COVID-19 Safe Countries: Here's What It's Like In Israel, Singapore, New Zealand, And More
It's been over one year since the pandemic began and while a majority of countries still struggle to control the virus, a handful of others are enjoying the benefits of cautious protocol, swift government response, and science-based action. Though the same can't be said for the Philippines, which is struggling with a much-deadlier second wave, we wonder what life is like in countries that have been able to reopen safely and smartly for their citizens.
Israel is a vaccine success story. Having inoculated a majority of its adult population, Israel has now rescinded its outdoor mask mandate. Last September 2020, they had also reopened schools. Though masks are still required in indoor settings, people have also been seen gathering outdoors in large numbers. Even in the state's official Instagram account, a large group of people have been spotted relaxing enviably together along the pristine shores of Tel Aviv's beaches.
Under the watchful eyes of Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand has served as a model for global action against the pandemic. Though its vaccination rollout is slow in comparison to other countries, life Down Under seems largely back to normal. Recently, the launch of the trans-Tasman bubble (a travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand) proved an emotional necessity for separated families. Pictures from Auckland airport show emotional reunions between friends, families, and couples who hadn't been able to see each other in over a year—something the rest of the world is eager to experience for themselves and their loved ones.
Taiwan is famously strict in its compliance with COVID-19 protocol, but it's this efficiency that has left them unscathed against the virus—a feat considering its proximity to China, where the virus was first detected. This response has led to the sense of normalcy enjoyed by Taiwanese citizens. Last October 2020, the country hosted a large LGBTQ+ Pride event with over 130,000 people—mostly unmasked.
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Though Singapore reports relatively few cases of COVID-19, the country doesn't seem to be giving up on its strict safety protocol just yet. Much like in the Philippines (and in many other countries), there are mandatory temperature checks, social distancing mandates, and contact tracing forms and QR codes. Yet, there is one stark difference between Singapore and other locales: according to an opinion piece written by a Singaporean citizen, there is much less fear of infection on the part of the citizens.
People aren't scared to leave their homes in Singapore. Movie theatres are open, as are zoos and tourist attractions. Hawker stalls and indoor dining remain popular options for locals—something most other countries would have already banned. In fact, recent travel news states that New Zealand is contemplating a travel bubble with Singapore in the nearby future as well.
Europe has been largely hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, yet Iceland remains one of the few countries in the area with low infection rates. Though the nation isn't as widely covered as New Zealand or Australia, Iceland had been slowly reopening. Gyms have been accessible since January of 2021 and public pools since December of 2020. Bars had also reopened as of February 2021.
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