Plans to reopen after COVID-19 vary widely

April 20, 2020  - By

Around the world, countries are cautiously beginning to reopen businesses and activities they had shut down to limit the spread of the coronavirus.


Austria will reopen some smaller shops, hardware and garden stores but people will have to wear masks to supermarkets and on public transport. From May 1, all stores, shopping centers and hairdressers will open; restaurants and hotels will open from mid-May at the earliest.

China has largely removed restrictions on mobility while tightening policy to contain the virus transmission of asymptomatic cases.

The Czech Republic on April 6 allowed shops such as hardware and bicycle stores to re-open. Outdoor sports facilities have also reopened. Starting on April 20, students will begin a phased return to colleges and schools, but high schools are not expected to fully open until September 1. From June 8, all retail stores, including those in shopping centers, all restaurants, hotels and other accommodation will be allowed to reopen.

Denmark will reopen daycares, kindergartens and schools (up to 5th grade) on April 22, while other bans, such as on gatherings of more than 10 people, will remain in place until May 10. Churches, cinemas and shopping centers will remain closed. All festivals and large gatherings are banned until August.

Germany will allow stores with a sales area of less than 800m2 to reopen on April 20 if they maintain hygiene and prevent lines from forming. Schools with hygiene plans in place will gradually reopen from May 4, with priority given to primary and secondary pupils in final years, while daycare centers will remain shut. Other social distancing measures, along with bans on large public events, will remain in place.

India has extended what is currently the world’s biggest lockdown through May 3.

Italy allowed bookstores, laundries, stationery stores and children’s clothing stores to reopen on April 14. “Phase 2” of the three-phase reopening plan will start sometime after May 3. Businesses that reopen will be required to make hand sanitizer available, enforce the use of masks in enclosed spaces, and use disposable gloves to handle food and drink.

Japan has tightened its approach, declaring a state of emergency in Tokyo, Yokohama and Osaka, the country’s three biggest cities.

Norway is prioritizing reopening schools and will begin to scale back its lockdown measures from April 20, when kindergartens will start to reopen. A week later, schools will reopen for pupils in grades one to four.

Spain allowed many non-essential employees to return to work after the Easter weekend. Construction and other industries have been allowed to restart, but non-essential stores, bars, and restaurants remain closed. Spanish police are distributing more than 10 million masks to commuters at metro, bus, and train stations.

Switzerland has extended social distancing restrictions to April 26, but might relax other measures later this month, including border controls, school closures and bans on gatherings, if the virus’ spread is kept in check.

United States reopenings vary by state

If you cannot resist the urge to eat at a restaurant or have a drink at a bar during this pandemic without leaving the United States, head for South Dakota, the only state that has not banned these activities except for take-out.

However, unless you live in neighboring Iowa, Nebraska, or North Dakota, you will be most likely breaking the law of one of the 39 states that have banned travel that is not deemed essential or to get to work (five of them with exceptions or limitations). South Dakota and Arkansas have no travel bans and the remaining six states have a variety of advisories and bans targeted at various classes of people, such as those over 70 years old.

As for gatherings, 27 states restrict them to ten people or fewer, four states to nine people or fewer, and five states allow no gatherings at all. Only two states, North Dakota and Minnesota, have not banned any gatherings.

Twenty-five states have limited all nonessential businesses to minimum operations or remote work, three have closed all nonessential businesses, and only two states — again, Nebraska and South Dakota — have not restricted any business activity.

Finally, while 27 states have no state-wide quarantines, the remaining 23 have a bewildering array of quarantine rules for travelers depending on where they have been. However, the duration of the quarantine is always 14 days.

Photo: Kameleon007 / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Photo: Kameleon007 /iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images


*Laura Smith-Spark and Emma Reynolds, “These countries are reopening after coronavirus — here’s how they’re doing it,” CNN, 2020.04.16

Patrick Kingsley, “Some European Nations Ease Pandemic Rules, but Move Warily: The lifting of restrictions is an early test of whether democracies can restart their economies and restore basic freedoms without refueling the spread of the coronavirus.” The New York Times, 2020.04.14

International Monetary Fund, POLICY RESPONSES TO COVID-19, last updated on 2020.04.10

Ryan Heath, “How does the world end the coronavirus lockdown? Countries can’t agree on exit strategy. There are no global benchmarks and little coordination when it comes to opening up national economies.Politico, 2020.04.15.

About the Author: Matteo Luccio

Matteo Luccio, GPS World’s Editor-in-Chief, possesses more than 20 years of experience as a writer and editor for GNSS and geospatial technology magazines. He began his career in the industry in 2000, serving as managing editor of GPS World and Galileo’s World, then as editor of Earth Observation Magazine and GIS Monitor. His technical articles have been published in more than 20 professional magazines, including Professional Surveyor Magazine, Apogeo Spatial and xyHt. Luccio holds a master’s degree in political science from MIT. He can be reached at or 541-543-0525.