Amsterdam: The Netherlands accelerated a plan to reopen more of its economy, echoing moves elsewhere in Europe amid signs the coronavirus outbreak is coming under control.
The nation will allow hairdressers, nail salons and beauty parlors to start work again on May 11, moving its schedule up by at least a week. Restaurants, bars and movie theaters will reopen starting June 1, with restrictions to comply with the “1.5 meter society,” Prime Minister Mark Rutte told reporters at a televised briefing in The Hague on Wednesday.
“We’re doing this as quickly as possible, but not quicker than responsible,” Rutte said. “Caution now is better than regret afterward.”
Across Europe, economies are coming alive again amid optimism the worst of the virus is over. Neighboring Germany is taking its biggest step yet to ease containment with preparations to open restaurants and all shops as well as to restart professional soccer games. Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen meanwhile said restaurants, shopping malls and big retailers may reopen as early as Monday.
In France, deaths linked to the coronavirus rose at the slowest pace in three days on Wednesday, falling below 300 fatalities.
Today’s announcement in the Netherlands makes for a more decisive move after the country’s first careful step two weeks ago allowed some schools to reopen under certain conditions.
Prostitution, which is legal in the Netherlands, is allowed to restart on Sept. 1, Rutte said.
In Spain, islands, bars and restaurants on four islands were allowed open with restrictions on the number of clients and special safety requirements, in a prelude to how the reopening will be managed in the rest of the country over the coming weeks. In France, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe is scheduled to provide details on Thursday on the country’s exit from strict confinement starting May 11.
Also read: Spain extends lockdown as virus cases rise again in Europe
Still, caution remains the watchword. The Spanish parliament backed Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s request to extend a state of emergency through May 23. The prime minister says he needs to keep the special regime in place to ensure that the ongoing restrictions are enforced and to control the health system.
“Lifting the state of emergency at this time would be an absolute mistake,” Sanchez told lawmakers.
In the U.K., a further 649 people were reported to have died from coronavirus. This brings the country’s death toll to 30,076, making it the first European nation to report more than 30,000 confirmed fatalities. Italy reported rising numbers of new cases and deaths after several days of declines.
Ireland plans to start reopen its economy on May 18, but with new cases and deaths continuing to rise, there’s no certainty that will happen, chief medical officer Tony Holohan told reporters.
“We are seeing a persistent number of infections coming from the community if I’m honest about it, particularly from younger people,” he said. “I won’t sit here today and say we are going to be in position on May 18. But I’m hopeful.”
Also read: Europe eases Covid curbs and hopes it won’t have to retreat