POLITICS & INSTITUTIONS - ECONOMY

Phase 1 of deconfinement starts 20 April



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Luxembourg prime minister Xavier Bettel is pictured in a press briefing on Wednesday 15 April. Photo: SIP/Emmanuel Claude 

Luxembourg national day will be a quiet occasion this year as festivals, cultural and sporting events will not resume until 31 July. Meanwhile, the first deconfinement phase will begin Monday, when people will be obliged to wear masks or alternative mouth coverings when visiting shops and construction sites and hardware shops open again for business.

In a televised briefing one month after confinement began, Luxembourg prime minister Xavier Bettel (DP) announced decisions taken by the government earlier in the day.

Starting 20 April the following will happen:

Construction sites and all associated business activity will reopen with stringent measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus;

home improvement or “bricolage” shops will reopen with strict hygiene measures;

gardeners, landscapers and plant shops will be allowed to reopen;

recycling centres will gradually reopen;

residents will be obliged to wear a mask or alternative mouth covering when entering a place where they may come within two metres of another person not from their household ie a shop or pharmacy, on public transport or at a work meeting.

Where do I get a mask?

Xavier Bettel said the government has a stock of 7 million protective masks that will be distributed to residents and people working in Luxembourg in the coming weeks in starter kits”. A mouth covering, he said, could also be a scarf, an elasticated “buff” neck tube. He said it would not be necessary to wear them when out walking in the forest, for example, only when coming into close proximity to other people.

Education

Education centres will reopen in a phased approached, full details for which will be announced by the education minister at a press conference at 2pm on Thursday. The conference will be televised in Luxembourgish with simultaneous interpretation in French on the government website.

On Wednesday, Bettel announced higher education and the final year of high school will return on 4 May. All other year groups will open in phases 2 and 3 as outlined below.

Phased reopening

20 April marks the first phase in a staggered “deconfinement” strategy as outlined above.

Phase 2 will begin on 11 May, lasting two weeks, with the gradual reopening of secondary schools. Students will be separated into two groups, which will alternate weeks in school, to limit contact as much as possible.

Phase 3 will begin 25 May, lasting two weeks, when primary schools, crèches and after-school clubs will reopen. Primary school pupils will be divided into two groups and alternate attendance in the same way as secondary schools.

What about shops and restaurants?

The government is to reassess the reopening of other venues after 11 May. It has developed a monitoring system in relation to the number of cases and intensive care beds.

Other measures could be announced on 11 May, Bettel said, depending on the evolution of the situation in Luxembourg. Social distancing measures remain in place until further notice.

What is the situation in Luxembourg?

Health minister Paulette Lenert (LSAP) said the figures were starting to fall. “During the last five days we clearly see the bed occupation in hospital numbers is eased.” Nevertheless, latest government figures for Wednesday show that 68 people have died from covid-19, “a lot for a small country like ours,” the minister said. A further 185 people have been discharged from hospital. Lenert said that Luxembourg was not yet through the danger and social distancing measures and confinement were still essential. She said the first wave is now behind us, however “What we want is to strengthen our solidarity through routine and measures to avoid a second wave.”