Coronavirus

EU Cautions Members To Lift Lockdowns Gradually

European Union flags

The European Union's advice for countries looking to reopen as the coronavirus seems to be slowing is to do so in a controlled, cautious manner, with an eye toward closing things again if the virus flares back up, CNBC reported.

The European Commission published the guidance Wednesday (April 15), advising for a slow rollout of reopenings in several stages over the next few weeks, organized by sectors of society. The reopenings should be done in a "relaxed" style that would allow officials to monitor the impact of the reopening, making sure the coronavirus isn't coming back as a result, the EU said.

The reopenings also should only be happening where there has been long-term scientific proof of a slowdown in virus infections, and where a sufficient health system is in place, the commission said.

When the reopenings start, the most vulnerable sections of society will need to be taken into account, and so the general lockdown measures currently in place across much of Europe will need to be replaced by more specific targeted lockdowns.

As restrictions lift, people will return to work, to school, and begin gathering in public, albeit perhaps in smaller clusters than was possible before the pandemic. The European Commission wrote that people shouldn't return to work all at the same time, but rather in a staggered series of reopenings based on the importance of the jobs.

As for travel and border control, the commission said restrictions could be lifted if adjacent countries and regions are showing similar improvements in infections. For countries not a part of the EU, reopenings of borders and travel can be a later priority.

But in the long run, things will not go back to "normal" for the foreseeable future, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Stella Kyriakides said. She said until a vaccine is widely available, people ought to be prepared to live with the coronavirus and take preventative measures to avoid flare-ups in the future.

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