Coronavirus restrictions have been eased from Asia to Europe on the first day of June while US protests against police brutality sparked fears of new outbreaks.
The Colosseum opened its ancient doors in Rome, ferries restarted in Bangladesh, golfers played in Greece, students returned in Britain and Dutch bars and restaurants were free to welcome patrons.
Countries around the Mediterranean sea tentatively kicked off the northern summer season where tourists could bask in their famously sunny beaches while still being protected by social distancing measures from a virus that is marching relentlessly around the world.
Greece lifted lockdown measures on Monday for hotels, campsites, open-air cinemas, golf courses and public swimming pools while beaches and museums reopened in Turkey and bars, restaurants, cinemas and museums came back to life in the Netherlands.
“Today, we opened two rooms and tomorrow three. It’s like building an anthill,” Athens hotel owner Panos Betis said as employees wearing face masks tidied a rooftop restaurant and cleaned a window facing the ancient Acropolis.
“We can’t compare the season to last year. We were at 95 per cent capacity. Our aim now is to hang in there till 2021.”
A long line of masked visitors snaked outside the Vatican Museums, which include the Sistine Chapel, as they re-opened for the first time in three months.
The Vatican Museums’ famous keyholder – the “clavigero” who holds the keys to all the galleries on a big ring on his wrist – opened the gate in a sign both symbolic and literal that the museums were back in business.
Still, strict crowd control measures were in place at both landmarks: visitors needed reservations to visit, their temperatures were taken before entering and masks were mandatory.
The Dutch relaxation of coronavirus rules took place on a major holiday with the sun blazing, raising immediate fears of overcrowding in popular beach resorts.
The new rules let bars and restaurants serve up to 30 people inside if they keep distant from each other but there’s no standing at bars and reservations are necessary.
Britain, which with more than 38,500 dead has the world’s second-worst death toll behind the United States, eased restrictions despite warnings from health officials that the risk of spreading COVID-19 was still too great.
Some primary classes reopened in England and people could now have limited contact with family and friends, but only outdoors and by staying two metres apart.
Bangladesh restarted bus, train, ferry and flight services on Monday, hoping that a gradual reopening revives an economy in which millions have become jobless.
About 6.19 million infections have been reported worldwide, with more than 372,000 people dying, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.
In the US, the often-violent protests over the death of George Floyd are raising fears of new outbreaks in a country that has more confirmed infections and deaths than any other.
The US has registered nearly 1.8 million infections and more than 104,000 deaths in the pandemic, which has disproportionately affected racial minorities in a country that does not have universal health care.
“There’s no question that when you put hundreds or thousands of people together in close proximity, when we have got this virus all over the streets … it’s not healthy,” Maryland Governor Larry Hogan said.
South Korea and India offered cautionary tales on Monday about just how hard it is to halt the virus.
South Korea reported a steady rise in cases around Seoul. Hundreds of infections have been linked to nightspots, restaurants and a massive e-commerce warehouse near Seoul. The resurgence is straining the country’s ability to test patients and trace their contacts.
In India, cases increased rapidly but it still eased restrictions on Monday on shops and public transport in more states. Subways and schools remain closed as experts said India is still far from reaching the peak of its outbreak.
China, where the global pandemic is believed to have originated late last year, reported 16 new cases on Monday, all travellers from abroad.