European status on plans to ease restrictions
Most European countries have been setting out tentative plans to ease lockdowns imposed to combat the spread of the potentially deadly COVID-19 virus.

The aim is to restart economies rapidly devastated by the sudden shutdowns brought in to curb infection and death rates, protect health services -- and give people hope that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Some countries have already started the process, while others -- notably the UK -- remain cautious about setting dates in the face of high casualty figures. Everywhere, there is concern about a possible second wave of COVID-19 cases, with even more damaging effects.

The measures imposed to various degrees across the continent have drastically restricted freedom of movement and outlawed public gatherings. Although health policy is a matter for individual EU states, the European Union has urged a coordinated approach as constraints are eased.

Here is a look at the state of play in a selection of European countries, both in and outside the EU.

The tiny landlocked nation wedged between France and Spain adopted a unique system as it began easing lockdown restrictions. Those who live in even-numbered homes are allowed to go out on even dates, while those who reside in odd-numbered homes on all other days.

Austria was due to start easing its lockdown measures on May 1, the government said earlier.

Restaurants will reopen from May 15, followed by hotels from May 29.

The country is one of the first in Europe to reopen its economy. Some shops were allowed to reopen after Easter.

From May 4, non-essential shops and businesses will be allowed to open progressively. People will be able to visit the coast and Ardennes forests from May 18. Bars and restaurants will start reopening from June 8.

But mass events such as music festivals will not happen until at least September.

Czech Republic
Some businesses and stores have been allowed to reopen, including Skoda which has restarted car production. Meanwhile gatherings of up to 10 people are being allowed, compared to two under earlier rules.

Small businesses were allowed to reopen from April 20, on condition they adhered to strict hygiene regulations.

The second phase of easing restrictions is scheduled to take place after May 10.

The country was among the first in Europe to impose lockdown measures, less stringent than in some other nations.

The first phase of "de-confinement" will last three weeks and run until June 2.

Social gatherings up to a maximum of 10 people will be allowed. But larger events look set to be banned for several months and the French football season has been cancelled.

Smaller shops have been allowed to reopen while respecting social distancing measures, as have other businesses such as car dealers and bicycle shops.

Germany has also extended a worldwide travel warning until mid-June.

Outdoor individual sports will be permitted again from May 4, and bookshops, hair salons and electronic stores will reopen. Working hours will be staggered to reduce interaction.

Restaurants, hotels and shopping centres won`t be allowed to open until June 1.

Hungary`s Prime Minister Viktor Orban says countryside stores would be able to extend opening hours, and cafés and restaurants would be able to reopen terraces and gardens.

Measures allowing only people over 65 to shops in food stores and pharmacies in the morning will remain in place.

Ireland’s Taoiseach announced an extension of the country’s coronavirus restrictions to May 18 on Friday (May 1). “We need two more weeks of tight restrictions to weaken the virus further,” Leo Varadkar said.

Varadkar said that starting May 18, the country plans to reopen the economy in five stages, should the virus stay under control, with the last stage planned for August.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte laid out a timetable on April 26 for reopening the country`s economy.

If all goes well, retails shops can reopen on May 18, with restaurants, cafés, barber shops and hair salons following on June 1.

The Lithuanian government has extended the nationwide coronavirus lockdown until May 11.

However, it has given the green light for museums, libraries, outdoor cafes, hairdressers and beauty salons, and retail stores in shopping malls to reopen.

The Dutch government has taken the first tentative steps in relaxing its coronavirus containment measures.

The Netherlands has been in what Rutte calls an "intelligent lockdown" since mid-March that closed down schools, restaurants, bars and museums but stopped short of ordering people in this nation of 17 million to stay home.

Shopping centres and hotels across Poland will be able to reopen on May 4, with schools and kindergartens to follow two days later.

Portuguese military units have joined forces with secondary schools in preparation for the possible resumption of classes in May.

More relaxed controls on population movement and self-isolation rules are expected to be announced as the outbreak ebbs.

The strict lockdown in place since mid-March is to be eased in four phases, with each stage to last for at least two weeks and conditional on progress.

In phase one beginning on May 4, small shops, hotels and tourist accommodation will be able to reopen. Larger shopping centres will remain closed. It will apply to most of mainland Spain, but not immediately in the Balearics, Canaries and other islands.

Phase two will loosen restrictions on restaurants and smaller cultural events, subject to conditions.

The government has advised Swedes to work from home when possible and avoid crowded places.

Meanwhile, gatherings of more than 50 people are banned and some social distancing measures have been implemented.

Switzerland`s Federal Council has announced that shops, restaurants, museums, libraries, and schools will be allowed to reopen their doors on May 11. A vastly expanded reopening will follow on June 8.

Public gatherings will still be restricted to five people so restaurants that reopen will need to ensure a distance of at least two metres between tables.

United Kingdom
Boris Johnson says he will present his lockdown exit strategy for the United Kingdom in the first week of May, giving details of how the economy can be restarted, schools reopened and travel restrictions lifted.

The government has been under pressure -- not least from within the ruling Conservative Party -- to reveal a detailed exit plan from the lockdown imposed on March 23, amid widespread damage to the economy. But ministers and officials have warned against "throwing away" the progress made.

Most shops and public venues have been closed, and gatherings of more than two people are banned, other than with those they live with. People can only leave homes for reasons deemed essential, or to take exercise.