In April 2020, the President of the European Council and the President of the European Commission adopted the Joint European Roadmap towards lifting covid-19 containment measures, as a response to the European Council Members’ call for a coordinated exit strategy from containment measures that will prepare the ground for a recovery plan.
The Roadmap sets out recommendations to Member States, with the goal of preserving public health while gradually lifting containment measures to restart community life and economy. In doing so, it gives voice to the Member States’ prerogatives without underestimating the need to coordinate their action throughout the initiatives put in place by the European Commission.
The Roadmap identifies three criteria (i.e. epidemiological criteria, sufficient health system capacity and appropriate monitoring capacity) relevant for Member States to assess the opportunity to relax confinement.
Furthermore, recognizing that de-escalating from the Covid-19 measures in a coordinated manner is a matter of European interest, the Roadmap affirms three basic principles aimed at guiding the EU and Member States’ strategies:
- Action should be based on science and have public health at its centre
- Action should be coordinated between the Member States
- Respect and solidarity between Member States remains essential
The Roadmap thus sets out the following recommendations to Member States:
- Action will be gradual, as measures will be lifted in different steps and sufficient time should be left between the steps;
- General measures should progressively be replaced by targeted ones;
- The lifting of measures should start with a local impact and be gradually extended to measures with a broader geographic coverage, taking into account national specificities;
- A phased approach for the opening of internal and external borders is needed, eventually restoring the normal functioning of the Schengen area;
- The re-start of the economic activity should be phased in, thus ensuring that authorities and businesses can adequately adjust to increasing activities in a safe way;
- Gatherings of people should be progressively permitted. When reflecting on the most appropriate sequencing, Member States should focus on the specificities of different categories of activity;
- Efforts to prevent the spread of the virus (including awareness campaigns encouraging the population to keep up hygiene practices, social distancing guidelines and the use of facemasks) should be sustained;
- Action should be continuously monitored and preparedness developed for returning to stricter containment measures as necessary, in case of an excessive rise in infection rates, including the evolution of the spread internationally.