The center of Paris during the lockdown was sometimes almost deserted. (Photo by Ludovic Marin / AFP via Getty Images)
Paris (CNSNews.com) – The governments of European countries hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic are moving towards easing unprecedented restrictions on their societies, but in a modest and prudent manner.
In France, where a lock was put in place on March 17, President Emmanuel Macron in a speech this week set May 11 as the end date. But the reopening will be gradual.
From this day, nurseries, schools, high schools and colleges can reopen “gradually”. The universities will remain closed until September at the earliest.
Bars, restaurants, cafes, hotels, museums, cinemas and most shops will remain closed until further notice. France’s borders will remain closed until further notice.
Macron said wearing protective masks may become mandatory in certain situations, such as when using public transportation. The COVID-19 tests will continue and the confirmed cases will be quarantined.
Even after May 11, he said, vulnerable people – the elderly and those with chronic illnesses or severe disabilities – should stay home. He did not specify what constitutes an elderly person.
On Wednesday, France reported 131,365 confirmed cases and 17,167 deaths.
Meanwhile, Spain, the country with the third highest number of deaths after the United States and Italy, is gradually reopening now, starting with construction and manufacturing companies (where employees cannot telecommute ). Police and volunteers distribute masks at train and metro stations.
However, general home confinement continues and bars, public places and shops are to remain closed until April 26, the earliest date for the possible lifting of the state of emergency announced on March 14.
The measures taken by Spain have fueled the debate. Since April 1, the number of deaths has increased from 9,387 to 18,579, or on average more than 650 per day. Spain reported 177,633 cases on Wednesday.
In Italy, the start of the lifting of isolation is scheduled for May 4, a week before France, although some stores have been authorized to reopen this week, with strict social distancing and mandatory wearing of the mask in place.
Bars, restaurants and hairdressers will remain closed until further notice.
Italy is the second most affected country on Wednesday, with 21,645 deaths.
In France, some of Macron’s proposals have drawn sharp criticism.
Francette Popineau, head of the main primary school union, said there appeared to be a “complete contradiction” in the reopening of the schools when other public places were to remain closed.
“It is anything but serious to reopen schools on May 11 because we are told that all public places are closed – cinemas, performance halls – but not schools, when we know that these are places of high transmission, high contamination, “she told AFP. Press Agency.
Jean-Luc Mélenchon, head of the rebel leftist movement France, said his advice was that people continue to confine themselves to their homes, calling Macron’s proposals dangerous.
On the right, the legislator of the National Rally in the European Parliament, Nicolas Bay, expressed doubts that the government was taking sufficient measures to help businesses. Macron announced financial assistance for small and medium-sized businesses.
As some European governments seek to reopen, the World Health Organization has issued a word of caution.
“Now is the time to be vigilant, now is the time to double down. Now is the time to be very, very careful, “WHO Emergency Program Director Michael Ryan said on Monday.
“This does not mean that countries cannot start creating an exit strategy,” he said. “There are things to do. You cannot replace the lock with anything. You need to replace the lockout with a highly educated, committed, empowered and committed community. “
“We are going to have to change our behavior for the foreseeable future,” said Ryan, before discussing the importance of personal hygiene and physical distance, as well as ongoing testing, contact tracing and quarantine.