more fully in the coming weeks, reports the ABC.

Hundreds of German sunseekers, the first tourists to visit Spain since borders were closed in March, also arrived on the island of Mallorca on Monday.

The Schengen area of 22 EU countries plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland operates control-free crossings. But for three months they have been mostly closed.

Officials hope lifting internal border controls will allow a gradual reopening to other countries from July and revive a tourism industry that flatlined during the lockdown.

The sector makes up almost 10 per cent of the EU economy and even more in Mediterranean countries.

Long queues of shoppers snaked outside some stores in England from early on Monday morning as non-essential shops reopened their doors after 83 days of lockdown.

Department stores, clothing retailers, electrical outlets and bookshops have been closed since March 23 when British Prime Minister Boris Johnson imposed a lockdown to limit the spread of coronavirus.

While outdoor markets and car showrooms reopened on June 1, Monday is the big return to business for retailers, who are desperate to get the tills ringing again.

The reopening only applies to England, with stores in Scotland and Wales waiting for guidance from their own administrations on when they can resume trading. Non-essential stores in Northern Ireland reopened on Friday.

Getting shoppers spending again is key to Britain’s recovery after official data on Friday showed the economy shrank by a quarter throughout March and April.

The British Retail Consortium believes the lockdown has cost non-food stores 1.8 billion pounds ($3.3 billion) a week in lost revenues.

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The US Supreme Court has delivered a victory for LGBT rights — and a defeat for President Donald Trump’s administration — by ruling that a longstanding law barring workplace discrimination also protects gay and transgender employees.

The landmark 6-3 ruling represented the biggest moment for LGBT rights in the United States since the Supreme Court legalised same-sex marriage nationwide in 2015.

Two conservative justices joined the court’s four liberals in the decision: Neil Gorsuch, a 2017 Trump administration appointee who wrote the ruling, and Chief Justice John Roberts.

The justices decided that gay and transgender people are protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bars employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of sex as well as race, colour, national origin and religion.

Workplace bias against gay and transgender employees had remained legal in much of the country, with 28 US states lacking comprehensive measures against employment discrimination.

The ruling, which involved two gay rights cases from Georgia and New York and a transgender rights case from Michigan, recognises new worker protections in federal law.

“The Supreme Court’s historic decision affirms what shouldn’t have even been a debate: LGBTQ Americans should be able to work without fear of losing jobs because of who they are,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, president of gay rights group GLAAD.

Mr Trump’s administration had backed the employers who were sued for discrimination. The administration and the employers argued that Congress did not intend for Title VII to protect gay and transgender people when it passed the law.

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German police have written to Kate and Gerry McCann to tell them their daughter Madeleine, who went missing in May 2007, was murdered.

Hans Christian Wolters, who is leading the case against convicted rapist Christian Brueckner, said he couldn’t share key evidence with Scotland Yard officers or police in Portugal over fears it could jeopardise the inquiry into the suspect.

“I sympathise with the parents but if we reveal more details to them it might jeopardise the investigation,” he said yesterday.

“We have concrete evidence that our suspect has killed Madeleine and this means she is dead. The parents have been told the German police have evidence that she is dead but we (have) not told them the details.”

While Madeleine’s parents are yet to respond to the letter, The Sun newspaper reports they could be told within a matter of days how their three-year-old daughter died, after vanishing on a 2007 holiday in Portugal’s Praia da Luz.

Portuguese police yesterday described the information shared with them by the German prosecutors as “significant” and “very important”.

The McCanns’ lawyer Rogerio Alves, who previously criticised investigators for keeping the family in the dark, will meet with detectives in the coming days to be given an update on the investigation.

“I want to find out if there are new leads for them to chase. I want to know what is being done. I intend to get answers on these matters this week,” Mr Alves said. 

“In terms of the investigation, and the parent’s hopes for justice, last week was a lost week.”

Earlier this month, the McCann’s official spokesman said the couple wanted proof their daughter is dead, and continued to hope she was alive “until they can be shown incontrovertible evidence which proves that she is not”.

Mr Wolters said German police “really consider the fact that it is going to be very hard for the family when we tell them that we assume Madeleine is dead”.