Europe

Shoppers flocked back to stores on Monday as Chancellor Angela Merkel warned that exiting lockdowns too fast could jeopardize the country’s progress in curtailing the coronavirus pandemic.

For a look at how hard it is to press “play” on a Western economy still battling the new coronavirus, turn to Europe, which is freeing its shops and small businesses in stages, easing a continentwide lockdown that has kept nearly half a billion people at home.

Soaring borrowing costs of heavily indebted eurozone countries such as Italy is raising fresh questions about the European Central Bank’s ability to absorb the deep economic pain wrought by the new coronavirus epidemic.

After a month under partial lockdown, Europe’s largest economy will begin reopening early next week, Chancellor Angela Merkel said, warning that the easing of curbs would occur slowly and remained vulnerable to setbacks.

European Union officials predicted a “very long” exit from the coronavirus crisis as they set out recommendations for ending lockdowns and asked governments to coordinate reopening their economies.

Newly published figures show deaths linked to the coronavirus in the U.K. have far exceeded preliminary estimates, adding to growing evidence across Europe that daily death tallies don’t reveal the virus’s true toll.

France said its nationwide lockdown would continue into mid-May, as Italy and Spain—two of the hardest-hit countries—signaled many curbs on their populations would remain in place as the spread of the virus slows.

Officials worked through deep differences to agree to a package of measures totaling half a trillion euros aimed at blunting the coronavirus crisis, officials said. But a bigger conflict over whether to share the costs was deferred.

As job losses ricochet across the U.S., Europe is conducting an unprecedented experiment in navigating the economic fallout from the new coronavirus: Persuade companies to forgo layoffs by subsidizing private-sector wages on a massive scale.

Germany struck a deal with China to receive large-scale shipments of supplies the country needs in its battle against the coronavirus pandemic amid a global crunch in the market for medical equipment.

Italy, Austria and Denmark are among the first countries to plot the gradual unwinding of their lockdowns against the coronavirus epidemic. Their experiences will show the path ahead for hundreds of millions of other Europeans living under social-distancing restrictions.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, fighting a serious coronavirus infection, was admitted to the intensive-care unit of a London hospital, leaving his country’s leadership in question at a moment of deep crisis as the virus’s spread accelerates.

Senior-citizen residences in Spain have emerged as a major source of infection and deaths from Covid-19 in a country with the world’s second-highest death toll from the disease after Italy and one of the fastest-growing outbreaks.

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