European countries are waking up to the realization that coronavirus is not going away anytime soon. Thus, some levels of social distancing measures may need to remain in place for a long time. German federal and state governments recently agreed to loosen some of the social distancing restrictions implemented to combat Covid-19. This includes allowing smaller shops to reopen, for instance. The German leader, Angela Merkel, said although she fully supports the reopening decisions made by the federal government and the states by conviction. However, she also stated that their implementation worries her because probably they are too bold.
England’s Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty said Wednesday that the probability of having a vaccine or treatment anytime in the next calendar year is small. In his opinion, we’re going to have to rely on other social measures. On Thursday, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon also indicated there will be no changes to coronavirus restrictions in the short term. Then, he warned the people that a full “return to normal” might not happen until next year.
More on European presidents dealing with social distance in their countries
France’s President Emmanuel Macron has said that strict social distancing measures will remain in place and the borders closed until May 11. Besides, there would be no swift return to normality. Macron also said we will have several months to live with the virus.
In Portugal, Prime Minister António Costa warned in a press conference Wednesday that normality wouldn’t return. Not until a vaccine is available to the general public. Thus, May and June should be months of transition towards a gradual de-escalation, with the conscience that de-escalation does not mean, for a long time, returning to normality.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez told parliament Wednesday that the return to normality will be slow and gradual, because it has to be secure. Earlier this month he warned that only a vaccine would provide a path back to normality.
In Italy, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, told parliament on Tuesday italian people have to maintain and respect, on all levels, the measures of social distancing. Besides, he stated that it was necessary to promote the general use of individual protective equipment. At least until there are vaccines and treatments available.
With all that being said, it is possible to see that Europe realizes social distancing is here to stay. Although some countries are preparing to return to activities, the “normal” will not be exactly “normal”. Restrictions on outdoor activities may still persist. Schools may reopen in stages. Meetings in bars or public events are likely to remain banned or restricted for some time.