Nurseries and primary and secondary schools in France will begin to re-open on 11 May as part of President Emmanuel Macron’s plans to jump-start the country’s economy following weeks of nationwide lockdowns.

Having set out plans to gradually lift restrictions enforced in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, France, which went into lockdown on March 17, will join European neighbour Denmark in permitting day care centres and schools to once again open their doors. From 15 April, Danish children aged 11 and under will be able to return to schools and nurseries, after a month of closures.

While children in France will gradually be allowed to return to schools and nurseries, universities will remain closed but students can continue classes online, Macron said.

Macron’s announcement was made on the same day that Spain, one of Europe’s hardest-hit countries, loosened coronavirus restrictions by allowing worked in “non-essential” industries such as construction to return to work after a two-week ban. Spain has not yet permitted schools and nurseries to re-open.

According to the Financial Times, Brussels is expected to publish an EU-wide blueprint for lifting restrictions – a plan that will call for a coordinated response from member states.

Government ministers in the UK, whose Prime Minister Boris Johnson was hospitalised after contracting Covid-19, are this week expected to extend nationwide lockdown measures that have forced nurseries, schools, universities and other education centres to close.

Some countries, including the United Arab Emirates, have ordered schools to remain closed for the remainder of the academic year – regardless of whether wider restrictions are relaxed.