Don’t relax virus rules too quickly, says EU chief

Don’t relax virus rules too quickly, says EU chief
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen delivers a statement at EU headquarters in Brussels, Belgium Nov. 24, 2020. (File/Reuters)
Short Url
Updated 25 November 2020

Don’t relax virus rules too quickly, says EU chief

Don’t relax virus rules too quickly, says EU chief
  • Some European nations are slowly relaxing measures including stay-at-home orders put in place to fight the pandemic

BRUSSELS: European countries should not ease coronavirus restrictions too quickly, EU chief Ursula von der Leyen warned on Wednesday, stressing the risk of a post-Christmas third wave.
Some European nations are slowly relaxing measures including stay-at-home orders put in place to fight the pandemic, as they gear up for end-of-year holidays.
But von der Leyen told EU lawmakers: “We must learn from the summer and not repeat the same mistakes, relaxing too fast.”
French President Emmanuel Macron announced late on Tuesday that shops could reopen on Saturday and nationwide stay-at-home orders would be lifted from December 15, though a nighttime curfew would be reintroduced.
Elsewhere in Europe, 16 German states agreed guidelines for Christmas that were less strict than those proposed for the rest of December, even as virus cases near one million.
State leaders agreed to cap gatherings to 10 people over the December 23 to January 1 holiday — double the limit for the rest of December.
The latest bulletin by the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control issued early this week classes most of the European Union countries, including France and Germany, as being of “serious concern.”
“Relaxing too fast and too much is a risk for a third wave after Christmas,” von der Leyen said.
“Weeks ago, I said that this Christmas will be different. And yes, it will be quieter.”


Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit reaches space on 2nd try

Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit reaches space on 2nd try
A view of Richard Branson's Virgin Orbit, with a rocket underneath the wing of a modified Boeing 747 jetliner, during test launch of its high-altitude launch system for satellites from Mojave, California, U.S. January 17, 2021. (REUTERS)
Updated 46 min 22 sec ago

Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit reaches space on 2nd try

Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit reaches space on 2nd try
  • The rocket’s upper stage coasted for a period, reignited to circularize the orbit and then deployed the nine CubeSats

LOS ANGELES: Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit reached space on Sunday, eight months after the first demonstration flight of its air-launched rocket system failed, the company said.
A 70-foot-long (21.34-meter-long) LauncherOne rocket was released from beneath the wing of a Boeing 747 carrier aircraft off the coast of Southern California, ignited moments later and soared toward space.
The two-stage rocket carried a cluster of very small satellites known as CubeSats developed and built as part of a NASA educational program involving US universities.
The launch occurred after the Boeing 747-400 took off from Mojave Air and Space Port in the desert north of Los Angeles and flew out over the Pacific Ocean to a drop point beyond the Channel Islands.
“According to telemetry, LauncherOne has reached orbit!” Virgin Orbit tweeted later. “Everyone on the team who is not in mission control right now is going absolutely bonkers.”
The rocket’s upper stage coasted for a period, reignited to circularize the orbit and then deployed the nine CubeSats.
The flight developments were announced on social media. The launch was not publicly livestreamed.
Virgin Orbit, based in Long Beach, California, is part of a wave of companies targeting the launch market for increasingly capable small satellites, which may range in sizes comparable to a toaster on up to a home refrigerator.
Competitor Rocket Lab, also headquartered in Long Beach, has deployed 96 payloads in 17 launches of its Electron rocket from a site in New Zealand. Another of its rockets was nearing launch Sunday.
Virgin Orbit touts the flexibility of its capability to begin its missions by using airports around the globe.
Virgin Orbit attempted its first demonstration launch in May 2020.
The rocket was released and ignited but only briefly flew under power before it stopped thrusting. The lost payload was only a test satellite.
The company later said an investigation determined there was a breach in a high-pressure line carrying cryogenic liquid oxygen to the first-stage combustion chamber.
Virgin Orbit is separate from Virgin Galactic, the company founded by Branson to carry passengers on suborbital hops in which they will experience the sensations and sights of spaceflight.
Virgin Galactic expects to begin commercial operations this year in southern New Mexico.