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EU plans science-based, coordinated lifting of lockdowns

Image: Etienne Ansotte, European Union 2019

A lack of coordination on Covid-19 would have negative consequences, EU leaders warn

EU leaders have put forward a ‘roadmap’ for national governments to work from regarding when and how to lift restrictions put in place to manage the Covid-19 pandemic, stressing that such moves must be coordinated and “based on science”.

“Saving lives and protecting Europeans from the coronavirus is our number one priority,” said European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen (pictured). “At the same time, it is time to look ahead and to focus on protecting livelihoods.”

The roadmap, published on 15 April, says national governments must consider three sets of criteria when assessing whether to lift restrictions on people’s movements and activities: measures of disease spread, health system capacity and monitoring capacity.

Member states will lift restrictions at different times, but because Covid-19 and its effects on health, trade, transport and other areas cross borders, governments need to tell each other and the European Commission what they are doing and when, the roadmap says.

“Returning to normality after the corona lockdowns will require a carefully coordinated and European approach between member states, based on science and in the spirit of solidarity,” said health commissioner Stella Kyriakides.

Governments should also work together on collecting and reporting data on virus spreading and immunity, contact tracing, and ramping up testing, according to the roadmap.

It says the Commission is presenting guidelines on the performance of different Covid-19 tests and will “facilitate the compilation of all relevant scientific studies and act as a single contact point to make emerging data and results accessible” as well as establishing a network of reference laboratories.