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Coronavirus situation in Spain Coronavirus situation in Spain  (AFP or licensors)

EU Nations Slowly Reopen Amid Coronavirus Lockdown

Several European Union member states are slowly reopening their doors in lockdowns that have impacted millions of people, many of them children. The lockdowns were introduced by authorities citing concerns about the spread of the new coronavirus disease COVID-19.

By Stefan Bos

Amid the gloom of the coronavirus pandemic, there is some bright news for Spain's eight million children who already spent five weeks in confinement. They may be allowed to see the sunlight outside again, starting next week. Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez says he aims to relax the rule on April 27. That's necessary he add so they can "get some fresh air."

There has been growing unease about the risk to their health. The Spanish Children's Rights Coalition, for instance, warned of mental and physical health problems for children as a result of the lockdown measures. They called for boys and girls to be allowed outside to play and do some physical activity.

Authorities say the lockdown was needed to halt the coronavirus pandemic that has claimed more than 20,000 lives in Spain alone. Outside Spain, several other countries are slowly easing restrictions. Germany starts to reopen smaller shops after deciding the outbreak is coming under control.

In Eastern Europe, there's a mixed picture. The Czech Republic allows some markets and other small businesses to restart. Similar measures are taken in Poland, Eastern Europe's largest economy within the European Union.  Parks and forests were reopening Monday, and the number of people allowed in shops will be eased.

But many restrictions, such as covering one's mouth and nose when outside and wearing plastic gloves in grocery stores, as well as school closures, will remain in place. That's needed as Poland saw its most significant spike in coronavirus cases on Sunday, with 545 new infections recorded, officials say.


Poland now has more nearly 9,300 confirmed cases and at least
360 deaths.

Elsewhere in the region, in Hungary, authorities are discussing increasing lockdown rules in Budapest, the capital, where most coronavirus cases have been reported.

Hungary has come under European Union criticism over government policies that include potential imprisonment for journalists and others spreading what the government views as fake news about the pandemic.

But the right-wing government has denied wrongdoing. It claims the strict measures will end after the epidemic that authorities say left at least 189 people dead.

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21 April 2020, 09:31