Steps Italy and other countries are taking to ease their lockdowns

Coronavirus has forced many countries across Europe to go into lockdown, as they attempt to stop the spread of the virus.

Thousands of people across the continent have sadly lost their lives to Covid-19, with many more also being infected with the condition.

Schools, businesses, shops, restaurants and many other places have been forced to close their doors, with citizens asked to stay in their homes.

Italy has had the worst death toll in Europe, with their lockdown one of the most severe, during the peak of their virus.

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But as new cases of the virus begin to go down some countries are beginning to take steps to ease their lockdowns.

Here's what some countries in Europe are doing now.

Italy

Italy recorded its lowest number of deaths in three weeks on Easter Sunday, with 431 losing their life.

The country's worst day for Covid-19 deaths was 28 March, when 971 deaths were recorded.

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Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte recently extended the general lockdown in Italy until at least 3 May.

But some businesses will be allowed to open again from Tuesday, including bookshops and stores selling children's clothes.

Factories will remain closed.

Until now, the strict lockdown conditions which have been in place since 9 March meant only food stores and pharmacies were permitted to stay open, as Italians were only allowed to leave their homes for essential needs.

The total number to die from the virus in Italy is 19,899, according to John Hopkins University, with a total of 156,363 confirmed cases.

Spain

Some people in Spain are returning to work this week, after the peak of the infection seems to have passed.

On Easter Sunday, 619 new deaths were recorded in Spain after three days of decline. Comparatively, the worst day for the virus in Spain was 3 April, when there were 950 deaths.

There have been a total of 17,209 deaths in Spain in total, according to the latest figures recorded by John Hopkins University in the US, and a total of 166,831 confirmed cases of Covid-19.

The Covid-19 death rate in Spain is the second-highest in Europe, behind Italy.

Construction site workers and those working in factories are among those set to return to their workplaces in Spain this week, after weeks of staying at home.

However, government officials have insisted Spain remains under lockdown, which has been in place since the middle of March.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, said according to reports by The Times : "We are not entering a phase of de-escalation.

"The state of emergency is still in force and so is the lockdown. The only thing that has come to an end is the two-week extreme economic hibernation period.”

Only those "going to authorised jobs or making authorised purchases" should be leaving their homes, he added, as the lockdown will remain in place for at least two more weeks, after which point it may reviewed.

Measures set out by the Spanish government for those returning to work include maintaining two metres distance between one another and being given adequate protective equipment by their employers.

Some reports also say that masks will be handed out at transport hubs.

Denmark

Denmark is another country that is making a move to relax coronavirus restrictions.

From Wednesday, children aged 11 and younger return to schools and nurseries, after a month of closures.

Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said: "It's important we don't keep Denmark closed for longer than we need to."

The spread of coronavirus appears to be under control and the government wants to get the economy going again.

But Denmark's moves will be slow and cautious. Ms Frederiksen likened them to walking a tightrope.

She said: "If we open Denmark too quickly again, we risk infections rising too sharply and then we'll have to close down again."

A ban on gatherings of more than 10 people has been extended until May 10 and all church services, cinemas and shopping centers will also remain closed.

All festivals and large gatherings will still be banned until August and Denmark's borders will remain shut.

Austria

Austria announced their plan to lift lockdown last week, 11 days after their peak of 1,321 of new infections.

From tomorrow (Tuesday) in Austria small shops and DIY stores will be allowed to open, but masks will be compulsory and strict capacity limits will be in place.

On May 1st, all other stores will be allowed to open, while home-schooling will continue until at least mid-May.

Restaurants and hotels will open from mid-May at the earliest in a gradual process.

There will be no public events until July, while a major question mark remains around the issue of travel, with a separate press conference due to be held on this issue later this week.

Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz noted that travel will be difficult before the crisis is resolved and a health certificate may be required.

Czech Republic

The Czech Republic moved swiftly to impose restrictions on travel, ban large events and close non-essential businesses, after declaring a state of emergency on March 12.

It also required its 10.7 million people to cover their faces with masks or scarves when outside the home from 19 March.

Those strict containment efforts now appear to be paying off, as the government announced that it would begin relaxing some coronavirus restrictions.

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Since Tuesday, people have been allowed to exercise alone without face masks.

Shops such as construction and hardware stores, bicycle stores and bicycle repair centers are among those allowed to reopen from Thursday.

Outdoor facilities for individual sports are also reopening, but only to some extent — no more than two people can be in the same space and they can't use showers or lockers.

Essential travel outside the Czech Republic will be allowed from April 14, a government press release says.

Norway

Norway is prioritising the reopening of schools as it eases containment measures introduced in mid-March.

It will begin to scale back its lockdown measures from April 20, Prime Minister Erna Solberg said, when kindergartens will start to reopen.

A week later, schools will reopen for pupils in grades one to four, Mrs Solberg said: "Our ambition is for all students to somehow get back to school before the summer."

The government believes that the latest statistics provide a basis for "cautious optimism," indicating that the infection rate has leveled off.

Mrs Solberg said: "By working together, we have got the virus under control, and can start to lift restrictions little by little. We will do this together, cautiously, and taking our time."

According to the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Norway had 6,244 confirmed Covid-19 cases as of Thursday, and 92 deaths as of Friday morning.

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