Europe slowly emerges from coronavirus lockdown as France and Holland become the latest to reopen schools

FRANCE and Holland are to re-open schools after weeks of lockdowns amid the coronavirus crisis.

French primary school pupils will return to school on May 11 for lessons restricted to around 15 children per class.

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Youngsters across Holland will also be allowed to return to lessons from May 11 but only on a part-time basis.

Older children in France can return on May 18 if schools have met strict health conditions set out by the state.

The government said any arrangements would now be discussed with the local authorities, unions and parents.

Dutch PM Mark Rutte said younger pupils will at first return to their lessons but only on a 'part-time' basis.

High schools in Holland have now been told to be ready to reopen by June 2.

The news comes as it was revealed Italy is hoping  to start easing its lockdowns from May 4.

However any changes will be cautious and calculated, warned Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.

The country has been the hardest hit in Europe with more than 24,100 people losing their lives.

“I wish I could say: let’s reopen everything. Immediately. We start tomorrow morning … But such a decision would be irresponsible,” Conte wrote on Facebook.

He promised “a serious, scientific plan” which would include a “rethinking of modes of transport” to enable workers to travel safely.

“It is reasonable to expect that we will apply it from May 4,” Conte wrote.

Germany has already reopened a number of non-essential shops after the country following a drop in deaths.

For the first time in weeks, some regions allowed shops to reopen on Monday.

Stores smaller than 8,600 sq ft were allowed to welcome customers again as long as they adhere to the social distancing measures.

We have already reported how Austria has begun lifting its strict lockdown after certain shops were given the green light to re-open.

However, tourists will only be allowed back into the country by the summer – and this might not even include Brit holidaymakers.

The country was one of the few in Europe to enforce the harsh lockdown rules during the pandemic.

Face masks are mandatory when visiting supermarkets and small shops were only allowed to open again last week.

Meanwhile, Spain has now backed down on a controversial decision to stop children enjoying a walk with their parents.

Health Minister Salvador Illa countered a wave of criticism by confirming under 14s would be able to go for a stroll with their mums and dads from this Sunday.

The U-turn came after his government was labelled a “joke” by Spaniards.

They have been prevented from leaving home since mid-March when Spain’s state of emergency began.

Mr Illa, confirming walks would be allowed, said the government had “listened” to the criticism.

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