Austria, Czech Republic, Denmark, and Norway Plan to Ease Coronavirus Restrictions ‘Little by Little’

An almost empty Schwarzenbergplatz in Vienna

By Kurt Stolz on 8 April 2020
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Four European countries – Austria, Czech, Denmark, and Norway – are planning to take baby steps in loosening some restrictions that were put into place to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus.

While the number of new infections seems to be achieving a plateau, the changes don’t mean a return to normalcy, to borrow the term coined by President Warren G. Harding. Rather, it signifies the beginnings of a plan to find a way to marry some normal activities with the safeguards of living with a pandemic.

Speaking behind a sheet of Plexiglas while wearing a face mask, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz announced “a step-by-step resurrection” of the country’s economy, while simultaneously issuing a caution: “We are not out of the woods,” he said.

“Easter week will be a decisive one,” he cautioned.

Earlier in the week, Austria set forth a timetable that would allow for the reopening of shops in phases while carefully monitoring the number of new coronavirus cases and promising to hit the “emergency break” if a rise were detected.

Austria will require individuals to wear face masks on public transportation and it will first reopen smaller shops no more than 4,305 square feet (400 square meters), hardware stores, and garden centers on April 14, with limitations on how many people can be in a shop at once.

The Czech Republic will lift travel restrictions for its citizens as well as for visitors on April 14.  The government is expanding the types of stores that can be open to include bicycle shops and hobby stores in addition to grocery stores and pharmacies.

In Denmark, while most shops won’t reopen quite yet, nurseries and schools will reopen on April 15, thereby allowing parents to return to work.  All remaining restrictions, however, including bans on gatherings of more than ten people, will remain in place.

In Norway, kindergartens will be allowed to reopen in the period between April 20 and 27, while schools for the first through fourth grades will reopen on the 27th.

““Together we have taken control of the virus, therefore we can open up society little by little,” said the country’s prime minister, Erna Solberg, at a press conference on Tuesday.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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