President Donald Trump pushed for a wider U.S. reopening Thursday as coronavirus job losses increased while parts of Europe advocated post-closure life.
With the approaching summer on both sides of the Atlantic, more shops opened their doors and beaches welcomed tourists, despite the worldwide number of five million virus cases.
Of course, the crisis is far from over – Russia and Latin America are the next hotspots, even if Europe and the USA and Asia are entering the next phase ahead of them.
But Trump, keeping an eye on his prospects for re-election in November, made it clear that he hoped that more governors would head towards easing anti-virus restrictions.
"We did the right thing, but we want to get started now … you'll break the country if you don't," he said to African-American leaders in Michigan, a major campaigning state.
The incumbent Republican specifically spoke about the reopening of places of worship – something he originally hoped would happen by Easter Sunday – as important for the healing of the nation.
"People want to be in their churches," said Trump. "They are so important for the psyche of our country."
Trump has taken on the "transition back to size" issue as states are reopening at different speeds.
While daily deaths are no longer increasing, losses are still increasing, with the total number in the US exceeding 94,000.
Trump has ordered flags to be hoisted on half-staff federal buildings for three days for the victims.
Another 2.43 million Americans were unemployed last week, the Department of Labor said, a total of 38.6 million since the blockade was introduced, although the pace of job loss has slowed.
Back to normal
On the eve of Memorial Day weekend – the unofficial start of American summer – the beaches are slowly welcoming sun worshipers.
"We were just fed up waiting to live a normal life and regain our freedom, so we rented this big house on the beach," said Anne Miller, an Ohio resident who visited South Carolina.
The same was true for Europe, where Cyprus entered the second phase of opening, lifting curfews and opening restaurants, barbershops and outdoor beaches.
However, the airports and hotels on the Mediterranean island remain closed.
"I want my work and my life back," said Sakis Siakopoulos, a restaurant owner in the capital, Nicosia.
In Denmark, the exit from the blockade also picked up speed when museums and zoos reopened on Thursday and health officials said the spread of the virus was slowing.
In France, one of the countries most affected by the outbreak, the daily number of deaths dropped to 83 – reason for optimism.
A closely watched IHS Markit survey found that the euro area economy is now "likely to bottom" due to the blockages, which gives hope that a recovery will follow.
"It does not stop"
The news was not positive everywhere.
The number of known cases of COVID-19 has doubled in just a month, according to AFP data from official sources. The number of deaths worldwide is almost 330,000.
While many European countries have slowed the contagion considerably, Latin America is becoming a new hotspot with increasing cases.
Brazil – the third highest number of cases worldwide after the United States and Russia – has now recorded more than 20,000 deaths and set a new 24-hour record of 1,188.
The graves in the largest cemetery in the region outside of Sao Paulo are trying to keep up.
"We worked 12 hours a day and buried them one by one. It doesn't stop," said a worker at Vila Formosa, wearing a white protective suit, mask, and face mask.
Infections also increased steadily in Peru, Mexico and Chile.
"It's like a horror movie," Miguel Armas, a nurse at Hipolito Unanue Hospital in the Peruvian capital, told AFP.
Trump has repeatedly criticized criticism of China, where the outbreak broke out last year, and blamed his "incompetence" for the magnitude of the global crisis.
The government of Chinese leader Xi Jinping rejects this criticism and insists that the world is openly informed about the origins and development of the crisis.
"It is neither responsible nor moral to cover up your own problems by blaming others," said Chinese legislature spokesman Zhang Yesui.
China has had "great strategic success" in responding to the Corona virus outbreak, Prime Minister Li Keqiang said when he spoke to the nation about the virus, the economy and other key issues at the start of a new legislative period on Friday.
The Asian giant's virus cases are now trickling down, and Beijing insists that its efforts to curb the spread of the virus have been successful. However, the question remains whether the number of people affected by the infection has been underreported.
Governments around the world are testing how to deal with the dangers despite fears of a second wave of infection.
Already a common sight in Spain, masks were officially made mandatory on Thursday for people over the age of six in public places where social distancing is not possible.
"The more tools we use, the better," said Miguel Domingo, a 49-year-old architect who walks his two dogs in Madrid, which emerges from one of the toughest barriers.
However, director of the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control, Andrea Ammon, warned whether there would be a second wave, but "when and how big".
"I don't want to draw a doomsday picture, but I think we have to be realistic," she told the Guardian newspaper.