After weeks of lockdown to halt the spread of Covid-19, some countries in Europe are starting to ease restrictions as the number of new cases drops. But the joy of rediscovering lost freedoms has been met with a sense of caution amid warnings that the virus threat is far from over.
In Germany, small shops were allowed to reopen on Monday, although life is far from returning to normal, with most German states making face masks compulsory in public.
“We protect ourselves as best we can, or should I say others, with our face mask. I can’t do more than that. I wear gloves which I will throw away afterwards, as well as the face mask,” Gertrude Sietzy , a resident of Dresden, told Reuters.
“I hope that’s enough. Other than that, I’m really, really happy that we can go out at least a little bit.
Small shops in neighboring Austria have been open since April 14 and cultural spaces, such as museums and libraries, are expected to reopen from mid-May.
In Denmark too, some businesses, including hairdressers, are once again serving customers, while Denmark and Norway have started allowing some children to go back to school.
Even the countries hardest hit by the coronavirus have started taking tentative steps to ease lockdowns.
Spain has started allowing some non-essential workers to return to work, while Italian bookstores have been given the green light to reopen on April 14.
Meanwhile, in France, all containment measures are still in place. But the government said the restrictions would be gradually lifted from May 11.
But as Europe lifts restrictions, the WHO on Monday warned against returning to normal life too quickly.
“We want to re-emphasize that the easing of restrictions is not the end of the epidemic in any country,” Chief Executive Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.
“Ending the epidemic will require a sustained effort by individuals, communities and governments to continue to suppress and control this deadly virus.”