Restrictions easing in US and Europe amid disaster in India

Pandemic-weary travelers are returning to the skies and casinos in the United States and eating out again in Greece as the vaccine rollout is sending news cases and deaths tumbling in more affluent countries, contrasting with a worsening disaster in India

Air travel in the U.S. hit its highest mark since COVID-19 took hold more than 13 months ago, while European Union officials are proposing to ease restrictions on visitors to the continent as the vaccine rollout sends new cases and deaths tumbling in more affluent countries.

The improving picture in many places contrasts with the worsening disaster in India.

Las Vegas is bustling again after casino capacity limits were raised Saturday to 80% and person-to-person distancing dropped to 3 feet (0.9 meters).

EU officials announced a proposal Monday to relax restrictions on visiting the 27-nation bloc this summer, though the final decision is up to its member countries.

“Time to revive EU tourism industry and for cross-border friendships to rekindle — safely,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said. “We propose to welcome again vaccinated visitors and those from countries with a good health situation.”

In Greece, restaurants and cafes reopened their terraces on Monday after six months of shutdown, with customers flocking to soak up the sunshine. In France, high schools reopened and a ban on domestic travel was lifted.

But with more-contagious variants taking hold, efforts are underway to boost vaccination efforts. In Detroit, officials began going door-to-door to persuade residents to get immunized.

Brazil, once the epicenter of the pandemic, has has been overtaken by a surge in India that has overrun crematoriums and made it clear the p andemic is far from over.

As the U.S. and other countries rushed in aid, India reported nearly 370,000 new cases and more than 3,400 deaths Monday — numbers that experts believe are vast undercounts because of a widespread lack of testing and incomplete reporting.

In Germany, Bavarian officials canceled Oktoberfest for a second year in a row because of the safety risks. The beer-drinking festivities typically attract about 6 million visitors from around the world.

And in Italy, medical experts and politicians expressed concern about a possible spike in infections after tens of thousands of jubilant soccer fans converged on Milan’s main square Sunday to celebrate Inter Milan’s league title.

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Associated Press writers Krutika Pathi in New Delhi; Ken Ritter in Las Vegas; Samuel Petrequin in Brussels contributed to this report.

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