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EU urges caution as countries begin to reopen schools and shops

European Commission wants gradual and cautious approach

Brussels has unveiled a roadmap for the lifting of coronavirus lockdown measures, warning members states should coordinate any easing of restrictions rather than going it alone.

The European Commission said its 27 member states should move cautiously and follow scientific evidence, as Austria, Denmark, and the Czech republic started to roll back lockdowns.

“This roadmap is not a signal that containment measures can be lifted as of now but intends to provide a frame for Member State decisions,” said Euroepan Commission president Ursula von der Leyen.

“In general, we recommend a gradual approach and every action should be continuously monitored.”

The European Commission, the bloc’s executive arm, is concerned that member states could harm each others’ efforts by some countries lifting lockdown too early.

Early in the pandemic countries chaotically imposed restrictions at different times and even closed borders with their neighbours and imposed export bans on other countries in the single market.

Around 80,000 people have died in Europe from Covid-19, amounting to two thirds of the global total, according to the EU’s own Euroepan Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

The Commission’s roadmap does not spell out exactly how the lockdown measures should be lifted but essentially urges caution, stating: “A lack of co-ordination in lifting restrictive measures risks having negative effects for all member states and creating political friction.”

It says business operations should be phased in by sectors and that schools could start again with extra restrictions like limits on class sizes to allow social distancing.

The EU’s executive arm has said that gaps of one month should be left between the lifting of any measures in order to make it easier to monitor their effects.

On Wednesday Germany became the latest country to signal it would soon start to lift its lockdown measures, with schools reopening from 4 May.

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