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As COVID-19 Infection Rate Slows, Europe Mulls Easing Of Restrictions

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As COVID-19 Infection Rate Slows, Europe Mulls Easing Of Restrictions

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Throughout Europe in recent days the COVID-19 infection rate has been steadily going down, while numbers of active infections remain relatively high.

Regardless, this is seen as a good sign and prompts some countries into mulling possible reduction of some anti-COVID-19 measures.

These include:

Austria as of April 14th began relaxing some of its lockdown measures. Non-essential stores under 400 square meters were allowed to open their doors along with hardware stores and garden centers. Shopping malls and hairdressers will open up on May 1st.

People will be required to wear masks in stores and on public transportation.

Restaurants and hotels will remain closed until mid-May, and no public events can be held until June.

As of April 24th, Austria has 15,071 total infected, 522 fatalities, and only 2,677 remaining active cases.

In Belgium, on April 22nd, an expert panel tasked with drawing up the country’s plan to ease the lockdown restrictions recommended reopening shops and business on May 4th.

The panel also recommended a partial return to school on May 18th.

The proposals include keeping social distancing measures, masks worn in busy places and 40,000 tests carried out per day on people with suspected symptoms.

The panel also recommended to allow gatherings of up to 10 people on weekends – among close friends and relatives – but always with the same people each week.

Belgium, as of April 24th, has a total number of cases sitting at 44,293, 6,679 fatalities and the active cases sit at 27,492.

In France, on April 15th, President Emmanuel Macron announced that on May 11th, restrictions would start being lifted.

Quarantine will be “gradually” lifted, starting with nurseries, K-12 schools, and some shops.

As of April 24th, it sits at 158,183 total cases, 21,856 fatalities and 94,239 active cases.

The Czech Republic began easing its restrictions on April 20th, with a five-stage plan. Under its plan, Czech authorities reopened farmers’ markets, car dealerships, and other small businesses before slowly allowing residents to return to some form of normalcy.

In the final stage of the plan, tentatively scheduled for June 8, all businesses would be allowed to reopen, including bars, cafes, restaurants and hotels.

This is not set in stone, since a resurgence in cases could push the date back.

As of April 24th, it has 7,188 total cases, 213 fatalities, and 4,789 active cases.

On April 14th, children in Denmark returned to school. Some businesses were allowed to reopen just a few days later, including hairdressers, which saw a rush of appointments and visits. Other places allowed to open include tattoo parlors, physiotherapists and dentists.

The opened businesses must follow new health guidelines. Zoological gardens and animal parks will reopen May 1st, while other restrictions remain in place.

“In this situation, it is very important that there is increased awareness to avoid infection in the population,” the Danish Health Authority said. “The spread of infection has been greatly reduced, and we have therefore started to open up the society gradually.”

As of April 24th, Denmark has 8,210 total cases, 394 fatalities and 2,432 active cases.

Germany, took the decision to ease some restrictions on April 20th, allowing shops with an area of less than 800 square meters to open, along with car and bicycle dealers, and bookstores to reopen. Social distancing and new health rules remained in effect.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel struck a deal with local governments in each state are allowed to ease or tighten regulations depending on the situation. Restrictions nationwide are to remain until May 3rd, while schools are planned to open on May 4th.

Germany, as of April 24th, has 153,393 cases, 5,575 fatalities, and 41,018 active cases.

In Italy, the prime minister said on April 21st that any reduction in measures will be cautious and calculated.

While the full lockdown is set to end May 4, bookshops, laundries, children’s clothing stores reopened in some regions, while forestry workers and IT manufacturers were back to work.

“I wish I could say: let’s reopen everything. Immediately. We start tomorrow morning…But such a decision would be irresponsible,” Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said.

As of April 24th, Italy has 189,973 active cases, 25,549 fatalities and 106,848 active cases.

In Norway, on April 20th, restrictions were lifted “little by little” by opening kindergartens before moving on to higher grades “before summer.”

However, citizens are will required to work from home and the ban on sports and festivals remained in place until at least June 15th.

As of April 24th, Norway sits at 7,401 total cases, 194 fatalities, and 7,175 active cases.

Spain is the hardest-hit country in Europe by COVID-19, while the lockdown is expected to stay in place until at least May 3rd, the government began easing its restrictions on residents on April 13th by allowing some non-essential workers to return to their jobs.

On April 20th, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said that he would allow children to go outside since the lockdown began.

As of April 24th, it has 219,764 total cases, 22,524 fatalities, and 104,885 active cases.

Switzerland, announced a three-stage lifting of the lockdown starting on April 27th.

The first phase will include reopening some non-essential businesses such as hairdressers, physiotherapists, medical and dental offices, while grocery stores and supermarkets also will be able to sell non-essential products again.

Wearing masks outside will be mandatory.

The second phase of the plan, which is set to begin on May 11th, will see schools for children of compulsory school age reopen. All stores and markets will also reopen on that date.

The final phase, set for June 8th, will see the reopening of upper secondary schools, universities as well as the possible lift of restrictions on entertainment and cultural events.

As of April 24th, it has 28,677 total cases, 1,551 fatalities and 6,526 active cases.

Sweden, still has no COVID-19 lockdown, and it appears to be dealing with the situation fine. Most recently, on April 21st, Anders Tegnell, an epidemiologist at Sweden’s Public Health Agency said that closing of borders was “absurd” in his view.

His philosophy is the following:

“This is not a disease that can be stopped or eradicated, at least until a working vaccine is produced. We have to find long-term solutions that keeps the distribution of infections at a decent level. What every country is trying to do is to keep people apart, using the measures we have and the traditions we have to implement those measures. And that’s why we ended up doing slightly different things.”

As a result, Swedish citizens weren’t prohibited or required to do anything, everything was based on voluntarism.

As of April 24th, it sits at 16,755 total cases, 2,021 deaths and 14,184 active cases.

Finland, on March 16th, the Finnish Government, jointly with the President of Finland, declared a state of emergency due to COVID-19.

  • All schools will be closed, not including early education.
  • Most government-run public facilities (theatres, libraries, museums etc.) will be shut down.
  • Critical personnel will be exempted from the Working Hours Act and Annual Holidays Act, both in the private and public sector.
  • At most 10 people can participate in a public meeting, and people over the age of 70 should avoid human contact if possible.
  • Outsiders are forbidden from entering healthcare facilities and hospitals, excluding relatives of critically ill people and children.
  • The capacity of social and healthcare will be increased in the private and public sector, while less critical activity will be decreased.
  • Preparations for the shutdown of borders will start, and citizens or permanent residents returning to Finland will be placed under a 2-week quarantine.

As of April 22nd, Finland said that it planned to lift the lockdown with a hybrid strategy.

Many of Finland’s countrywide restrictions will remain in place until May. Schools and public libraries are set to reopen on May 13. Restaurants are to remain shuttered until late in the month, while large gatherings of more than 500 people are prohibited until the end of July.

As of April 24th, Finland sits at 4,395 total cases, 172 fatalities, and 2,223 active cases.

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