Your Friday Briefing

Restrictions for unvaccinated people

Italy will require people to show proof of Covid-19 vaccination or a recent negative test to dine indoors, visit museums and attend shows, among other social activities, following steps taken by France and Israel.

The expanded use of Italy’s health pass is meant to encourage vaccination and blunt the spread of the contagious Delta variant. About half of Italians over age 12 are fully vaccinated.

The move comes as debate in Western countries heats up over how far governments should — or can — go in circumscribing the lives of the unvaccinated. A proposal in England to require proof of vaccination to enter nightclubs by September was met with a swift political backlash and may not move forward.

‘Breakthrough’ infections: While vaccines are effective at preventing serious illness and death, they are not a golden shield against the coronavirus. Here’s what you need to know.

Here are the latest updates and maps of the pandemic.

In other developments:

An official coronavirus app in England has told legions of people to self-isolate after possible exposure. Across the border, Scotland has opted not to relax all restrictions, a move that could increase support for independence if cases rise in England.

Chinese officials said they were shocked and offended by a W.H.O. proposal to further investigate whether the coronavirus emerged from a lab in Wuhan.

With half of Australians in lockdown, Prime Minister Scott Morrison apologized for delays in the country’s vaccination program.

A troubled Olympic Games

In 1964, when Japan last hosted the Summer Games, the country was riding high on postwar optimism and economic development. This year, the Olympics are essentially closed to the public, and many Tokyo residents are fleeing a scorching city weeks into a state of emergency.

The issues go beyond the pandemic and the heat. On Thursday, a day before the opening ceremony, organizers fired their creative director over a 1990s comedic act in which he joked about the Holocaust. The previous creative director had resigned in March over comments about a plus-size celebrity. Follow along with our live updates here.

The person given the honor of lighting the Olympic caldron won’t be revealed until the opening ceremony. Here are the leading candidates and how to watch.

By the numbers: At least 91 people with Olympic credentials, including 10 athletes, have tested positive for the coronavirus, a rash of cases that raises thorny questions about testing. Only 950 spectators will attend the opening ceremony, which takes place today in a purpose-built stadium able to hold 68,000 people.

Soccer: Mexico beat France 4-1, but a pretournament favorite, Spain, drew against Egypt. Richarlison had a first-half hat trick for Brazil, the defending champion, in a 4-1 win against Germany.

Pulling levers in exile

Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, the exiled Belarusian opposition leader, is trying to build Western opposition to a dictatorship that she says is taking its “last breaths.”

As part of her strategy to maintain influence in Belarus from abroad, she has met with Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, President Emmanuel Macron of France and Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken. But the support of Western leaders goes only so far when a return to Belarus would mean certain imprisonment.

Only months ago, hundreds of thousands of protesters took to the streets to demand the resignation of Alexander Lukashenko, the strongman leader of Belarus, in a rare democratic outburst. Opposition figures are now disappearing into prisons, and protests are dwindling.

Quotable: “Now it’s impossible to fight openly,” Tikhanovskaya said. “It’s difficult to ask people to go out for demonstrations because of a sense of fear. They see the brutality of the regime, that the most outstanding leaders and prominent figures are in jail. It’s really scary.”


Other Big Stories

Catastrophic floods in Henan Province, China, have killed at least 33 people and displaced 250,000. At least eight people remained missing, provincial officials said, but those figures appeared to be preliminary at best.

U.S. veterans are trying to help Afghan interpreters who supported the U.S. military to emigrate as the Taliban takes over large swaths of land.

The Bootleg Fire in southern Oregon has raged for more than two weeks and is the largest fire in the U.S. this year.

Subway systems around the world are struggling to adapt to an era of extreme weather brought on by climate change.

News From Europe

A Syrian teenager who was attacked in the U.K. won a libel case against Tommy Robinson, the far-right activist who accused him of staging the episode.

Mercedes-Benz will shift its focus entirely to electric vehicles by 2025. Separately, lizards, activists and red tape continue to thwart Elon Musk’s plans to build a Tesla factory outside Berlin.

The Amundi Evian Championship, a major tournament in women’s golf, is taking place this weekend in France. Unlike their male counterparts, successful female golfers show a huge disparity in length off the tee.

Science News

Scientists made a 3-D map of the inside of a shark’s intricate spiral intestine. It’s extremely cool.

NASA released the first detailed map of the inside of Mars down to its core, highlighting the great differences between the red planet and our own blue world.

An A.I. firm in London released the predicted shapes of 350,000 proteins, a boon for medicine and drug research.

A Morning Read

Children’s books have become the latest target of Hong Kong’s crackdown on political speech, after a story that portrayed the police as wolves resulted in the arrests of five leaders of a speech therapists’ union. They are accused of instilling hatred of the government in children.


Agony and Ivory

Curators at the Humboldt Forum, a new museum in Berlin, hope its inaugural exhibition — “Terrible Beauty,” a temporary display of ivory artifacts ranging across 40,000 years — shows that the institution is serious about its colonial baggage.

Conceived as Germany’s equivalent to the Louvre, the Humboldt Forum was originally scheduled to open in 2019 but ran into construction delays. It is now opening in phases over the next two years.

The Forum’s most disputed section is yet to open: floors containing thousands of ethnological artifacts, including a spectacular African throne and huge wooden boats from the South Pacific, many of which were acquired during Germany’s expansionist imperial phase.

Anticolonial activists have argued that the Humboldt Forum has not gone far enough in investigating the provenance of its objects.

The opening this week is the first opportunity for curators to present what they argue is a forward-thinking and inclusive manner of showing artifacts with colonial associations to a broad audience.

Read more about the museum here.


What to Cook

Enjoy this slow-cooker cherry tomato compote in pasta or salads, or on top of anything grilled.

What to Watch

In “Mandibles,” the breezy bromantic comedy by the French filmmaker Quentin Dupieux, two lovable idiots go on adventures with an enormous fly.

What to Read

“Better to Have Gone,” by Akash Kapur, tells the story of Auroville, a utopian community in India founded by a Frenchwoman.

Now Time to Play

Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Symbol of the Olympics (five letters).

And here is today’s Spelling Bee.

You can find all our puzzles here.

That’s it for today’s briefing. Have a great weekend. — Natasha

P.S. With few colleagues yet returned to our newsroom, our office in New York remains a ghostly work space.

The latest episode of “The Daily” is on the multinational investigation into the assassination of Haiti’s president.

You can reach Natasha and the team at

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