The relaxation of the super-strict Indian lockdown came with major caveats. It did not apply to hundreds of quarantined towns and other hotspots that have been hit hardest by the outbreak that has killed at least 775 people in India and terrified its multitudes of poor who live hand-to-mouth in slum conditions too crowded for social distancing.
Shopping malls also remained closed across the country. Still, for families that run small stores, being able to earn again brought relief.
“This is a good decision," said Amit Sharma, an architect. “We have to open a few things and let the economy start moving. The poor people should have some source of income. This virus is going to be a long-term problem.”
Last week, India also allowed manufacturing and farming activities to resume in rural areas to ease the economic plight of millions of daily wage-earners left without work by the country's lockdown imposed March 24. India's stay-home restrictions have allowed people out of their homes only to buy food, medicine or other essentials.
Sri Lanka had partially lifted a monthlong curfew during daytime hours in more than two thirds of the country. But it reimposed a 24-hour lockdown countrywide after a surge Friday of 46 new infections, the highest increase in a day on the Indian Ocean island. The new curfew remains in effect until Monday.
In Europe, Belgium sketched out plans for a progressive lockdown relaxation, starting May 4 with the resumption of nonessential treatment in hospitals and the reopening of textile and sewing shops so people can make face masks. Bars and restaurants would be allowed to start reopening June 8, although Belgian Prime Minister Sophie Wilmes also cautioned that a surge in infections could alter the timeline and that “nothing is set in stone."
In France, the government is preparing to gingerly ease one of Europe's strictest lockdowns from May 11.
Without a tried-and-tested action plan for how to pull countries out of the CCP virus lockdown, the world is seeing a patchwork of approaches. Schools reopen in one country, stay closed in others; face masks are mandatory in some places, a recommendation elsewhere.
Britain was still holding off on changes to its lockdown as the COVID-19-related death toll in hospitals was on target to surge past 20,000. It's the fourth highest in Europe, behind Italy, Spain and France, each of which has reported more than 20,000 deaths.
In the U.S., Republican governors in Georgia and Oklahoma allowed salons, spas and barbershops to reopen, while Alaska opened the way for restaurants to resume dine-in service and retail shops and other businesses to open their doors, all with limitations. Some Alaska municipalities chose to maintain stricter rules.
Though limited in scope, and subject to social-distancing restrictions, the reopenings marked a symbolic milestone in the debate raging in the United States and beyond as to how quickly political leaders should lift economically devastating lockdown orders.
In Michigan, Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer lengthened her stay-at-home order through May 15, while lifting restrictions so some businesses can reopen and the public can participate in outdoor activities such as golf and motorized boating. Michigan has nearly 3,000 deaths related to COVID-19, behind only New York and New Jersey.
Amy Pembrook and her husband, Mike, reopened their hair salon in the northwest Oklahoma town of Fairview after it had been shuttered for about a month.
“We’re super excited about going back, but we have caught a little flak from people who say it’s too early,” Amy Pembrook said. “We just said we can live in fear for a long time or we can trust that everything is going to be OK.”