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Spain, Covid-19, Airbnb: Your Monday Briefing

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Good morning.

We’re covering a state of emergency in Spain, the push to reclaim short-term accommodation listings in Europe and the unexpected outcome of a local election in Russia.

Spain became the first Western European country to surpass one million coronavirus cases this week, followed shortly thereafter by France. As of Sunday morning, according to a Times database, 34,752 people in Spain had died.

The country declared a state of emergency and ordered a nationwide curfew to begin on Sunday after Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez warned that the country was facing an increasingly dire situation. The curfew will limit movement from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m., except in the Canary Islands, where there are fewer new cases.

The new emergency powers will last for 15 days but could be extended until May. They allow regional officials to impose harsher restrictions on movement between areas and to limit gatherings to six people.

Here are the latest updates and maps of the pandemic.

In other developments:

  • Italy tightened restrictions, ordering early closings of bars and restaurants and the total shutdown of gyms, swimming pools, theaters, cinemas and concert halls.

  • At least three top aides to Vice President Mike Pence have tested positive for the coronavirus in the past few days, raising fresh questions about the safety protocols at the White House and Mr. Pence’s decision to remain on the campaign trail.

  • Six American states reported their highest-ever infection totals on Saturday as the U.S. announced more than 78,000 new cases nationwide, one day after the country shattered its single-day record with more than 85,000 new cases.

  • In Ukraine, where voting by mail is not allowed, election officials, some wearing biological hazard suits, went door to door to collect ballots from people who were self-isolating or sick at home.


With just over a week until the U.S. election, and just one day after the nation hit a new high for coronavirus cases, President Trump returned to the campaign trail for a series of rallies and again sought to minimize the surging pandemic, mocking his Democratic opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden, for following the social-distancing recommendations of public health officials.

In the final sprint of the campaign, Mr. Trump is holding up to three rallies a day to try to energize his base as polls show he is trailing Mr. Biden.

Despite economic hardship and a public health crisis, voters are still finding ways to cast their ballots. In many states, that has meant waiting in long lines, navigating confusing election infrastructure and overcoming attempts at voter intimidation. Over the weekend, early in-person voting began in Florida, New York, Wisconsin and other states.

Trump: “That’s all I hear about now. That’s all I hear, turn on television,” Mr. Trump said at a campaign event in Lumberton, N.C. “Covid, Covid, Covid, Covid, Covid, Covid.”

Biden: “I wish I could go car to car and meet you all,” Mr. Biden said at a drive-in rally near Philadelphia. “I don’t like the idea of all this distance, but it’s necessary. I appreciate you being safe. What we don’t want to do is become superspreaders.”

Catch up: Here’s our roundup of this week in the 2020 race.


Long before the coronavirus swept across Europe this spring, many cities had been complaining that short-term apartment rentals aimed at tourists were driving up housing costs and destroying the character of historic districts.

But a halt in international travel has led many European cities to seize the opportunity to push short-term rentals back onto the long-term housing market. In Lisbon, the city government is becoming a landlord by renting empty apartments and subletting them as subsidized housing. And in Barcelona, the housing department is threatening to take possession of empty properties and do the same.

“We cannot tolerate that accommodations that could be rented to Parisians are now rented all year to tourists,” the deputy mayor of Paris said. The number of days per year that a Parisian property can be rented through platforms like Airbnb is capped at 120, but breaches are not uncommon.

Official response: Faced with accusations from lawmakers of disregarding local statutes, Airbnb denied any wrongdoing. “Where there is a vigorous discussion about the right regulations, we’re part of that conversation,” said a spokesman for the company. “Ultimately that’s for local politicians to decide.”

Elections in Russia can be a cynical affair, with incumbents often running against no-name candidates to create the illusion of democracy. So when the mayor of the tiny village of Povalikhino, about 300 miles east of Moscow, asked the woman who cleaned City Hall to run, he thought his second term was all but assured. It wasn’t.

Our reporter looks at the new mayor, Marina Udgodskaya, above, and an episode of a managed election gone awry.

First African-American cardinal: Pope Francis on Sunday elevated Wilton Gregory, the archbishop of Washington, as the pontiff continues to redirect the church toward greater acceptance of those on the margins. Here’s what you need to know.

Hong Kong activists: Hong Kong has long been a place of shelter for people escaping war, famine and political oppression in mainland China. But China’s tough new security law, imposed this summer, has led Hong Kong activists to seek refuge elsewhere. They have been granted asylum in the U.S., Canada and Germany, further deteriorating relations between China and the West.

Nuclear weapons ban: A treaty aimed at destroying all nuclear weapons and prohibiting their use has been ratified by a 50th country and will enter into force in January. The U.S. and the world’s eight other nuclear-armed countries boycotted the negotiations that created the treaty and have shown no inclination to accept it.

Snapshot: On Sunday, just over a year after large demonstrations against inequality swept the nation, Chileans voted on whether to scrap their dictatorship-era Constitution and write a new one, above.

Lives Lived: Tom Maschler, the swashbuckling British publisher who fostered the literary careers of more than a dozen Nobel laureates and conceived the coveted Booker Prize, died this month at 87.

What we’re reading: This Ringer article about one man’s quest to eat a new “Spicy Ghost Pepper Donut” at Dunkin’ Donuts. “Is it delicious? Unclear. But it’s definitely an experience,” says Claire Moses of The Morning newsletter.

Cook: Roasted fish with sweet bell peppers and a garlicky parsley dressing comes together quickly for a healthy weeknight dinner.

Read: If you’ve never read any of Agatha Christie’s novels, here’s a guide to these comfort books, as our reviewer describes them. She writes: “There’s something soothing about the familiar formula. You know there will be at least one murder and quite possibly more.”

Do: Curious about hydroponic gardening? Here’s how to reap a lot of produce without so much as getting your hands dirty.

Discover more projects in our At Home collection on what to read, cook, watch and do while staying safe at home.

Twenty-two million jobs in the U.S. were lost in March and April because of the coronavirus pandemic. That’s as many as the total lost in the Great Depression and Great Recession combined.

Our special series “Out of Work in America” tells the stories of unemployed Americans in their own words. For this project, The Times’s National desk collaborated with 11 local news organizations in the U.S. Here’s what Jia Lynn Yang, a deputy editor on the National desk, and Clinton Cargill, an assistant editor, said about these accounts from a dozen people.

The National Desk has more than 40 reporters scattered across the country, but over the past year Marc Lacey, the National editor, has prioritized partnerships with local news organizations, as with this project.

Clinton: Local news organizations have a special authority in the communities they cover. They know the big employers, the community groups, the state and local policies that make all the difference for people seeking unemployment. We thought they could bring some of that depth at the individual scale.

With more than 12 million people unemployed in the nation, why did local reporters return to the same dozen — often over a few months — at different stages?

Jia Lynn: The idea was to capture not just one snapshot but to do more sustained work tracking a person’s highs and lows. For anyone who’s ever lost a job, it can be such a grueling emotional experience, with very bad days followed by a day where everything turns up for you. We wanted to show that larger arc, and maybe stick around with some long enough that they actually found a job.

What do you hope readers gain from this project?

Jia Lynn: At a time when we are so cut off from one another, I hope readers feel a sense of empathy and connection. For those who have been blessed enough to keep their jobs, I hope they get a better sense of what it feels like for those who have been less fortunate. For those who have lost work, you are hardly alone.


That’s it for this briefing. Wishing you an easy start to the week.

— Natasha


Thank you
To Theodore Kim and Jahaan Singh for the break from the news. You can reach the team at briefing@nytimes.com.

P.S.
• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Our latest episode is on the final U.S. presidential debate.
• Here’s our Mini Crossword, and a clue: “Big drop of water?” (five letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• Need something to read? Times editors have handpicked nine great stories for you to enjoy.
• The Times has launched its own widget for breaking news for iOS 14 on the iPhone.

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