Governments around the world have different approaches on how to begin easing their Covid-19 lockdowns.
Originally imposed to stem the spread of the disease, there are fears that continued strict social-distancing risks a backlash from those forced to live with tight restrictions and will do lasting damage to economies.
While some countries have announced ways their lockdowns may be relaxed in the weeks to come, governments and health experts warn it must be done in a way that avoids a sudden resurgence in the spread of Covid-19.
In China - where this coronavirus first emerged - the authorities have begun easing restrictions gradually. People were allowed to leave Wuhan, the centre of the pandemic, for the first time yesterday, as long as they had a "green code" on an official phone app. As infection rates dropped last month officials started to allow people out of their homes for two hours a day. In other regions and cities, where the outbreak was less severe, the majority of shops, restaurants and workplaces have begun to reopen, although there are fears of a second wave of cases as people return to work.
Singapore cases: 1623. Deaths: 7.
Taiwan cases: 379. Deaths: 5
Taiwan and Singapore were praised for their containment, but infections have spiked in recent weeks as citizens return from the US and Europe. Both limited travel and enforced social distancing, with Singapore this week banning social gatherings after last week closing schools and most workplaces for a month. Taiwan has not had even partial lockdown, relying on early detection of imported cases. But the throngs of people at tourist destinations over the recent long weekend scared authorities into issuing tougher rules. A team of academics at the National Taiwan University has suggested it would be more effective to contain neighbourhoods rather than ordering a blanket lockdown of an entire city.
The national lockdown ends on Easter Monday, but is almost certain to be extended. However, there is speculation that as the number of deaths and infections dips the Government might allow a few key industries and businesses to reopen with strict conditions. Under an exit strategy, offices and shops could reopen but not bars, gyms, restaurants, nightclubs, cinemas and theatres. Schools might stay closed until September. There would be widespread testing of people as well as tracing of those who might have been newly infected. In Brescia, a northern city hit hard by Covid-19, it was suggested younger people should return to work soonest. That could help restart the 70 per cent of businesses that were shut down. But experts are extremely cautious, warning that if the lockdown is relaxed too quickly, infections could flare.
Extending the strict lockdown through a sixth week until April 26, Pedro Sánchez, the Prime Minister, warned the restrictions would not end there. The high plateau at which the daily death rate has settled - more than 700 yesterday and today - means the return to normality will have to be phased and highly controlled. A 10-day measure to keep non-essential workers at home lapses today, meaning building sites, factories and call centres will start to operate again. Spanish families suffer the strictest rules in Europe, with not even children allowed out. A survey of 146,000 people found 44 per cent were happy to spend another month indoors, with 21 per cent prepared to last three months. Spain will start mass testing to check for herd immunity from next week. Areas with sufficient herd immunity will be able to relax social-distancing measures earlier than others.
The Government downplayed hopes of existing restrictions being eased soon, with Angela Merkel, the Chancellor, saying it would be "irresponsible" to give a date for them to end. However, authorities are examining ways of lifting the lockdown through technology. One solution could involve using an app to monitor who individuals have been in contact with, so as to alert them to the need for testing.
Austria said this week it was turning a corner and would start reopening more shops after Easter. Sebastian Kurz, the Chancellor, outlined plans to return to normal life while avoiding the risk of a fresh surge. Small non-essential and DIY stores will open on April 14, followed by all shops, malls and hairdressers on May 1. Schools will stay closed indefinitely.
The number of hospital admissions and deaths stabilised in the past week, after Denmark's early closure of schools, restaurants, cafés, gyms and the nation's borders. Day care centres and schools can reopen on April 15 as a first step to gradually easing the lockdown, but Mette Frederiksen, the Prime Minister, said it would be "one cautious step at a time".
There is unlikely to be any easing of restrictions for several weeks. President Donald Trump said federal social distancing guidelines would remain until at least the end of April, but he is keen to reopen the economy. He has floated the idea of a staggered return to work, suggesting "large sections" of the country not affected by the virus could be asked to get back to work. However, state governors have put stay home orders in most states preventing many businesses from reopening, and it will be up to each state when they decide to lift those restrictions. Trump is being lobbied by US airlines hit by travel bans and has talked about protecting firms like Boeing. But officials warn they will not lift restrictions to European countries until they "recover from the effects of the virus".
After initially struggling to cope with the rapid spread of the virus, Iran is seeing the number of new cases fall. Hassan Rouhani, the President, announced that "low-risk" business activity will resume from this weekend. Outside of Tehran, the worst hit area, government employees will return, but schools, universities and events are still suspended until at least April 18.