In Europe, the first countries to move to lift restrictions are Spain and Italy.
After being prohibited for several weeks, Europe is now taking its first steps towards a return to normality, while some countries are reopening businesses. While several other nations have announced they are preparing to ease their lockdown restrictions in the coming days. Spain and Italy, which are the two European countries worst-hit by the pandemic outbreak have started lifting restrictions and re-started some industries. Then Germany is considering opening schools from Monday.
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In Europe, Spain and Italy takes to lifting restrictions
Millions of Spanish workers returned to their jobs on Monday after Madrid lifted the curbs on non-essential industries. The employees were allowed back to work, as police handed out millions of masks on the country’s metro, train and bus networks. Spanish prime minister Pedro Sanchez said social distancing and the ban on nonessential travel will remain, but that there could be a ‘progressive and very cautious ‘relaxation of measures in two weeks’.
Today, Italy also begins a phased return to normality after its rise in new infections fell to just 2 percent. The death toll topped 20,000 after 566 died on Monday, down from a peak of 919 just over two weeks ago. The country will consider relaxing further measures after nonessential shops, such as book stores and children’s clothes shops, reopen today. Social distancing measures, ban on non-essential travel and the closure of non-essential industries will remain.
French President Emmanuel Macron announced that the country’s lockdown would last until at least May 11. In an address to the nation from the Elysee Palace in Paris, he insisted ‘hope is coming back’, with the situation has improved in some regions. He admitted the country had not been ready for the pandemic by saying ‘Were we ready for this crisis? Clearly not enough, but we stood up to it’.
German chancellor Angela Merkel is under pressure to ease lockdown measures. Experts urged her to open schools from Monday and called for shops and restaurants to re-open if social distancing measures are observed. Germany has managed to keep its mortality rate down to just over 2 percent due to its superior testing capacity. By contrast, Italy’s is nearly 13 percent. Several other European countries, such as Austria, Denmark, and the Czech Republic are also set to loosen their lockdowns. World Health Organisation chief, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said restrictions must be lifted gradually as the virus ‘decelerates’ slowly.