COVID-19: Which Economies Are Reopening

Some countries are gradually lifting their lockdown measures in an attempt to jump-start their economies.

After months of lockdowns, countries are starting to reopen their economies — gradually easing to a new kind of normal in spite of the coronavirus remaining as a huge global threat.

In order to monitor how countries move during the pandemic, Google created the COVID-19 Community Mobility Reports, a tool which compiles the changes in the responses implemented by individual countries in order to combat COVID-19.

To better see these changes, Visual Capitalist illustrated the Google data in their recently published chart.


For their chart, Visual Capitalist included 41 countries from the Google database. In terms of the status of each during the COVID-19 pandemic, the economies can be plotted into four quadrants created based on two variables: mobility and recovery.

  • High Mobility, Low Recovery. These countries have started reopening in spite of their struggle with recovery. Some countries haven’t even imposed lockdown measures to start with. This poses the risk of aggravating the spread of COVID-19 among these countries.Examples: Greece, Poland, Brazil
  • High Mobility, High Recovery. Unlike the first type, these countries have relaxed their lockdowns paired with a fast pace of recovery. Because of the high level of mobility, a second spike might occur if these countries become too complacent. However, a lot of the countries which are known to have responded effectively when the pandemic emerged are located in this quadrant.Examples: Vietnam, Taiwan, South Korea
  • Low Mobility, Low Recovery. These countries are still largely plagued by COVID-19, with this their governments have retained strict lockdown measures until now.Examples: U.S., United Kingdom, France
  • Low Mobility, High Recovery. These countries are on a good track in flattening the curve. In fact, some of the model countries in terms of pandemic response like Germany are located in this quadrant. While this may be so, their governments have played it safe and kept the lockdown measures in place.Examples. Singapore, Denmark, Switzerland
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Google measures the recovery rate by obtaining the total number of recoveries and computing its share relative to the total number of confirmed cases. Meanwhile, the mobility rate of a country serves as a proxy metric for economic activity.

Road to recovery

While stopping the global pandemic is the top priority, keeping economies alive cannot be neglected, either. However, careful planning and effective execution are required to successfully strike a balance between safety and sufficient economic activity.

According to Dr. Peter Drobac, a health expert from Oxford Saïd Business School, there are three general criteria which need to be satisfied when reopening an economy to minimise the risk of a second wave:

  1. The curve must have been bent first.
  2. Their health care systems must have sufficient capacities.
  3. Systems for mass testing, contact tracing, and isolation must be present to enable the quick handling of new cases.

Meanwhile, other researchers recommend that countries retain their lockdowns in some capacity until a vaccine for the coronavirus causing COVID-19 is created. This is because fully reopening will also lead to serious economic and health losses in the event of a COVID-19 resurgence since resource-intensive responses would be needed to flatten the curve once more.

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