Lockdowns compared: tracking governments’ coronavirus responses

From business closures to movement restrictions, how countries’ policies around the world are changing

Governments have started reinstating lockdown measures following a period of greater freedom over the summer months.

With new confirmed infections and Covid-related deaths rising significantly in many countries, governments are once again restricting daily life through curfews and other measures in a bid to curb the virus' spread.

This page provides an ongoing visual representation of the worldwide imposition and relaxation of lockdown measures. It uses the Covid-19 government response stringency index, a composite score developed by researchers at Oxford university, to compare countries’ policy responses to the coronavirus pandemic.

Latest changes

  • June 1: Map and chart now use the stringency index with version 3.1 of the index methodology.
  • May 5: Map and chart updated to use a six-colour instead of five-colour scale to represent stringency index values.
  • May 1: Map animation controls added. Map and chart now use the stringency index with version 2.0 of the index methodology.

Help the Blavatnik School of Government at Oxford university improve the stringency index used in this map by providing direct feedback.

Since January, more than 150 countries have responded to the coronavirus outbreak by implementing often sweeping policies aimed at containing the virus by limiting movement and encouraging social distancing. As economies ground to a near halt, they added stimulus packages to soften the economic impact.

East Asian countries including South Korea and Vietnam were the first to follow China in implementing widespread containment measures, with much of Europe, North America and Africa taking longer to bring in tough restrictions. In the US, individual states have imposed a patchwork of lockdown policies.

After two months, China eased travel restrictions in Hubei province, the origin of the pandemic. But elsewhere, the virus' resurgence has triggered a fresh wave of containment measures, raising the prospect of a double-dip Covid-19 recession in many countries

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Stringency index: how it works

Every country’s lockdown is different. The wide range of measures adopted by different governments poses a challenge to analysts who want to compare these policies over time or between countries.

To enable such comparisons, a team at Oxford university’s Blavatnik School of Government is maintaining a database of pandemic-response policies and using it to derive an index of the measures’ overall stringency.

More than 100 volunteer academics and students collate publicly-available information on government response measures, across nine policy areas. These are assigned stringency ratings which are then used to derive a composite score between 0 and 100. Most other efforts to track the pandemic response take the form of lists of events without attempting to create comparable measures across countries.

The Oxford team is not currently collecting any sub-national data, meaning that the index does not perfectly capture local measures in large or federal countries. A measure only in force in one or two regions contributes less to the stringency index than a nationwide policy, but rules in force in only one or two regions can also inflate a whole country’s overall score.

Reporting, data analysis, design and development by Steven Bernard, David Blood, Max Harlow, Caroline Nevitt, Ændrew Rininsland, Alan Smith, Martin Stabe and Aleksandra Wisniewska.

An earlier version of the timeline heatmap graphic on this page represented dates where stringency index values were missing and those where the values were zero as equivalent. This has since been amended.

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