• A hairdresser’s in Houston, Texas, installed screens to separate customers.
  • At the Gare du Nord in Paris, markers on the platforms keep commuters two metres apart while waiting for trains.
  • In Brussels, a Mercedes car dealership uses wheels to help social distancing.

Lockdown is loosening a little in some parts of the world. For many, it means a chance to get out and do things once considered mundane. And for struggling businesses, it’s a welcome respite. But measures to throttle the spread of the coronavirus have transformed many everyday activities. Here is a snapshot of how people and companies around the world are adjusting.

On the move

Grabbing a sandwich or a coffee, maybe on the way into work or during your lunch break, has often meant waiting in line. These customers in the Netherlands are using over-sized yellow circles that extend out into the parking lot to wait their turn.

Customers wait outside on social distancing markings at a prototype location of fast food giant McDonald's for restaurants which respect the 1.5m social distancing measure, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Arnhem, Netherlands, May 1, 2020. REUTERS/Piroschka van de Wouw
Social distance queuing at McDonalds.
Image: REUTERS/Piroschka van de Wouw

It could be that circles are the new way of helping people stand a safe distance apart. Here at the Gare du Nord railway station in Paris, they are in use on the platforms.

Plastic circles are seen on the ground indicating where to stand to respect social distancing on a platform at the Gare du Nord train station during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Paris, France, May 5, 2020. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
Please move down the platform - Paris' Gare du Nord.
Image: REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

Eating out

Many restaurants and bars may struggle to remain commercially viable if they have to make substantial cuts to the number of customers they can serve at a time. This café in Thailand has adopted a pulley system to pass customers their food and drinks.

A man receives a coffee in a cart pulled by a rope as a transportation system after a cafe adopted a social distance policy for their customers amid fears of coronavirus outbreak in Bangkok, Thailand March 20, 2020. REUTERS/Chalinee Thirasupa
Good to go.
Image: REUTERS/Chalinee Thirasupa

And in Hong Kong, customers at this café have a lot more space between them than they used to.

Tables and chairs are taped up to keep social distancing at a Starbucks coffee shop, following the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Hong Kong, China April 2, 2020. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu
Tables and chairs are taped up to keep social distancing at a Starbucks coffee shop.
Image: REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

What is the World Economic Forum doing about the coronavirus outbreak?

Responding to the COVID-19 pandemic requires global cooperation among governments, international organizations and the business community, which is at the centre of the World Economic Forum’s mission as the International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation.

Since its launch on 11 March, the Forum’s COVID Action Platform has brought together 1,667 stakeholders from 1,106 businesses and organizations to mitigate the risk and impact of the unprecedented global health emergency that is COVID-19.

The platform is created with the support of the World Health Organization and is open to all businesses and industry groups, as well as other stakeholders, aiming to integrate and inform joint action.

As an organization, the Forum has a track record of supporting efforts to contain epidemics. In 2017, at our Annual Meeting, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) was launched – bringing together experts from government, business, health, academia and civil society to accelerate the development of vaccines. CEPI is currently supporting the race to develop a vaccine against this strand of the coronavirus.

Being served

In some countries, you still can’t get your hair cut. But you can if you live in Texas. This salon in Houston has a partition between clients, and the staff wear masks and gloves.

Women are separated by dividers as they have their hair washed after social distancing guidelines to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) are relaxed, at Bella Rinova in Houston, Texas, U.S. May 8, 2020. REUTERS/Callaghan O'Hare
Clean cleaning.
Image: REUTERS/Callaghan O'Hare

In Jakarta, these people wait in line to use an automated rice-dispensing machine.

People wearing protective face masks practice social distancing while receiving rice from an automated rice ATM distributor amid the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Jakarta, Indonesia May 4, 2020. REUTERS/Ajeng Dinar Ulfiana
People wearing protective face masks practice social distancing while receiving rice from an automated rice distributor.
Image: REUTERS/Ajeng Dinar Ulfiana

This bank in Tokyo has deployed lots of screening, while both staff and customers are wearing face masks.

A bank teller wearing a protective face mask stands at a counter where a plastic curtain is installed in order to prevent infections following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, at the Higashinakano branch of MUFG Bank in Tokyo, Japan, April 24, 2020. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
Tokyo bank.
Image: REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

In Brussels, this Mercedes car dealership has put piles of wheels to good use, helping maintain social distancing while staying on brand.

People stand on social-distancing markers at a Mercedes car dealer, as Belgium began easing lockdown restrictions allowing some businesses to reopen, following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Brussels, Belgium, May 6, 2020. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir     TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
People stand on social-distancing markers at a Mercedes car dealer.
Image: REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

This Italian factory, which produces metal bearings, has added social distancing markings to the floor.

Social distancing markings are seen at the NTN-ICSA factory that produces metal bearings for cars, planes and buses, as Italy begins a staged end to a nationwide lockdown, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), San Benigno Canavese, Italy, May 4, 2020. REUTERS/Massimo Pinca - RC2JHG9BOSVW
Keep right.
Image: REUTERS/Massimo Pinca.

And at this car factory in France, plastic barriers have been installed to maintain social distancing.

An employee, wearing a protective face mask, sits at a table with plastic barriers to maintain social distancing as he works on the automobile assembly line of Renault ZOE cars at the Renault automobile factory in Flins as the French carmaker ramps up car production with new security and health measures during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in France, May 6, 2020. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes - RC2YIG93O50M
Workers at this car factory have to keep their distance.
Image: REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes