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Nations each chart their own path on reopening

Some countries have begun gradually easing coronavirus lockdown.

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A woman wearing a protective mask and gloves travels in a nearly empty metro during a partial lockdown in Brussels (Francisco Seco/AP)

A woman wearing a protective mask and gloves travels in a nearly empty metro during a partial lockdown in Brussels (Francisco Seco/AP)

A woman wearing a protective mask and gloves travels in a nearly empty metro during a partial lockdown in Brussels (Francisco Seco/AP)

Some nations have started easing coronavirus lockdowns, each pursuing their own approach but all with a common goal to restart their economies without triggering a new surge of infections.

The shutdowns are being eased piecemeal, with governments charting their own path as they seek to reopen for business.

The official death toll topped 200,000 worldwide, with about three million confirmed infections, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

The number of dead in the US reached about 55,000 — close to the 58,000 US troops killed during the Vietnam War.

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(PA Graphics)

(PA Graphics)

Press Association Images

(PA Graphics)

Italy, Britain, Spain and France accounted for more than 20,000 deaths each.

Technology is likely to play an important role in helping countries ease their restrictions.

Many governments are working on mobile virus-tracking apps and other technology, keen for automated solutions to the time-consuming task of tracing an infected person’s contacts.

The apps can detect when a user comes near someone who is infected.

Activists and researchers worry about the privacy implications.

“We can’t allow our response to this pandemic to be used as a justification for compromising people’s digital safety and security,” said Michael Kleinman, director of Amnesty International’s Silicon Valley Initiative.

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People stand apart from each other as they wait for a train in Rome (Mauro Scrobogna/LaPresse via AP)

People stand apart from each other as they wait for a train in Rome (Mauro Scrobogna/LaPresse via AP)

AP/PA Images

People stand apart from each other as they wait for a train in Rome (Mauro Scrobogna/LaPresse via AP)

In Australia, which has had about 80 Covid-19 deaths, 1.1 million of the country’s 26 million people downloaded a new contract-tracing app within 12 hours of its becoming available.

The government said at least 40% of the population needs to use the technology for it to be effective.

Australian officials intend to outlaw the use of the collected data for purposes other than tracing potential Covid-19 cases.

Singapore was among the first to launch its contact-tracing app.

Other countries, including France, Switzerland and Britain, are also developing their own.

Italy has one that will be voluntary.

Seven weeks into Italy’s strict lockdown, Premier Giuseppe Conte laid out a long-awaited timetable on Sunday for easing restrictions.

Factories, construction sites and wholesale supply businesses can resume when they implement safety measures.

Starting May 4, parks and gardens will reopen, funerals will be allowed, and people can visit relatives in the same region.

Stores and museums will reopen on May 18 and professional sports teams can resume training the same day, while restaurants, cafes and salons will be back in business on June 1.

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From Sunday in Spain, children under 14 were allowed to go outside and play for the first time in six weeks (Emilio Morenatti/AP)

From Sunday in Spain, children under 14 were allowed to go outside and play for the first time in six weeks (Emilio Morenatti/AP)

AP/PA Images

From Sunday in Spain, children under 14 were allowed to go outside and play for the first time in six weeks (Emilio Morenatti/AP)

Spain’s prime minister Pedro Sanchez will present details for a “de-escalation” of his country’s lockdown on Tuesday but said it will be cautious.

His French and Greek counterparts will also unveil their reopening plans the same day.

Spain’s easing of restrictions kicked off on Sunday when children under 14 were allowed to go outside and play for the first time in six weeks.

Health authorities urged parents to be responsible after some beachfronts and city promenades filled up with families.

“The impact in the epidemic can be a step backwards that can be much harder than what we have seen until now,” warned Fernando Simon, head of Spain’s health emergency coordination centre.

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Wuhan, the city at the centre of the global coronavirus epidemic, lifted a 76-day lockdown early in April (Ng Han Guan/AP)

Wuhan, the city at the centre of the global coronavirus epidemic, lifted a 76-day lockdown early in April (Ng Han Guan/AP)

AP/PA Images

Wuhan, the city at the centre of the global coronavirus epidemic, lifted a 76-day lockdown early in April (Ng Han Guan/AP)

The Czech Republic, another country with few Covid-19 deaths, also moved to ease restrictions, opening smaller stores, zoos, botanical parks, fitness centres and driving schools.

Public gatherings of up 10 people are allowed but social distancing and face masks remain mandatory.

In a boost for the economy, the three Czech plants of Skoda Auto belonging to Germany’s Volkswagen renewed production on Monday. The company employs some 34,000 people.

In other encouraging signs, Italy on Sunday recorded its lowest 24-hour number of deaths since mid-March, with 260.

New York state registered its fewest since late last month, with 367.

In China, state-run media said hospitals in Wuhan, the pandemic’s original epicentre, no longer have any Covid-19 patients.

In the US, the split over when and how to ease the restrictions has often been along partisan lines.

Oklahoma governor Kevin Stitt, a Republican, said that with hospital admissions dropping, he will reopen churches and restaurant dining on Friday while keeping social-distancing guidelines.

But Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, told ABC her state is not ready and needs more robust testing, community tracing and a plan for isolating the sick.

“We’ve got to be nimble and we have to follow the science and be really smart about how we reengage,” she said.

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