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Countries around the world are transitioning into a new phase of the fight against Covid-19. Billions of people have been under lockdown restrictions as governments have tried to limit the spread of the coronavirus. Lockdown restrictions have varied by country but there is one common theme, in almost every country with a lockdown people have been ordered to stay at home and businesses have been closed. Now, after weeks, and in some places months of movement restrictions, governments in various countries are starting to end lockdowns.

In Europe, France, Italy, Spain and Germany have all announced plans to bring their lockdowns to an end. Although the plans differ between countries, nobody expects to go completely back to normal anytime soon. In France, a country with one of the strictest lockdowns in the world, shops will be allowed to reopen and people will no longer need a signed form to explain why they are outside of their homes. That is, as long as they are within 100km of their house. Germany, one of the countries with the lowest death rates for coronavirus infections, is relaxing rules quicker by even allowing professional sports to resume without spectators.

Countries in Europe which are relaxing their lockdown restrictions are doing so because the number of daily infections and deaths is decreasing. However, the US government has called for lockdowns across the US to be lifted despite new infections and deaths increasing on a daily basis. There have been protests in the US against lockdowns in various states and the coronavirus pandemic has turned political. States which traditionally vote Democrat are enforcing stay at home orders and closing businesses. States which traditionally vote Republican have generally allowed businesses to stay open and people to leave their homes. The division has been fuelled by comments from President Trump about the economic damage to the US being worse than the damage from the virus.

Many people are worried that ending lockdowns prematurely will result in a second wave of the virus. There are fears that countries who do not handle the situation effectively will need to lockdown again causing even more damage to their economies. The debate over whether to continue with lockdowns, partially lift them or completely lift them has been had across the globe. Some people want to prioritise the economy and others want to prioritise peoples’ health.

Difficult words

Transitioning (v): To change from one state to another.

Phase (n): A stage in a process.

Varied (adj): Having a number of different types.

Spectator (n): A person who watches.

Enforcing (v): To make someone follow a rule.

Division (n): A split or divide.

Prematurely (adv): For something to happen before it is ready.

Wave (n): A sudden occurrence or increase in a phenomenon.

Prioritise (v): To make something the most important.

Activities

For listening practise, listen to the recorded article here:

British English: Coming Soon!

American English:

Match the Synonym!

1. Transitioning A. Early
2. Phase B. Viewer
3. Varied C. Split
4. Spectator D. Stage
5. Enforcing E. Make important.
6. Division F. Change
7. Prematurely G. Sudden occurrence.
8. Wave H. Force
9. Prioritise I. Options

True or False?

1. Many countries are transitioning into their next phase of the coronavirus crisis. T / F

2. Billions of people have had their lives go back to normal overnight. T / F

3. Most countries with a lockdown have told businesses to close. T / F

4. Four countries in Europe have announced plans to end their lockdowns. T / F

5. Although the lockdown in France is easing, people will still need to take a form with them everywhere they go. T / F

6.  Germany is allowing professional sports games to take place with full audiences. T / F

7.  The number of daily coronavirus cases and deaths in Europe has been decreasing. T / F

8. The US has decided to lengthen their lockdown another month. T / F

9. Democratic states in the US are mostly enforcing lockdown restrictions. T / F

10. Many people are uncomfortable with ending lockdowns too early. T / F

Unscramble the sentence!

1. into / phase / are / new / around / a / world / the / Countries / transitioning

2. been / Billions / under / people / restrictions / of / lockdown / have

3. been protests / lockdowns / There / against / in / the / various states. / have / US / in

4. vote / Democrat / are / enforcing stay / orders. / States / at home / which traditionally

5. fuelled / has / been / President Trump / by / from / division / The / comments

Listening and Vocabulary

Listen to the article and fill in the words OR practice vocabulary and fill in the words.

British English: Coming Soon!

American English:

Relaxing Infections Around
Ordered Continue Announced
Fears Turned Damage

Countries (1)____________ the world are transitioning into a new phase of the fight against Covid-19. Billions of people have been under lockdown restrictions as governments have tried to limit the spread of the coronavirus. Lockdown restrictions have varied by country but there is one common theme, in almost every country with a lockdown people have been (2)____________ to stay at home and businesses have been closed. Now, after weeks, and in some places months of movement restrictions, governments in various countries are starting to end lockdowns.

In Europe, France, Italy, Spain and Germany have all (3)______________ plans to bring their lockdowns to an end. Although the plans differ between countries, nobody expects to go completely back to normal anytime soon. In France, a country with one of the strictest lockdowns in the world, shops will be allowed to reopen and people will no longer need a signed form to explain why they are outside of their homes. That is, as long as they are within 100km of their house. Germany, one of the countries with the lowest death rates for coronavirus (4)_____________, is relaxing rules quicker by even allowing professional sports to resume without spectators.

Countries in Europe which are (5)____________ their lockdown restrictions are doing so because the number of daily infections and deaths is decreasing. However, the US government has called for lockdowns across the US to be lifted despite new infections and deaths increasing on a daily basis. There have been protests in the US against lockdowns in various states and the coronavirus pandemic has (6)___________ political. States which traditionally vote Democrat are enforcing stay at home orders and closing businesses. States which traditionally vote Republican have generally allowed businesses to stay open and people to leave their homes. The division has been fuelled by comments from President Trump about the economic damage to the US being worse than the (7)___________ from the virus.

Many people are worried that ending lockdowns prematurely will result in a second wave of the virus. There are (8)__________ that countries who do not handle the situation effectively will need to lockdown again causing even more damage to their economies. The debate over whether to (9)_____________ with lockdowns, partially lift them or completely lift them has been had across the globe. Some people want to prioritise the economy and others want to prioritise peoples’ health.

Conversation Questions

Take turns speaking with a partner or try to answer on your own:

1. Did you find this article interesting? Why or why not?
2. Did you learn anything new from this article? If so, what?
3. What do you think of this story?
4. Has your country been locked down?
5. If your country has been on lockdown do you know when it will end?
6. How badly has your country been affected by Covid-19?
7. Do you think countries should be reopening so soon?
8. When do you think it will be safe to go back to normal life?
9. What do you think should be allowed to open first?
10. Should people who can work from home continue to do so until there is a vaccine?
11. Should schools stay closed until there is a vaccine?
12. Should over 70s stay at home until there is a vaccine?
13. Do you think some countries will need to lockdown again?
14. Do you think governments should prioritise the economy?
15. Do you think there should be any changes to economic systems when things go back to normal?
16. Should companies receive money from their governments to help them during this time?
17. Do you trust your government to protect you during this time?
18. Are people in your country able to get tested for Covid-19 easily?
19. Should everybody get tested regularly if lockdowns are lifted?
20. What do you think the world will think about Covid-19 in 5 years?