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Coronavirus pandemic | One step at a time: How Europe's worst-hit countries are planning to exit lockdown

Italy, Spain and France are some of the countries hit first and the worst by the pandemic in Europe, though new numbers might indicate a slight improvement.

April 27, 2020 / 05:35 PM IST
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European countries like Italy, Spain and France — which had put in place strict lockdown measures after the coronavirus outbreak in their cities and towns — are now planning to ease restrictions even as they continue to report new cases and deaths.

The three countries are among those hit first and the hardest by the pandemic in Europe, though recent numbers might indicate a slight improvement.

Spain

Spain, for instance, recorded the lowest number of daily coronavirus deaths in over a month at 288 on April 26.

Against this background, the country announced that it is easing lockdown measures to allow children under the age of 14 outside for the first time in weeks. They will now be allowed to play outside, accompanied by their parents, for one hour daily. However, they are not allowed to go further than one kilometre.

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This, according to reports, is one of the first in a slew of measures that the Spanish government is hoping to implement in order to take the country forward towards a "new normality".

Health authorities in the country have also said the country's recent figures show a "clear descending trend" and that the government's decision to allow certain non-essential workers to return to their jobs about a fortnight ago has not had a negative impact.

Spain has reported 207,634 confirmed cases of coronavirus and over 23,000 deaths. The growth rate of cases inside the country now stands at 0.8 percent, according to reports, down from 38 percent on March 14, when a state of emergency was declared.

Italy

Italy, a major hotspot not just in Europe but across the world, is planning to restart manufacturing on May 4 and will permit limited family visits as it prepares a staged end to Europe's longest coronavirus lockdown, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said on April 26.

"We expect a very complex challenge," Conte said as he outlined the road map to restarting activities put into hibernation since early March. "We will live with the virus and we will have to adopt every precaution possible."

Manufacturers, construction companies and some wholesalers will be allowed to reopen from May 4, followed by retailers two weeks later. Restaurants and bars will be allowed to reopen fully from the beginning of June, although takeaway will be possible earlier.

In addition, parks will be allowed to reopen and limited family visits and funerals with no more than 15 people present will be permitted. But movement between regions remains suspended and people moving about will still have to carry a declaration explaining the reasons for their journey.

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France 

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe is expected to present an exit strategy in the country's Parliament on April 28, following which it will be debated and voted upon.

The lockdown in France had started on March 17, with French President Emmanuel Macron stating that it will continue till May 11.

According to reports, much like other countries, France is planning on easing lockdown restrictions in stages, and the government has reportedly identified 17 priorities including reopening of schools, companies returning to work and getting the public transport to work according to its normal capacities.

France has reported over 22,000 virus-related deaths till date.

Other European countries which have been hit hard by the pandemic, including Germany, Portugal, Sweden and Austria, are also planning a phase-wise easing of lockdown restrictions. Countries like Britain, Ireland and Netherlands, however, will continue to maintain lockdown.

Also Read | Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Assam worst prepared to tackle Covid-19: Centre

Europe's lessons for India 

Just while the world is watching as Wuhan, from where the virus originated, is limping back to what is being called the "new normal", it would also be observing how Europe's baby steps in easing of restrictions go.

For India, where experts have believed that a "US or Europe-like" situation was avoided because of the over month-long lockdown, it would be crucial to keep an eye on how European countries make their way out of the restrictions.

Also Read | The path ahead for Indian economy post lockdown; lessons from China, US & Europe

Reports suggest that during his meeting with the Chief Ministers via video conference on April 27, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the lockdown will continue in hotspots, but easing of restrictions might start in other regions.

However, a final decision regarding that would be taken after May 3, when phase two of the lockdown in India ends.

Medical experts have also said India might take a leaf out of countries like Sweden and restrict the activity of elderly population and those with co-morbidity for two-three months.

Click here to get all the news on the coronavirus pandemic

Moneycontrol News
first published: Apr 27, 2020 05:35 pm

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