- Italians, who have been under strict quarantine measures since March 9, are preparing to enter a series of measures to reduce isolation on Monday.
- In neighboring France, the government decided to extend the state of health emergency, in effect from March 24 until July 24.
- In Germany, the lifting of restrictions is at an advanced stage.
Europe continues to ease the isolation measures imposed on its residents to limit the spread of the new Coronavirus pandemic. New decisions are supposed to be implemented, starting from the beginning of the week in about 15 countries, including Italy, which has been under quarantine for two months.
Italians, who have been under strict quarantine measures since March 9, are preparing to enter a series of measures to reduce isolation on Monday. They paid a heavy price for the pandemic that has killed about 29,000 people on the peninsula, especially in the Lombardy region (north).
“Thanks to the sacrifices done until today we have managed to contain the spread of the epidemic. This is a great result,” Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said on Sunday. “We are about to enter the phase of coexistence with the virus, and we need to be aware that during this phase the contagion curve could climb back in some areas. We need to speak honestly. This risk exists, but we need to face it with strategy and rigour.”
The Italians are eagerly awaiting the new rules, from reopening parks while maintaining spaces between their visitors to the possibility of family visits. Meeting in limited numbers, and moving limited to between housing and work or health purposes remain, as does a ban on sitting in bars and restaurants.
These measures are basically different between the 20 regions of the country, leading to some confusion. Calabria and Veneto eased restrictions before and allowed bars and restaurants to open, but without balconies. On the other hand, some sectors of the economy resumed work (construction, cars, luxury products) on April 27 at the national level. As for the schools, they will remain closed until September. “The new rules are ambiguous,” said teacher Sandra Kuleti, 39.
France Extends Quarantine, Spain Sighs in Relief
In neighboring France, which is also highly affected by the epidemic (24,760 deaths), the government decided to extend the state of health emergency, in effect from March 24 until July 24. Paris believes that lifting it would be “premature.” However, the measures to reduce the isolation will begin on 11 May with great caution and at a rate varying by region.
Spain’s 47 million people, subject to strict isolation since mid-March, again on Saturday enjoyed sports and outdoor hiking. Many residents in Madrid, Barcelona, and other cities went out to practice running, sometimes in groups.
In Austria, the commercial streets of Vienna have returned to life with some shops open. Separation of the Scandinavian countries that still impose social restrictions and divergence continues.
German Interior Minister Supports Resuming the Bundesliga
In Germany, where the lifting of restrictions is at an advanced stage, schools are starting from Monday in some states. In another indication of the normalization of the situation, German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said in an interview with the German newspaper Bild on Sunday that he supported the resumption of the Bundesliga. Seehofer made the comments three days before a meeting of the German authorities to decide the fate of the Bundesliga.
In Eastern Europe, cafes and restaurants are scheduled to open on Monday in Slovenia and Hungary, with the exception of the capital, Budapest. In Poland, work resumes in hotels, malls, office,s and some museums as well.
In Britain, the epidemic reached its peak, according to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has promised to unveil a plan to lift the isolation next week. According to The Times Saturday, one of the possibilities would be to require public transportation users to measure their temperature before leaving their homes and staying in them if they are high. For its part, the company Eurostar requires passengers crossing the English Channel to put on masks.
The epidemic has claimed the lives of more than 243,000 people worldwide since its appearance in December in China. Some 85 percent of them in Europe and the United States, according to a census prepared by AFP, based on official sources.