COVID-19: Signs of Recovery
Germany, Italy, Austria, Czech Republic, and Poland are gradually reopening their economies to a new normal. All five countries have allowed small businesses to reopen in the past few weeks and except for Czech Republic, the other nations are continuing to urge residents to wear face masks in public.
- Germany is one of the first European countries that gradually reopened its economy amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
- On April 20, Germany allowed retail businesses that are smaller than 800 square meters to reopen, as well as book stores, bike shops, and car dealerships regardless of their size. However, large stores, as well as fitness centers, restaurants, and bars are to remain closed in Germany.
- Some small business that have reopened are limiting how many people enter their stores, and customers are required "to wait in a specially designated zone before they’re allowed in."
- North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany's western state, is allowing large furniture businesses to reopen, while Bavaria, which has the highest COVID-19 deaths in Germany, is requiring stores to remain closed until April 27.
- In Berlin, some schools allowed seniors to come in and take exams the week of April 20th. All schools in Germany are supposed to reopen starting from May 4, and government officials plan to meet on April 30 to discuss "how to proceed after that."
- The German chancellor — Angela Merkel — is concerned that a few of Germany’s 16 states are moving too fast by relaxing social distancing efforts during the reopening of these small shops. She also told parliament, "“We are still far from out of the woods. We are not in the final phase of the pandemic, but still at the beginning.”
- The government is still "urgently" recommending that everyone wears a mask in public, which makes this a new normal for Germans.
- Italy is expected to end its lockdown on May 4, and "strict health protocols would remain in force" even after the lockdown ends.
- On April 10, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said book stores, stationery shops, laundries, and children's retail stores can reopen on Tuesday, April 14.
- Workers in "forestry, computer manufacturing, landscape care and maintenance, hydraulic works and paper and cardboard production" were also allowed to return to work.
- Some places in Italy is waiting to lift restrictions. For example, book shops and stationery stores in Lombardy and Veneto will not reopen, while in Lazio, bookstores are allowed to reopen from April 20.
- Italy's prime minister said a lockdown exit plan will come soon, in which the economy is expected to gradually reopen to a new normal. Wider openings are supposed to "take place during 'phase 2' of the three-phase plan to bring Italy back to normal," which is to start after May 3.
- Italy's government has yet to create a "comprehensive plan" to reopen the economy. The government describes the second phase as a way that Italians will figure out how "to live with the virus — allowing people to return to work and use public transportation while still practicing social distancing, tracking personal associations and strengthening the health system to prepare for fresh outbreaks."
- Austria's city, Salzburg, lifted "restrictions for eight out of its nine municipalities," on April 14. Altenmarkt's lockdown lasted for two more days because it had many COVID-19-related cases in a nursing home.
- On April 14, thousands of shops that are less than 400 square meters, as well as DIY stores and garden centers opened around Austria.
- On May 1, larger shopping centers and hair dressers are allowed to reopen.
- Restaurants, cafes, and bars can reopen on May 15 and stay open until 11 p.m. Churches are also allowed to resume on May 15.
- Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz announced that it's mandatory for people to wear a face mask on public transportation, as well as grocery stores. Kurz said wearing a face mask will "be part of the 'new normality.'"
- Secondary schools will resume "for school leavers in early May," while other schools will "reopen in an unspecified step-by-step process beginning on May 15."
- Major events cannot be held until the end of June.
- Austria will continue loosening its confinement restrictions by at least two weeks apart in order to "assess whether each step has accelerated infections and hospitalisations." If the virus surges amid one of the phases, the government will "slow or even undo steps in its plan."
- Czech Republic's health minister announced that the country has a five-stage plan to reopen the economy.
- On April 6, people were able to exercise without masks on, and outdoor sports facilities, as well as shops like bike stores and hardware stores, reopened.
- On April 13, students began "a phased return to colleges and schools, mostly for one-on-one consultations." Although high schools are expected to fully open on September 1, high school commencement and "entry exams will be held after June 1."
- On April 20, small businesses, as well as farmers’ markets and car dealerships reopened. Weddings are also allowed as long as fewer than 10 people attend.
- On May 25, bars, restaurants, and wine stores can provide products "for immediate consumption" if the establishments "have an outdoor patio or sell takeout food and drink." Zoos and museums can also reopen outdoor exhibits, and "salons will also be allowed to reopen."
- All retail shops are allowed to reopen by June 8.
- People can also travel outside of Czech Republic, but they must self quarantine for two weeks when they return.
- Czech Republic is aiming to return to normal and the way it was pre-COVID-19.
- On April 20, parks and forests reopened in Poland, and more people were allowed to enter stores at the same time.
- Over five people are now allowed to "attend religious services as long as there is only one person per 15 sq meters."
- People over the age of 13 can participate in recreational activities as long as they wear face masks. However, farmers do not need to wear masks while working.
- A ban on large gatherings, as well as the requirement for wearing face masks in public is still in effect.
- Air travel and "international rail traffic" will remain closed until April 26.
- Although Poland's borders will be closed until Sunday, May 3, exemptions will be made for citizens and people "with valid work permits." Every resident that enters Poland will have to be quarantined for two weeks.
- Poland's government said it's too early to consider reopening schools.