Have some countries reopened too fast?

Date of article: 12 June 2020

One question which has been on my mind lately is: have some countries reopened too fast? And how do countries compare when studying the dates that lockdowns were lifted? In this analysis, I consider two ways to answer the above question:

  1. How many new cases (relative to population size) was a country reporting on average at the moment lockdown measures were lifted?
  2. What was the COVID-19 positivity rate in testing at the moment lockdown measures were lifted per country?

New cases per 1 mln inhabitants (on lockdown lift date)

Above chart shows the average of new cases reported per 1 million inhabitants at the moment the country was reopening. To give a solid indication, the average of last 7 days before 'lockdown lift date' is used.

Key takeaways

  • Using this indicator, it becomes clear that 3 USA-states (Arizona, Nevada and Texas) were reporting a lot of new cases at the 'lockdown lift date'.
  • Outside of the USA, the highest amount of cases was being reported in Iran at that moment.
  • Meanwhile, the lowest values are found in Central Europe ( Switzerland, Austria and Czech Republic).

Recent positivity rate (on lockdown lift date)

In above chart the positivity rate in COVID-19 is compared at the moment the country allowed restaurants to reopen for inside dining. To ensure a fair comparison in data, the average positivity rate over the last 7 days is used. For most countries we used data on 'samples tested', but for some countries we used 'persons tested' data; these three (Nevada, The Netherlands, Denmark) are marked with a striped bar in the above chart. If these 3 countries/states would have reported 'samples tested' data, their bars would most likely have been slightly lower than they are now, so please keep this in mind while looking at the above chart.

Key takeaways

  • Most striking in this comparison is that, again, Iran and the three USA-states (Arizona, Nevada, Texas) are in the top of the chart.
  • Also India is surprisingly high: they might not have been reporting a lot of new cases (as shown in the previous bar chart), but that is due to India doing very few tests relative to its population.
  • European countries Denmark, Austria and Czech Republic clearly had a very low positivity rate at the moment restaurants were allowed to reopen.


It's not easy to find one single indicator which can be measured in all countries as a sign that a lockdown is being lifted and a country has started reopening businesses. After considering several indicators, I decided to use the date that restaurants are allowed to reopen, specifically for dining inside.

Note: In all listed countries, there were still additional restrictions in place for dining inside, examples:

  • a maximum of 30 persons per restaurant,
  • or a 25% or 50% capacity limit based on the capacity before COVID-19 lockdown started,
  • tables must be 1.5 meters apart

To make any sort of comparison possible, we have to accept that the restrictions are different in countries, but this is still good enough to get a rough indication of how fast a country lifted its lockdown measures.

Dates used as 'lockdown lift date'

Based on the above definition, the following dates were used per country:

Arizona (US) - May 11

Austria - May 15

Belgium - June 8

California (US) - not yet

Czech Republic - May 25

Denmark - May 18

Finland - June 1

Germany - May 15

India - June 8

Iran - May 26

Italy - May 18

Netherlands - June 1

Nevada (US) - May 9

New York (US) - only outdoor

Spain - only outdoor

Switzerland - May 11

Texas (US) - May 1

Turkey - June 1

UK - not yet

article by Newsnodes



Date Country page
3 May,23:26 Hungary
25 Apr,21:35 Moldova
24 Apr,14:07 Iran
6 Apr,00:20 Spain
1 Apr,23:43 Portugal
31 Mar,08:36 Paraguay
30 Mar,11:57 Belgium
27 Mar,10:50 Paraguay
26 Mar,10:10 Paraguay
26 Mar,10:09 India


Date Country page
18 May,18:03 Finland
9 May,22:18 Sri Lanka
8 May,00:28 United States
7 May,22:43 Brazil
7 May,22:00 Ethiopia
7 May,21:59 Moldova
7 May,21:58 Turkey
7 May,21:56 Algeria
7 May,21:54 South Africa
7 May,19:55 France

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