A number of countries across Europe have begun easing coronavirus restrictions


A number of countries across Europe have begun easing coronavirus restrictions, allowing people to move around more and businesses to reopen.

While some countries have only changed their rules in the past few days - meaning that any associated spike in incidence may not yet occur or may not be detected by medical authorities - some have operated on less stringent rules for longer periods of time and no country has yet reported a significant spike.

If this trend continues, it will encourage those Governments to take additional measures to resume operations and also encourage more countries to follow the same path.

Many of these governments have warned that the process of lifting the restrictions would be slow, and that any signs that lifting the restrictions would lead to further spread of the virus would lead to the reapplication of old rules.

As far as they are successful, they will serve as a guide for other countries that have not yet announced a relaxation of the rules - such as Ireland, the UK and the US - as well as for host European countries that plan to start opening in the next few days and weeks.

Germany has reopened and is looking to the future with optimism

Germany, one of the most infected countries in Europe, has allowed the opening of shops such as bicycles and bookshops.

The country has over 6,300 registered deaths, although the mortality rate is surprisingly low compared to countries with similarly high rates of morbidity.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel described the country as a country that has made great progress, but noted that the spread of infections must be closely monitored in the future.

"We have made a lot of progress, but we haven't gotten out of it completely yet, and we can't take any chances," she said.

In the next few days, the country plans to reopen schools and more businesses, such as hairdressing salons. Bars, cafes and restaurants will remain closed, and large crowds of people will be banned until the end of August.

Denmark, Norway, Czech Republic and Poland

Denmark, where 443 people died, began lifting the restrictions on 15 April, reopening schools for children under the age of 11 and keeping them apart, as well as limiting the number of children in each class. Some parents are critical of this decision.

On Monday, places such as courts, beauty salons and hairdressing salons reopened.

Since April 7, people are allowed to ride bicycles, run and hike in the countryside without face masks, but for now they must practice social distance. Sports grounds in the open air have also been reopened.

Large shopping centres, restaurants, theatres and museums are now scheduled to reopen in May if their number does not increase.

So far, 227 people have died of the virus in the country.

In Norway, where 206 people died, preschools reopened on 20 April and schools for slightly older children on Monday.

Restrictions on people's homes were also lifted, and businesses such as hairdressing salons were reopened.

So far there has been no spike in the number of cases in the country, and since 16 April the number of new daily cases has remained below 108.

Prime Minister Herna Solberg said on Tuesday: "Norway has managed to control the virus. The challenge now is to maintain this control".

Poland, where 606 people died, started reopening parks and forests on 20 April and weakened the rules on the number of people allowed in shops.

But Health Minister Lukasz Szumowski said even if the country plans to take more steps soon, such as opening hotels and preschools, rules could be tightened again if diseases resume.

Switzerland, Albania and Greece have just started opening, but so far everything is fine.

Many European countries have started easing restrictions over the past few days.

In Switzerland, where 1,699 people died, businesses such as dental surgeries, hardware stores, doctors' offices and garden centres opened on Monday.

For two weeks, the daily number of cases remained one of the lowest since the outbreak began.

Albania allowed some shops to open for a limited time from Monday, while people were also allowed to travel and use taxis within the country.

A total of 750 people have died from the virus there.

In Greece, where 138 people died, courts and registry offices were opened on Monday, and several shops and schools are scheduled to open in early May.

Prime Minister Kiriakos Mitsotakis warned on Tuesday that a return to normal life "should not lead to a relapse".

Italy and Spain

Italy and Spain are also planning a return to normal life.

Spain, which has so far recorded more than 230,000 cases and more than 24,000 deaths from coronavirus, has implemented one of the toughest isolations in the world.

On Sunday, the country allowed children aged 14 to go out once a day for one hour.

Since then there has been no spike in cases or deaths: since Saturday, there have been around 2,700 new cases and 300 deaths per day.

But Health Minister Salvador Illa described his steps as "a first step towards easing" the blockade, and plans are now in place to allow people of other ages to go out for walks and for places such as bars that will be open, with limited capacity, from early May.

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez also warned that reopening must be slow and cautious, as the virus is "still hiding".

Italy, which has recorded 27,000 deaths - more than any other country in Europe - has announced a gradual easing of restrictions since 4 May, including allowing people to visit parks, visit relatives living in the same region and use public transport with a limited number of people on board.

France, with more than 23,000 deaths, will begin easing restrictions on shops and schools from 11 May, but Prime Minister Edouard Philippe warned that too fast movement could lead to a surge in the virus.

Portugal, Austria and Belgium have also outlined plans to begin easing restrictions in early May.

The world will be watching keenly.



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