Spain & Italy Ease Coronavirus Lockdown As The United States Considers Timeline For Re-Opening The Country

As the social distancing and quarantine efforts have begun to do their job and flatten the curve of the coronavirus pandemic, countries are beginning to consider lifting the lockdowns in their nations. Spain and Italy -- two of the hardest-hit European nations -- have eased certain restrictions, while the United States is considering a timeline for reopening the country as well.

As reported by People, Spain and Italy have started scaling back on the restrictions placed on their citizens. On Monday, the Spanish government allowed some construction and factory workers to return to their jobs. However, those returning to work will have to abide by specific guidelines. They must wear extra protective equipment -- supplied by their employers -- and ensure they keep up proper social distancing measures.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez stated they are at least two weeks away from lifting any additional lockdown restrictions, which may include the reopening of schools and bars. He urged those in Spain to still adhere to current stay-at-home orders, as the country is still not fully out of danger yet.

A couple wearing protective masks covers themselves from the rain with an umbrella in Seville, Spain.
Getty Images | Marcelo del Pozo

For their part, the Italian government has declared it will allow a small number of businesses to reopen on Tuesday. The country has seen a steady decline of cases since late March, People reports. Although the lockdown orders will remain until May 3, the government has allowed book stores, stationary stores, and those selling children's clothes to reopen.

This news comes as the United States is struggling with its own timeline to lift the stay-at-home restrictions most states have implemented.

On Monday, President Donald Trump tweeted the decision of when to open up the country lies with him and he gave a timeline of wanting to remove the lockdown restrictions by May 1, according to NBC News. However, on Monday, some states' governors took umbrage with Trump's declaration, stating that it was their responsibility to close their states, so it should be their responsibility to reopen them as well. Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf spoke to The New York Times about states' responsibilities.

"Well, seeing as we had the responsibility for closing the state down, I think we probably have the primary responsibility for opening it up."

That quote comes amid the news that coastal states have formed two coalitions to create a plan to remove their states' restrictions only when "experts and data suggested it would be safe to do so."

The governors of New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Connecticut, and Rhode Island agreed to the formation of a committee of "public health officials, economic development officials and their chiefs of staff." The committee is intended to facilitate cooperation between the states -- who are interconnected via commerce and worker movement -- to determine when to ease their states' restrictions.

This action was mirrored on the West coast where California, Oregon, and Washington formed the "Western States Pact" to make a "joint approach to reopening economies." They told The New York Times that -- while each state would have their own plan -- the states would create a "West Coast strategy that would include how to control the virus in the future."

California Governor Gavin Newsom stated he would outline a plan on Tuesday that had "California-based thinking" that relied on "'facts,' 'evidence,' and 'science.'"

California Governor Gavin Newsom speaks in front of the hospital ship USNS Mercy that arrived into the Port of Los Angeles.
Getty Images | Carolyn Cole-Pool

These decisions come as officials are struggling with ways to track the virus and prevent secondary infections. As reported by NBC News, this can only happen if two things occur -- testing and tracing. First, there must be an increase in testing, so the replication and transmission of the disease can be more easily tracked, which leads to the second part of the effort -- tracing. Once current cases are identified and isolated, public health officials can then begin to trace where the infected person has been and with whom they came in contact.

While tracing is done for every disease that is known to public health officials, the speed in which the coronavirus spreads and its long incubation period makes it more difficult to monitor, but the effort should hopefully become easier as the number of cases diminishes.