How continental Europe is emerging from Covid lockdown

Countries across Europe are starting to relax coronavirus restrictions as case numbers fall

Counting on an accelerating vaccination campaign to keep new infections in check, much of continental Europe has announced plans for a gradual exit from lockdown over the coming weeks as case numbers begin to fall. Here is where things stand:

Belgium (at least one vaccine dose administered to 25% of whole population) aims to permit outside dining in restaurants and bars again on 8 May, with a mandatory 10pm closing time and tables limited to groups of four. Non-essential shops and hairdressers reopened on Monday.

Denmark (23%) reopened bars, restaurants, cafes, museums, libraries and football stadiums last week, but people must have a coronapas – digital certificate – to enter. The mobile phone app shows evidence of a negative test result within the last 72 hours, a vaccination certificate, or proof of infection between two and 12 weeks previously.

France (24%) will start easing restrictions on Monday when domestic travel restrictions will be lifted and high school pupils resume classes after a three-week closure. From 19 May, most non-essential businesses will be allowed to reopen, along with museums, theatres and cinemas and concert halls and cafe and restaurant terraces, and the country’s nationwide night-time curfew will be pushed back from 7pm to 9pm. Indoor service in cafes and restaurants should resume on 9 June, when gyms will also reopen and the curfew will be pushed back to 11pm before being lifted entirely on 30 June. Big summer events such as festivals could be facilitated by a “health pass” and vaccinated foreign tourists should be welcomed from 9 June. France vaccinated 540,000 people on Thursday, a new record.

Germany (26%) hopes that with week-on-week infections falling 12% and vaccinations picking up speed, the country’s week-old “emergency brake” measures – including a 10pm-5am curfew, limits on customers in shops, leisure centre closures and restrictions on household contacts in areas where infections are exceeding 100 cases per 100,000 inhabitants (most of the country) – may be lifted sooner than expected. Germany vaccinated more than 1 million people on Thursday.

Greece (21%) will reopen outdoor service for restaurants and cafes on 3 May, after Orthodox Easter, and aims to reopen for fully vaccinated tourists from 15 May.

Italy (22%) reopens restaurants and bar terraces, museums, theatres and cinemas (at 50% capacity) across most of the country from Monday, with indoor dining expected to return on 1 June, as three-quarters of the country’s regions drop into low-risk “yellow” categories. A 10pm curfew remains in place. Swimming pools, gyms, sporting events and theme parks are expected to follow suit by 1 July.

The Netherlands (23%) lifted its night-time curfew this week and allowed bars and restaurants to serve on outdoor terraces – with no more than two customers per table – between noon and 6pm. Shops can also admit more customers and people may now welcome two guests rather than one into their homes in any 24-hour period.

Poland (22%) reopens shopping malls and museums from 4 May, with hotels due to open their doors again on 8 May and cafe and restaurant terraces on 15 May. Indoor service will resume from 29 May, when theatres and cinemas will also be able to reopen.

Portugal (23%), which earlier this year had Europe’s biggest surge in case numbers, proceeds to the last phase of its lockdown easing on 1 May, when restaurants and cafes can stay open until 10.30pm and all sports can resume. Big outdoor and indoor events will also be allowed with capacity restrictions and the land border with Spain will reopen. With 23% of the population having been vaccinated at least once, schools, shopping malls, non-essential service and restaurants have been reopening since March.

Spain (24%) aims to end its national state of emergency on 9 May, when its autonomous regions – which are responsible for implementing Covid restrictions – are expected to start ending many measures.


Jon Henley Europe correspondent

The GuardianTramp

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