Tuesday morning news – May 26, 2020

U.S. bans travel from Brazil amid COVID-19 outbreak » The White House has announced that it’s banning travel to the United States from Brazil. 

The move came just hours after National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien noted a worsening COVID-19 crisis there.

OBRIEN: They’re having a tough time with this crisis and we’re going to help them get through it. But in the meantime, it’s likely that we’re going to have to restrict travel from Brazil. 

About 370, 000 Brazilians have tested positive. That is now the second-highest total in the world. The United States has five times as many confirmed cases. But … U.S. health officials have conducted 20 times as many tests. That suggests Brazil may currently have the worst outbreak in the world. 

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has largely resisted coronavirus lockdowns … insisting that closing businesses will ultimately cause more hardship by wrecking the economy. 

The travel ban won’t affect U.S. citizens returning home. And it’s not expected to impact trade. 

President Trump had already temporarily banned certain travelers from other nations, including China and many European countries. 

Japan to lift state of emergency in Tokyo and surrounding areas » But things are moving in the right direction in Japan. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is removing a coronavirus state of emergency from Tokyo and surrounding areas. WORLD’s Leigh Jones has more. 

LEIGH JONES, REPORTER: Experts on a government-commissioned panel approved the plan to end a state of emergency … that has lasted for more than a month and a half.

That cleared the way for Prime Minister Abe to allow more businesses to gradually return to normal.

Abe declared the state of emergency on April 7th, first in parts of Japan including Tokyo. He later expanded it to the entire nation and extended it through the end of May. 

Japan’s state of emergency is a soft lockdown. It’s largely a request for people to stay at home … and for non-essential businesses to close or operate shorter hours. 

The government will lift the emergency declaration in Tokyo and its three neighboring prefectures in the coming weeks. That will reopen schools and public facilities.

Japan has a population of nearly 130 million people … but only about 17,000 confirmed cases. And despite a large eldery population, it’s recorded fewer than one-thousand coronavirus-related deaths.  

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Leigh Jones. 

U.K. set to reopen retail stores » And in the U.K., Prime Minister Boris Johnson said his government is gearing up to reopen thousands of stores. 

Speaking to reporters at 10 Downing Street in London, he said it’s another of Britain’s—quote—“careful but deliberate steps on the road to rebuilding our country.”

JOHNSON: We intend to allow all other non-essential retail, ranging from department stores to small independent shops to reopen. Again, this change will be contingent upon progress against the five tests and will only be permitted for those retail premises which are COVID secure.

Outdoor markets can reopen on Monday … and all other stores can reopen June 15th, provided they follow new guidelines. 

Johnson said he also wants to start reopening schools next month … part of a push to get more parents back to work and jumpstart the British economy. 

Trump threatens to move GOP convention from North Carolina » President Trump on Monday threatened to pull the Republican National Convention out of North Carolina. That is if the state’s governor can’t assure the GOP that he’ll allow large gatherings roughly three months from now, when the convention is scheduled to start.

In a tweet, Trump said Democratic Governor Roy Cooper was still in “shutdown mood” and couldn’t guarantee full attendance in the arena where the convention is scheduled to take place. He added that Republicans need an answer “immediately.” 

Vice President Mike Pence explained that the party needs a quick answer because party conventions take “immense preparation” and months of planning. 

PENCE: We look forward to working with Governor Cooper, getting a swift response, and if need be, moving the national convention to a state that is further along in reopening and can say with confidence that we can gather there.

Before the pandemic, the GOP had estimated 50,000 people would come to Charlotte for the convention centered around its NBA arena.

On Friday, Governor Cooper moved the state into Phase 2 of its reopening … loosening restrictions on hair salons, barbers and restaurants. But indoor gatherings are still limited to 10 people. 

Spokeswoman for the governor, Dory MacMillan, responded to the White House Monday, saying state officials are currently working with the RNC. But she made no assurances, adding—quote—“North Carolina is relying on data and science to protect our state’s public health and safety.”

Astronauts set to once again blast off from American soil » For the first time in nearly a decade, U.S. astronauts are about to blast into orbit from American soil. 

A Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon capsule is slated to lift off tomorrow afternoon … with two NASA astronauts on board, Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said a successful launch will mean Americans no longer have to hitch a ride on Russian rockets. 

BRIDENSTINE: We’ve been buying Russian seats now for nine years. And, you know, they started off at $20 million dollars a seat. Now we’re up to $90 million dollars a seat. So this brings back an American capability to launch astronauts to space. 

And for the first time in history, a private company is running the show. Elon Musk’s SpaceX is the conductor and NASA the customer.

The astronauts will depart for the International Space Station … from the exact spot where men once flew to the moon. 

President Trump and Vice President Pence both plan to attend the launch.

Crosses mark the graves of those who have passed away since early April, filling a new section of the Nossa Senhora Aparecida public cemetery amid the new coronavirus pandemic in Manaus, Brazil. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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