In Germany, President Frank-Walter Steinmeier called on people to play their part and get vaccinated.
Speaking in a TV address to the nation on April 3, he said Germany was in the middle of a third wave and that it faced more restrictions.
The German also admitted that mistakes had been made – specifically in testing and in the vaccine rollout – and talked about there being a “crisis of trust” in the state.
Last month, German officials announced that the country would be placed in a strict Easter lockdown – only to reverse the decision just days later.
Chancellor Angela Merkel called the plan for a lockdown from April 1 to 5 a “mistake”, and said she took “ultimate responsibility” for the U-turn.
Italy also entered a strict three-day lockdown on April 3 in order to try to prevent a surge in Covid-19 cases over the Easter weekend.
All regions are now in the “red zone” – the highest tier of restrictions – as the country records about 20,000 new cases a day.
Non-essential movement is banned, but people are allowed to have an Easter meal in their homes with two others. Churches are also open, but worshippers are being told to attend services within their regions.
On April 4, for the second year, Pope Francis will deliver his Easter message to an empty St Peter’s Square.
A broad but limited German lockdown will now start on Monday, November 2, under terms agreed during a video conference involving Chancellor Merkel and the 16 state premiers:
Schools and kindergartens will remain open
Social contacts will be limited to two households with a maximum of 10 people and tourism will be halted
Bars will close and restaurants will be limited to takeaways
Tattoo and massage parlors will shut
Smaller companies badly hit by the lockdown will be reimbursed with up to 75% of their November 2019 takings
Chancellor Merkel and the state premiers are expected to reconvene on November 11 to reassess the situation
“We have to act now,” she explained, to avoid a national emergency.
In France, the defense council and cabinet were deciding the extent of the planned four-week lockdown on October 28, but reports suggest schools will stay open and online study will be encouraged for older children and universities.
The changes could kick in from October 30.
France recorded 523 deaths on October 27, including 235 in residential homes, and the hospital federation has appealed for as broad a lockdown as possible.
Germany is to reopen all shops as lockdown restrictions are eased.
Meanwhile, Bundesliga soccer has been given the green light to resume and schools will gradually reopen in the summer term.
Chancellor Angela Merkel has said Germany’s goal of slowing the spread of coronavirus has been achieved.
Germany’s 16 federal states, under an agreement with the government, will take control of timing the reopening.
They will operate an “emergency brake” if there is a new surge in infections.
General contact rules involving will continue for another month. A limited resumption has already begun, but this easing of restrictions is far broader.
Two households will be able to meet and eat together, and elderly people in nursing homes and facilities for the disabled will be able to have visits from one specific person.
Chancellor Merkel said: “I think we can safely state that the very first phase of the pandemic is behind us. But we need to be very much aware we are still in the early phases and we’ll be in it for the long haul.”
Germany has seen fewer than 7,000 deaths in the coronavirus pandemic – a much lower figure than in other Western European countries including the UK, Italy, France and Spain.
On May 6, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), a federal public health body, reported 165 deaths in the past 24 hours and some 947 new infections.
The rate of infection has been consistently low for some time, and Angela Merkel said she was very pleased that the number of new, daily infections was into three digits. She praised the responsibility of German citizens in sticking to lockdown measures to protect the lives of others as well as themselves.
Shops of up to 800 square meters (8,600ft) in size have already been allowed to open. All restrictions on shops will now be lifted, although masks must be worn and social distancing maintained.
Schools have already begun opening for older children; all pupils will be allowed to return to class gradually during the summer term.
Germany, in common with other countries, is wary of a second surge in infections. If new infections rise to above 50 people in every 100,000 in a district over a seven-day period, then it will be up to the local authority in the affected area to re-impose restrictions.
A number of the 16 lands have been less affected by the crisis, so some are more eager to ease restrictions than others.
Bavaria in the south plans to reopen restaurants on May 18 while Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania in the north plans to do that on May 9.
Reopening restaurants and hotels is seen as a particular risk because it will heighten the number of people travelling across Germany and raising infection rates. Large public events will remain banned.
The German soccer league, the Bundesliga, has been given the green light to kick off for the first time since March.
So-called ghost games without spectators could start again as early as May 15 or 21 as long as a two-week quarantine is put in place for the players, in the form of a type of training camp. A decision on the date will be made by the football authorities on May 7.
The Bundesliga will be the first major football league in Europe to resume after the pandemic. However, it is not without risk. Ten positive cases were revealed this week by the German football league out of 1,724 tests across the top two divisions.
Meanwhile, tourism commissioner Thomas Bareiss has held out the hope that Germans will be able to go on holiday this summer.
If the outbreak remained under control, he suggested they could go away in Germany and in neighboring countries that had seen a similar drop in infections.
Denmark has reopened schools and nurseries for children up to the age of 11.
In Spain, construction and manufacturing work is back under way.
In Austria, thousands of smaller shops reopened on April 14, and the country will allow outdoor sport such as tennis, golf and athletics from May 1.
In Italy, some regions have reopened bookstores and children’s clothing stores.
France, however, has extended its lockdown measures for four more weeks until May 11. Belgium will maintain its restrictions until at least May 3.
In Russia, veterans groups have called for President Vladimir Putin to postpone the World War Two 75th anniversary victory parade planned for May 9, because of the risk it could pose to participants.
After a video conference with the heads of Germany’s 16 lands, Chancellor Merkel announced the gradual loosening of the strict lockdown measures.
Schools can reopen “gradually and very slowly” after May 4, she said, with new safety measures for breaks and school buses, and priority given to those students with exams.
She said: “It will be a great logistical effort and it needs very careful preparation.”
Stores of up to 800 square meters (8,600 sq ft) could be able to restart their businesses from Monday, provided they have “plans to maintain hygiene”, the chancellor said.
Car dealers, bike stores and bookstores can all reopen, regardless of their size. Hairdressers will be allowed to open their doors from May 4, provided they too comply with strict hygiene measures.
Angela Merkel strongly recommended people don protective face masks while shopping and while taking public transport, saying this “will help to protect other people”.
It makes Germany the latest country to issue guidance on face masks in public – although Chancellor Merkel did not make it mandatory.
German economy, the Europe’s biggest, entered a recession in March, its economy ministry said, citing “collapsing global demand, interruption of supply chains, changes in consumer behavior and uncertainty among investors”.
Last month, the German government passed a stimulus package worth €750bn ($816 billion) in a bid to help ease the effect of the coronavirus.
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