US President Joe Biden on Thursday offered his nation a glimpse of an almost normal Independence Day on July 4, outlining in a speech how the United States can defeat the coronavirus if people stay united on prevention measures and get vaccinated.
The US president’s words of encouragement came even as several countries around the world decided to bring in curbs to control a fresh resurgence of the coronavirus. Italy, Japan, South Korea, Serbia and several other nations could see restrictions being brought back to stop the spread of new variants of the Covid-19 virus.
“This fight is far from over,” Biden, meanwhile, said in his first televised prime-time address as US president, marking 12 months since the outbreak was declared a pandemic.
Delivering an emotional tribute to the more than 530,000 Americans who have died from Covid-19 over the last 12 months, Biden said, “While it was different for everyone, we all lost something: a collective suffering, a collective sacrifice.”
But he raised hope that the country hardest hit by the pandemic could overcome the virus if Americans work together and follow health experts’ guidelines on wearing masks and getting vaccinated. “Just as we are emerging from a dark winter into a hopeful spring and summer is not the time to not stick with the rules,” he said.
“If we do this together, by July the 4, there’s a good chance you, your families and friends will be able to get together in your backyard or in your neighbourhood and have a cookout or a barbecue and celebrate Independence Day,” he said.
The White House said $1,400 direct payments for most Americans funded by the American Rescue Plan will start showing up in bank accounts this weekend. Biden signed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan in the Oval Office on Thursday.
Meanwhile, Italy is expected to announce the closure of schools, restaurants and shops across most of the country to counter what experts warned was a third wave of Covid-19.
PM Mario Draghi’s cabinet agreed on new curbs as Italy on Thursday recorded nearly 26,000 cases and 373 deaths.
Serbia said it will close down all non-essential shops, bars and restaurants this weekend as the Balkan country faces a surge. Serbia has recorded over 4,000 new cases daily in the past week.
Japan’s transportation ministry will tighten border controls and limit the number of entrants to up to 2,000 per day to guard against more contagious variants of the coronavirus. Japan has confirmed 345 cases of the more contagious new variants.
South Korea is extending its current measures on social distancing for another two weeks as it struggles to slow infections in Seoul and around. South Korea has been seeing 300 to 400 new cases a day since mid-January.