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Coronavirus Inquiry, E.U. Fund, Cyclone Amphan: Your Wednesday Briefing

2020-05-20 05:04:37
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Good morning.

We’re covering the W.H.O. approving a coronavirus inquiry, Germany and France joining forces and Italy’s Great Beautification as salons reopen.

The resolution calls for an “impartial, independent and comprehensive evaluation” of the international response to the outbreak. But it fell short of what the U.S. wanted, which was a thorough review of the Chinese origins of the virus and the W.H.O.’s actions in response.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision to back a 500 billion-euro recovery fund on Monday broke with two German taboos: the transfer of funds from richer countries to poorer ones, and the borrowing of money by the European Union as a collective.

Looking ahead: With Britain gone, Germany and France, which have Europe’s largest and most powerful economies, have more room to assert themselves if they can find common ground.

Quotable: “We need to get a little bit outside our bubble,” said one Swedish director for the Atlantic Council who supported Ms. Merkel. “These are exceptional times, and you need to make exceptions from your principles. People are suffering.”

Hong Kong was one of the first places outside mainland China to be hit by the coronavirus, and the landscape of the city changed immediately: Temperature checks, sanitizing and reminders to stay vigilant cropped up everywhere.

Four months later, those signs remain. But the city is humming back to life — not really in spite of those reminders so much as alongside them, writes our correspondent.

What we’re reading: This article in The Cut about how much wellness right now has to do with wealth. It’s a fascinating look at the increasing divide in what health means for different sectors of the population.

Dubrovnik, Croatia

DARKO PEROJEVIC, 41, is the chef and owner of the restaurant Azur. He has lived in Dubrovnik most of his life.

The Old Town of Dubrovnik, where I’ve lived most of my life, hasn’t been empty like this since the war and the eight-month shelling of Dubrovnik in 1991 and ’92. We all have had some lingering sadness because the emptiness of the city is a reminder of that time.

The situation here is bittersweet, really. Bitter because I’m the chef and owner of a restaurant in Old Town — called Azur — that relies on a lot of tourists for business. But it’s sweet because walking the empty streets on a sunny day feels great.

Kids are playing on the streets just like I did when I was a kid. For a moment it feels like we got the city back for ourselves.

Halong Bay, Vietnam

LIND NGUYEN, 29, along with her husband, Trung, own the Wander Station restaurant.

On May 1, it was the (Labor Day) holiday and it’s supposed to be busy everywhere, but then we are empty, we have no customers, so I decided to close and have a look around. Everywhere was empty, the road, the stores, the walking street, everything. Like a scary movie.

In normal life there’s supposed to be hundreds of boats cruising in the bay, music playing — pum, pum, pum — and people having beer outside and walking around. But now no more.

I’m sad and worried. How long does it take to get back to the normal life? I just want tourists back here, meeting up, chatting and having fun.


That’s it for this briefing. Remember fun conversations? See you next time.

— Isabella


Thank you
To Melissa Clark for the recipe, and to Theodore Kim and Jahaan Singh for the rest of the break from the news. You can reach the team at
[email protected].

P.S.
• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Our latest episode is on President Trump’s purging of watchdogs at U.S. federal agencies.
• Here’s today’s Mini Crossword puzzle, and a clue: Worker in Santa’s workshop (three letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• The Times is commemorating the 100th anniversary of women getting the right to vote in the U.S. with a digital events series.

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