(Illustration: Greg Altmann/Pixabay) (Illustration: Greg Altmann/Pixabay)

Slovakia’s Prime Minister Igor Matovič has unveiled a four-phase plan to rollback coronavirus measures. The country plans to open small stores - spaces of up to 300 square meters - on Thursday. Establishments where customers are in closer contact, such as hair and beauty salons, will not open until phase two. Taxi services, churches, and wedding ceremonies will also be allowed to resume operating in the second phase. Two weeks later, Slovakia plans to reopen museums, larger stores, and outdoor cafes and restaurants. The last to open, in phase-four, will be schools, child care facilities, shopping centers, gyms, cinemas, and theaters. Slovakia has just over 1,100 cases of COVID-19 and only 14 deaths attributed to the disease.

Ireland, which has more than 16 thousand cases of COVID-19 and 730 coronavirus-linked deaths is banning public gatherings of more than 5,000 people until the end of August. This means there will be no major sports matches or concerts this summer.

The Netherlands will reopen primary schools and daycare centers.  It is a cautious first step towards easing lockdown restrictions. Prime Minister Mark Rutte stressed that moving too fast could give way to a second wave of the epidemic. All other lockdown measures would remain in place for another month.

Spain is aiming to phase-out its coronavirus lockdown in the second half of may. Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on Wednesday his government plans to begin winding down the measures slowly and gradually to ensure safety. Spain’s total deaths rose to 20,852 on Monday. But the figure fails to account for those who were more than likely killed by the virus but never tested.

Italy is likely to start easing its coronavirus lockdown from May 4 though the long-awaited rollback will be cautious and calculated, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said on Tuesday. Italy has been one of the countries hardest-hit by the coronavirus, with more than 24 thousand deaths attributed to COVID-19. 

Without offering any specific details about which businesses would be allowed to open and when, Conde promised “a serious, scientific plan” that would include a “rethinking of modes of transport”, new business rules and measures to monitor the effects of the loosened restrictions on the number of new infections.