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Hong Kong issues mask rules amid COVID-19 surge, LA mayor agrees city reopened too soon


Signs of governments reassessing their coronavirus response were scattered around the world Sunday.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam wears a protective face mask at a news conference on Sunday. Following a recent surge in cases, Hong Kong made the wearing of masks mandatory in all public places and told non-essential civil servants to work from home.(Tyrone Siu/Reuters)

The latest:

Signs of governments reassessing their coronavirus response were scattered around the world Sunday, with the mayor of Los Angeles saying the city was reopened too quickly, Ohio's governor warning his state is "going the wrong way," Hong Kong issuing tougher new rules on wearing face masks and Spain closing overcrowded beaches.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said Los Angeles was "on the brink" of new widespread stay-at-home orders as Los Angeles County continued to see the state's largest increase in confirmed coronavirus cases. California reported on Saturday its fourth-highest daily total of newly confirmed coronavirus cases, with more than 9,000.

Appearing on CNN Sunday, Garcetti was asked about a Los Angeles Times editorial that criticized the rapid reopening of California, which was followed by a spike in new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

"I do agree those things happened too quickly," Garcetti said, adding that the decisions were made at the state and county levels, not by city officials. But he also said people in general had become less vigilant about taking precautions to avoid transmission.

People wearing face masks are seen at an outdoor church service in Huntington Beach, Calif., on Sunday.(Apu Gomes/AFP via Getty Images)

"It's not just what's open and closed," he said. "It's also about what we do individually."

Infections have been soaring in U.S. states including California, Florida, Texas and Arizona, with many blaming a haphazard, partisan approach to lifting lockdowns as well as the resistance of some Americans to wearing masks.

In Florida, where health officials reported nearly 12,500 new infections and nearly 90 additional deaths on Sunday, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio called for consistent, nonpartisan messaging.

"We've seen a lot of these things turned into sort of a partisan fight or a political statement," he told South Florida television station, CBS4, on Sunday.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, like Rubio a Republican, said he would not rule out a statewide mandate on wearing masks, as infections in his state grew. He has already issued such orders in 19 counties accounting for nearly 60 per cent of the state's population.

A COVID-19 drive-thru testing centre is seen in Miami Gardens, Fla., on Sunday.(David Santiago/Miami Herald via AP)

Globally, the World Health Organization said that 259,848 new infections were reported Saturday, its highest one-day tally yet. India, which has now confirmed more than a million infections, on Sunday reported a 24-hour record of 38,902 new cases.

Pope Francis said "the pandemic is showing no sign of stopping" and urged compassion for those whose suffering during the outbreak has been worsened by conflicts.

In Europe, where infections are far below their peak but local outbreaks are causing concern, leaders of the 27-nation European Union haggled for a third day in Brussels over a proposed 1.85 trillion-euro ($2.87 trillion Cdn) EU budget and coronavirus recovery fund.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel puts on a face mask at a EU summit in Brussels on Sunday.(Francisco Seco/AFP via Getty Images)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said there is "a lot of good will, but there are also a lot of positions" in the talks, which have have laid bare divisions about how the countries hit hardest by the pandemic, such as Italy and Spain, should be helped. She said the talks, which were initially scheduled to end on Saturday, could still end without a deal.

Confirmed global virus deaths have risen to more than 603,000, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The United States tops the list with more than 140,000, followed by more than 78,000 in Brazil. Europe as a continent has seen about 200,000 deaths.

The number of confirmed infections worldwide has passed 14.3 million, with 3.7 million in the United States and more than 2 million in Brazil. Experts believe the pandemic's true toll around the world is much higher because of testing shortages and data collection issues.

Workers wearing personal protective equipment stand outside a church to check the body temperature of people in Hyderabad, India, on Sunday.(Noah Seelam/AFP via Getty Images)

Even where the situation has been largely brought under control, new outbreaks are prompting the return of restrictions.

Following a recent surge in cases, Hong Kong made the wearing of masks mandatory in all public places and told non-essential civil servants to work from home. Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said the situation in the Asian financial hub is "really critical" and that she sees "no sign" that it's under control.

In Spain, police in Barcelona have limited access to some of the city's beloved beaches because sunbathers were ignoring social distancing regulations amid a resurgence of coronavirus infections.

Police officers patrol a beach in Barcelona on Sunday.(Nacho Doce/Reuters)

Slaughterhouses also have featured in outbreaks in the U.S., Germany and elsewhere. Authorities in northwestern Germany's Vechta county said 66 workers at a chicken slaughterhouse tested positive, though most appeared to have been infected in their free time. An earlier outbreak at a slaughterhouse in western Germany infected over 1,400 and prompted a partial lockdown.

Cases in the Australian state of Victoria rose again Sunday, prompting a move to make masks mandatory in metropolitan Melbourne and the nearby district of Mitchell for people who leave their homes for exercise or to purchase essential goods. Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said those who fail to wear a mask will be fined 200 Australian dollars ($190 Cdn).

"There's no vaccine to this wildly infectious virus and it's a simple thing, but it's about changing habits, it's about becoming a simple part of your routine," Andrews said.

What's happening with coronavirus in Canada

The federal government has said it's not OK for the Blue Jays to play ball in Toronto during the COVID-19 pandemic. Ottawa informed the team of the decision on Saturday, citing concerns over the public health risks associated with Major League Baseball's plan for a 60-game season.

Marco Mendicino, minister of immigration, refugees and citizenship, told CBC News Network that the circumstances did not warrant a border-crossing exemption, particularly in light of the amount of cross-border travel needed and the risks that remained. The plan called for the Blue Jays and visiting teams to cross the Canada-U.S. border regularly.

Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo is seen wearing a face mask during batting practice at summer training in Toronto's Roger Centre on Sunday.(Cole Burston/The Canadian Press)

As of 4 p.m. ET on Sunday, Canada had 110,340 coronavirus infections. Provinces and territories listed 97,051 of those as recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC's reporting stood at 8,882.

Ontario added 164 new cases Sunday for a total of 37,604 cases. The province also added 113 new recoveries for a total of 33,407 recoveries.

Quebec announced on Saturday that masks are now mandatory in indoor public spaces across the province. The new measure is kicking in as the province witnesses a slow but steady increase in the number of COVID-19 cases.

"It's better to wear a mask than to be confined at home," Premier François Legault said as he made the announcement last Monday. "It's not fun wearing a mask, but it's essential."

People wear face masks at a convenience store in Montreal on Sunday.(Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

The new directive, which applies to people aged 12 and older, coincided with tens of thousands of Quebecers spanning out on vacation with the beginning of the traditional two-week construction holiday.

Quebec is the first province to mandate face-covering, despite criticism from some who say the government shouldn't have a blanket policy when most regions outside Montreal weren't deeply affected by COVID-19.

Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador logged no new infections on Sunday.

With files from CBC News and The Canadian Press

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