European countries plan to follow the example of Italy and relax the coronavirus locking restrictions in the coming days.
Italy’s infection rate fell to its lowest level since March 17 after strict and lengthy social distancing measures.
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On Monday, 636 COVID-19 deaths were recorded, bringing the total to 16,523 – but new cases increased by 3,599 to 132,547, the smallest daily increase since March 17.
The new figure has seen an increase of 100 on Sunday’s balance sheet since 525, after diving under Britain for the first time the day before.
Before Monday, daily increases since March 17 were all in the range of 4,050 to 6,557.
The number of patients in poorly stretched intensive care units also declined for the second consecutive day, while new cases saw their smallest increase in five days, increasing by 4,316.
And this is happening as other countries seek to reopen schools and restaurants.
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has promised Italians that “they will soon reap the fruits of these sacrifices” in the individual freedoms granted to fight the coronavirus.
The current measures expire on April 13, but how and when Italy will enter a next phase of “coexistence” with Covid-19 will depend on a technical panel of experts.
The country’s corporate lobby is also anxious to restart production, which has also been severely blocked by the foreclosure.
Authorities have said there will be a “phase two” where the company learns to “live with the virus” by wearing masks and that further tests are carried out.Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz has become the first European leader to provide specific dates for the end of the foreclosure measures.
He said the goal was to allow small stores to reopen on April 14, larger stores and shopping centers opening on May 1 if all goes well.
“The objective is that from April 14 … smaller stores up to a size of 400 square meters, as well as hardware stores and gardening stores can reopen, under strict security conditions of course”, a he declared.
In Spain, which after Italy has experienced the highest number of deaths in Europe, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said that certain economic restrictions could be lifted after Easter.
This would allow some people in non-essential jobs to return to work.
But stores, bars and restaurants will remain closed, and many foreclosures are expected to last beyond their current April 26 expiration.
Denmark has been locked out since March 11, but wants to start lifting the measures after Easter if there are no increases in new cases.
Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said the government hoped for a “gradual, controlled and silent reopening.”
Germany has plans to lift the restrictions as long as the infection rate remains lower with each patient infected less than one other person on average.
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Schools could be reopened on a regional basis, back-to-business stores and restaurants may resume serving, with a limit on the number of customers.
The plans were set out in a document from the Interior Ministry which also states that masks can become mandatory in any public building or on trains and buses.
Norway appears to be on the verge of ending the foreclosure on April 12, with the transmission rate falling to 0.7 for the first time, which means that the virus has effectively stopped circulating.