Weeks of lockdown due to the coronavirus have had serious consequences on tourism and the economy generally. But the hope of a return to normalcy is flashing in as countries around the world are gradually easing the lockdown – a proof of the various stages that different countries are in the pandemic phase. Whichever phase your country is, even if the lockdown is still strictly imposed in your own neighbourhood, we hope the reports from the following countries raises your hope that sooner than later, life will return to normal.


Ghana became the first African country to lift lockdown when President Nana Akufo-Addo on April 19 lifted a three-week lockdown in Accra, Kumasi and Kasoa. The president announced that nonessential businesses in the cities can re-open from Monday and residents can return to work but must continue to practice social distancing. The existing bans on public gatherings and school closure are still in place and Ghanaians were urged to wear masks when going outside and to continue adhering to social distancing measures in public places.


The month-long complete lockdown will be eased beginning on May 1. Some businesses will be allowed to reopen, and a third of their employees can return to work. Some schools will also reopen but with strict limits likely on class sizes. Cigarette sales will be permitted, exercise is to be allowed under strict guidelines, while public transport continues but passengers should wear masks. Shops and supermarkets will be allowed to sell more goods, mines will also be opened at reduced capacity. All gatherings, except funerals and for work, are still banned. Travel between South Africa’s provinces is still prohibited, and international flights are cancelled except for those repatriating citizens. Social distancing will also be enforced.


President Buhari on Monday announced measures to relax the lockdown in Nigeria. The measures include relaxing lockdown in Lagos, Ogun and Abuja effective from May 2, 2020, and replacing lockdown with nationwide overnight curfews.  Prohibition of passenger flights and on interstate movement, restrictions on large gatherings continue, while the use of face masks in public is now compulsory.


Lockdown will be lifted in phases in Botswana starting from May 1 President Mokgweetsi Masisi has announced.


Children are now allowed to leave their homes with an adult once per day. Spaniards will be allowed to leave their homes for short walks and exercise starting on 2 May, having previously only been permitted to go out for essential shopping or to go to work that cannot be done from home.


Some shops have been reopened but bars, restaurants, schools and many non-essential shops are closed. Public gatherings of more than five people remain banned. Reopening is to be done in stages over the coming weeks.
Authorities said all stores can reopen on 2 May, followed by restaurants in mid-May, provided the pandemic remains under control.


Switzerland is due to start relaxing its restrictions on 27 April with the reopening of hairdressers, florists, and garden centres. Then schools could reopen on 11 May. Bars and restaurants will remain closed until at least 8 June.


Seven weeks into Italy’s strict lockdown, Premier Giuseppe Conte has laid out a timetable for getting back to normal, announcing that factories, construction sites and wholesale supply businesses can resume activity. From 4 May, parks and gardens will reopen, funerals will be allowed, and people will be able to visit relatives in the same region. Stores and museums will open 18 May, and restaurants, cafes and salons on 1 June, he said.


Schools and public places such as libraries remain closed and there is a ban on public gatherings of more than 10
people until 13 May. Restaurants are to remain closed until the end of May, except for takeaways. This week it will be decided whether schools can reopen on 13 May and the ban on large events has been extended until the end of July.


Some non-essential shops have been allowed to reopen after nearly four weeks of closures. Masks are mandatory in shops and on public transport from Monday 27 April. Gatherings are still limited to no more than two people, bars and restaurants are closed and schools shut. Officials will review the situation again on 30 April.


Denmark has reopened schools for some children in certain year groups, while other students must continue to study from home. Gatherings of more than 10 people remain banned. Trades that have close physical contacts with customers remain closed. Restaurants and cafes can still only serve takeaway.


Universities will reopen this week. Earlier this month, restrictions on non-essential travel were lifted, as were restrictions on meetings of two to 10 people. Czechs have also been allowed to visit relatives or see doctors.


Last week, car service centres and certain shops reopened, and outdoor sports were allowed to resume. On 4 May, hairdressers and beauty parlours can reopen. People still need to wear face masks in an indoor public space. It has not been decided when schools, hotels, bars and restaurants could reopen.


Parks and forests were reopened last week and limits on the number of people in shops were eased. Schools are still closed and borders will remain closed until 3 May.


The Chinese city of Wuhan, where the pandemic started, said all major construction projects had resumed as authorities pushed to restart factory production and other economic activity after a two-and-a-half-month lockdown. The mayor has said the city aims to fully resume rail, flight and freight operations by the end of this month.


India has allowed the limited reopening of small shops with a 50% reduction in staff, physical distancing, and wearing masks and gloves during work. Larger shops are to reopen when the lockdown ends on 3 May.


Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said from Wednesday primary schools will reopen but attendance would be voluntary. Some business can reopen, including drive-through and delivery restaurants. Malls and retail stores will remain closed and large gatherings banned.


Donald Trump is preparing new guidelines allowing some states to quickly relax social distancing measures. The ultimate decisions will remain with governors.


Lockdown relaxation starts on 4 May with the return of non-essential treatment in hospitals and the reopening of textile and sewing shops to provide face masks. Bars and restaurants can start reopening on 8 June.


President Hassan Rouhani says Iran will be divided into white, yellow and red regions based on the number of infections and deaths. Activities in each region will be restricted accordingly. Iranians have returned to shops, bazaars and parks over the past week but the closure of schools, universities, and a ban on cultural, religious and sports gatherings has been extended.


Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to discuss plans for modifying – but not lifting – the lockdown, possibly before the 7 May deadline when the government is legally obliged to announce its next review of the rules.


Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said he will unveil the “national de-confinement strategy” on Tuesday.


A partial lockdown is in place until 4 May with the wearing of masks mandatory for people outside of their homes. There are signs the virus is growing in migrant worker communities.


Portugal’s infection cases curve has flattened but not enough for lockdown measures to be lifted and the economy to be reopened, government ministers have said. The measures are in place until at least 2 May.


Some of Canada’s 10 provinces have announced plans to gradually reopen their economies with social distancing and protective equipment in workplaces. The premier of Saskatchewan is planning to slowly restart the economy on 4 May. Ontario said on Sunday it was extending school closures until 29 May.


The states of Queensland and Western Australia will ease some restrictions this week. Western Australia will allow gatherings of up to 10 people, while Queensland has allowed picnics, shopping and drives of up to 30 miles from home. Queensland has also opened its national parks. The most populous states of Victoria and New South Wales are maintaining strict social and business restrictions.


Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is likely to postpone his announcement of a gradual relaxation of quarantine measures. This had been tentatively scheduled for Monday 27 April, but it will likely be postponed by at least one day.


Lockdowns are set to continue in the largest Brazilian cities and most states, with Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro extending social distancing measures.


Argentina has extended a mandatory nationwide quarantine period until 10 May.


Quarantining has been extended until 30 May and Mexico’s government has closed schools and non-essential businesses but it has not imposed a strict curfew, unlike some countries in Latin America.


Saudi Arabia has eased curfews across the country, while keeping 24-hour curfews in the city of Mecca and in neighbourhoods previously in isolation.


Some businesses have been allowed to reopen and officials will consider allowing children back to school as part of trial efforts.


Japan’s prime minister Shinzo Abe declared a state of emergency in seven prefectures on 7 April, which has since been extended across the country. Unlike compulsory lockdowns, however, social distancing in Japan is voluntary. Some businesses, such as gyms, have been asked to close but others, such as restaurants, remain open.


Russia has declared lockdowns across the country, including in the capital Moscow, where residents are only allowed to go out to buy food or medicines at their nearest shop, get urgent medical treatment, walk their dog, or take out rubbish. A digital permit is needed to go elsewhere. An update on the measures is expected this week.


The easing of lockdown notwithstanding, international tourism still have to wait as countries continue to suspend international travels till a Covid-19 vaccine is found, or when it is safe enough to start welcoming international tourists – something experts hope should not be so far away.

Credit: Philip Whiteside, Sky News


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