Europe gradually easing Covid-19 lockdown measures

Some European countries have announced plans to relax their restriction measures as they see a slowing trend in the number of coronavirus infections, and how they fare will be closely watched elsewhere.


Austria plans to let non-essential shops of up to 400 sq m as well as all DIY shops and garden centres reopen on Tuesday. Shopping malls, hairdressers and larger stores should reopen from May 1, though the plan could change if infections accelerate.

Restaurants and hotels could reopen step by step from mid-May, although details have yet to be announced.


The government allowed shops selling hobby goods or building materials as well as bike shops to reopen from last Tuesday, and has relaxed rules on open-air recreation areas and activities like running or cycling.

It has also approved easing some travel restrictions for people presenting "reasonable grounds" after the Easter weekend and is considering opening more shops.


One of the first European countries to shut down, Denmark will reopen day-care centres and schools for children from the first to fifth grades on Wednesday. Eleven other curbs, including a ban on gatherings of more than 10 people and closure of cafes, restaurants, gyms and hairdressers, apply until at least May 10.


Norway said last Tuesday it would ease curbs gradually, starting with the reopening of kindergartens on April 20 and schools from the first to fourth grades a week later. The ban on hairdressers and makeup salons, as well as the use of mountain cabins, will also be lifted this month.


The Bulgarian Parliament voted last Monday to ease some restrictions and sanctions imposed last month, with farmers' markets allowed to reopen and fines on some activities lowered.


The government is considering lifting restrictions on non-essential traffic for the region around Helsinki, but has extended most of its other curbs until May 13.


The Cabinet will weigh easing distancing rules on Tuesday after the National Academy of Sciences presents its recommendations. A "positive trend" in infections, if continued, would allow it to discuss a gradual return to normality after the Easter break, said Health Minister Jens Spahn.


The nationwide confinement last extended until April 26 is likely to last until next month.

Some of the toughest curbs should be gradually relaxed starting from today, but people will still be allowed to leave their homes only for work, food or medicines until April 26.


The authorities extended until April 26 curbs that include border controls, closing schools, bars and restaurants, as well as a ban on gatherings of more than five people. The government plans to start easing those by the end of this month.


Ireland will potentially ease stay-at-home restrictions and allow some shops to reopen in the coming weeks as part of a step-by-step scaling back of the country's coronavirus lockdown.


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 12, 2020, with the headline Europe gradually easing Covid-19 lockdown measures. Subscribe