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Lionel Laurent

How Do You Lift a Covid-19 Lockdown? Ask Austria

Ending strict confinement measures should be done extremely carefully.

Light at the end of the tunnel?

Light at the end of the tunnel?

Photographer: HELMUT FOHRINGER/AFP via Getty Images

We are seeing glimmers of light at the end of the tunnel that is the Covid-19 crisis. China, where the pandemic first struck, had its first day with no new deaths to report. Europe’s worst hit countries, Italy and Spain, are recording a slowing of their respective death tolls. And governments are now talking openly about lifting draconian lockdowns that have restricted movement for half of the world’s population, torpedoed economic activity and imposed a global recession. This is a big moment.

The tunnel is a long one, though. The coronavirus outbreak hasn’t spread uniformly, and, in Europe, country-by-country lockdowns have been applied in haphazard ways. For now, only a handful of states are outlining plans to lift restrictions within days.