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- The 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics are coming to a close on Sunday after a year of pandemic-related controversy and delay.
- Starting Monday, anyone visiting restaurants and bars in France will have to show proof of coronavirus vaccination, recent infection or a negative test result as the country expands the scope of its coronavirus pass.
- The Canadian government will begin allowing entry to vaccinated American citizens and permanent residents starting Monday after more than a year of closed borders due to the coronavirus pandemic.
- Zambians will vote Thursday to elect the country’s next president and members of its National Assembly.
- Update on the coronavirus Delta variant — an interview with Factal editor Joe Veyera.
These stories and more are available in our weekly Forecast email and you can subscribe for free.
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
JIMMY LOVAAS, HOST:
Welcome to the Factal Forecast, a look at the week’s biggest stories and what they mean from the editors at Factal. I’m Jimmy Lovaas.
Today is August 5th.
In this week’s forecast we’ll look at the Tokyo Olympics closing ceremony, an expansion of France’s coronavirus ‘health pass,’ Canada opening its border to vaccinated Americans, Zambia’s general election and an update on the coronavirus Delta variant.
You can read about these stories and more in our weekly newsletter, which you can find a link to in the show notes.
Tokyo Olympics closing ceremony
Information compiled by Vivian Wang
JIMMY: The 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics are coming to a close on Sunday after a year of pandemic-related controversy and delay.
The Olympics began late last month despite domestic public pressure to cancel and just as Tokyo entered its fourth state of emergency over rising coronavirus cases.
And that rise in cases continued unabated, breaking records not only in Tokyo, but also across Japan.
So far, nearly 300 people involved with the Games have tested positive for the virus since the beginning of July.
Now, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has claimed no link between the surge in coronavirus cases and the Olympics.
The Japan Medical Association, on the other hand, has called for a nationwide state of emergency to contain the continued spread of the coronavirus.
Expansion of France’s coronavirus pass
Information compiled by Sophie Perryer
JIMMY: Starting Monday, anyone visiting restaurants and bars in France will have to show a ‘health pass’ — basically a document that shows one of three things: proof you’re completely vaccinated against coronavirus, that you have a negative Covid test from the previous 48 hours, or proof that you’ve recently recovered from COVID-19.
Now, showing a coronavirus pass is already required when visiting cultural venues with crowds of more than 50 people, but on July 25th, France’s parliament voted to expand the requirement to all bars, restaurants and some forms of transport.
The legislation also mandates vaccination for health care workers and a self-isolation period of 10 days for anyone who tests positive for the virus.
Now, the legislation to extend the health pass has already been approved by parliament, but it can’t come into force until it is approved Thursday by France’s Constitutional Council.
And further protests are likely as opposition to the pass remains high.
President Emmanuel Macron said demonstrators are free to “express themselves in a calm and respectful manner” but he also warned that protesting would not make the virus disappear.
Canada opens border to vaccinated Americans
Information compiled by Jess Fino
The move comes after a 17-month closure due to the coronavirus.
Now, the government says this reopening is thanks to the rising vaccination rates and declining coronavirus cases in Canada.
But travelers will still be required to provide a negative molecular coronavirus test before entering the country.
Officials say this preliminary step allows the government to “fully operationalize” adjusted border measures ahead of the full reopening next month.
That’s by September, Canada plans to lift border restrictions to any fully vaccinated travelers.
Required pre-entry and post-entry testing is expected to continue to some degree though, as a way to monitor variants of concern and vaccine effectiveness.
The three-night, government-authorized hotel stay requirement will also be scrapped for all travelers on Monday, but travelers must still provide a quarantine plan and be prepared to quarantine in case border officials find they do not meet the necessary requirements.
Zambia general election
Information compiled by Jimmy Lovaas
JIMMY: On Thursday, Zambians will vote to elect the country’s next president and members of its National Assembly.
The election comes in the wake of unrest in the capital city of Lusaka. Unrest that’s left at least two people dead in clashes between supporters of the ruling Patriotic Front and the main opposition United Party for National Development (UPND). President Edgar Lungu, who’s facing a close race with UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema, recently ordered the deployment of the military to quell electoral violence.
Meanwhile there are also questions about how the election will be run, considering the country’s election commission scrapped the voter register and gave itself less than six weeks to replace it — a process that some claim is being used to skew the vote in favor of President Lungu.
Now, the Council on Foreign Relations said the election is shaping up to look like “a case study in ongoing democratic decline.” Worse yet, Amnesty International warned that years of intensifying repression has pushed Zambia “to the brink of a human rights crisis” ahead of the election.
Regardless of the vote’s outcome, however, we could see additional unrest. Lungu himself said it’s possible the losing party will fail to accept the results in Zambia’s election.
Delta variant update
Information compiled by Joe Veyera
JIMMY: Our last item for this forecast is an update on the Delta variant of the coronavirus. For more on that we have Factal editor Joe Veyera.
JIMMY: Hey, Joe.
JOE: Hey, Jimmy, thanks for having me. I wish I had better news to share this week.
JIMMY: I do too. So, this Delta variant, it seems to be pretty concerning. What’s the latest for us?
JOE: The big thing to focus on in the days and weeks ahead is how governments get more people vaccinated. And you’ve seen, especially in the US, them trying just about everything; concert tickets, $100, and now we’re seeing governments in Europe take a different tact, which is to require vaccination to enter into our public places to go dining in places like France and Italy. And surprisingly, somewhat surprisingly, that’s worked out pretty well and both countries have seen a substantial boost in vaccination demand since those, health passes as they’re called, have been in place.
JIMMY: How about here in the US? Are we going to see more restrictions?
JOE: Well, Dr. Anthony Fauci talking to ABC last week said it was unlikely that we would see any lockdown measures akin to what we saw last year, but we are starting to see places take steps similar to what’s going on in France and Italy. On Tuesday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced his city would require proof of vaccination for things like indoor dining and gyms and performance venues — that includes Broadway. And while other places across the US haven’t taken that kind of step, yet, we’re seeing more places reinstitute the mask requirements for indoor public spaces that had widely been dropped in previous weeks. Beyond that, California is among the states that has added a vaccination requirement or frequent testing for state workers. And we’re also starting to see more and more health systems, Kaiser Permanente among them, roll out vaccine mandates in recent days.
JIMMY: I’m sure by now we’ve all seen the CDC presentation that says the Delta variant is about as transmissible as chickenpox. But is that actually leading to an increase in cases?
JOE: Well, if you take a look at the virus situation in different places around the world, record case figures in Tokyo, new one day highs and the death total of Russia, hospitalizations at their peak in parts of the US, and that includes Louisiana I believe, the concerns are growing about this latest virus wave.
JIMMY: Well, if lockdowns aren’t on the table, what should we be watching for?
JOE: Well, when you see these kinds of vaccine mandates and these restrictions for people that are unvaccinated go into effect, we’re noticing that other people aren’t taking too kindly to those kinds of restrictions. We saw thousands of people protesting in Sydney late last month as part of that country’s struggle to control outbreaks. The Greater Sydney Area has been under quarantine measures for about a month and it looks like those won’t go away until the end of August assuming they hit vaccination goals that they’d like to hit. And the longer this goes on, the more weary people seem to get and the more likely we are going to see some sort of pushback in those regards.
JIMMY: I guess we’ll just have to wait and see how much worse this Delta variant makes things as events unfold here over the next couple of weeks. Thanks for the update, Joe. Appreciate the information.
JOE: As always.
JIMMY: Take care.
JIMMY: Today’s episode was produced with work from Factal editors Vivian Wang, Sophie Perryer, Jess Fino, and me, Jimmy Lovaas. Our interview featured editor Joe Veyera and our music comes courtesy of Andrew Gospe.
Until next time, thanks for listening to the Factal Forecast. We publish our forward-looking podcast each Thursday to help you get a jump-start on the week ahead. You can, of course, subscribe for free. And if you have feedback, suggestions or events we’ve missed, drop us a note by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
This transcript may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability not guaranteed.
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Music: ‘Factal Theme’ courtesy of Andrew Gospe
Top photo: The Peace Arch, a monument situated near the westernmost point of the Canada–United States border. Source: Flickr.