A humanoid robot Pepper wearing a face mask greets Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike at the lobby of a hotel for the new coronavirus COVID-19 patients with mild symptoms during a media preview in Tokyo Friday, May 1, 2020. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Thursday he planned to extend a state of emergency beyond the scheduled end of May 6 because infections are spreading and hospitals are overburdened. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

Ryanair to cut up to 3,000 jobs, May Day looks different

May 01, 2020 - 9:47 am

The outbreak of the coronavirus has dealt a shock to the global economy with unprecedented speed. Following are developments Friday related to the global economy, the work place and the spread of the virus.


AIRLINES: The aviation industry is teetering on the edge as travel demand crawls to a near standstill but costs remain.

— Ryanair plans to cut as many as 3,000 jobs and close bases in Europe amid the collapse of travel due to the pandemic.

The budget airline announced a restructuring program Friday that includes plans for unpaid leave and pay cuts of as much as 20%. It will operate less than 1% of its flights from April to June.

— Domestic airlines in Thailand are resuming some regular flights, as half of the country’s provincial airports reopened.

Department of Airports Director-General Tawee Kaysisam-ang told reporters that 14 of the 28 airports his agency oversees reopened Friday.

Domestic flights also resumed at airports that serve as international gateways, including Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang airports and Chiang Mai Airport in the north. Airlines resuming flights from these normally high-traffic airports include Nok Air, Thai AirAsia, Thai Lion Air and Thai Vietjet Air.

MAY DAY: Protests and rallies typically mark the international Labor Day, but this year's events look markedly different due to COVID-19.

— Some Italian entrepreneurs are looking to draw attention to their plight on the nation’s May Day holiday. Some cafes put dressed mannequins in poses as if they were buying products or sipping coffee at counters in their empty businesses. In towns from north to south, many small business owners on Friday stood at a safe distance from each other on the sidewalk or in town squares, their shuttered stores or restaurants behind them, wearing black masks and holding placards highlighting their economic troubles. On Monday, restaurants and cafes can start offering takeout. Non-essential shops can reopen on May 18 if Italy’s rate of contagion with COVID-19 doesn’t sharply rise again.

— For May Day, the capital in tech-savvy Finland replaced parades and speeches with virtual reality. Helsinki had been encouraging residents to mark the eve before May Day — one of the Nordic country’s main public festivities especially among youth — through attending a virtual concert by popular local rap duo JVG.

— A prominent workers’ union in Croatia held an online Labor Day protest as the lockdown against the new coronavirus prevented traditional gatherings and demonstrations.

The Association of Independent Unions of Croatia gathered 100 participants via video conference for an hour on Friday while thousands more followed on social networks. The participants discussed workers’ problems and what will come after the outbreak.

TECHNOLOGY: With an overabundance of COVID-19 patients, the healthcare section is increasingly turning to technology to aid in the fight against the outbreak.

— Robot staff have debuted at a Tokyo hotel for mildly-sick coronavirus patients under a new plan to free up beds at hospitals overburdened with more severe cases.

Pepper, a semi-humanoid talking robot, greets new entrants at the lobby and reminds patients to check their daily temperature and encourages them to rest. “Whiz,” a cleaner robot, will operate in areas where patients come to pick up meals and other daily necessities.

Guest patients can also access health management applications on computers and tablets to record their own body temperatures and symptoms.

The robots, both made by SoftBank Robotics, will also be deployed at other hotels rented by Tokyo’s metropolitan government for patients with no or mild symptoms.

CENTRAL GOVERNMENTS & BANKS: Countries are moving toward easing strict stay-at-home orders, but the economic fallout from the virus is becoming more clear.

— Spain’s government expects that the eurozone’s fourth largest economy will shrink by 9.2% this year and that unemployment will reach 19% of the working-age population.

The announcement comes a day after Spain’s government said that the nation’s economy had shrunk by 5.2% in the first quarter of 2020, ending 25 consecutive quarters of positive economic activity dating back to 2013.

— Malaysia will allow most economic sectors and business activities to reopen Monday, days before a two-month lockdown is due to end after infections fell sharply in recent weeks. Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin says there is a need to revive the economy, as the country has lost 63 billion ringgit ($14.7 billion) since a partial lockdown began March 18.

— Malta’s Prime Minister Robert Abela says non-essential shops will be allowed to re-open on Monday. Health services, not related to coronavirus infections and which had been suspended, will also resume. Bars and restaurants will remain closed, with the government reviewing its position on them in three weeks. Malta’s airport and ports will remain closed indefinitely.


— Stocks are falling in early trading on Wall Street Friday as major U.S. companies provide details of how the coronavirus is disrupting their businesses.

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