Your Monday Briefing – The New York Times

Britain will soon impose a mandatory quarantine on travelers arriving by air to avert a wave of new restrictions — a sign that the country will relax its seven-week lockdown cautiously.

In an address on Sunday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson did not detail how the quarantine would work but urged Britons to “stay alert,” and said restrictions would be eased on some activities, including exercising outside and sunbathing in parks. Shops and schools may open as early as June 1.

Critics, however, said the new “stay alert” message was muddled.

Context: Britain has the largest death toll in Europe, with 31,855 reported deaths from the virus — the second largest in the world, after the United States.

Worldwide, the number of coronavirus cases has soared above four million people across 177 countries, and more than a quarter-million people have died, according to a New York Times analysis.

Flare-ups in countries that appeared to contain the virus are a cautionary tale as nations consider when to restart their economies.

Germany, hailed as a public health leader, announced last week it would send students back to school in the coming weeks. Its reproduction factor — the average number of people who get infected by every newly infected person — has crept back up to 1.13. (Nations typically want the number to be below one, but Germany’s public health agency has cautioned against reading too much into it.)

After decades of slow action on climate change, pollution and carbon emission levels are dropping everywhere — leaving bluer skies and visible mountains.

The battle between green militants and die-hard industrialists “will define the post-pandemic world,” wrote one economist, as European governments argue over how to allocate funds for the near future.

Looking forward: The European Union began the year promoting “the Green Deal,” a plan to transition to a carbon-neutral future. The question is how far political leaders will go now, as citizens pressure them for economic relief.

Above, Red Cross volunteers in California during the Spanish Flu pandemic. Historians say pandemics have two endings: a medical one, when death rates plummet; and a social one, when the wave of fear over the disease wanes.

“When people ask, ‘When will this end?,’ they are asking about the social ending,” said one historian at Johns Hopkins.

Iran: The country’s navy reported one death and several injuries during exercises on a missile ship, state media said. Unconfirmed posts on social media said dozens were killed after one Iranian ship fired on another.

Israeli-Palestinian tensions: A new Israeli military order that took effect on Saturday forbids banks to process payments that the Palestinian Authority makes to the families of Palestinians who have spent time in Israeli jails.

What we’re reading: This essay in Places Journal on the new silences and sounds emerging in cities during the pandemic. Jon Pareles, our chief pop music critic, says: “With cities gone quiet, this far-reaching essay ponders how listening closely to the city as a body, a machine and a community can reimagine urban life.”

More than 279,000 people have died in the global pandemic.

Our “Those We’ve Lost” series puts names and faces to a few of them and offers a glimpse of the diversity of the whole: an Afghan general, a painter from Wuhan, an emergency medical worker from New York, a nun in Quebec. This series is anchored by writers on the Obituary News Desk, but some 45 additional reporters from our Business, International, Culture and other desks have contributed.

Daniel J. Wakin, who leads the project, talked with the Briefings team about it.

Can you talk about some of the obits that have stood out?

Dan: The ones that really get to me are the people who die so young, with such promise ahead of them. Valentina Blackhorse was a Navajo pageant winner who had big aspirations. She was only 28. On the opposite end of the spectrum are the centenarians. We have a few of those. Hilda Churchill was 108 and had lived through the Spanish flu and two world wars. The love stories also stand out. Norman Gulamerian spent years wooing his bride-to-be with hundreds of letters. Each story is kind of a gem.

It’s been nearly seven weeks since the series started. What has surprised you the most?

It’s not so surprising but maybe unexpected how the categories of the victim have shifted. We knew at first that many were older. Then we learned young people were dying, too. Then it became apparent how many African-Americans, essential workers and nursing home residents were affected.

What has been the feedback, over all?

While some on social media have criticized us, saying we’re inflating the gravity of the epidemic, most readers say that putting names to the numbers is meaningful, powerful, moving. We’ve received more than 200 suggestions from readers through a form we have posted. I just wish we could do them all.

That’s it for this briefing. 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. Carole Landry wrote today’s Back Story. You can reach the team at

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