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Coronavirus: Which European lockdown steps are being lifted?

May 4, 2020

Lockdowns and distancing measures to stem the spread of the virus have derailed Europe's economies and left millions without work. Now, Europe has gradually begun lifting restrictions and resuming operations.

People sit on benches at the city center amid the government reopening bigger shops as well as small businesses in a loosening of the lockdown due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Vienna, Austria May 2, 2020.
Image: Reuters/L. Foeger

Millions of people across Europe emerged from lockdown on Monday, with politicians across the continent now grappling with how to reopen businesses, schools and relax coronavirus containment measures without sparking a second wave of infections.

Austria: Around 100,000 final-year students are expected to return to high schools and vocational schools for the first time since mid-March. As of Monday, elderly care home residents will be authorized to receive visitors again, some hygiene measures will remain in place.

Belgium: More public transport will start running again and people will be allowed to play sports and exercise with two others. Some industrial and business-to-business companies that require onsite work can resume operations under special conditions. Meanwhile fabric shops can open because of their importance in the making of face masks.

Croatia: Small businesses including beauty and hair salons can reopen, so long as they adhere to health regulations. Larger shops and businesses will have to stay closed for another week.

Cyprus: Judiciary courts will reopen on Monday but will be expected to follow strict guidelines. Retail and hardware shops will also resume. A 10 p.m.-4 a.m. curfew will remain in place throughout the country.

France: France does not plan to start lifting the coronavirus lockdown until May 11, when children are to gradually return to school, some businesses are to reopen, and people will be allowed to travel within a 100-kilometer (60-mile) radius of their homes without special permission.

Germany: Hair salons nationwide reopened on Monday, albeit under strict hygiene rules. Many students will be permitted to return to class as several states gradually lift restrictions on schools. Social-distancing measures remain in place across most of Germany, limiting outdoor gatherings to pairs (or larger groups all from the same household) and at a distance of 1.5 meters. The central state of Saxony-Anhalt, which has registered relatively few cases of coronavirus, is allowing people to meet up in groups of five. Germany's federal division of powers mean coronavirus related measures vary by region. Meanwhile, the minister for the interior and sport said on Sunday he supports a resumption of the football season this month, as long as teams adhere to health and hygiene rules — and play in empty stadiums.

Greece: Hair salons, electronic shops and book stores were due to reopen, albeit with limits in place. People will also be authorized to leave their homes and move freely within their local prefectures. Island residents are still not allowed to visit mainland Greece. People are also required to wear face masks on public transport, in hospitals and health clinics or else face a fine.

Hungary: With the exception of the capital Budapest, cities throughout the country will see the lifting of restrictions as of Monday. Social-distancing measures and face masks will remain mandatory nationwide.

An employee working for the regional public transport company offers a face mask to a passenger at the Nyugati square in Budapest, Hungary, Monday, April 27, 2020.
Hungary requires that people wear masks on public transportImage: picture-alliance/AP Photo/Z. Balogh

Iceland: Hair and beauty salons, massage parlors, museums and dental clinics will reopen on Monday. Schools, universities and other educational institutions are also scheduled to resume. Gatherings will still be limited to 50 people.

Italy: Following a two-month coronavirus confinement, Romans have been allowed to venture outdoors. Construction and manufacturing industries are also resuming operations as of Monday. Restaurants and bars can open but only for takeaway services. Parks and cemeteries are also reopening and funerals can take place again albeit only with small congregations. People will be authorized to exercise more outdoors and visit loved ones, but there has been a lot of confusion and debate across the Mediterranean country about who falls under that category. 

Lithuania: As of Monday, borders will open again for residents who want to travel, however, non-residents are still not authorized to enter the Baltic country.

Luxembourg: Around 6,000 final year students are allowed to resume classes. Interns and students that need to conduct practical work at university or those in vocational courses can go back to work.

Netherlands: A decision on whether to reopen restaurants and bars, which have been closed since March 15, is expected around May 12.

Poland: Libraries and museums are allowed to reopen to the public. Hotels and shopping centers can reopen following strict hygiene conditions, and only accommodate one person per 15 square meters of retail surface. Hotel swimming pools and fitness centers will remain shut as will food courts, fitness clubs and playgrounds in shopping malls.

Corona-Lockerungen in Europa Polen
Poles have increased freedom by day, but a curfew remains by nightImage: picture-alliance/dpa/D. Zarzycka

Spain: Some small businesses such as hairdressers will reopen for individual customer appointments. Many Spaniards, released to exercise and walk freely, ventured outside for the first over the weekend since the country went into lockdown on March 14. However, social distancing measures remained in place while a rule requiring people to wear face masks on public transport took effect on Monday.

mvb/msh (AFP, AP, dpa)

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