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Lifting lockdown across Europe

Europe: Life after lockdown in five of the hardest hit countries

People wear masks outside the Central European bank headquarters in Frankfurt, Germany, April 2020
People wear masks outside the Central European bank headquarters in Frankfurt, Germany, April 2020 © AFP/Archives

Many European countries have begun easing lockdown measures, put in place to curb the spread of the coronavirus, but are calling on their citizens to be vigilant. Whether it be at a café, school, beach or church, social distancing and strict hygiene measures for these five hard-hit countries are the new norm.

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Although the number of deaths and confirmed cases is generally going down across the continent, there are concerns of a second wave and each country is taking precautions to avoid overloading their health services.

Here is an overview of some measures in place for five of countries hardest hit by Covid-19.

United Kingdom

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is confident the epidemic is easing but has warned the country should make only "limited and cautious" progress out of lockdown, which has been in place since 23 March.

On Thursday, 377 deaths were reported, bring the total to 37,837, according to the Department of Health.

Authorities recommend staying at home as much as possible, maintaining good hygiene practices and working from home is being strongly encouraged.

A woman wearing a mask walks her dog in a London park, May 2020
A woman wearing a mask walks her dog in a London park, May 2020 © AFP/File

From 1 June: Gatherings of up to six people in public or private spaces are permitted, some shops will re-open, in particular outdoor retail and car showrooms and some primary school levels to re-open.

As of the 8 June, dentists can re-open, and travellers visiting the UK must self-isolate for 14 days or face a fine.

The 15 June will see some high school classes re-open and non essential shops and services.

17 June : English football's Premier League is set to resume provisionally.

4 July : Restaurants, cinemas, hairdressers, beauty salons and churches can re-open.

Italy

Italy has reported more than 32,000 deaths from Covid-19, and has begun a cautious easing of lockdown measures since 18 May, allowing most shops and restaurants to re-open.

Authorities have however decided to keep schools closed until September.

A cyclist rides past Rome's Coliseum, a historical site that will remain closed to the public for the time being, May 2020
A cyclist rides past Rome's Coliseum, a historical site that will remain closed to the public for the time being, May 2020 AFP/File

Tourism:

*Historic site of Pompei opened to the public on Tuesday, with limited visitors, with online reservations.

*Other sites such as the Saint-Pierre church in Rome is now open, along with central museums such as Gallery Borghese.

*The Coliseum remains closed, and the Vatican museum is due to open on 1 June.

*Beaches have begun re-opening, but visitors are encouraged to reserve their spots (umbrellas and sun lounges) in advance due to social distancing of 4.5 metres between groups.

*Gyms and pools open since Monday.

Borders to re-open to EU, UK, Schengen area, Andorra and Monaco citizens as of 3 June.

Spain

Spain has reported more than 27,000 deaths and nearly 238,000 confirmed cases of the virus.

On Thursday, the Health Ministry reported one single death in 24 hours for the second consecutive day, a total of 38 deaths and 182 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours.

Fernando Simón, director of the health emergency coordination center said the situation was evolving well and while there were some new small clusters, they were under control.

The country is moving through a gradual deescalation plan that started on 11 May and is expected to end in late June.

The second phase of easing lockdown measures will begin as of 1 June in Andalusia and Valencia, a large part of Catalonia, as well as the Balearics and Canary islands, accounting for around 70 percent of the population.

Tourism and leisure:

*Restaurants and cafés will be able to have indoor and outdoor dining,

*Pools, cinema halls, theatres and auditoriums will open, but at reduced capacity.

*Shopping centres will also be allowed to reopen at roughly 40 percent capacity.

People wearing face masks sit at an outdoor seating section of a kiosk at Retiro Park as it is reopened for the first time in more than 2 months amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Madrid, Spain May 25, 2020.
People wearing face masks sit at an outdoor seating section of a kiosk at Retiro Park as it is reopened for the first time in more than 2 months amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Madrid, Spain May 25, 2020. REUTERS - SERGIO PEREZ

The capital Madrid, the epicentre of Covid-19 – and Barcelona only entered Phase 1 of the national deescalation plan on Monday, and are preparing for a second wave of the virus.

Currently, people who enter the national territory from abroad must stay in quarantine for 14 days after their arrival, but this will end on July 1 according to officials.

Germany

Germany has reported 8 302 deaths to date and began easing lockdown measures torwards the end of April.

Due to a slight increase in the number of cases since lockdown measures were lifted, the government announced this week that social distancing of 1.5 metres would remain in force until at least 29 June, in agreement with the country's 16 regions.

A waitress wearing a protective face mask talks to customers at Petrocelli's Bar, during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Berlin, Germany May 16, 2020.
A waitress wearing a protective face mask talks to customers at Petrocelli's Bar, during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Berlin, Germany May 16, 2020. REUTERS - FABRIZIO BENSCH

The first shops were allowed to open after shutdown from April 20th with face masks mandatory in shops and on public transport.

Restaurants and cafés have been allowed to re-open since the beginning of May.

As of 6 June, up to 10 people or members of two households can meet (although 1.5 metre distance has to be maintained, excluding families and same households).

Travellers are expected to have a valid reason for entering Germany. However, restrictions at the borders have been loosened.

Netherlands

The Netherlands has reported 5,931 deaths and registered over 46,000 cases.

The lifting of measures began on 11 May and will be expanded in stages through September.

A sign in Amsterdam, Netherlands, indicating the social distance required to avoid the spread of Covid-19. May 2020.
A sign in Amsterdam, Netherlands, indicating the social distance required to avoid the spread of Covid-19. May 2020. © Getty images/Paulo Amorim

Primary schools, hairdressers, and libraries have reopened, while restaurants, cafes, cinemas, and cultural institutions will conditionally resume operations from 1 June.

A maximum of 30 people, including staff, will be allowed at a time, and only if visitors are able to keep a distance of 1.5 meters (nearly 5 feet) from others.

Borders are open for those travelling within the Schengen Area. However, the government has strongly advised against non-essential trips.

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