Europe eager to reopen borders; Merkel stresses caution as country reopens

Investors and health officials appear to grow increasingly worried about a potential second wave of Covid-19 cases and further economic downtown, as states and foreign governments move ahead with lifting restrictions. Stocks sold off on Tuesday, with the Dow shedding roughly 400 points in the final hour of trading and the Nasdaq Composite and S&P 500 falling more than 2% a piece. Early data out of U.S. states that are most aggressively reopening indicate heightened virus spread, according to former FDA Commissioner and CNBC contributor Scott Gottlieb.  

This is CNBC’s live blog covering all the latest news on the coronavirus outbreak. All times below are in Eastern time. This blog will be updated throughout the day as the news breaks. 

  • Global cases: More than 4.2 million
  • Global deaths: At least 292,316
  • US cases: More than 1.3 million
  • US deaths: At least 82,389

The data above was compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

8:12 am: LabCorp CEO on ramping up production of at-home tests

7:25 am: Merkel urges Germans not to jeopardize progress

German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks at the 100-years anniversary celebration of prosthesis maker Ottobock SE in Duderstadt, Germany, February 18, 2019.

Ralph Orlowski | Reuters

German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged residents not to jeopardize progress the country has already made in beating back the outbreak, warning that the virus will be present for longer, Reuters reported.

Germany, as well as a  handful of other European countries, has begun to ease restrictions and reopen nonessential businesses.

The coronavirus has infected more than 173,274 people in Germany and killed at least 7,755, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

“It would be depressing if we have to return to restrictions that we want to leave behind us because we want too much too soon,” Merkel told the Bundestag lower house of parliament, according to Reuters.

Germany has managed to maintain a low mortality rate compared to some other European countries such as Spain and Italy, due in part to Germany’s decision to implement widespread testing of people suspected to have the virus. Italy and the U.K., for example, only test symptomatic cases. —Will Feuer

7:18 am: Europe eager to reopen borders to salvage tourism in time for summer

The European Union is eager to reopen borders within the 27-country bloc as soon as possible in order to help the region’s lucrative tourism sector recover in time for the summer season.

The bloc is due to present draft proposals on Wednesday, seen and reported by Reuters, that will urge a return to “unrestricted free movement,” although it is wary of a second wave of infections in the region.

Airlines and airports would insist that passengers wear masks but there is no need to leave the middle seat empty on planes, the draft proposals said. People should be able to stay in hotels, eat in restaurants or go to beaches safely, the draft added.

It is not clear whether non-Europeans would be allowed to visit this summer, with the European Commission reportedly saying: “Domestic and intra-EU tourism will prevail in the short-term.” —Holly Ellyatt

Read CNBC’s coverage from CNBC’s Asia-Pacific and Europe teams overnight here: Spain daily death toll slow to decline; Tui travel firm plans up to 8,000 job cuts

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