Some countries have begun to cautiously ease lockdown restrictions as they report a drop in new confirmed COVID-19 cases, though social distancing is still being observed and public health protocols remain in place. Below is a list of places that are gradually opening up and entering the second phase of the COVID-19 response.

Parents observe social distancing while queuing with their children for school
Parents with their children stand in queue waiting to get inside Stengaard School north of Copenhagen, Denmark, on 15 April, 2020 ©Olafur Steinar Gestsson/Getty Images

Austria

Austria has allowed public parks, some small shops and DIY stores to open from 13 April. If everything goes to plan and the number of new confirmed cases remains low, all stores will reopen on 2 May, while restaurants will open in mid-May. People using public transport and entering public spaces have been asked to wear masks. 

China

On 8 April, the 11-week lockdown was lifted in Wuhan, the city where the COVID-19 outbreak was first reported. Highways and train stations have opened, as well as the airport. However, only citizens who can prove they are healthy can leave the city. Nationwide, some restrictions are still in place as the Chinese government reported a rise in imported cases from overseas travellers.

Portrait happy young woman with wine in apartment window
Some of the first countries to introduce restrictions have started to lift them ©Klaus Vedfelt/Getty Images

Czech Republic

From 8 April some non-essential businesses and shops have opened such as DIY and gardening stores, following the introduction of a 30-day nationwide quarantine on 12 March.

Denmark

Denmark was one of the first EU countries to introduce restrictions to curb the spread of COVID-19 and it's become one of the first to lift them by opening daycare centres and primary schools on 15 April, after they were closed on 12 March. Most shops, cafes and restaurants remain closed and gatherings of more than 10 people are banned until 10 May, according to the BBC.

Iran

Government offices reopened across Iran on 11 April with the exception of the capital Tehran. A ban on travel between cities within provinces has been lifted, while restrictions on travel between provinces is expected to be lifted on 20 April, according to state media.

An employee wearing PPE cleans a public bus in Spain
An employee cleans a public bus in San Sebastian on 15 April, 2020 ©Ander Gillenea/AFP/Getty Images

Italy

A number of businesses, as well as bookshops, laundries and shops selling children's clothes have reopened on a trial basis. Local media reports that some of the hardest-hit regions, such as Lombardy, are holding back on lifting restrictions until the current lockdown ends on 4 May, and most citizens remain at home.

Spain

On Easter Monday a small percentage of the population was allowed to return to work in non-essential industries for the first time since the country went into a nationwide lockdown on 16 March. Masks were provided at public transport stations, while busses and trains are being sanitised between journeys. Most shops and services remain closed and further restrictions won't be lifted until May.

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