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European Union Releases Coronavirus Exit Roadmap

The European Union (EU) on Wednesday released a guidance roadmap for European countries in their efforts to ease COVID-19 containment measures.

EU officials also cautioned, however, that the guidance is not a signal that containment measures should be lifted immediately. "These measures need additional time to show their full effect," the European Commission, which is the EU’s executive arm, wrote in the document.

Instead, officials indicated that following a series of general principles will help the 27-nation bloc avoid complete chaos when loosening restrictions. “While there is no one-size-fits-all approach, at a minimum member states should notify each other and the Commission in due time before they lift measures and take into account their views,” the Commission wrote.

The roadmap guidance suggests that countries should make sure there has been a significant decrease in coronavirus cases for a sustained period before relaxing restrictions. Countries should also ensure that they have enough health care system capacity, and widespread testing capacity, before easing containment measures.

The guidance also emphasizes that countries should rely on expertise shared by scientists at the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control when developing national exit strategies in the months to come.

At the time of the roadmap’s release, several European countries, including Denmark, Austria, and the Czech Republic, have already started loosening their lockdowns. In Austria and the Czech Republic, some stores are permitted to resume business. In Denmark, daycare centers and primary schools are set to reopen Wednesday.

On the other hand, France has renewed its lockdown until May 11, and Spain recently renewed its state of emergency for an additional two weeks.

Some 80,000 people have now died in Europe from the disease, according to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control.

For more COVID-19 coverage, see ASIS International’s Disease Outbreak: Security Resources page.