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Tuesday 26 September 2023 Dublin: 11°C
SIPA USA/PA Images People gather at the Vatican over the weekend.
# lifting lockdown
Ireland is getting a new Covid roadmap, but what’s happening in other countries right now?
Let’s take a look.

AN UPDATED LIVING with Covid plan will be published today, the latest attempt by the government to give some clarity to people about what they will be facing for the next few months.

The Taoiseach has indicated there will not be much relaxation of the rules, with no significant change to be seen until May.

While we will get more details about the government’s decision today, a number of other countries around Europe are moving to ease their restrictions. 

So, what’s happening in other countries right now?

Yesterday, Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced its four-stage plan could see England’s coronavirus restrictions completely lifted by 21 June.

In the first phase, all pupils in England’s schools are expected to return to class from 8 March. Socialising in parks and public spaces with one other person will also be permitted from that date.

A further easing of restrictions will take place on 29 March when the school Easter holidays begin – with larger groups of up to six people or two households allowed to gather in parks and gardens.

Outdoor sports, including football, golf and tennis, will be allowed to resume from 29 March, with shops, hairdressers and gyms reopening from 12 April in England.

From 12 April, outdoor hospitality will resume, as well as zoos and theme parks.

In Germany, non-essential stores will remain closed until at least 7 March. Schools for younger students in more than half of Germany’s 16 states reopened yesterday.

Restaurants remain closed, as are museums, gyms and cinemas, but sport, such as golf, reopened in some states yesterday.

Austria has experienced a high infection rate of late, however, some of the restrictions in places are a lot less than in Ireland right now.

While the official government website states that Austria is in lockdown, shops and hairdressers are open, with schools also open. 

Restaurants and bars can only offer takeout services, but museums, libraries, and zoos are open. All other culture and leisure facilities such as theatres, cinemas, gyms, swimming pools and amusement parks are closed.

France is not under lockdown, but there is a national curfew in force from 6pm-6am. Schools and shops are open, however restaurants and bars remain closed.

Children have returned to school in several cities, including Bordeaux, Grenoble and Lyon, according to the BBC

Meanwhile, shops, hairdressers, swimming pools and schools are open in Belgium, while cafes and restaurants are shut until 1 April.

Although Sweden has pursued a far less strict approach than most other countries, restrictions have been imposed over the last couple of months.

The sale of alcohol in bars and restaurants is not allowed after 8pm, there are also restrictions in place on gatherings, with no more than eight people permitted.

However, the majority of businesses and schools are open.

Spain has also started to roll back on its restrictions. Changes have been made to Madrid’s curfew time, with it moving from 10pm to 11pm, for instance.

Bars and restaurants can stay open until 11pm. Madrid has also increased the number of diners permitted on street cafés, from four to six.

El Pais reports that in Galicia stores will soon be able to stay open until 9pm instead of 6pm. 

Meanwhile in Italy, the government moved to a tiered system of restrictions in January.

Last week, stricter measures were imposed in three regions, resulting in the closure of bars and restaurants, but Rome and Milan were not included. 

Speaking last week, Dr Mike Ryan, Executive Director of the World Health Organization’s Health Emergencies Programme said: “I’ve said this from the beginning. If you focus on cases, contacts and clusters, if you focus on restricting the movement of those who are sick or their contacts – then you don’t have to restrict the movement of all of society.”

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