Brussels (Brussels Morning) Eastern European countries are lifting coronavirus pandemic restrictions in response to popular demand, while ignoring warnings that such moves could cause a surge in infections, Bloomberg reports.
The gradual easing of restrictions varies across nations stretching from the Baltic to the Black Sea, with 9 of the 10 worst-ranking nations in terms of COVID-19 deaths being former Soviet satellites.
The Czech Republic did away with curfew and travel ban on Monday and re-opened primary schools for lower grades, while opting to keep most stores and restaurants closed.
Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš cautioned that “we are triggering the movement of a huge number of people so we really need to be careful”. He said he understood that “everybody is impatient and wants to return to normal as soon as possible”, but appealing to all “to be reasonable”.
Bulgaria decided to partly re-open bars, restaurants, concert halls, cinemas and theatres, but with restricted numbers of patrons allowed.
“We’re seeing the first steps toward the end of the third wave of the coronavirus in our country,” the country’s Minister of Health, Kostadin Angelov, said on Friday.
Hungary re-opened services and stores last week, and is currently implementing one of the fastest vaccination campaigns in the EU.
Slovenia scraps curfew
Slovenia re-opened most stores, schools and kindergartens on Monday, ending an 11-day lockdown, although Health Minister Janez Poklukar made clear “we are not out of the woods yet”.
The same day, Slovenia scrapped the curfew that has been in place since October last year. However, domestic travel restrictions remain in place.
Lithuania lifted domestic travel restrictions last week, but suspended an earlier plan to re-open shopping centres this week in response to growing infection numbers.
Poland is considering whether or not to extend restrictions beyond this week, whereas Romania has no plans to lift any restrictions before 1 June.