Europe: Countries take tentative steps to ease Covid-19 lockdown

A number of European countries have begun to ease lockdown measures.
A number of European countries have begun to ease lockdown measures. © AFP / FRANCE 24

After weeks in lockdown to stop the spread of Covid-19, some countries in Europe are starting to relax restrictions as the number of new cases declines. But the joy of rediscovering lost freedoms has been met with a sense of caution amid warnings that the threat from the virus is far from over.

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In Germany, small shops were allowed to re-open on Monday, though life is far from returning to normal with most German states making face masks compulsory in public.

"We are protecting ourselves as best as we can, or shall I say the others, with our face mask. I can't do more than that. I'm wearing gloves which I will throw away afterwards, along with the face mask,” Dresden resident Gertrude Sietzy told Reuters.

“I hope that's enough. Other than that, I'm really quite happy that we can go outside again at least a little.”

Small shops in neighbouring Austria have been open since April 14th and cultural spaces, such as museums and libraries, are due to re-open from mid-May.

In Denmark too, certain businesses, including hairdressers, are once again serving customers, while both Denmark and Norway have started allowing some children back to school.

Even those countries hardest hit by the coronavirus have begun taking tentative steps towards easing lockdowns.

Spain has begun allowing some non-essential workers to return to their jobs, while bookshops in Italy were given the green light to re-open on April 14.

Meanwhile, in France, all lockdown measures are still in place. But the government has said restrictions will be gradually lifted from May 11.

But as Europe lifts restrictions, the WHO on Monday warned against too swift a return to normal life.

"We want to re-emphasise that easing restrictions is not the end of the epidemic in any country,” said director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

“Ending the epidemic will require a sustained effort on the part of individuals, communities and governments to continue suppressing and controlling this deadly virus."

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