Governments have started charting paths to easing the lockdown measures they have imposed since January to slow the spread of coronavirus.
This page provides an ongoing visual representation of the worldwide imposition — and gradual 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.
- 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 140 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 has eased travel restrictions in Hubei province, the origin of the pandemic. Austria has already reopened stores, while Denmark has sent children back to school. Other European countries including France, Germany, Spain and Italy have now laid out plans for how they intend to gradually come out of lockdown over the coming months. The UK, which locked down later, has said the epidemic has passed its peak but has yet to put forward its deconfinement plans.
At the same time, governments are wary of a resurgence of the virus once people are allowed to interact more freely, which could lead to a second wave of infections. Testing, tracing and enforcement regimes are being developed, but comprehensive regimes have yet to be put in place in most countries.
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, including the US. 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.
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.