The Latest: Broadway theater to remain shut down through May

NEW YORK - Broadway fans will have to wait a little longer for the shows to resume, at least until the end of May.
Although the exact dates for the resumption of various performances have not yet been determined, Broadway producers are now offering refunds and exchanges for tickets purchased for shows through May 30th.
Broadway theaters closed abruptly on March 12, shutting down all shows - including 16 that were yet to open - and messing up the Tony Awards schedule. The producers, citing health and city authorities, have previously extended the closure to January 3.
The Actors' Equity Association, the national union that represents actors and stage managers, has urged lawmakers to raise arts funding and loans to help those who work in the live performing arts.
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- President Trump Still Contagious? Experts say it's hard to know
- Spain declares a state of emergency in Madrid to contain the increase
- As the virus fills the French intensive care units again, doctors ask what went wrong
- China joins the coronavirus vaccines alliance, reversing previous stance. The richer countries pledge to buy potential vaccines to fund access for poorer ones. The US has opted out.
- The UK government will announce more support for businesses to keep employees in the coming months if they are forced to close due to lockdown restrictions.
- President Donald Trump says he plans to try to hold an election rally in Florida on Saturday despite his recent COVID-19 diagnosis.
- Follow AP's pandemic coverage at and
LONDON - Dr. Kate O’Brien, director of vaccinations for the World Health Organization, says that while rapid approval processes have been initiated for COVID-19 vaccines, no shots will be approved unless they can demonstrate a minimum level of effectiveness and safety.
She noted that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration had recently announced that at least two months of safety data would be required before a vaccine could be approved, and that advanced studies were being developed to have researchers examine data at specific points before the study was completed were able to see if the vaccine was working.
Dr. Alejandro Cravioto, chairman of the group, says careful monitoring of all COVID-19 vaccines used in large-scale immunization programs was crucial.
He says there is a need "to pursue the safety of these vaccines for a longer period of time once they are used in these much more massive ways". He calls for surveillance systems in countries to be strengthened to assess the vaccine's impact on COVID-19 deaths and other factors.
LONDON - Buckingham Palace says the Countess of Wessex is isolating herself at home after contacting someone who later tested positive for the coronavirus.
The palace says the 55-year-old Countess Sophie has had no symptoms but is following relevant government guidelines. Sophie Helen Rhys-Jones married Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, the youngest son of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip in 1999.
The royals have been affected by the pandemic in the past. Prince Charles, heir to the British throne, tested positive for the coronavirus in March.
Charles, 71, recovered and described himself as one of the "lucky guys" with only mild symptoms.
MADRID - The Spanish government has declared a state of emergency in Madrid so that it can resume restrictions on movement that have been partially put down by a court.
The government announced the measure after a cabinet meeting on Friday to decide what to do with the Madrid region, which is home to one of the hardest-hit coronavirus clusters in Europe.
The region's 14-day infection rate of 563 coronavirus cases per 100,000 population is more than double the Spanish national average of 256 and five times the European average of 113 in the week ending September 27.
The national government had ordered the police in Madrid to punish people who leave their communities without explanation. The measure covers 4.8 million residents in Madrid and nine suburban cities.
However, the Madrid regional government rejects the restrictions imposed by the national government in the capital, saying they are draconian and harm the economy. Madrid regional president Isabel Díaz Ayuso says her more moderate measures are enough to fight the virus.
A Madrid court on Thursday upheld the regional government's legal challenge, saying that the national government's imposition of restrictions had violated people's fundamental freedoms.
BERLIN - Chancellor Angela Merkel meets with the mayors of Germany's largest cities, as more and more cases of corona viruses are occurring in metropolitan areas.
The German disease control center reported 4,516 new cases overnight on Friday. Merkel's video conference meeting with 11 mayors will discuss slowing the spread of the virus.
Germany received praise for its early containment. However, many cities have reached the critical warning level of 50 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants. According to the Robert Koch Institute, the number in Berlin is 51 per 100,000 inhabitants, in Bremen 53.9, followed by Cologne (49.8) and Essen (48.4).
In total, Deutsch has confirmed 314,660 cases and 9,589 deaths, a quarter of Britain and a third of Italy.
PARIS - Intensive care units across France are replenishing with COVID-19 patients. Doctors are trying to create new beds elsewhere in the intensive care unit to accommodate the sick.
COVID-19 patients now occupy 40% of ICU beds in the Paris region and more than a quarter of ICUs across the country after infections among young people spread to vulnerable populations.
According to information from national health authorities and doctors from several hospitals, France has not added any significant capacity to the intensive care unit or the staff required to manage it since the first wave of the pandemic. This despite the fact that France is one of the hardest hit countries in the spring.
COVID-19 patients now occupy 1,427 intensive care beds nationwide - a number that has doubled in less than a month. France's total ICU capacity is 6,000.
The government is defending its management of the virus crisis and President Emmanuel Macron says it is about "organization" not resources.
BRATISLAVA, Slovakia - Coronavirus infections in Slovakia hit a record high for the third year in a row, reaching nearly 1,200 in one day for the first time.
According to the Ministry of Health, the daily increase in infected people reached 1,184 on Thursday compared to the previous record of 1,037 the day before.
In response to the record numbers, the government announced on Friday that it would deploy 267 service members to help health officials trace contacts, conduct tests and distribute protective equipment.
Prime Minister Igor Matovic said more restrictive measures will be imposed next week if the surge doesn't slow down over the weekend.
In Slovakia, 16,910 cases have been reported since the pandemic began, with 57 deaths.
MOSCOW - Russia has reported more than 12,000 new coronavirus infections, the highest daily increase since the pandemic began.
The government's task force dealing with the outbreak says the 12,126 infections reported on Friday brought the country to nearly 1.3 million.
Russia has the fourth largest number of reported cases in the world since the pandemic began. 22,000 deaths have also been reported.
Russian authorities insist there is no immediate plan to impose a second lockdown in the country, lifting most of the virus-related restrictions imposed in the spring.
Moscow authorities, which have seen a rapid increase in new cases in the past 24 hours with 3,701 reported infections, have encouraged companies to let at least a third of their employees work from home and recommended that older ones stay Self-isolating people at home. This month's school holidays in the capital have been extended from one to two weeks.
PRAGUE - Newly reported coronavirus infections in the Czech Republic were the highest for a third day in a row, registering an additional 5,394 cases.
The new cases add up to the country's total since the pandemic began at over 100,000.
The government has subsequently introduced further restrictive measures to contain the surge, some of which will take effect on Friday and others on Monday.
All theaters, cinemas, zoos, museums, art galleries, fitness centers and public swimming pools below are closed for at least two weeks.
In addition, all indoor sports activities are prohibited. Only up to 20 people are allowed to take part in sporting activities outdoors, which will hit professional competitions like soccer leagues hard.
Restaurants and bars have to close at 8 p.m. and only four people are allowed at one table.
NEW DELHI - India has reported an additional 70,496 new infections in the past 24 hours, bringing the country's total since the pandemic started to over 6.9 million.
The Ministry of Health also reported 964 deaths in the past 24 hours on Friday, bringing the total to 106,490 deaths.
In India, infections are spreading more slowly than last month, when daily infections hit a record high of 97,894 cases. In India, an average of more than 70,000 cases are being treated every day this month.
Since the pandemic began, India has reported the second most common cases in the world after the US.
Health experts have warned that during major festivals later this month and November, communities have the potential for the virus to spread.
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - Sri Lankan health officials are working to contain a growing number of new coronavirus infections and are ordering bars, restaurants, casinos, nightclubs and spas to close.
The Indian Ocean island nation reported its first locally transmitted infection in more than two months over the weekend, which led to the discovery of a cluster revolving around a clothing factory in the densely populated western province.
As of Friday, the number of infections associated with the cluster rose to 1,053, with more than 2,000 more people quarantined at home. The majority of those infected are employees of the first patient to work in the clothing factory.
BEIJING - China joins the global coronavirus vaccines alliance known as COVAX. It previously refused to join and missed a deadline in September.
China has four vaccine candidates in the final phase of clinical trials, putting it ahead of others in terms of development time.
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said China would join to ensure equitable distribution of vaccines and in the hope that more capable countries will join as well. The exact terms of the agreement and China's contribution are not yet clear.
The alliance is designed so that the participation of richer countries helps fund access for poorer countries. The Trump administration in the US has refused to join.
HARTFORD, Conn. - Dr. Deborah Birx of the White House's coronavirus task force says she is concerned about the rise in coronavirus cases in the northeast.
She said Thursday on the University of Connecticut's Hartford campus that a "very different" type of spread is now taking place.
She says it doesn't happen that often in the workplace because people take precautions. She says more people become infected from indoor family gatherings and social events when the weather cools.
She says this was a lesson learned in the south in the summer when people went inside for air conditioning.

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