After almost seven weeks of lockdown in the UK, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced the next phase of the country’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Across Europe, people are already seeing an easing of lockdown measures, as businesses reopen and children start going back to school. Here is how Europeans are emerging from life under lockdown.
Germany: Shops reopen and football resumes
Germany has begun opening up: control of lifting the lockdown will now be in the hands of Germany’s 16 federal states. But Chancellor Angela Merkel has stressed that an ”emergency brake” will be applied anywhere that sees a surge in new infections.
- Shops of all sizes are now allowed to reopen, with extra hygiene and social distancing measures
- Shops smaller than 800 m2 have been allowed to open since 20 April, alongside car dealerships, bicycle shops and bookshops
- Schools have been partially reopened for young children and those taking exams. All other classes will return gradually throughout the summer term
- Bundesliga football matches resume behind closed doors on Saturday 16 May – the first big European league to do so
- Two different households are now allowed to meet up with each other
- Big public events like festivals are banned until at least the end of August
France: End to travel permits
France’s strict lockdown was imposed on 17 March and residents were required to provide a travel permit justifying any trips outside. From 11 May, those restrictions have been eased and the situation will be reviewed after three weeks.
- Residents no longer have to provide travel certificates, and car journeys within a radius of up to 100km (62 miles) from home are now permitted. Longer trips still require a certificate and during the rush-hour in Paris you will need your employer’s authorisation or a compelling reason to travel
- The lockdown map shows France split in two, with four “red zones” including Paris keeping parks, gardens and schools for 11 to 18-year-olds shut for the time being
- Primary schools and nurseries can reopen after 11 May, while schools for 11 to 15 year-olds (collèges) in “green zones” will open on 18 May. A limit of 15 pupils will be put on classrooms and masks will be compulsory for older children. Schools for 15 to 18-year-olds (lycées) are not opening before June
- All shops (bar Paris shopping centres) can now reopen; leisure centres and cemeteries can reopen but bars and restaurants will remain closed
- Gatherings of fewer than 10 people will also be permitted; the elderly and vulnerable will be allowed out but must use common sense
Ireland: Five steps and small summer weddings
Ireland has had a stricter lockdown than the UK, with residents only allowed to exercise within 2km (1.2 miles) of their homes. But a five-stage roadmap to re-open the country starts on 18 May, with restrictions eased every three weeks.
- Schools will remain shut until September, while outdoor workers such as construction workers and gardeners will be allowed to resume activities from May 18
- Creches and nurseries will open for the children of essential workers from 29 June, and this will be extended to the children of other workers from 20 July. Childcare workers will be sent to the homes of 5,000 essential workers from 18 May
- Social visits will be permitted to other households from 8 June, and from 29 June, people will be allowed to travel within a 20km radius of their homes
- Weddings, baptisms and small social gatherings will be allowed from 20 July, but only for family and close friends
- Shops selling non-essential items can open from 8 June if the number of staff and customers remain small, and larger premises can open from 29 June
Belgium: Four people in your social bubble
Restrictions are slowly being lifted in a country that has seen a high number of deaths in care homes. “We will have to resume our social life very gradually,” said Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès as she detailed Belgium’s exit road-map.
- As of 10 May, people living in the same household are being allowed to receive visits from a group of up to four people. But these people will not be allowed to visit anywhere else
- Fabric shops reopened on 4 May, as new regulations require all Belgians aged 12 or over to wear masks on public transport
- Other shops are opening on 11 May subject to strict adherence to social distancing guidelines
- Schools will resume classes from 18 May, but no more than 10 children will be allowed in each classroom
- Cafes and restaurants will start to open from 8 June
Netherlands: Hairdressers and nail bars back in business
The Netherlands imposed a far less strict lockdown than its southern neighbour. Prime Minister Mark Rutte has unveiled a five-phase plan for easing lockdown restrictions that kicks in from 11 May.
- Libraries are opening to visitors and hairdressers, nail bars, beauticians, masseuses and occupational therapists are back at work from 11 May. Primary schools will also partially reopen
- Bars and restaurants will be able to open their outdoor spaces to customers from 1 June; secondary schools will also reopen
- Public transport services will resume pre-lockdown schedules, provided travellers wear face-masks
- Campsites and holiday parks can reopen from 1 July, as can theatres, restaurants and cinemas with up to 100 customers with social distancing
- People can play team sports outdoors as long they observe social distancing
- Larger events and contact sports may resume in September, along with sex clubs and saunas
Austria: Tourist attractions to reopen
Austria was one of the first countries to ease its lockdown. The health minister says the reopening of small shops in the middle of April hasn’t caused a spike in cases, with new infections increasing by just 0.2%. But he said May would be the “decisive month”.
- Larger shops, shopping centres and hairdressers reopened in early May
- Public parks, small shops, DIY stores and garden centres have been allowed to open since 14 April
- Outdoor sport that can be socially distanced, such as tennis, golf and athletics is now allowed
- Gatherings of up to 10 people have been allowed since the start of May
- Restaurants and cafes will open from the mid-May, while hotels, zoos, swimming pools and tourist attractions will open from the end of the month
- Pupils in their final year of school returned to classes at the beginning of May. Other years will start returning from the middle of the month
Denmark: Restrictions eased since mid-April
Denmark, one of the first European countries to announce a lockdown, started to roll back measures in mid-April and is moving ahead with the second phase of its road map.
- Day care centres and primary schools returned on 14 April, although parents and visitors are not allowed on school premises and children arrive and leave school at different times. Childrenaged 12-16 will return from 18 May, as will exam students
- Hairdressers, beauty and massage salons, optometrists, podiatrists and chiropractors reopened on 20 April
- Professional sport is allowed behind closed doors, along with amateur sport under guidelines
- Shopping centres, cafes and restaurants are due to reopen on 11 May with social distancing guidelines
- Social gatherings are limited to 10 people
- Borders remain shut
- Phase 3 starts on 8 June and covers museums, cinemas, zoos, indoor sports and colleges
- Phase 4 in early August will include gyms, swimming pools and nightclubs
Spain: Schools to remain shut until September
Spain outlined a four-stage plan on 4 May to start rolling back one of the strictest lockdowns in Europe, which saw children under 14 confined to their homes for six weeks.
Restrictions will be eased in two-week blocks until 10 June, but only in some parts of the country. Madrid, Barcelona, Granada, Malaga and some regions in the north-east will stay under full lockdown for the moment.
- Schools will be partially reopened from 26 May. This will allow for revision classes and state exams but a full reopening is not expected until September
- From 11 May, customers can order a beer in a terrace bar but bars and restaurants will not fully reopen until 10 June, adhering to strict social distancing guidelines and only at 50% capacity
- Cinemas, theatres and exhibitions will be allowed to open from 26 May, but will only be allowed to operate at 30% capacity. Outdoor concerts of up to 400 people will be permitted if concert-goers remain at a safe distance from each other
- Churches and mosques can reopen from 11 May, but only at partial capacity
Italy: Funeral gatherings now permitted
Italy imposed a strict and lengthy lockdown, with a ban on walking or exercising more than 200m away from home. In early May, some restrictions were relaxed and people are now able to travel for longer distances, as well as visit their relatives in small numbers. Visits to other regions of the country are still banned.
- Bars and restaurants, which can offer takeaway services, are expected to fully reopen for dine-in service from 1 June
- Hairdressers and beauty salons are due to reopen from 1 June
- More shops will reopen on 18 May along with museums and libraries
- Sports teams will also be able to hold group training from 18 May
- Funerals are now allowed with a maximum of 15 people attending, ideally outdoors
- Schools will not reopen until September
- The Catholic Church will be allowed to hold masses from 18 May
Greece: Tourism central to reopening plan
Greece recorded its first Covid-19 case on 26 February and the government acted swiftly to impose a lockdown. On 28 April, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced a relaxation of lockdown measures in the weeks ahead.
- Churches opened for individual prayer on 4 May and religious services will be allowed from 17 May
- Schools are reopening on 11 May for final year students only, with special measures including students attending classes on different days
- Shops are now all able to reopen from 11 May and indoor shopping centres can do so on 1 June
- Cafes and restaurants will be allowed to open on 1 June, but only with outdoor seating and clear distance between chairs
Greek scientists are working on rules on cleaning, social distancing and testing to open the country to tourists this summer. Beaches reopened on 4 May.
Poland: Parks and forests first to reopen
In Poland, Covid-19 numbers are lower than in many Western European countries – 15,000 confirmed infections and more than 700 deaths, according to America’s Johns Hopkins University. Most of the new infections have been amongst the country’s coal miners in the southern Silesia region. Poland began lifting restrictions on 20 April, when parks and forests were allowed to reopen.
- Hotels, shops, shopping centres, museums and galleries reopened on 4 May, with one customer per 15 sq m of space allowed
- Nurseries were given the option to reopen from 6 May
- Face coverings in public will remain obligatory until a vaccine is available
Sweden: Strict restrictions never imposed
Strictly speaking, there was no real lockdown so Sweden does not have much to remove. It never imposed measures like those seen across the rest of the continent.
- Restaurants, bars, schools and businesses remained opened. But it did ban gatherings of more than 50 people and visits to nursing homes for elderly
- Sweden has recorded over 3,000 deaths, the highest per capita number compared with the rest of the Nordic countries
- Most of the population have taken to voluntary social distancing. many are working from home, keeping at least a metre away from other people at least some of the time and refraining from travelling.
Russia: Not ready to lift lockdown
Unlike other European countries, Russia’s outbreak is yet to peak and at least 10,000 new infections were reported daily last week. There will be no end to the lockdown just yet.
- President Vladimir Putin has left it to local governors to decide on the best policy
- Moscow, as the worst-hit city, has imposed the most stringent set of restrictions which will continue until at least 31 May
- From 12 May it will be compulsory to wear gloves and masks in shops and on public transport in Moscow
- Only food shops and pharmacies are open. Moscow mayor Sergey Sobyanin says it is too early to open non-essential shops and shopping centres
- Schools are shut and many people are working from home. There is currently no plan in place as to how to re-open them. Travel within Moscow and also between cities is discouraged. Many cities have police cordons and only those with residential registration are allowed in.