This week's big news

This week's big news

Countries around the world start to ease the lockdown

Enjoying the great outdoors. (Alamy)

Many countries have started to ease lockdown restrictions that were put in place to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Parts of the UK have also made some changes to the rules. The changes come as the rates of people catching Covid-19 (the disease caused by the coronavirus) are dropping in some places.

What’s happening in European countries?

Some countries in Europe are slowly starting to get back to normal life. However, measures such as social distancing (staying at least two metres apart) and hygiene rules, such as wearing face masks and washing hands more often, are still in place to protect people. In Germany, all shops are allowed to open and schools in some areas have reopened for younger children and those taking exams. In Spain, pupils from some regions will be able to go back to school from 26 May. Some big cities that are most at risk – including Barcelona and Madrid – are still under full lockdown. Other countries, including Austria, Belgium and France, are allowing some pupils back to school. In Ireland and Italy, schools are not expected to reopen until September.

What about the rest of the world?

As The Week Junior went to press, New Zealand was planning to open schools, offices, shops and restaurants on 14 May. Some pupils have started going back to school in Australia. In some US states people have been told to remain at home, but other states, including Alaska and Montana, are starting to reopen their businesses.

What about the UK?

Different measures are in place across the UK. On 10 May, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson gave a speech in which he laid out the Government’s ideas for how the lockdown could be eased in England. He said people should continue to work from home if possible, but if they couldn’t then they should go back to work. However, they should try to avoid using public transport. Johnson also announced that people could go outside for as much exercise as they like, as long as they still follow social-distancing rules. People from the same households can now go outdoors for picnics and to sunbathe, and meeting one person from a different household is allowed as long as they keep two metres apart. For schools, Johnson said the plan was to get primary pupils back in stages, starting with reception, Year 1 and Year 6. This would be from 1 June at the earliest. They would be followed by secondary pupils. Johnson added that all these new rules could change if the number of infections starts to rise again. Keir Starmer, the leader of the Labour Party, said the Government’s plan was confusing and lacked detail.

What about the rest of the UK?

The First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, said the lockdown rules would remain in Scotland. This means that in Scotland people should only leave their houses for essential reasons. Sturgeon removed the once-a-day limit on exercise, which was also lifted in Wales and Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland has released a five-step plan, starting with opening churches for private prayer. In Wales people were told not to travel out of their local area, and no date had been set to reopen schools.

International Nurses Day

(Rex Shutterstock)

International Nurses Day was celebrated on 12 May. This is the date that Florence Nightingale was born in 1820. She is famous for turning nursing into the highly skilled profession it is today. Nurses account for more than half of the world’s health workers, and they are playing a vital role in dealing with the coronavirus outbreak. To mark the day, people were asked to shine a light from their window at 8.30pm to show their gratitude for the work nurses do.


John Hudson, an opera singer from the Piddle Valley in Dorset, England, has been singing from his doorstep every Thursday night.