“It’s better to have a harmonised approach than see each one [country] taking its own measures,” said European Transport Commissioner Adina Valean, referring to guidelines due to be set out by mid-May regarding an exit strategy to restart cross-border operations, including air travel, in Europe.
Touching upon how European countries could soon consider relieving restriction on transport services in general, a joint roadmap set out by the EC read: “Travel restrictions and border controls currently applied should be lifted once the border regions’ epidemiological situation converges sufficiently and social-distancing rules are widely and responsibly applied. Restrictions on travel should first be eased between areas with comparably low reported circulation of the virus.”
Over the past week or so in Europe, Spain, which for some time has been one of the worst countries in the region affected by the virus (226,629), has allowed children to go outside for the first time in six weeks; Switzerland (with 29,061 cases) will be allowing garden centres and hairdressers to reopen as of Monday 27 April, schools will reopen in two weeks’ time, as will shops selling non-food items (while gatherings of more than five people will remain banned until 8 June); and France (162,220 cases) is to announce its lockdown exit strategy on Tuesday 28 April.
Garden centres, as well as thousands of smaller shops, reopened in Austria (where there have been 15,274 confirmed cases) on 14 April, and in Denmark (where there have been 8,896 cases), schools and nurseries for children up to the age of 11 have reopened. In Germany (which has 157,770 confirmed cases), smaller shops have been allowed to reopen, and members of the public have been allowed to travel on public transport but are asked to wear face masks.
The Czech Republic, where 7,404 cases have been confirmed since the outbreak began, is now allowing people to gather outside in groups of up to 10, and Czechs will be able to go abroad again as of Monday, under strict conditions. EU citizens arriving into the country on business, or university students, will be allowed in, but not other foreigners, the BBC reported. Foreigners are also required to show certification of a negative test result for coronavirus in the past four days.
In Italy, where 197,765 cases have been confirmed in total, following reports that the country had recorded its lowest daily death toll in weeks (with 260 new Covid-19 deaths) on Sunday 26 April, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced that the country’s strict lockdown measures would be relaxed from 4 May.
Commenting on the economic impact of the lockdown measures, Conte said: “We cannot continue [like this] beyond this lockdown, we risk too heavily compromising the country’s socio-economic fabric.”
Parks, factories and building sites will reopen and people would be allowed to visit their relatives in small numbers. Schools, however, will not be restarting classes until September.