Covid-19 Apr 28

Moves to ease lockdowns in Europe

Spain allows children out for the first time in weeks if accompanied by a parent, while other countries unveil broader lockdown exit plans

by AFP
Moves to ease lockdowns in Europe
Emilia Lomba, 64, sells fish at a market in Lisbon on April 23, 2020 during the coronavirus pandemic. She is one of the workers who defied the virus because she needs to keep her life going to pay her bills. She feels safer at home but thinks she's lucky to be outside talking with costumers and getting them fresh fish. Photo: Patricia De Melo Moreira / AFP

Several European countries have started to ease lockdown measures they imposed in a bid to halt the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, or are preparing to do so.

Here is an overview:

Italy

In Italy, which on March 10 became the first European country to impose confinement rules, some construction workers and workers in factories making industrial machinery, cars and luxury goods were allowed to go back to work on Monday.

Starting May 4 people will be able to walk in the park and take outdoor exercise. They will be allowed to visit their relatives, but only if they respect distance and wear masks.

Restaurants can open for takeout and wholesale stores can resume business on the same day, with other shops following on May 18, along with museums and libraries.

Restaurants will be allowed to offer dine-in service and barber shops will return on June 1. Italy's schools will reopen in September.

Spain 

Spain started on Sunday to ease one of the world's tightest coronavirus lockdowns, imposed on March 14, allowing children out for the first time in weeks if accompanied by one parent. 

Spaniards will be allowed out for exercise and to take walks from May 2. Some building and factory workers had already returned to work on April 14.

The Madrid government will on Tuesday unveil its broader lockdown exit plan that will likely be put into action in the second half of May.

Germany

Germany, which took its first restrictive measures on March 16, on April 20 allowed some smaller shops to reopen.

Germany's regions have a large margin of manoeuvre in the matter of restrictions.

Some schoolchildren will go back to school from May 4, starting with the eldest.

Bars and restaurants, cultural centres, playgrounds and sports grounds remain closed. Sports stadiums and concert halls will remain shut at least until August 31.

Germany plans a gradual return to normal. Wearing masks is becoming obligatory on public transport and in some regions in shops.

Belgium 

Most businesses in Belgium will restart from May 11 and schools from May 18.

Restaurants will reopen from June 8 at the earliest, while a timetable has not been set for cafes and bars.

The wearing of masks will be obligatory from May 4 on public transport.

Austria

In Austria small shops and gardening and hardware stores started to re-open in mid-April. Larger shops will follow next week. Restaurants are expected to re-open from mid-May.

Children will gradually be able to go back to school from May 4.

France

France's lockdown, which started on March 17, will start to be lifted on May 11, under plans to be unveiled by Prime Minister Edouard Philippe on Tuesday.

Schools will reopen gradually.

But the government has already said that restaurants, cafes and cinemas will remain closed for the time being and large public gatherings such as concerts and sporting events prohibited.

France on April 20 eased confinement conditions for residents in old people's homes.

Scandinavia

Denmark and Norway, which have only imposed partial confinement measures, were among the first European countries to ease them.

Danish children became the first to go back to school on April 15 when it reopened nurseries, kindergartens and primary schools.

Sweden went against the tide in Scandinavia, not confining its population at all. Schools and restaurants remain open there.

AFP