International Writing / EFE – Europe was for weeks the focus of the coronavirus pandemic, but the contagion is slowing down and many countries have already started to apply or plan a gradual return to normality, cautious and subject to revision if the situation changes.
Germany opens hand, but Merke calls for caution
Thus, Germany allows today, Monday, the opening of shops of less than 800 square meters, as well as some industries, although in all cases maintaining distance and protection measures.
The central government and the federal states agreed on these first steps last Wednesday. The “Länder”, competent in the matter, are those who specify the general lines agreed, depending on their interests, needs and the effects of the pandemic in their territory.
Schools will resume classes from May 4, but only progressively. The places of worship remain closed.
Restaurants and hotels will be closed for the time being throughout the country.
Social distancing measures will persist throughout Germany at least until May 3 and major public events will be banned until at least August 31.
However, German Chancellor Angela Merkel stressed today that relaxing the restrictions too much could “jeopardize the first successes.” “I have the impression that a discussion began last Wednesday that suggests a security that does not yet exist”, Merkel said today at a press conference.
The German Government, he added, will act “step by step” and “slowly”, as a precaution, and will analyze its consequences. “The effects of the store opening started today will be seen in 14 days. That is what makes the situation difficult, “stressed the chancellor.
In Spain children will be able to go out
Spain, one of the countries most affected by the virus, has announced some measures to relax the confinement applied since March 14, but with great caution. The return to normality, the Government insists, will be orderly, progressive and as the epidemic evolves, since the state of alarm will last at least until May 9.
However, the head of the Executive, the socialist Pedro Sánchez, announced last Saturday that children under the age of 12 could go out into the street briefly from April 27, accompanied by an adult and with caution, although he did not give more details
Sánchez argued that the achievements to contain the epidemic are still “insufficient and, above all, fragile”, so they cannot be put at risk with hasty decisions.
He advanced that the de-escalation will be carried out unevenly or “asymmetrically” depending on the evolution of the disease in each part of the country.
The director of the Center for Health Alerts and Emergencies, Fernando Simón, clarified this Monday that children will not be allowed to play or join others, but that they will be “controlled in some way”.
In his opinion, it is “reasonable” that this and other relaxation measures should be considered as objectives are reached, such as the individual practice of outdoor sports.
On Friday, the Minister of Labor, Yolanda Díaz, explained that the Government is studying a resumption of activity in two stages: “One that will cover the productive sectors until the summer and another that will last until the end of the year” and that would affect tourism , culture or leisure.
France prepares the opening of educational centers
In France, the exit from the confinement is scheduled from May 11, the date from which the educational centers will be reopened, except for the university ones, but in a very progressive way and with modalities that will be known from here to end of april.
Prime Minister Édouard Philippe also announced that by May 11 there will be non-surgical masks for the entire population, although their use will not be mandatory, adding that they hope to be able to carry out 500,000 weekly serological tests after the end of confinement.
The president, Emmanuel Macron, already warned a week ago that businesses such as bars, cafes, restaurants, hotels, cinemas or show rooms will not be able to return to activity on May 11. Nor can festivals or events with large concentrations of public be held until at least mid-July.
Italy prepares a gradual and safe opening
In Italy, the first country to suffer the pandemic and decreed confinements in Europe, the government is preparing the gradual reopening of the country from May 3, but there is still no clear provision.
It is known that the so-called “Phase 2” will be gradual and that it will be a “national program to resume a good part of productive activities in conditions of maximum security”, but it is unknown whether it will be applied first in some regions with fewer cases and later extended to the entire country. Something that the northern regions have already criticized, those most affected by the pandemic, but the most important at the industrial level.
For now, the Government has authorized in addition to essential activities other companies such as bookstores, stationeries, children’s clothing stores or wood management.
However, more than 100,000 non-essential companies are those who, thanks to permits granted by the respective government delegations and presenting a security plan and agreements with the unions, have been able to continue their activity
At the moment, the Government has started a tender for the company that will be in charge of producing the serological tests, which will be carried out on a sample of 150,000 people at first and the mobile application that will track people’s contacts is also underway. positive diagnosed.
In Austria, the unconfinement is already underway
One of the countries that do have very advanced plans for deconfinement is Austria.
There, at the beginning of the month, the government of conservatives and ecologists presented a roadmap towards a “new normal”, with the gradual opening of shops and the approval of other activities.
This relaxation of measures goes hand in hand with the prohibition of large crowds and the requirement to keep distance and the use of masks in interior spaces and on public transport.
Last Tuesday, the 14th, all the shops of less than 400m2 were reopened, such as bookstores and clothing stores, as well as all the spaces dedicated to DIY and gardening. Large stores will reopen their doors in early May.
Workshops and car washes can also operate, but not gyms or hospitality establishments, the situation of which will be studied later.
Austria has banned large public events until August 31, while giving the green light to the reopening of museums, libraries and open-air cinemas from mid-May.
State museums have decided not to reopen before July 1 for financial reasons, as large numbers of visitors are not expected.
Hospitals and medical consultations have begun to take the first steps to recover little normal function, after having canceled all operations, treatments and non-emergency consultations.
The 12 first division soccer teams returned to training last week, in groups of up to six players, with the aim of continuing the competition in the coming weeks, although without an audience.
Also from May 1, all the facilities for outdoor amateur sports will reopen with special rules to avoid infections.
Also in Central Europe, the Czech Republic has opted for a gradual model of relaxation of restrictions.
This Monday opens the first stage of the deconfusion calendar, with five phases in total, and which ends on June 8, with the practice returning to normal in the country, with the exception of the school sector, which is not expected to restart until academic year 2020-21.
Today, street markets, vehicle stores, small shops for professionals, open-air training centers for professional athletes without public, and weddings with up to 15 people are reopened.
The reopening without border controls is not expected in a year, while the Czechs are pending bilateral agreements to reestablish tourist transit with Slovakia and air links with countries such as Croatia, a major holiday destination.
In Poland, parks and forests are reopened to the public from Monday and the limitations on the number of customers who can access the stores are removed. But the schools will remain closed.
The obligation to wear a mask in public spaces and disposable plastic gloves in food shops will remain in force.
Northern countries continue to make progress in opening
A return to social life is also advancing in northern Europe. Today, small establishments, hairdressers and driving schools reopen in Denmark, after an agreement between the government and all parties with parliamentary representation.
The Executive has met with sectoral and union organizations to draw the outline of a “responsible reopening”. The courts will reopen in a week.
Last Wednesday, schools and kindergartens began to reopen in stages. Cafeterias and restaurants are still closed, although food can be ordered at home.
Sweden has closed neither nurseries nor schools (it does institutes and universities) and keeps bars and restaurants open with restrictions, although it has banned concentrations of more than 50 people. Despite a more relaxed approach than that of its neighbors, it has amended the law to allow the Executive, if necessary, to close ports, airports, train stations, shopping centers and restaurants.
In Norway, nurseries have reopened on Monday and schools are scheduled to resume classes in a week. Some shops have also opened their doors this Monday.
Large sports and cultural events are prohibited until June 15 and in May it will be decided what to do for the rest of the summer.
The restrictions that affect the closure of establishments such as bars and restaurants and the prohibition of concentrations of more than five people remain.
Schools and entertainment venues remain closed in Finland, but not shops, which have not been restricted throughout the entire pandemic.
Last Wednesday the three-week period of isolation of the Helsinki region was lifted.
The measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus will be progressively reduced throughout the national territory from April 27.
From that date, hospitals, doctors’ offices, dentists and physiotherapists will be able to resume their normal activities, while certain businesses may reopen as well as hairdressers, massage spaces, tattoos and beauty institutes, as long as they can guarantee the safety of your customers and employees.
Also they will be able to return to work the centers of bricolaje, shops of articles of gardening and florists.
Supermarkets, which at the moment can only sell food and basic necessities, will be able to reopen their entire sales area.
Also from the 27th, people who do not belong to the next of kin of a deceased may also attend funerals.
If the situation allows it, on May 11 the schools, all shops and markets will reopen.
On June 8 it will be the turn of professional educational institutions, museums, libraries, botanical gardens and zoos.
Holland prepares a new normal
The Dutch government will decide this Tuesday whether to extend its current version of the confinement beyond April 28, in which it is allowed to go outside keeping the distance of 1.5 meters and the state of alarm is not decreed.
It will also announce whether it reopens schools or it is still early to start any de-escalation of the measures.
In any case, Prime Minister Mark Rutte has stressed that the “new normal will be the distance of the meter and a half” on the street, and that he does not expect that a relaxation of the current measures will mean returning to the reality prior to the pandemic .
Around 44% of Dutch people now work from home, and the general population has reduced their trips abroad due to alerts.
At the moment, the entire tourist and leisure sector is unemployed, such as restaurants, discos, museums, hairdressers and brothels, while large events, conferences, fairs and football matches, in which there is a significant concentration of people, will continue prohibited until at least next June 1.
Greece keeps refugee camps closed
In one of the countries least affected by the virus, Greece, where the preventive and confinement measures taken by the Government are highly celebrated due to the low numbers of infections, it is expected that next week, once the risk that the Greeks move for the Orthodox Holy Week holiday, which ended yesterday, concrete measures of unconfinement are announced.
However, the government has already warned that schools and refugee camps will remain closed until at least May 10.
In Albania, hundreds of productive and commercial activities have been allowed to operate again today, after 40 days of severe confinement during which the offenders have faced harsh prison terms.
Schools, public transport, as well as bars and restaurants will remain closed for the time being.
The terrible lack of beds and hospital supplies in the country pushed the Government to take exemplary measures on the European continent even before they died and the infections and deaths have been deduced.
Portugal considers reopening by region or by age
The pandemic to Portugal, which has the date to start relaxing the coronavirus restrictions on May 2, when the second extension of its state of emergency will end, has also hit less.
The plans are not yet fully finalized, and will depend on the data collected at the end of April, the Government of António Costa has warned, which is considering various possibilities and has even suggested different reopens by region and even by age.
While waiting for the plan to take shape, the prime minister has advanced that neighborhood stores and hairdressers will open first.
Later, other, not specified, labor sectors may arrive, although it is indicated that in any case there should be planning to avoid concentrations of personnel in the offices, and teleworking will be maintained whenever possible.
The progressive opening of nurseries, secondary schools and universities is also expected from May 2. Elementary students, on the contrary, will finish the course at home.
The gradual opening may also benefit culture and sport, since the possibility of allowing events of this type behind closed doors and with distance regulations is being studied, for example in cinemas, which may open with marked places and with separations. by rows and seats.
Russia maintains closure
A very different case is that of Russia, where population deconfinition measures have not yet begun to be applied, since mandatory quarantines were imposed weeks after many European countries did so.
Official sources and experts agree that in Russia the peak of the disease has not yet been reached, so it is still premature to speak of deadlines for a lifting, albeit partial, of the containment measures. (April 20, 2020, EFE / PracticaEspañol)
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