Europe's coronavirus divide: Germany is latest country to re-open shops while nurseries resume in Norway, but France and Spain will remain in near-total lockdown into May

  • Shops re-opening in Germany today include garden centres, DIY stores, bookshops and car and bike dealers 
  • Germany reported its fewest coronavirus cases since March 18 and its lowest number of deaths for two weeks 
  • Children were returning to nurseries in Norway today while some schools have already opened in Denmark
  • France has extended its lockdown measures until next month while Spain has made only a minimal loosening 
Germany is re-opening shops today as it takes its first steps out of the coronavirus lockdown, joining a group of European countries which are restarting their economies while others remain firmly shut down.
Small shops including garden centres, bookstores and car and bicycle dealers are allowed to re-open in Germany from today, while some children will start returning to schools and kindergartens from next week. 
Germany today reported its fewest virus deaths for two weeks and its fewest cases since mid-March, although like many countries it typically sees a fall in numbers over the weekend when there are delays in collecting figures.
Elsewhere, children were today returning to nurseries in Norway, while Denmark has already re-opened some of its schools and Switzerland has set a date (May 11) to do the same. 
However, not all of Europe is moving in the same direction, as Britain and France extend their lockdowns into May with Spain likely to do the same.  
Italy has taken only very limited steps to ease the lockdown - and certain regions have even resisted some of those - while Finland still has most of its restrictions in place.   
This diagram shows how different countries are dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. Some European countries are already starting to ease their lockdowns, while others including Spain and France will remain firmly under quarantine into next month
Staff at a toy store in Karlsruhe, Germany reopen their shop as the country begins to ease its coronavirus restrictions today
A customer wearing a protective mask stands in a queue of people - not all of them wearing masks - outside a DIY store in Munich today, as Germany allowed some shops to re-open after the coronavirus lockdown
This graph shows the daily number of coronavirus deaths in Germany. The 110 new deaths added to the tally today are the fewest since April 6
This chart shows the daily number of cases, which fell today to 1,775, the lowest figure since 1,042 new cases were added to the total on March 18
Germany's easing of restrictions means that shops including DIY stores, furniture stores, bookshops, bicycle dealers and florists can welcome customers again from today.    
Schools will also be partially reopened in the coming weeks, with most states set to welcome back older students from May 4. Some pupils who have upcoming exams will return before then.   
Angela Merkel agreed the loosening last week with the leaders of Germany's 16 states, which are set to implement the new measures at their own pace. 
Education policy is traditionally decided at state level in Germany, and Bavaria, the region worst hit by the virus so far, will keep its schools closed for an extra week. 
Merkel today voiced fears to party colleagues that 'discussion orgies' about ending the lockdown could lead to a loss of discipline, according to CDU sources who described her as 'greatly concerned'.  
A ban on gatherings of more than two people and a requirement to stand more than 1.5 metres (5ft) apart from others in public areas remain in force. 
Cultural venues, bars, leisure centres and beauty salons will also remain closed for the time being, while large-scale public events such as concerts and football matches have been banned until August 31. 
With larger shops unable to open, the German Trade Association warned on Friday of a possible 'distortion of competition'.
But economy minister Peter Altmaier defended the 800-square-metre limit, saying that 'the belt can only be loosened bit by bit'.  

Merkel warns against 'discussion orgies' about re-opening Germany

Angela Merkel today warned against 'discussion orgies' about re-opening Germany, fearing that people could lose discipline if the lockdown appears over. 
Merkel told party colleagues that infection rates could increase again if people do not continue to follow social distancing rules and wear masks.  
Members of her CDU party said she was 'greatly concerned' that the public could let its guard down too fast. 
Early steps to lift the lockdown had led to 'discussion orgies' about re-opening society, she complained in a conference call today.   
She urged the public to maintain social distancing measures, such as keeping 5ft part, voicing her 'scepticism' and 'huge concern' over the population's discipline. 
Merkel and regional state premiers announced the decision to reopen last week, but were careful to cast it as a cautious first step.
However, the government is facing increasing pressure to ease restrictions, especially from industries eager to get business back on track.   
Some regional politicians have begun pushing for even faster loosening than the re-opening of smaller shops and schools which Merkel announced last week. 
A store in Heidelberg, Germany, reopens today as the streets start to fill up again after the country begins to ease some of its lockdown restrictions
People push their shopping trolleys at a re-opened hardware store today in Unterhaching, in the state of Bavaria which has been worst-affected by the coronavirus crisis in Germany
A customer buys sandals at a shoe store that was open for the first time since March on the first day of the easing of some restrictions during the coronavirus crisis in Leipzig, Germany
Customers keep their distance as they look at pot plants at a DIY store in Munich today, as some shops were allowed to re-open in Germany from Monday morning
A customer wearing a bicycle helmet and a face masks speaks to the owner of a tea and wine shop - separated by a glass screen on the till - in the German city of Ludwigsburg today
A lady wearing a face mask is seen on the main shopping street on the first day of the easing of some restrictions during the coronavirus crisis in Lueneburg, Germany
The main street in Lueneburg, Germany, looked busy today as normality starts to return to Germany after the coronavirus lockdown
A French coronavirus patient is taken on a stretcher from Essen University Hospital after recovering from the disease following treatment in Germany
Germany today reported 1,775 new cases to bring the total from 139,897 to 141,672, marking the smallest increase since 1,042 positive tests were added to the tally on March 18. 
Like many countries, Germany typically sees a fall in its Sunday and Monday figures because of a backlog in reporting new cases and deaths from the weekend.   
The jump of 110 deaths is the smallest since the 92 recorded on April 6 - another Monday morning update - and brings Germany's death toll from 4,294 to 4,404. 
Germany's 1.3 per cent increase in cases is the lowest since the crisis began, replacing last Tuesday's previous low of 1.7 per cent. 
The Robert Koch Institute, which collects the figures, also has a keen eye on the rate of contagion (R), which shows how many people each sick person is infecting.
R is currently estimated at 0.8 - meaning that, on average, four out of five coronavirus patients infect one other person and the fifth does not pass on the disease. 
Germany has identified an R rate below 1 as a key indicator of whether the outbreak has stabilised enough to allow a return to normal life.  
With more movement of the population expected as shops reopen, eastern states Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and Saxony have made masks obligatory on public transport. 
Though not yet obligatory across Germany, Merkel says the federal government 'strongly advises' wearing a mask in public.  

Italy plans psychological tests on how long lockdown can last 

Italian scientists want the government to conduct psychological tests to determine how long people can stay confined to their homes, Italian media said today.
The Corriere della Sera newspaper said scientists want to understand how long Italians 'are able to endure a lockdown' in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.
Prime minister Giuseppe Conte will announce a new set of social guidelines this week that could include the tests, the report said.
Italy entered into a progressively more restrictive lockdown over the first half of March that has since been replicated by most European nations.
The Mediterranean country's 60million citizens have been barred from walking more than 650ft from their homes without a significant reason.
Reports of domestic abuse have surged and scientists worry about the impact of such isolation on the elderly and the more vulnerable.
Conte's government is now debating how it can lift the stay-at-home order and reopen businesses while there is still no coronavirus cure or vaccine. 
Conte is expected to let people out of their homes for more reasons when the current lockdown rules expire on May 4. 
Two medical workers wearing protective gear and masks take care of a coronavirus patient at a hospital in Magdeburg in eastern Germany
Meanwhile, France says its nationwide lockdown is starting to bear fruit more than a month after it was imposed, but is yet to announce any lifting of measures. 
The current confinement rules have been extended until May 11 and the government has warned that people should not be planning to travel to faraway destinations in the summer holidays. 
'Our life after May 11 will not be the same as before... and probably not for a long time,' said prime minister Edouard Philippe. 
The PM said France was 'scoring points against the epidemic' but signalled that people should still work from home as much as possible once the lockdown lifts.
Commuters will probably be required to wear masks on public transport, Philippe said.    
Philippe said France is 'far from herd immunity,' estimating that between 2-6million people had been infected with the virus, around 3-9 per cent of the population.  
Spain is also expected to extend its lockdown into May, beyond the current deadline of April 27. 
Measures will be slightly loosened to allow children to leave their homes for short periods, the government says. 
People could be allowed to exercise outdoors, officials say, which is not currently regarded as a valid excuse to go outside in Spain. 
This graph shows the daily number of coronavirus cases in Spain. Today's figure was 399, down from yesterday's 410
This chart shows the daily number of cases in Spain. Today's figure of 4,266 brought the total number of infections past 200,000
SPAIN: Members of the National Police stop a motorist and search their boot at a checkpoint in Malaga yesterday. Spain remains largely in lockdown
AUSTRIA: A queue of people wait to enter a shop on the Mariahilfer Straße shopping street in Vienna, after Austria allowed some stores to re-open last week
AUSTRIA: A queue of people wait to enter a shop on the Mariahilfer Straße shopping street in Vienna, after Austria allowed some stores to re-open last week 
A two-week 'hibernation' of all non-essential economic activity in Spain was lifted last week, allowing some people in construction and manufacturing to return to work. 
Authorities are even starting to shut some makeshift facilities set up to relieve the overburdened health system, including a morgue at a Madrid ice rink. 
However, most people are still confined to their homes except for essential outings such as food shopping. 
There are also signs of regional tensions, after the head of Catalonia's government said he should be handling the lifting of lockdown measures in the region.   
Spanish health minister Salvador Illa rebuked the Catalan authorities and said the government in Madrid was centralising decisions under a state of emergency.  
There is also no immediate end in sight in Britain, where the lockdown has been extended for 'at least' another three weeks. 
The government says there is no date for the resumption of schools, and has warned that pubs and bars are likely to be 'among the last' to re-open.
Italy which has been in lockdown since March 9, longer than any other European country, opened a handful of shops on a trial basis last week. 
Bookshops, stationery shops and stores selling children's clothes were allowed to re-open to see how social distancing measures could be enforced. 
However, there is some discrepancy among regions. The hard-hit Lombardy region is among those which have not allowed bookshops to re-open, while Campania will open children's clothes shops only two mornings a week. 
The Italian lockdown is currently due to expire on May 4, and officials have spoken of a 'phase two' where Italian society learns to 'live with the virus'.   
Switzerland will start easing lockdown measures on April 27, with hairdressers and garden centres among the businesses set to re-open. 
Children will return to school on May 11 while universities, libraries and museums will re-open on June 8.   
ITALY: Two shop workers wear face masks at their bookstore in Rome, which is one of the few categories of shops which have been allowed to re-open in Italy
SWEDEN: The Swedish government has become an outlier in Europe by refusing to enforce any official lockdown. People are seen here walking in Stockholm yesterday
Austria, which has enjoyed similar success to Germany in reducing the rate of infection, allowed some shops to open last week with a view to opening larger ones on May 1.   
The shops already open include DIY stores and garden centres, where masks are now compulsory.  
Schools remain closed until at least mid-May, unlike in Denmark where children returned to primary schools and daycare centres last week. 
Older children will remain at home until at least May 10, but small businesses such as hair salons, massage and tattoo parlours, dentists and driving schools reopened today.  
The owner of one salon in Copenhagen, Anne-Sophie Skjodt Villumsen, said she was happy to be able to reopen her business, noting that she was following the detailed health and safety guidelines put in place.
Clients have to disinfect their hands at the entrance, and must be given a single-use poncho to wear during their appointment. Materials and surfaces have to be disinfected between clients as well. 
DENMARK: A hairdressers in Bagswaard reopened today as many small businesses were given the green light to get back to normality
Danes are, however, still urged to practice social distancing by keeping two metres apart, gatherings of more than 10 people are banned, and cafes, restaurants, shopping centres and gyms will remain closed until May 10, as will middle and secondary schools.  
Norway is also allowing children to go back to nurseries on Monday, although some parents expressed reservations over the decision. 
The government plans to allow a partial re-opening of high schools, universities and hair and beauty salons from April 27.  
Finland has slightly eased its restrictions by lifting a ban on travel in and out of the Helsinki region, but schools and restaurants remain closed. 
The Nordic countries have a nervous eye on their neighbour Sweden, which has never imposed a lockdown in the first place, with bars and shops still open. 
Swedes are advised to practise social distancing but the government has emphasised 'individual responsibility' and is not enforcing most of the measures.    

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