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European countries cautiously ease coronavirus restrictions

People toast as terraces reopened at midday in Utrecht, Netherlands, Wednesday, April 28, 2021.
People toast as terraces reopened at midday in Utrecht, Netherlands, Wednesday, April 28, 2021. Copyright Peter Dejong/AP
Copyright Peter Dejong/AP
By Euronews with AP
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France and Greece became the latest European countries on Monday to begin cautiously relaxing their lockdowns.

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Several European countries are cautiously starting to loosen COVID-19 restrictions, even as infection rates and intensive care occupancy remain high in many cases.

In France, a domestic travel ban was lifted on Monday as secondary and high school students returned to school for the first time in a month.

But a night-time curfew remained in place while the outdoor terraces of France's cafes and restaurants won't be allowed to reopen until May 19 along with museums, cinemas, theatres and concert halls --under certain conditions.

France is reporting about 22,000 new confirmed cases each day, down from about 40,000 earlier this month. 5,585 patients were still in intensive care on Sunday.

In Greece, several restrictions which have been in effect since November ended on Monday, with restaurants and cafes permitted to serve customers outdoors.

Tourism-related businesses and services are set to start operating again on May 15.

Hungary on Saturday loosened several COVID-19 restrictions for people with government-issued immunity cards.

Individuals with the plastic cards may enter indoor dining rooms, hotels, theatres, cinemas, spas, gyms, libraries, museums and other recreational venues.

Opening hours for businesses were extended to 11 pm and an overnight curfew in place since November will now start later, at midnight.

Italy began gradually reopening last week with students returning to schools, and museums and cinemas opening their doors.

On Saturday, many of the country's beach establishments were given the green light to open.

The Netherlands on Wednesday lifted a curfew that sparked rioting when it was introduced nationwide in January. Shoppers were allowed to visit non-essential stores without making an appointment first, though numbers were limited.

Bars and cafes were allowed to reopen their outdoor terraces for the first time in six months, but some owners weren't happy with the conditions they say will make it near impossible to turn a profit.

The terraces are only allowed to open between midday and 6 pm for a maximum of two socially distanced people per table unless they are from the same household.

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