Coronavirus: Which countries have tried circuit breaker locking and have it worked?


Sir Keir Starmer has called for a two to three week nationwide lockdown, accusing the prime minister of “no longer following scientific advice.”

The Labor leader’s intervention came after it emerged that Boris Johnson rejected a recommendation for the measure by government scientists three weeks ago.

Here’s a look at how other countries have tried a so-called ‘circuit breaker’ in their fight against Covid-19.


The city-state first reported cases of the coronavirus in January, but local transmission was largely under control until March, when the government urged Singaporeans living abroad to return home.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced the breaker in early April, forcing non-essential workplaces to close, schools to switch to home learning, and businesses selling food were only able to offer take-out services.

The circuit breaker was to last a month, with Mr Lee saying, “We have decided that instead of tightening gradually over the next few weeks, we should take a decisive step now to prevent the escalation of infections.”

Cases in the country continued to rise, reaching 1,426 new cases on April 20, and the circuit breaker was extended until June 1.

After its lifting, the prime minister said the measures would not stop the epidemic in the country.

Mr Lee said: “As we slow down, I expect the number of cases to increase somewhat, as has happened in other countries. We are therefore acting with caution.

“We want to prevent the numbers from climbing again, and having to impose a second breaker. We will significantly step up testing and contact tracing. Then we can detect new cases early, isolate them and their contacts, and eliminate clusters before they sprout. “

Numerous post-breaker cases have been found among migrant workers living in dormitories, with cases increasing in August. The government said there were no new locally acquired cases on Tuesday.

The breaker period coincided with a 13.2% contraction of GDP on an annual basis, with the Ministry of Trade and Industry adding: “The decline in GDP was due to the circuit breaker (CB) measures implemented by April 7 to June 1, 2020 to slow the spread of Covid-19 in Singapore, as well as the weakness of external demand in a context of a global economic slowdown caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. ”


Israel is expected to emerge from a nationwide lockdown this week after attempting a traffic light-type system – similar to England’s tier plan – where areas with high infection rates faced to the harshest measures.

The country, which had one of the highest per capita infection rates, introduced the measures during the major Rosh Hashanah holiday or a three-week period.

As of September 13, people could no longer move more than 500 meters from their homes except for essential activities, there were closures of non-essential stores, hotels and restaurants and a limit of 10 for gatherings.

More severe measures came a little over a week later, including the forced closure of synagogues, except during Yom Kippur. The measures were due to be lifted on October 10, but were extended for a week.

In a statement on Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: “I know the lockdown is very difficult for all of us, but I’m sure most of the public today understands that the decision I made regarding the lockdown is was necessary.

“It saved us from a geometric increase in morbidity, mortality and severe cases and it is still too early to get ahead.

“There are preliminary signs of success. However, we still need a few days to assess this. The exit will also be gradual, responsible and careful. “

According to figures from Johns Hopkins University, infection rates in Israel rose during the lockdown, from 4,764 new cases on September 14 to more than 11,000 on September 23. The most recent figures show 3,538 new cases as of October 12.

New Zealand

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern placed the country on Covid-19 alert level 4 – or a nationwide lockdown – at midnight on March 26. An emergency alert has been sent to New Zealanders saying “where you stay tonight is where you must stay now” and “you must only be in physical contact with those you live with”.

The measures have seen the closure of non-essential services, such as bars and restaurants, while supermarkets have been allowed to remain open.

Alert Level 4 ended on April 27, a week longer than expected.

Ms Ardern said: “We have considered that the longer we are locked out, the less likely it is that we will have to go back. We also considered moving alert levels to April 23, which is just 48 hours away.

“The sacrifice made to date has been enormous, and Cabinet wanted to make sure we locked in our gains and give us additional certainty. “

On April 18, New Zealand registered 13 new cases but did not have another double-digit day before August 12.


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