Coronavirus Restrictions Ending

Norway was able to end coronavirus-related restrictions last week. Sport and entertainment venues, restaurants, and nightclubs can now operate as they used to and at full capacity. This is the final step in Norway’s plan to normalize following 561 days of restrictions in response to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. To date, Norway has fully vaccinated 67% of its population.

Elsewhere, Japan ended a coronavirus state of emergency and began to ease related restrictions. Restaurants and bars can operate longer, but for now, they are asked to close by 9pm. The Japanese government feels confident about making the change as infection rates have dropped, and 59% of Japanese citizens have now been vaccinated.

Masked commuters in Japan
Masked commuters in Japan (source)

However, in other countries, easing of restrictions is still a way off. New Zealand, where coronavirus infection rates have been kept low, has recently extended strict lockdowns to regions beyond Auckland in response to minor outbreaks. While in a lockdown, residents are discouraged from going out of their homes except for essentials and walks around their neighborhoods. Although the government enjoys relatively strong support for its policies, there have been protests against the lockdown strategy. The Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, has said strict lockdowns can end if 90% of the eligible population is fully vaccinated. Currently, the fully vaccinated number is at 46%.

Sources: reuters.com, nytimes.com, apnews.com, reuters.com, reuters.com

For source links, see the article on ESLNewsStories.com

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Useful Language

  • Restriction (n) - a rule or law that limits what you can do
  • Venue (n) - a place for organized events
  • Capacity (n) - the number of people that a place can hold
  • To date - until now
  • Ease (v) - to make something less unpleasant
  • A way off - not soon, further in the future
  • Extend (v) - to make something longer in space or time
  • Strict (adj) - rules that might be considered tough and that must be followed
  • Resident (n) - a person that lives in a place
  • Eligible (adj) - able to do or receive something

Discussion

Discuss the following questions with your partner(s).

  1. Are there or were there coronavirus-related restrictions in your city? If so, what are/were those rules?
  2. How has COVID-19 affected you personally?
  3. Do you feel like the pandemic is ending? When will it be over?
  4. What kind of damage, pain, or inconvenience has COVID-19 caused in your country?
  5. What is the vaccination rate in your country? Has it been rising quickly enough? If not, why not?
  6. Which countries have handled the coronavirus pandemic best?
  7. Are you fully vaccinated? What vaccine did you receive? If not, when do you expect to be vaccinated?
  8. Some people are ‘anti-vax’ (opposed to vaccinations). What do you think about this kind of opinion?
  9. Which types of business have suffered most during the pandemic?
  10. What kinds of activities do you look forward to doing after the pandemic?