As the number of new cases falls, many leaders are easing coronavirus restrictions worldwide. While some fear it’s too soon, most countries welcome the end of isolation.
Coronavirus Restrictions Easing Across The Globe
World Health Organisation Guidelines
Before countries lift restrictions, the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends the following:
- The transmission of COVID-19 must be under control.
- Health systems should have the ability to test, treat, trace, and isolate COVID-19 infections.
- Appropriate measures to reduce the risk for vulnerable groups like the elderly must be in place.
- Schools and workplaces must establish preventative measures.
- Communities must be willing to make the necessary changes to comply with the rules and enforce preventative measures.
- Borders must have the ability to detect and manage suspected cases from abroad.
While these guidelines may be useful, the WHO urges people to remain cautious. Reducing restrictions too soon can lead to a new flood of infections.
How Coronavirus Restrictions Are Changing
From schools reopening to returning to work, countries are taking their first steps to end restrictions.
Italy imposed strict lockdown regulations, including a ban on exercising more than 200m away from home. Traveling to other regions are still banned, but people may visit relatives. Restaurants and bars will sell takeaway meals from the start of June, but schools won’t reopen until September
After a four week lockdown, Germany started easing restrictions at the end of April. Most stores open at the beginning of May. Young students and students taking exams returned to school, but other students will gradually return to school throughout the semester.
Likewise, Spain will allow students to take exams near the end of May, but will only fully reopen in September. Theatres, exhibitions, and churches will open in the coming weeks but will limit capacity.
In France, shops may open, but restaurants and bars will remain closed.
To prevent further unemployment, Russia is easing its nationwide lockdown from 12 May. While manufacturing and construction industries are reopening, many employees are encouraged to work from home. Moscow, the country’s hardest-hit city, will stay under lockdown until the end of May.
Lifting Coronavirus Restrictions in the US
After weeks of strict social distancing and stay-at-home directives, government officials are rolling out plans to return daily life to normal.
Like most countries, America is embracing a gradual transition with different reopening phases after lockdown. And as with lockdown regulations, every state has a different reopening plan, but overall, here’s what you can expect.
Phase 1: Flatten the curve
The first phase implemented in the fight against the coronavirus includes staying at home, except for essential trips. All non-essential industries closed, and all gatherings restricted.
Phase 2: Easing restrictions
Many states are gradually moving to phase 2, which should last a few weeks but may last longer.
Businesses that are considered low-risk for spreading the virus may be allowed to open, such as manufacturers and construction sites. Some states will allow shopping malls to open, but strict physical distancing protocols will remain in place when indoors.
Phase 3: Reopening close contact businesses and resuming activities
Once testing becomes widely available and the risk of a second wave of infections assessed, all businesses and activities could return to normal.
The restriction of large gatherings may remain in place longer, but gyms, churches, and theatres may resume operations during phase 3.
Phase 4: Vaccination and herd immunity
The coronavirus restrictions aim to reach a point where most people have some level of resistance to infection. The two main approaches to achieve this is through vaccination or herd immunity.
Approximately 70% of the population needs to be exposed to the virus and build natural resistance for herd immunity to work. Like the seasonal flu and common cold, this may take years.
On the other hand, developing a vaccine may take months or possibly years.
Because plans to relax restrictions are still developing, some restrictions may only be lifted once safe and effective treatments become available.
For more information on restrictions in your area, check with local authorities.
Is It Too Soon To Lift Restrictions?
Some countries are ready to lift restrictions, but others may have to reevaluate current measures before moving forward.
So far, nations that imposed restrictions effectively, not only came through the worst of the crisis with better results but are also better prepared to lift restrictions.
Germany, South Korea, and New Zealand were quick to introduce preventative measures that some feel infringes on individual rights. However, these nations have lower mortality rates and seem to have contained the coronavirus outbreak well. They are also experiencing minimal complications as reopening moves forward.
In light of this, there may be some difficulties ahead for America. Apart from initially underestimating the severity of COVID-19, Americans are not as compliant as other nations.
By not implementing preventative measures early on, and not enforcing restrictions consistently, officials have possibly opened the door for future non-compliance.
If officials can overcome the initial setbacks and manage to reduce restrictions effectively, they can prevent a second wave of infection. If not, the second round of COVID-19 may be more devastating than the first.
For now, many countries, including America, are ready to return to normal. We don’t know enough about the new coronavirus to be sure of anything, but we can learn from other nations and monitor the situation for the best possible outcome.
What are your thoughts on lifting the coronavirus restrictions? Tell us in the comment section!