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Surging Coronavirus Caseloads Put Strongmen on the Back Foot

2020-06-05 07:08:50

The government of Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, only a few months ago a fortress of fiscal conservatism, announced a package of tax cuts, aid to small business, cash payments to parents and other measures worth €130 billion — a move requiring substantial borrowing.

Ms. Merkel called the package, which was agreed to late Wednesday, a “bold response” to the pandemic downturn.

The plan also includes €5.3 billion for the social security system, €10 billion to help municipalities cover housing and other costs and €1.9 billion for cultural institutions and nonprofits. It includes incentives for electric vehicles, but none for gas- or diesel-fired engines, which Germany’s powerful automakers had sought.

The plan requires new borrowing. Ms. Merkel’s government abandoned its adherence to a balanced budget in March, when it passed a €750 billion rescue package that included taking on more than €150 billion of fresh debt.

“We need to get out of this crisis with an oomph,” the finance minister, Olaf Scholz, said. Here are some other developments from around the world.

  • Israel’s Parliament, the Knesset, was suspended Thursday, and lawmakers and workers were told to stay away after a lawmaker said he had tested positive for the virus.

  • Italians, who often have to fight through throngs of tourists just to walk the street, are getting to experience something they had only dreamed of: a tourist-free visit to some of the world’s greatest — and most popular — museums.

  • The government of North Macedonia reimposed a nationwide curfew and a lockdown of its capital city, Skopje, to curb a spike in cases. A new daily record of 120 cases was reported on Thursday. Health Minister Venko Filipce blamed citizens’ “loosening discipline” for a resurgence of infections.

  • The traditional Bastille Day parade down the Champs-Élysées in Paris will be replaced by a smaller military ceremony because of the pandemic and will include a tribute to health workers, the French president’s office said on Thursday.

  • Iran freed Michael R. White, a Navy veteran who was arrested during a 2018 visit to the country, a day after the United States deported an Iranian scientist. Both men had been infected with the coronavirus while in custody.

Reporting was contributed by Rachel Abrams, Manuela Andreoni, Hannah Beech, Aurelien Breeden, Brian X. Chen, Michael Cooper, Maria Cramer, Melissa Eddy, Jack Ewing, Farnaz Fassihi, Jacey Fortin, Ellen Gabler, Rick Gladstone, David M. Halbfinger, Jack Healy, Tiffany Hsu, Mike Ives, Andrew Jacobs, Joshua Keller, Michael H. Keller, Tyler Kepner, David D. Kirkpatrick, Alyson Kreuger, José María León Cabrera, Adam Liptak, Anatol Magdziarz, Iliana Magra, Apoorva Mandavilli, Raphael Minder, Andy Newman, Elisabetta Povoledo, Roni Caryn Rabin, Jan Ransom, Adam Rasgon, Nada Rashwan, Luis Ferré Sadurní, Dagny Salas, Nelson D. Schwartz, Kaly Soto, Marc Stein, Eileen Sullivan, Mitra Taj, Derrick Bryson Taylor, Safak Timur, Declan Walsh, Noah Weiland and Karen Zraick.


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