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Mohamed Nass - Cairo - As COVID-19 vaccinations begin to accelerate across Europe, governments are making plans to reopen businesses such as restaurants, movie theaters and sports venues. Here’s a detailed look at the steps European countries are taking to return to normal.
Though new infections have dipped slightly, Germany has been struggling to contain a third wave of the virus, with the government criticized for a slow vaccine rollout. If average new cases per 100,000 inhabitants in a seven-day period rise above 100 for three consecutive days, a city or district is expected to apply strict lockdown policies that apply nationwide.
Germany’s national seven-day incidence rate per 100,000 residents fell to 155 on Thursday, the lowest level in two weeks.
Most German states still have a seven-day incidence above 100, meaning restrictive policies will continue in most of the country for now. Only Schleswig-Holstein and the city-state of Hamburg are below 100.
According to the Berliner Morgenpost newspaper, Schleswig-Holstein’s government will allow tourists to visit the island of Sylt beginning in May if they present a negative coronavirus test. Sylt, in the North Sea, is a popular summer vacation destination for many Germans.
The country is also debating whether people who have been vaccinated should enjoy fewer coronavirus restrictions than nonvaccinated people.
France plans to loosen restrictive measures at the beginning of May, lifting domestic travel restrictions but maintaining an evening curfew. French President Emmanuel Macron imposed a three-week lockdown across France in April, closing nonessential businesses and schools.
During the April lockdown, residents of France cannot travel beyond 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) from their homes without a valid reason. France is also under a 7 pm evening curfew.
Macron said Thursday he plans to allow most businesses to reopen on May 19 with restrictions. The nighttime curfew would also be pushed back from 7 pm to 9 pm.
“Starting May 19, we must rediscover our French way of life,” Macron told French regional newspapers. “Life in the nation can’t be reduced to the developments of infection curves.”
Macron has also previously signaled that France would be open to some vaccinated tourists this summer.
Restaurants, museums, bars, and movie theaters reopened in most of Italy on Monday. Residents are only allowed to eat at restaurants and bars outdoors for now, with indoor dining expected to return on June 1.
Spain intends to end its national state of emergency on May 9, ending restrictive measures across the country.
Spain also plans to open its doors for some tourists, with the Spanish government intending to allow fully vaccinated Americans to visit the Mediterranean country in June.
Restaurants and cafes will reopen on May 3 for outdoor dining after Orthodox Easter, the Greek government has announced.
Greece also intends to open for some tourists on May 15.
In most of the United Kingdom, shops, restaurants and bars have already reopened. On April 30, shops will reopen in Northern Ireland, with bars and restaurants allowed to resume service for outdoor dining only.
Poland will reopen hotels, restaurants and shopping malls in May, according to Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki. Malls and furniture stores will reopen with restrictions on May 4, while restaurants will resume outdoor dining on May 15.
In late May, restaurants will be allowed to resume indoor dining at a limited capacity, with gyms and movie theaters also reopening at that time.
Students will go back to school on May 29.
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