WHO funding, Germany’s next steps, Zumpings

Good morning, Quartz readers!

Here’s what you need to know

Donald Trump ordered a halt in WHO funding. The US president made good on his threats from last week, instructing his administration to temporarily cut off all payments to the global health agency as he accused it of having “failed in its basic duty” of stopping the coronavirus’ spread from China. Meanwhile, his name will appear on millions of stimulus checks.

Germany considers easing coronavirus restrictions. Chancellor Angela Merkel will chair a meeting with the country’s 16 states to discuss how to proceed with lockdown measures, set to expire on Sunday. Separately, the UK and EU resume Brexit talks, which were delayed after the bloc’s top negotiator Michel Barnier tested positive for the coronavirus last month.

South Korea went to the polls. The nation will elect 300 members of its National Assembly, with strict social-distancing and public-hygiene rules in place. President Moon Jae-in’s ruling Democratic Party of Korea (DPK) is hoping to maintain its majority by capitalizing on widespread public approval of the country’s extensive Covid-19 measures.

Singaporeans must now wear face masks outside the home. Offenders will be fined 300 Singapore dollars ($212), with higher fines and possible court prosecution for repeat offenders. The new rule comes as Singapore faces a rapid surge in Covid-19 cases, with many linked to clusters in migrant worker dormitories.

Israel faces a deadline to form a unity government. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his rival Benny Gantz, of the Blue and White party, have until midnight to reach a power-sharing deal, after already being granted a 48-hour extension on Monday. They risk dragging the country into another election if they fail to break the political deadlock.

New Zealand’s ministers are taking a 20% pay cut for six months. Prime minister Jacinda Ardern and others in her cabinet are doing so in recognition of economic hardships posed by the pandemic.

Unlocked and loaded

Around the world, people and municipalities are devising markers to encourage social distancing, using everything from chalk to floor stickers. Those signifiers will take on new importance as some cities in Asia start to reopen for business. But even the best signage can’t overcome newfound squeamishness about proximity to others.

If your lockdown is lifting, how comfortable do you feel being out and about?

👯‍I’m heading straight for the nearest pub, no matter how crowded.

👀I’m going to ease myself in and keep some distance.

🙅‍️Let me know when there’s a vaccine, and I’ll see you all then.

Charting India’s Covid concerns

Yesterday, India extended its coronavirus lockdown by 19 days, through May 3. But even though 76% of the population supported the extension, it’s certain to ramp up anxieties.

Under lockdown, Indians are worried about access to essential items, health care for themselves and loved ones, and employment opportunities, according to a survey conducted by UK-based market research and data analytics firm YouGov, between April 3 and 10.

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For our members 

  • The Dutch are craving a Doughnut. Amsterdam’s so-called “Doughnut” framework for sustainable development could foster a post-coronavirus recovery without harming the environment.
  • There’s an art to remote job interviews. If you’re among the job-seekers concerned about how to convey your professional prowess from a distance, here are a few tips.
  • Almost one in four US jobs can be done from home. Not surprisingly, most “remotely-friendly” sectors are white-collar industries, according to a new working paper by two economists.

Quartz Daily Obsession

Sweatpants no longer signal laziness. The foundation has been laid for this moment for years, as high-fashion brands have found a way to make money off newly fashion-conscious men, and athletic brands discover a women’s market they’ve long underserved. It’s still possible to project a genuinely unfashionable slovenliness with your ratty sweats, but it’s a lot harder than it used to be. The Quartz Daily Obsession invites you to slip into something more comfortable.

Surprising discoveries

A Kiwi comedian has gone viral impersonating Jacinda Ardern. Melanie Bracewell is spending her time in isolation re-enacting some of her prime minister’s most iconic moments.

A 99-year-old war veteran raised £4 million ($5 million) for the UK National Health Service. He did so by walking 10 laps of his back garden a day.

Vietnam set up rice ATMs. The machines distribute free rice in cities across the country, including a 24/7 dispenser in Ho Chi Minh City.

Roman police are cracking down on turtle walks. An Italian woman was fined €400 ($440) for taking a non-essential walk with her (unleashed) turtle.

Gen Z is getting “zumped.” The era of the Zoom-based relationship has led to the rise of the Zoom-based breakup.

Cancel your meeting

Whether you’ve been under lockdown for weeks or months, Quartz at Work has a three-step plan to help you take your quarantine productivity level up a notch.

  1. Take back control of your time. The volume of internal meetings is on the rise, according to meeting-software company Hugo, whose co-founder Darren Chait recommends a company-wide rule of thumb: No more than 10% of anyone’s workweek should be spent in internal confabs.
  2. Use your time to continue learning. Join us on Thursday, April 16 at 11am ET (3pm GMT) for a free virtual workshop on leading from the future, headed up by Mark W. Johnson, who co-founded the management consulting firm Innosight with Clayton Christensen. RSVP here.
  3. Stay ahead of the curve. For more insights on building a productive, creative, and compassionate workplace, sign up for The Memo, a new newsletter from Quartz at Work. You can read it during all that rescued meeting time.

You asked 

To me the word “social distancing” sounds antisocial. Shouldn’t we be stating it as “physical distancing?” 

Right you are, Sohail K. “Social distancing” comes from epidemiology, but a growing group of people are calling for the term—though not the actions—to be changed. “Language matters right now,” says Cormac Russell, a faculty member of the Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) Institute at Northwestern University. “Stay at home and when out, remain physically apart,” is an essential message, he says, “but to stay well during this time, people will need to actively seek ways to stay social.”

Singapore calls it “safe distancing.” Stanford psychologist Jamil Zaki suggests “distant socializing.” And on March 20, the WHO even changed its official language to “physical distance.”

✉️ What’s your coronavirus question?

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, ministerial impersonations, and rice from ATMs to hi@qz.com. Get the most out of Quartz by downloading our app on iOS or Android and becoming a member. Today’s Daily Brief was written by Mary Hui and edited by Isabella Steger.