Across the continent, Europeans are faced with a barrage of restrictions on their freedoms as authorities struggle to stop the spread of the new corona virus. BBC correspondents describe the challenges in the cities in which they live.
The Spaniards are doing their best in an exacerbating crisis
Fear and insecurity have encouraged residents to largely adhere to a national ban, which means that they cannot leave without a valid reason.
Madrid is at the heart of the Spanish pandemic. With about half of the country’s deaths, hotels and a huge conference center were turned into makeshift hospitals, and an ice rink was turned into a mortuary.
A few shoppers go in and out of supermarkets and stay 1m apart at the checkout. Only one or two customers can enter pharmacies at the same time, so that queues of masked people meander onto the street.
The police enforced the restrictions and fined thousands of people. However, the response was mostly positive and the hashtag #QuedateEnCasa (stay at home) stimulated the imagination. A wealth of specially created online activities have emerged to make the restriction more bearable for parents and children.
Grandparents play a major role in childcare in Spain and there is widespread compassion that they cannot be with their grandchildren.
Every evening at eight o’clock, the Spaniards greet healthcare workers fighting the virus.
The Eternal City fell silent when the disaster struck Italy
I look out of my window to see how long the queue for the supermarket next door is. If there are more than 10 people, it can take half an hour to get in one after the other. How it happens is shorter, so I push down.
It is calm and tidy. People talk while waiting and share surreal experiences. There is no hoarding or panic buying. The toilet paper shelves have some gaps, but everything is still available.
Trams and buses still run outside – but they are almost empty. Rome’s cobbled streets are pretty deserted. The movement is limited to urgent medical or professional needs. The police check the papers on site to justify why people are not there. I was stopped while running and said I could only train 300 meters from my home. It is reminiscent of curfews during the war.
Tourist attractions are silent. In a way, it is a privilege to see the beauties of Rome so calmly – if it weren’t for the catastrophic circumstances that made them so.
France finds its collective spirit
As the eye of this storm moves across eastern France, officials are rushing to catch up with the wave: an emergency puzzle about intensive care beds and face masks for medical personnel; Tightening social restrictions is seen as the main obstacle to disasters.
Joggers can train no more than 1 km from home, no more than an hour, no more than once a day.
Hundreds of thousands of police officers have been deployed to enforce the rules, and there is a six-month prison sentence for those who repeatedly violate the rules.
A friend told me how a neighbor was punished for sitting in her car next to her husband. My camera team and I were stopped near the BBC office – the rules had changed and we now needed permission to film.
Each time the quarantine is tightened, the pressure increases by another level. And yet there is something else that shows up in the small everyday rooms of the lock.
My husband and I regularly ask ourselves who should take out the garbage, but now I see myself taking advantage of a few seconds’ opportunity. A worldly task that has turned into a rare treat.
The queue for my local supermarket is now winding around the block every day. And yet I had more conversations there, met more people, felt the collective spirit more than ever before.
The Germans maintain freedom in the open
“I have a whole range of toilet paper if you want it!” the delivery man chuckled as I passed my small supermarket. It was impossible to find and pasta and flour shelves are always empty. Berliners have to bake a lot at home.
You are probably jogging a lot. The conditions for blocking Germany differ slightly from state to state, but all allow national obsession with fresh air. People can leave their homes as long as they are with members of their own household.
You can meet another person to take a breath, do sports or chat – of course at a distance of 1.5 m. This is important in this city of residential buildings.
The number of infections is increasing. Many of those tested so far were young and fit, some have returned from skiing holidays in Austria and Italy. Virologists speculate that this may be the reason for the relatively small number of deaths. But they bleakly warn that it will rise.
Challenge of the densely populated Netherlands
Schiphol Airport near Amsterdam was incredibly quiet when I returned there with my three-year-old from Scotland just as the crisis started to affect every aspect of life.
During our absence, one parent in my daughter’s kindergarten in The Hague tested positive for coronavirus, so I had my daughter with me and worked from home.
How do you keep your distance in one of the smallest and most densely populated countries in the world?
It’s a challenge 17.2 million people in the Netherlands have been asked to join the “group (or herd)) immunity” strategy – to cocoon the most vulnerable while trying to control the spread of the virus.
The trams are mostly empty, cannabis cafes are just takeaway, and now the council has told people not to visit the forest or the sand dunes. For my daughter there is no swimming, ballet, game dates or trips to the park.
Anger and generosity in the Hungarian capital
By Nick Thorpe, correspondent for the BBC Budapest
The mood in this city of rebels and cafes is bad. Cafés are closed and people are standing a meter apart in the swirling snow in front of post offices, bakeries and pharmacies.
“My children think I’m home, but in fact I’m going shopping,” an older lady confided to her friend on bus 27.
“You told me to stay home, but I don’t like the food they bring me.”
The Budapest Bike Maffia, a group of citizens on wheels, has launched a vitamin boom campaign in which warm food and vitamins are distributed to homeless shelters.
The health crisis resurrected old borders
The spread of the pandemic has led to a diplomatic dispute between Slovenia and neighboring Serbia over the plight of more than 100 Serbian citizens.
They work in Slovenia, but remain Serbian residents. And when Serbia closed its borders last Friday, they stayed stranded – some slept in their cars.
Despite the conflict, both countries face a similar challenge. The Slovenes only have to look across the border into Italy to see how serious this pandemic can get. The Serbs are all too aware of the limitations of their health care.
The Slovenes usually throw themselves into activities such as skiing, snowshoeing and ice climbing. But winter sports have been canceled and the streets of Ljubljana are so quiet that birdsong is often the loudest sound.
In Serbia, disregard for self-isolation and quarantine orders has led to increasingly restrictive curfews.
Watch quarantine in the Austrian capital
Most Austrians are currently self-isolating after stringent controls were imposed by the government in mid-March. You are only allowed to leave the house to do important work, buy groceries or help others.
But I can’t leave the house at all.
I recently returned from work in Italy and have to stay two weeks.
I tried to get a supply of supplies, but all deliveries are booked out for several weeks, so I rely on friendly friends who bring me food.
The streets are unusually calm. I have become very aware that church bells ring every hour on the hour throughout the day.
And every night a saxophonist plays Moon River and Summertime from his window.
Is Sweden ready for social distancing?
The view from my top floor apartment in the south of Stockholm has hardly changed since the crisis began. Young children wear warm jackets in the playground; Commuters wait for reduced services at the bus stop; My local pizzeria is still popular with customers.
Coronavirus deaths in Sweden are lower than many European neighbors, and the authorities have made it clear that they want to slow the virus down in a calm and controlled manner. Major events are prohibited and secondary schools and universities are closed.
The Swedes were advised to work from home, avoid unnecessary travel and stop visiting older relatives. Restaurants and bars have been instructed to offer table service (or take-out) to prevent people from lingering over counters.
I have friends who have volunteered to isolate themselves for a week, even though they show no symptoms, while others have caught the train to the ski areas.
More than half of Stockholmers live alone, but even the most introverted of my acquaintances are afraid of growing loneliness if the government imposes stricter rules.
The Finns are fighting to give up outdoor life
People here joke that social isolation is not a problem since the Finns live that way anyway.
But not enough of them actually do it compared to the crowded running track in Toolonlahti Bay over the weekend.
The Finns were first told to isolate themselves as much as possible. Schools, cultural and sports facilities were closed and entry and exit to Finland was restricted.
But so many people traveled north to ski areas in Lapland that the slopes were closed.
Now the government has gone further and sealed off the southern region of Uusimaa, where a third of the Finnish population lives, and the capital, Helsinki.
Most cases of Finnish corona virus are here and social isolation has suddenly become more serious.