3rd June 2020
As the world continues to deal with COVID-19, many contracting hotspots are taking action in order to lift lockdown restrictions and get businesses going again. Knowing the latest situation in these nations is crucial for any contractors looking to take up work abroad.
In order to help you stay up-to-date with the most recent developments, we have provided a round-up of the information for contractors – sourced from updates from GPA and various trust-worthy news sites – for some of the most popular contracting hotspots. (Please note, this information is correct as of May 29th, 2020)
COVID-19 contractor update: Lockdown restrictions eased
The three Baltic States – Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia – have gone further than most in lifting their COVID-19 lockdown, and have become the first countries in Europe to allow free movement again, but only with each other. Here’s an update for contractors:
Since 15th May, citizens and residents have been able to move freely across the three countries, provided they haven’t travelled outside the Baltic States in the past two weeks, are not infected, and have not been in contact with an infected person. However, those coming from elsewhere still have to self-isolate for 14 days. Both Finland and Poland have also been approached to join the Baltic ‘travel bubble’.
This is the first move of its kind in Europe since nations began shutting their borders. Lithuania’s Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis called it ‘an opportunity for businesses to reopen, and a glimmer of hope for the people that life is getting back to normal’.
Overall, the sparsely populated Baltic States have not been as badly affected by the pandemic as some of their European neighbours. There are fewer than 150 recorded deaths between the three nations, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University.
Greece recorded its first COVID-19 case on 26th February and has been praised for its swift imposition of a lockdown. As a result, the country has been easing restrictions since as early as 28th April. Here are some of the steps the destination has taken:
- Churches opened for individual prayer on 4th May and religious services were allowed to be conducted from 17th May
- Schools reopened on 11th May for final-year students only, with special measures put in place, including students attending classes on different days
- Shops are now all able to reopen and indoor shopping centres can do so on 1st June
- Cafes and restaurants reopened on 25th May, but with social distancing
- Travel to the islands resumed on 25th May for mainland Greeks, but not for foreign tourists
- From 1st July, Greece is set to lift the two-week quarantine rule for foreigners
France’s COVID-19 lockdown was imposed on 17th March, with residents required to provide a travel permit justifying any outdoor trips. Since 11th May many of those restrictions have been eased, for example:
- Residents no longer have to provide travel certificates, and car journeys of up to 100km (62 miles) from home are now permitted, though longer trips still require a certificate.
- All shops (bar Paris shopping centres) can now reopen; leisure centres and cemeteries can reopen but bars and restaurants will remain closed.
- Gatherings of fewer than 10 people are also permitted; the elderly and vulnerable are allowed out but must use common sense.
In Russia, President Vladimir Putin has been easing COVID-19 lockdown restrictions since the 12th May, in order to stop unemployment rising further. Here’s what contractors need to know:
- Construction and industry were the first sectors to resume work.
- Large public events are still banned.
- Moscow, as the worst-hit city, is keeping tough restrictions in place until at least 31st May, with gloves and masks compulsory in shops and on public transport.
In Poland, COVID-19 numbers are lower than in many Western European countries, and most of the recent infections have been amongst the country’s coal miners in the southern Silesia region. The destination began lifting restrictions on 20th April, when parks and forests were allowed to reopen.
Here is some further updates for contractors:
- Hotels, shops, shopping centres, museums and galleries reopened on 4th May, with one customer per 15 square metres of space allowed
- Face coverings in public will remain obligatory until a vaccine is available
- Restaurants, cafes, hairdressers and beauty salons reopened from 18th May
- Primary schools reopened on 25th May, but only for the youngest children, and final-year university students were also allowed back to class.
In Japan, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe recently told the nation that the ‘Japan model’ has effectively beaten coronavirus as he lifted a nationwide state of emergency after seven weeks. During a press conference lifting the state of emergency in Toyko, three surrounding prefectures and the northern island of Hokkaido, bringing those areas into line with other parts of Japan where the state of emergency has already been lifted, Mr Abe said:
‘We were able to bring the outbreak nearly under control in just a month and a half in a uniquely Japanese way, without enforcing measures with penalties.’
While mask-wearing, home working and social distancing were all advised, Japan’s constitution prohibits a compulsory lockdown. Businesses, including restaurants, were allowed to choose whether they remained open, while only 0.2 per cent of the population were tested for the virus.
Finally, Saudi Arabia announced it will also begin easing restrictions on movement and travel, more than two months after stringent measures were introduced to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
COVID-19 lockdown restrictions will be lifted in three phases, culminating in the nation’s curfew completely ending – with the exception of the holy city of Mecca – from June 21st. The Hajj and Umrah pilgrimages – which attract millions of travellers from around the world – will remain suspended until further notice.
While this is the current situation regarding COVID-19 in these nations, things are changing every day. As authorities across the globe continue to reduce lockdown restrictions, staying ahead of the latest developments is crucial for contractors operating across the globe, so we encourage all contingent workers and recruiters to pay attention to information from the relevant authorities before making any decisions.
At 6CATS, we will continue to update workers and firms should any new information arise, and there are plenty of COVID-19 related resources on our website. If there should be any interruption to your assignment or working life – we’re here to help.
Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or would like more information.