(Reuters) - Some European countries have announced plans to ease restrictions on social life, transport and cross-border travel imposed since mid-March to battle the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Here is an update on such plans:
EASING STEPS ANNOUNCED:
Austria allowed thousands of shops to reopen on April 14, becoming one the first countries in Europe to loosen the lockdown. Shopping centres, larger shops and hairdressers are due to open from May 1.
The Bulgarian parliament voted on April 6 to ease some restrictions and sanctions imposed last month, with farmers markets allowed to reopen and fines on some activities lowered.
On April 14, the government approved a plan under which small shops would reopen on April 20, larger stores to follow on May 11 with restaurants and shopping malls returning to business on June 8.
Denmark will allow certain small businesses, such as hairdressers, beauty salons and driving schools, to reopen on April 20, the government said on April 17.
The move comes after it began reopening day care centres and schools this week in a first step towards gradually easing the lockdown.
On April 15, Chancellor Angela Merkel announced partial reopening of shops next week and schools, hairdressers from May 4. However, social distancing rules would remain in place until May 3.
Norway said on April 7 it would ease curbs gradually, starting with the reopening of kindergartens on April 20 and schools from first to fourth grade a week later.
The ban on hairdressers and makeup salons, as well as on the use of mountain cabins, will also be lifted in April.
Poland will reopen parks and forests from April 20 and ease limits on the numbers of people in shops, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on April 16, adding that he planned to ease the lockdown further every week or two.
The government is considering lifting restrictions on non-essential traffic for the region around Helsinki, but has extended until May 13 most of its other curbs.
Ireland on April 10 extended its stay-at-home restrictions until May 5. Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said Ireland would also closely watch how Denmark, Austria, the Czech Republic and elsewhere fare with their easing.
Though the government last week extended the national lockdown until May 3, it is looking at ways of loosening the draconian restrictions imposed more than a month ago to curb the epidemic.
The Government has extended the lockdown until 27 April. However the Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis said gradual easing, especially for small businesses, could begin after Easter.
The Slovak government will unveil a plan next week to gradually ease restrictions, but will remain cautious, the Prime Minister said on April 14.
Spain partially loosened lockdown and some activities, including construction and manufacturing, were allowed to restart on April 13. However, one of the strictest lockdowns in Europe remained in place. Shops, bars and public spaces are set to stay closed until at least April 26.
Under Health Minister Alain Berset’s three-stage plan, companies which provide personal services like hairdressers and physiotherapists will be allowed to return to work from April 27, schools could reopen on May 11, while bars and restaurants would remain closed until at least June 8.
The government announced further curbs on gatherings and people’s movement on April 3, but at the same time Prime Minister Denys Shmygal said it could soften some of the restrictions later this month, starting with the resumption of public transport and allowing people to go to work.
NO SPECIFIC PLANS YET:
Current restrictions apply until April 27. Movement outside the house is permitted only once a day and only for a specific purpose and there is a curfew from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m.
The lockdown is in place until May 11, with schools and shops expected to reopen after that, but restaurants, hotels, cafes and cinemas would have to remain shut longer. Arrivals from non-European countries will remain prohibited until further notice.
The authorities will review current restrictions on April 27. Until then, movement of individuals is allowed only with a permit.
Hungary announced on April 16 it is extending lockdown measures by one week from Saturday and the government would review the need to maintain the lockdown each Wednesday.
Portugal extended its national coronavirus lockdown until May 2 on April 16, promised to make protective gear widely available and to gradually reopen businesses if the spread of the disease continues to slow.
Romania’s President Klaus Iohannis has extended a state of emergency by another 30 days until mid-May.
Russian workers are not allowed to work at the office until April 30. Restrictions differ from region to region with general self-isolation regime in effect.
With disruption to normal life relatively limited, there has been no debate about easing current restrictions. Those include closing elderly homes to visitors, a ban on gatherings of more than 50 and moving higher education instruction online. The authorities have also have encouraged people to work from home and to avoid unnecessary journeys. Primary and secondary schools remain open and restaurants and bars offer a limited service.
The government has decided to extend confinement measures that include shutting down bars, restaurants, sports facilities, childcare centres and other locations until April 28 and inform about its further plans during the week preceding that deadline.
Turkey will impose a fresh lockdown next weekend as part of measures to halt the spread of coronavirus after a 48-hour curfew in 31 provinces, President Tayyip Erdogan said on April 13.
Britain extended its nationwide lockdown on April 16 for at least another three weeks. The announcement, which had been widely expected, means Britons must stay at home unless they are shopping for basic necessities, or meeting medical needs.
Compiled by Marta Frackowiak, Jagoda Darlak, Anita Kobylinska and Tommy Lund in Gdansk with contributions from European bureaus; Editing by Hugh Lawson and Tomasz Janowski
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