Responding to the call of the European Council of March 26th, the Commission, in cooperation with the President of the European Council, has put forward a joint European roadmap towards lifting coronavirus containment measures, taking into account the expertise of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, the Commission’s Advisory Panel on COVID-19, experience of Member States and guidance from the World Health Organization. Here are its recommendations:
1. Action will be gradual, and sufficient time should be left between the steps to measure effect over time.
2. General measures should progressively be replaced by targeted ones, i.e. most vulnerable groups should be protected for longer; diagnosed people should remain quarantined and treated adequately, etc.
3. The lifting of measures should start with those with a local impact and be gradually extended to measures with a broader geographic coverage, taking into account national specificities.
4. A phased approach for the opening of our internal and external borders is needed, eventually restoring the normal functioning of the Schengen area.
5. The re-start of the economic activity should be phased in – not all the population should go back to the workplace at the same time, with an initial focus on less endangered groups and essential economic sectors.
6. Gatherings of people should be progressively permitted, taking into account the specificities of different categories of activity (schools and universities, commercial activity, social activity, mass gatherings, etc.).
7. Efforts to prevent the spread of the virus should be sustained, with awareness campaigns to encourage the population to keep up the strong hygiene practices and social distancing.
8. Measures should be continuously monitored and a certain readiness should be developed, as there is a risk of a strong resurgence and a return to strict containment measures. This is particularly important for health care systems.
Furthermore, the Commission announced that it will develop a recovery plan, based on a revamped proposal for the next long-term EU budget (Multiannual Financial Framework) and including an updated Commission Work Programme for 2020.