Governments across Europe are grappling with the conundrum of how best to lift often draconian containment measures that weigh on their economies, while avoiding a dangerous second wave of contagion.
French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe will address the lower house of parliament at 3 p.m. local time on Tuesday to reveal how the country, which has recorded more than 23,000 coronavirus deaths, plans to exit its lockout from six weeks.
Philippe’s announcement will be followed by a debate and a vote, with only 75 of the 577 French deputies admitted to the National Assembly to respect social distancing. All others will vote by proxy.
The president, Emmanuel Macron, had previously announced that the closure would be lifted from May 11, but was vague on the details, except that the students would start going back to school from that date and that the cafes and restaurants would remain closed.
The plan was agreed with Macron and follows about 15 intense discussions between the ministers, each of whom was asked to recommend measures for their own area of responsibility, and the government’s specialized scientific committee.
The difficulties of the compromises involved in what is promised to be a “gradual and controlled relaxation of isolation” are already apparent: the scientific council declared that it preferred to reopen schools only in the fall, while acknowledging the government’s “political” decision to reopen them earlier.
Philippe should announce when to wear masks; who will be tested for the virus; which workers should return to work; which stores will reopen and when; and what arrangements have been made for public transport.
However, France’s hard-hit restaurants, cafes and bars are not expected to reopen for several weeks, and the government should not tell them before the end of May, when the box can open.
“The virus does not like the French way of life,” Macron said at a meeting of industry representatives last week that included several starred chefs.
Spain, which has also suffered more than 23,000 deaths from coronaviruses, was also expected to announce its “progressive and asymmetrical” roadmap on Tuesday, although Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez first had to present it to his cabinet and get their approval.
Salvador Illa, the Minister of Health, suggested that the relaxation of the restrictions should be phased in, with different groups of people, such as families with children and the elderly, allowed to go out at different times of the day.
The country’s population of nearly 47 million has spent more than six weeks in strict isolation, only adults being allowed to leave their homes to buy food and medicine or to walk the dog. On Sunday, as a safe first step out of childbirth, the children were allowed to go out for the first time.
Italy, with the second highest number of coronavirus deaths in the world, with more than 26,000, will allow factories and yards to reopen from May 4 and allow limited family visits as it prepares the gradual end of the longest closure in Europe, said Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte. said the weekend.
In Germany, however, where Chancellor Angela Merkel and the Prime Ministers have agreed that small stores could reopen from last week and that some students return to school from Monday, the first signs are found that transmission of the virus had resumed.
The rate of reproduction or infection, closely monitored by health authorities, has dropped from around 0.7 to 1.0, which means that each infected person will pass the virus on, figures from the Institute showed Robert Koch (RKI) for disease control. Ministers and virologists stressed that the number should be kept below 1.0.
Germany has managed to limit its hatching to 150,000 and just over 6,000 dead, and Merkel’s coalition government is under intense pressure to lift its foreclosure faster, older statesmen like Wolfgang Schäuble arguing that the social and economic costs of foreclosure must be weighed against need. to save lives.
Merkel warned last week that some of the country’s 16 states are moving too fast. The country was on “very thin ice” and risked wasting its first achievements in dealing with the pandemic, she said. But the country’s most popular newspaper, Bild, accused her on Monday of being “stubborn, pig-headed and bossy.”