Europe gradually easing Covid-19 lockdown
April 17, 2020 - Some European countries are beginning to gradually ease restrictions imposed to limit the spread of coronavirus disease (Covid-19), amid a slowing trend in the number of new infections.
The EU’s executive arm, the European Commission, on Wednesday published its “roadmap” for members of the world’s biggest trade bloc to coordinate an exit from the lockdowns, which they expect should take at least a few months and involve large-scale testing.
Some 80,000 people have now died in Europe from the disease – about two-thirds of the global toll – according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. The commission said those scientists should be relied upon to guide national exit strategies in the weeks and months to come.
Brussels is deeply concerned about the damage that could be done if each EU nation charts its own course, given the panic that ensued after the pandemic first spread in Italy, with unannounced border closures that sparked massive traffic jams and export bans that deprived hard-hit countries of medical equipment.
And the EU is very much split in its approach. Despite the ravages the illness is wreaking on their economies, France this week renewed its lockdown until May 11, and Belgium appears headed in a similar direction. Spain also recently renewed its state of emergency for the second time for an additional two weeks.
Warning that lifting restrictions will “unavoidably lead to a corresponding increase in new cases,” the commission said that this should only start when the spread of the disease has dropped significantly and for some time, and when hospitals can cope with more patients.
While the commission, which proposes EU laws and ensures that they are enforced, does not spell out exactly how EU countries should make the transition, the roadmap does underline that their “action should be gradual.”
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