return icon

Coronavirus outbreak: Five ways Europe is easing lockdown

Jogging in a Madrid park, having a Czech beer, taking a Greek ferry - Europe is opening up more.

Rob Cameron lowers his mask to sip beer at a brewery in Prague


Europe is opening up further, with its citizens tasting freedoms they missed during the coronavirus pandemic.

The scope of the relaxation varies but here are some of the highlights.

1. Czechs can have a beer

The beer-loving Czechs can finally get back into pubs, albeit with social distancing and mask-wearing indoors. It is the country with the highest per capita beer consumption in the world.

Monday marks the final stage in the Czech Republic's staged easing of lockdown.

It has been hit far less hard by coronavirus than several other European countries, but was the first to make mask-wearing in public compulsory. It is not clear how strictly mask-wearing can be enforced indoors while people are eating and drinking. 

2. Spaniards can visit museums

Spain had one of Europe's toughest lockdowns but in the big cities parks, museums and other cultural centres are reopening under the country's four-phase easing of restrictions.

There are strict limits on numbers: indoor sites can only operate at one-third capacity, while outdoor events are limited to a maximum crowd of 200.

Phase one of easing covers more than half of the population and includes Spain's two main cities, Madrid and Barcelona. In both bars are now allowed to open terraces at 50% capacity and people can meet in groups of up to 10.

Previously Spaniards were allowed to leave home for exercise only during certain time slots, in an area close to home and according to age group. Now joggers have returned to Madrid's famous Retiro Park.

But free movement is not allowed between Barcelona and its wider metropolitan area.

Other regions are entering phase two of easing which will see beaches and swimming pools reopening.

3. Italians can go for a swim

Italy is reopening gyms and swimming pools, but with strict hygiene and social distancing rules.

Besides Lombardy, the reopening is also being delayed in Basilicata in the south and in Bologna. Sports facilities in Lombardy remain closed until 31 May.

There are elaborate rules for gyms and swimming pools, as reported by Ansa news agency, including:

  • Only a few users allowed into changing rooms at a time, and they must stay 1m (3ft) distant from each other
  • Use of hand sanitiser and mask-wearing on entering gym or swimming pool
  • Gym users to stay at least 2m apart during exercise session, no group activities, but no mask necessary
  • The area of pool allowed for each swimmer is 7 sq m, to limit numbers
  • Poolside loungers to be spaced 1.5m apart and swimming instructors must wear masks

4. Greeks can visit islands

Greece is opening up its many islands to travellers from the mainland, but not to foreign tourists yet.

It means many Greeks with island holiday homes can get to their places to relax - and support the struggling local economy. It is a relief for many after two months of lockdown.

It is also an important step towards restarting the wider tourism industry, which makes up at least one-fifth of the Greek economy.

Last week, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said the country would open up to international tourism from 15 June. He said most flights to Greece would resume by 1 July, when seasonal hotels will reopen and a two-week quarantine for foreigners will no longer be in force.

Spain's government says the country will reopen its borders to international tourism from July, when the current two-week quarantine requirement for foreign visitors will be lifted. Tourism accounts for more than 12% of Spain's economic output.

Italy is also due to reopen its borders to foreign tourists from 3 June.

  • How is lockdown being lifted across Europe?
  • Spanish anti-lockdown car protest draws thousands
  • Fast on coronavirus, now they need to save summer

5. Polish children can go to school

Across Europe many children have already returned to school, but the scope of that return varies widely.

On Monday it is the turn of many Polish children to go back to class.

But some parents have said they will keep their children at home as the school year is due to end on 26 June and they do not think it is worth risking infection for a few weeks in the classroom, the BBC's Adam Easton reports.

Primary schools and universities are partially reopening: primary schools will have limited lessons for the youngest children; universities are restarting classes for final-year students. Class sizes are limited, with social distancing. BBC


Cherry blossoms attract tourists to Sapa

Cherry blossoms have been in full bloom in the tourist town of Sapa, attracting lots of visitors.

President to pay State visit to RoK next week

President Nguyen Xuan Phuc and his spouse will pay a state visit to the Republic of Korea from December 4-6.

Fansipan among five top destinations for mountain trekking at year-end

Renowned tourism website Women's Weekly of Singapore has named Fansipan among the leading five destinations to visit for mountain trekking at the end of the year, with the website noting the Vietnamese mountain’s impressive views.

Dortmund chiefs predict bright future for VN football

Although this was only a friendly game with many of the German stars absent from the starting eleven due to the Qatar World Cup, the victory gave the Bundesliga team food for thought about Vietnamese players.

International designers dazzle fashion fans in Hanoi

International designers left a deep impression on fans of fashion in Hanoi with hundreds of fascinating designs presented at the Aquafina VN International Fashion Week (AVIFW) Fall/Winter 2022.

Monthly Government meeting focuses on year-end key tasks

The Government has established working groups on liquidity and currency, the real estate market and corporate bonds led by deputy prime ministers to stabilise these markets.

Vietnam to reduce environmental impact of textile-garment industry by 2030

The Vietnam Textile and Apparel Association (VITAS) has set a goal of helping Vietnam's textile and garment industry be more environmentally friendly by 2030.

Property brokers no longer manipulate prices as buyers become more cautious

As buyers have become more aware and careful about shady practices, real estate brokers have not been able to sell properties at prices much higher than their real value.

Hanoi to turn middle alluvium ground into park

One more park has been designed for Hanoians. However, it is still unclear when the project will appear, as a number of other projects are still on paper or pending.

Asian investors eye more M&A opportunities in Vietnam

Investors from Japan, the Republic of Korea (RoK), and Singapore are looking for more potential merger and acquisition (M&A) opportunities in Vietnam, pinning high hopes on the long-term growth prospects of the market.

Vietnam's fishery exports exceed 10 billion USD in 11 months

Fishery exports reeled in 10.14 billion USD as of November this year, up 27% annually, said the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

HCM City want foreign doctors to be fluent in Vietnamese

The HCM City Department of Health has just proposed that foreign doctors should be fluent in Vietnamese if they want to work in the country.

Use of toxic e-cigarettes among students on the rise

After a trial smoke, T lost consciousness, was foaming at the mouth, and his limbs were curled up. Two days later, T regained consciousness at the hospital, but was still in the status of extreme fear.

Vietnam spends US$7.74 billion importing petroleum products

Vietnam imported over 7.5 million tonnes of oil and petrol worth around US$7.74 billion as of mid-November, up 24.1% in volume and 122% in value year on year, according to the General Department of Vietnam Customs.

Vietnam won’t sacrifice the environment for economic growth: Prime Minister

Vietnam takes people as the goal in development. People will enjoy the fruits of a green economy and the government will not sacrifice the environment to pursue economic growth.