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Some restrictions are being lifted across Europe, so what changes are other countries making?

The Irish government has promised to publish a roadmap, but what does it look like elsewhere?

Children are greeted with strict social distancing requirements at a school outside Copenhagen.
Children are greeted with strict social distancing requirements at a school outside Copenhagen.
Image: Xinhua News Agency/PA Images

THE IRISH GOVERNMENT has pledged to release the plans for lifting Covid-19 restrictions ahead of it happening

The current measures are due to expire a week from tomorrow and the Minister for Health has said he is hoping for a “slight easing” of “one or two” of the restrictions. 

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said last week that the government is “preparing a plan” about how restrictions may be lifted and that they will be constantly reviewed.

“(The plan) will set out in a stepwise fashion, in different steps, how we will reopen our economy, how will we reopen our society, and what criteria we’ll use to decide how to do that,” Varadkar said.

But while the government mulls the exact course to take, chief medical officer Dr. Tony Holohan has said that the National Public Health Emergency Team would be considering the experiences of other countries as the lift restrictions. 

So what is happening in other countries? 

Italy

A full seven weeks into a strict lockdown, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte last night laid out a timetable for getting back to normal.

Conte unveiled a gradual easing of restrictions that will restore some semblance of former life starting next Monday 4 May.

He announced that factories, construction sites and wholesale supply businesses can resume activity as soon as they put safety measures in place against the virus.

By law, anyone with a temperature must stay home, but Conte has allowed Italians to take strolls in parks and go jogging starting next Monday. More stores will reopen and restaurants will resume takeout service.

Parks and gardens will reopen, athletes can resume training, and people will be able to visit relatives living in the same region.

Italians can also visit relatives as long as they take precautions.

Public transport will have a maximum number of people on board and masks must be won by passengers. The price of face masks is also to be fixed at €0.50.

Funerals are to be allowed once more but they can only have 15 people in attendance and again masks must be worn. 

If all goes well, stores and museums will reopen on 18 May, with restaurants, cafes and salons to follow on 1 June.

Source: euronews (in English)/YouTube

Conte said individual athletes would be allowed to resume training on May 4 and teams could start to train together again on May 18. Conte did not say when the country’s top football league Serie A could return. 

“The championship will start again only when it is safe,” he told the nation in a televised address.

Denmark

Denmark is a noteworthy country because it is approaching two weeks since the country began slowly lifting lockdown measures. It can take up to 14 days for symptoms of coronavirus to appear.

Courts of law across Denmark reopened today as the Scandinavian country continued phase one of what it has called a “controlled reopening” of society.

According to the administration’s guidelines, a judge can limit the number of people inside a courtroom if he or she gauges that there are too many people. Courts had previously been closed to all but “critical areas of practice” 

Denmark already has allowed some people back to work, including hairdressers, dentists, tattoo parlours and physiotherapists, among others.

These businesses began to reopen last week after a five-week closure. In salons, clients have to disinfect their hands at the entrance, and must be given a single-use poncho to wear during their appointment. Materials and surfaces have to be disinfected between clients as well.

virus-outbreak-denmark Classrooms are prepared for reopening in Denmark. Source: AP/PA Images

Denmark began lifting its restrictions on 15 April, when it started reopening preschools and primary schools for children up to age 11. The schools are reopened under strict rules, with two-metre social distancing maintained and a maximum of 10 children per class.

Danes are, however, still urged to practice social distancing by keeping two metres apart, gatherings of more than 10 people are banned, and cafes, restaurants, shopping centres and gyms will remain closed until 10 May, as will middle and secondary schools.

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Spain

After six weeks stuck at home, Spain’s children were allowed out yesterday to run, play or go for a walk as the government eased one of the world’s toughest coronavirus lockdowns.

Unlike other countries, Spain’s children were kept indoors, with only adults allowed to leave the house to buy food, medicine, briefly walk the dog or seek urgent medical care. 

From yesterday, a maximum of three children together under 14 years are being allowed go out once a day for one hours between 9am and 9pm. They must go no further than one kilometre from their home.

Health Minister Salvador Illa on Friday said it would be “a first step towards easing” the lockdown after earlier insisting that people be very prudent “because the health of the nation is at stake”.

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez is due to present a detailed plan for the “de-escalation” of measures but said the scheme would be cautious.

From this coming Friday on, people of all ages will be allowed to go on walks or practise sports outdoors.

Spanish people were not permitted to go outside for walks, jogs or bike rides but from this coming Friday people of all ages will be allowed to go on walks or practise sports outdoors.

The Spanish government has said it would be “imprudent” to promise the football season would restart before the summer.

Czech Republic

Restrictions are being relaxed, with stores with a surface of up to 2,500 square metres (26,900 square feet) being allowed to open.

Zoos and botanical parks, fitness centres and driving schools are back to business. Public gatherings of up to 10 people are allowed, up from two.

The government rules on social distancing and mandatory face masks remain in place.

- With reporting by PA and © – AFP 2020

About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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