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COVID-19

How is each European country emerging from coronavirus lockdown?

Tentatively, parts of Europe are emerging from lockdown, with France and Belgium joining the list of countries easing measures on Monday, amid fears of a second coronavirus wave.

How is each European country emerging from coronavirus lockdown?
European Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders, wearing a protective face mask to lessen the spread of novel coronavirus, COVID-19. Photo: JOHN THYS / AFP

Here is an overview:

France

Hair salons, clothes shops, florists and bookshops will open again Monday. Bars, restaurants, theatres and cinemas remain closed.

Primary schools will take small numbers of pupils, depending on space. Masks will be obligatory on public transport.

Everyone will be able to move outside without having to present a form on demand but people will only be able to go 100 kilometres (60 miles) from their place of residence.

The easing has brought mixed reactions. “I've been scared to death” about the reopening, said one bookshop manager from Lyon.

“It's a big responsibility to have to protect my staff and my customers.”

Belgium

Most businesses will open Monday, with social distancing. Masks are recommended.

Cafes, restaurants and bars remain closed. In central Brussels there will be speed limits on cars and priority will be given to cyclists and pedestrians.

Schools remain closed until May 18.

The Netherlands

Primary schools will partially reopen Monday. Driving schools, hair salons, physiotherapists and libraries also return, with social distancing measures.

Switzerland

Primary and middle schools will reopen Monday, with classes often reduced in size.

Restaurants, museums and bookshops will also open, with conditions. Meetings of more than five people remain banned.

Spain

Half of Spain's some 47 million people will be able to meet with family or friends in gatherings of up to 10 as of Monday.

Outdoor spaces at bars and restaurants can reopen with limited capacity. Hardest-hit Madrid and Barcelona are excluded from the easing, though football clubs FC Barcelona resumed training on Friday and Real Madrid will follow Monday.

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has called on Spaniards to show “the greatest precaution and prudence” because “the virus has not gone away, it is still there”.

Only movements within provinces are authorised and cinemas and theatres remain closed. Schools will not start up again until September.

Britain

Prime Minister Boris Johnson will address the nation on Sunday evening to set out a “roadmap” for relaxing social distancing rules.

“We have to be realistic that there isn't going to be any dramatic overnight change,” Environment Secretary George Eustice said.

Italy 

While schools remain closed until September, factories, building sites and offices reopened on May 4. Social distancing rules are in place in parks.

Wearing masks is mandatory on public transport. All retail businesses will reopen on May 18, as will museums, cultural sites, churches and libraries.

Bars and restaurants will reopen from June 1, along with hair and beauty salons. The first phase of lifting lockdown has also sparked fresh concerns.

In Milan, photographs published in newspapers of people sitting along canals enjoying aperitifs in the sunshine, many not wearing masks or respecting social distancing rules, prompted the city's Mayor Giuseppe Sala to slam the behaviour as “shameful”.

Virologist Massimo Galli also warned the city was a virus time “bomb” at risk of erupting with residents now free to move around.

Germany 

Eating at the restaurant is now possible in the northeastern state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, where the country's first cafes and restaurants reopened on Saturday.

Under Germany's federal system, each of the 16 states makes its own decisions on how to emerge from lockdown and cafes and restaurants will reopen in a number of other states in the coming days and weeks. Most shops are already open and children are slowly returning to classrooms.

Bundesliga football matches are also set to resume. Heeding signs of a second wave, German authorities have agreed to reimpose restrictions locally if an area has more than 50 new infections per 100,000 residents over a week.

Austria

Hairdressers, tennis courts and golf courses reopened in the first weekend in May.

Travel restrictions have been lifted and gatherings of up to 10 people are allowed, with social distancing. Masks are compulsory in public transport and shops.

Final-year school students returned to class on May 4 ahead of a gradual return for others. 

Poland

Hotels can reopen on Monday but foreign tourists must quarantine for two weeks on arrival.

 

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HEALTH

Shortage of medicines in Spanish pharmacies grows by 150 percent

Spanish pharmacies are increasingly struggling to get the proper supply of certain medicines such as paediatric amoxicillin and some anti-diabetic drugs.

Shortage of medicines in Spanish pharmacies grows by 150 percent

In 2022 Spanish pharmacies experienced supply problems with 403 medicines, according to Spain’s General Council of Pharmaceutical Colleges (CGCOF).

Though this figure represents just 5 percent of the total 20,000 medicines sold in Spain, it is an increase of 150 percent compared to 2021 and represents what experts have deemed a “worrying” trend that is rising after two years of decline. The shortages last an average of four or five weeks.

This was the warning made by the CGCOF based on its data on the supply of medicines (CisMED), which is focused on ‘supply alert’ notices provided by almost 10,000 of the 22,000 pharmacies across Spain.

READ ALSO – Reader question: Are there limits on bringing medicines into Spain?

On average in 2022, more than 70 medicines were identified as suffering from shortages per week. The weekly average for 2021 was 28 incidents and in 2020 it was 41.

Of these shortages, experts say they are especially pronounced in medicines for the nervous system and cardiovascular groups, and “very significantly” pronounced with paediatric amoxicillin and some anti-diabetic drugs.

Medicines for the nervous system made up around 20 percent of the incidents, followed by cardiovascular therapeutics, with 19 percent, digestive 14 percent, and respiratory 13 percent.

READ ALSO: Pharmacies in Spain will be able to sell medical marijuana by the end of 2022

Call for calm

Stark as this statistic may seem out of context, however, it does not suggest that shelves in Spanish pharmacies are bare nor that Spaniards are being turned away by out-of-stock pharmacists.

Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, President of the CGCOF, Jesús Aguilar, soothed fears by drawing distinctions between different types of shortages, one, he said, was “when there is none for anyone,” and the other a lack of supply “when there is none today but there will be tomorrow, or when there is none here but there is there”. 

Spain, he said, was suffering the second, adding that pharmacists can always replace or find alternative medicines. “Citizens have to be calm. It’s under control. We have the problem when it comes to looking for the medicine, not the citizens,” he added.

Causes

The causes of the shortages of certain medicines in Spain are various, but many stem from a combination of the centralised nature of production, meaning some medicines are produced only in certain parts of the world or even single factories, and a shortage of raw materials and packaging from Asian countries where production has been slow to recover from the pandemic shutdown, as well as the low price of medicines in Spain.

The issue is “a multifactorial problem that comes from problems with the increasingly globalised nature of drug manufacturing,” Aguilar said. “This supply problem has been affecting Spain for years, as well as the rest of Europe and the world.”

Farmahelp

To try and ease the supply shortages, the CGCOF has launched a new campaign to expand ‘Farmahelp’, a collaborative network of pharmacies that already has almost 6000 participating branches.

The Farmahelp app allows patients to find medicines in nearby pharmacies when they are unavailable and connects the pharmacy branches so they can update one another about the availability of medicines.

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