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The continent also has seen more than 107,000 deaths attributed to the respiratory virus. Italy, Spain and France are the countries with the highest death tolls.
However, as the rate of daily infections starts to fall, governments are mulling plans to reopen schools and shops while delicately balancing the possibility of a second wave of infections.
Here are the European countries that have started to lift their coronavirus lockdowns:
Population: About 9 million
Coronavirus cases: At least 14,925
Coronavirus deaths: At least 510
Austria was among the first European nations to restrict the movement of its nearly 9 million citizens. On March 16, the government mandated strict restrictions across the country. Restaurants, bars and sporting events were shutdown with only supermarkets and food delivery services available.
Nearly a month later, on April 14, the country began relaxing the lockdown measures. Non-essential stores under 4,300 square feet were allowed to open their doors along with hardware stores and garden centers. Shopping malls and hairdressers will follow suit on May 1. People will be required to wear masks in stores and on public transportation.
However, restaurants and hotels will remain closed until at least mid-May, while no public events can be held until at least late June.
Population: About 11.5 million
Coronavirus cases: At least 41,889
Coronavirus deaths: At least 6,262
Belgium has been in lockdown since March 18, with the country’s more than 11.5 million residents ordered to stay home and to avoid being outside as much as possible. With police patrolling the streets, the lockdown measures prevent people from leaving their homes unless for essential trips like a doctor’s visit, buying food or assisting others in need. Anyone ignoring the order faced fines.
On April 22, an expert panel tasked with drawing up the country’s plan to ease the lockdown restrictions recommended reopening shops and business on May 4. The panel also recommended a partial return to school on May 18, according to reports.
The proposals include keeping social distancing measures, masks worn in busy places and 40,000 tests carried out per day on people with suspected symptoms. Also, parks and playgrounds should reopen as well as sports facilities; however, no doubles matches in tennis or five-a-side pick-up soccer.
The panel also recommended to allow gatherings of up to 10 people on weekends – among close friends and relatives – but always with the same people each week. Cafes and restaurants would remain closed.
CZECH REPUBLIC (CZECHIA)
Population: About 10.7 million
Coronavirus cases: At least 7,000
Coronavirus deaths: At least 204
The Czech Republic has taken it first steps toward easing its coronavirus restrictions with a five-stage plan that began April 20.
The country’s tough approach – which included a near lockdown of the country’s more than 10 million residents on March 12 – has prevented the uncontrolled spread of the virus.
Under its plan, Czech authorities reopened farmers’ markets, car dealerships, and other small businesses before slowly allowing residents to return to some form of normalcy.
In the final stage of the plan, tentatively scheduled for June 8, all businesses would be allowed to reopen, including bars, cafes, restaurants and hotels. However, officials have cautioned that restrictions could be re-imposed if there was a sudden surge in cases.
Population: About 5.8 million
Coronavirus cases: At least 8,108
Coronavirus deaths: At least 384
Demark was one of the first European nations to announce a lockdown and is now among the first slowly relaxing it. On March 11, the government closed schools, restaurants and non-essential businesses and banned gatherings of more than 10 people. The borders were shut to most foreigners.
Just over a month later, on April 15, the country’s children returned to the classroom – the first step in the country’s gradual easing of the lockdown. Days later, some businesses were allowed to reopen, including hairdressers, which saw a rush of appointments and visits. Other places allowed to open include tattoo parlors, physiotherapists and dentists.
The opened businesses must follow new health guidelines. Zoological gardens and animal parks will reopen May 1, while other restrictions remain in place.
“In this situation, it is very important that there is increased awareness to avoid infection in the population,” the Danish Health Authority said. “The spread of infection has been greatly reduced, and we have therefore started to open up the society gradually.”
Population: About 83.7 million
Coronavirus cases: At least 148,704
Coronavirus deaths: At least 5,102
Unlike other European countries, Germany stopped short of mandating a stay-at-home order for the country’s more than 83 million residents. Instead, it issued strict social distancing measures on March 22.
Public gatherings of more than two people were banned, except for families and those who live together. Restaurants not offering food delivery or pick-up were ordered closed, along with other non-essential shops. Exercising alone outside was allowed and schools were closed. Meanwhile, the states of Bavaria and Saarland put their residents on lockdown.
On April 20, Germany took its first step to gradually restart public life by allowing retailers with a surface area of up to 8,600 square feet, along with car and bicycle dealers, and bookstores to reopen. Social distancing and new health rules remained in effect.
In a deal agreed upon with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, state governments are responsible for imposing and loosening shutdown measures. However, restrictions nationwide will remain in place until May 3 with schools planned to reopen a day later.
Population: Around 60 million
Coronavirus cases: At least 183,857
Coronavirus deaths: More than 25,000
Italy, once considered the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in Europe, has grappled with easing restrictions on its more than 60 million residents as the number of daily infections continues to slowly drop.
Since implementing sweeping measures in March and telling Italians to stay home and shutting schools, businesses and industries nationwide, the prime minister said on April 21 that any long-awaited rollback will be cautious and calculated.
While the full lockdown is set to end May 4, bookshops, laundries, children’s clothing stores reopened in some regions, while forestry workers and IT manufacturers were back to work.
“I wish I could say: let’s reopen everything. Immediately. We start tomorrow morning…But such a decision would be irresponsible,” Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte wrote in a Facebook post.
He didn’t give any specific details about which businesses would be allowed to reopen first or what limits might be maintained on movement around the country.
Population: About 5.4 million
Coronavirus cases: At least 7,281
Coronavirus deaths: At least 183
Norway implemented a strict two-week lockdown on public life on March 12, and it was quickly extended through Easter. The government closed schools, restaurants, cultural events, gyms and tourist attractions. It also closed its borders to outside travelers.
On April 20, Norway began to lift restrictions “little by little” by opening kindergartens before moving on to higher grades “before summer.” Universities and hair and beauty salons are expected to reopen in late April.
However, citizens are will required to work from home and the ban on sports and festivals remained in place until at least June 15.
Since the measures to mitigate the spread of the virus, Norway’s economy ground to a halt, with unemployment rising to more than 15 percent.
The relative success lowering the daily number of new cases prompted Prime Minister Erna Solberg to announce on April 7 that “Norway has managed to get the virus under control.”
Population: About 46 million
Coronavirus cases: More than 200,000
Coronavirus deaths: At least 21,717
Spain, arguably the hardest-hit country in Europe and second-worst hit after the United States, has seen a sign of hope after the daily number of infections continues to fall.
Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez declared a state of emergency on March 14, effectively shutting down the country after the virus spread at a furious pace.
While the lockdown is expected to stay in place until at least May 3, the government began easing its restrictions on residents on April 13 by allowing some non-essential workers to return to their jobs. A week later, Sanchez announced he would allow children to venture outdoors for the first time since the lockdown began.
Population: About 8.6 million
Coronavirus cases: At least 28,268
Coronavirus deaths: At least 1,478
With more than 28,000 cases and more than 1,400 deaths, Switzerland finds itself among the European countries affected by the pandemic.
However, the country took extreme measures to curb the spread, by effectively locking down the country on March 16. Nearly a month later – as the number of daily cases continues in a downward direction – the government has announced a three-phase lifting of the lockdown starting April 27.
The first phase will include reopening some non-essential businesses such as hairdressers, physiotherapists, medical and dental offices, while grocery stores and supermarkets also will be able to sell non-essential products again. Precautionary measures will remain in place and wearing masks will become obligatory.
The second phase of the plan, which is set to begin on May 11, will see schools for children of compulsory school age reopen. All stores and markets will also reopen on that date.
The final phase, set for June 8, will see the reopening of upper secondary schools, universities as well as the possible lift of restrictions on entertainment and cultural events.