How other countries are emerging from lockdown as UK set to announce exit strategy

Boris Johnson is poised to reveal a plan for easing the UK coronavirus lockdown following seven weeks under the current rules.

The Prime Minister is expected to explain his “roadmap” for easing restrictions in an address to the nation on Sunday.

But he is not expected to relax the lockdown immediately – as the timing of his speech makes clear.

Under current plans, he’ll give his address three days after the lockdown has to be reviewed by law on May 7.

That suggests Mr Johnson will extend the lockdown for another three weeks this Thursday, perhaps with some minor changes, until the end of May.

In Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon today said that, although “real and significant progress” was being made, the rate of reproduction of the virus was still too high to alleviate lockdown measures.

A review is due to be held on Thursday this week, and the First Minister said it is “likely” that lockdown measures will continue.

She said that some work on a potential transition from lockdown will be published in the coming days.

Ms Sturgeon said work would be done to ensure there was alignment with the rest of the UK, but divergence in measures could still be possible.

As the UK awaits news later this week, the BBC looked at ways in which other countries have begun to ease lockdown.

People wearing protective face masks queue at Porta Palazzo market in Turin after it reopened with social distancing rules


Many are sceptical about social distancing being possible in schools, but Norway is attempting it.

The country has children arriving at staggered times so there is no overcrowding at the gates.

Parents are banned from entering the schools so that they do not group.

Teachers are then putting the pupils in groups which they must stay in without changing.

In France, schools are set to begin to open on May 11 with masks being compulsory for all students.

Class sizes will be kept to 15 students per class and distance learning will remain free for those students who stay home.

A school in Germany has welcomed back its pupils

Primary schools in England could be allowed to reopen as soon as June 1 under possible plans being discussed by Boris Johnson.

It is not expected to set out firm dates, but part of that plan is the “phased” reopening of schools – where ministers confirm some pupils will be sent back first, with others kept at home for longer.

Now Mr Johnson appears to have confirmed primary pupils could be the first to return. The risk from Covid-19 is thought to be the lowest in the youngest children.

The PM told the Sun on Sunday he wants primary schools reopened “as fast as we can” adding: “That’s where we want to go. It’s about working out a way to do it.”

Bars and restaurants

In Lithuania, cafes and bars have opened but with the rule that they can only seat customers outside in terrace areas – and they must also ensure social distance.

The mayor of Vilnius is handing over 18 of the city’s squares to hard-hit businesses.

Italy and Spain have begun to allow restaurants to be open for take out only in the first phase of reopening.

Italy begins a staged end to a nationwide lockdown

‘Immunity passports’

China rolled out an app where people’s health status is being colour coded.

In Wuhan, where coronavirus broke out, people are required to show their health status to be allowed on public transport.

If their app shows green, they are healthy, but a red status means they should be in isolation.

Chile is set to introduce a ‘certificate’ system where a document shows if someone has been infected with Covid-19 before.

The UK is also exploring ‘immunity passports’ as a way to get people out of lockdown if they have had the disease before.

But health experts have warned about concerns over such documents, including the fact medics are still not 100% sure if people who are infected are definitely immune and how long they would be immune for.

Face masks

Germany, Taiwan and Poland have seen face mask vending machines popping up in cities.

Countries which have made the wearing of a mask when in public mandatory include Venezuela, Vietnam, Slovakia, Columbia, the United Arab Emirates and Cuba.

More recently, other countries to follow suit include Austria, Morocco, Turkey, El Salvador, and Qatar, Al Jazeera reports.

Britain is reportedly stockpiling face masks to be used on public transport and in shops.

A woman uses a vending machine selling protective face masks in France

Michael Gove revealed that a “domestic effort” has been launched to slow the spread of coronavirus by producing masks that “limit the droplets that each of us might be responsible for”.

His commitment comes after Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon gazumped the UK government in advising Scots to wear masks.

The Telegraph reports that the government wants to delay an announcement on face coverings until it has stockpiled enough.

Phone apps

South Korea led on the use of a smart phone app to identify if you are near someone who has tested positive for the virus.

Israel is believed to also be taking this approach, as is Australia.

The NHS coronavirus app is expected to enter trials on the Isle of Wight from this week.

The app is part of the crucial “test, track and trace” strategy that will be crucial in easing the UK-wide lockdown.

The idea of a track and trace phone App is being considered in the UK (file photo)

It is understood pilots are now “very close” to getting under way before a launch date of mid-May.

Government sources confirmed those trials will be on the Isle of Wight.

The app, which is voluntary, would use Bluetooth to track when people have come into close contact with someone who later tests positive for  coronavirus.

It would urge someone who’s been in contact with the virus to get tested and to isolate themselves if necessary.

The idea is that this would allow society to partially reopen while keeping the virus at bay.