There is a play by the French playwright Jean-Paul Sartre called 'No Exit'.

It depicts the afterlife in which three characters are punished by being locked in a room together for all eternity with no way out and is the source of the famous quote "hell is other people".

It is a scenario some may empathise with here in today's post-Covid-19 world, where people are being asked to remain in lockdown at home for at least another three weeks.

But what happens after Tuesday, 5 May, the date when the Government will decide the next course of action based on expert medical advice?

Will it be possible then to safely revive the economy, to get back to work or school, maybe even to socialise again?

These questions are likely to be answered first in other countries, places like Austria and Denmark which are easing some restrictions next week. 

Denmark was one of the first European countries to impose a strict lockdown on its citizens, and it has been successful in avoiding a spike in coronavirus cases. 

Denmark's Prime Minister Mette Frederiks

But now the government wants to lift some of the more extreme measures, in a bid to resuscitate the country’s comatose economy. 

It will start next week by allowing primary schools and creches to reopen. 

"The reaction is definitely mixed," says Copenhagen-based journalist Emma Firth.

"When the government first announced the lockdown they had a big backing from the public and everyone did as they were asked.

"But the opening has started so quickly, and parents are especially worried that it's the youngest children going back into society first."

A Facebook group with thousands of subscribers has been set up by concerned parents called: "Mit barn er ikke forsøgskanin for Covid-19" - meaning my child is not a guinea pig for Covid-19. 

Once the schools return, the Danish government will then consider allowing smaller businesses and shops to reopen on a gradual basis. 

This scaled approach is also being followed in Austria which has set out a timetable of graduated steps to re-open parts of the economy. 

"We start with small stores. Two weeks later we re-open some parks, then bigger stores, and two weeks after that certain restrictions on bars and restaurants will be lifted, and maybe even hotels."

"We now have a plan on the table that looks credible and reasonable," says economist Gunter Deuber, Head of Economics at Raiffeisen Bank International in Vienna. 

He told RTÉ’s This Week, that the country has endured a tough lockdown for the past five weeks and it will now attempt a gradual return. 

"So the first phase will start next week where small stores and DIY shops will begin to reopen.

"Then there will be additional steps every two weeks, so that means over the next six to eight weeks we will begin to normalise the situation a bit.

"We start with small stores. Two weeks later we re-open some parks, then bigger stores, and two weeks after that certain restrictions on bars and restaurants will be lifted, and maybe even hotels."

If Covid-19 cases begin to rise following any of the individual steps, the government will then go into reverse gear and reimpose some restrictions. 

"It will take a long time to come back, and this is designed to be a trial and error phase, so you cannot easily say that progress will be linear and that every second week you will get another opening," says Gunter Deuber. 

The Austrian government has taken the added precaution of asking everybody who visits a shop or uses public transport in the coming weeks to wear a face mask. 

 A customer shopping with a face mask in Vienna

Where masks are not available shoppers are asked to cover their faces with scarves or shawls. 

"I think that's probably a way of ensuring that where there is a shortfall of masks this doesn't translate into a denial of entry to supermarkets for shoppers" says Vienna-based journalist Anthony Mills.

"There is a discussion here too about whether or not there are enough masks for the medical personnel, but what is certain is that you will effectively be breaking the law if you enter a supermarket or one of the shops that is allowed to open without a mask" he says. 

But before any government considers lifting lockdown restrictions it has to be sure that it has accurate information about how quickly the disease is spreading. 

Without this information it is impossible to know whether the lifting of restrictions is causing the virus to be transmitted more rapidly.

"You need clear data of the highest quality" says Professor of European Public Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Martin McKee.

"We have to know how many people are dying and how many people are infected."

"This is more complicated than it sounds," he adds.

"In the United Kingdom, for example, every day the government gives the number of deaths that were reported the day before. But in fact, we now know that many of those deaths occurred days earlier, so we don't actually know how many people died on that day.

"And this is true in many countries. They're facing real challenges in bringing this data together, plus capturing people who are in care homes or adults who are dying at home" he says.

Inaccurate data makes it much more difficult to know whether or not the steps governments are taking to revive their economies are having a damaging effect on the fight against the disease.

The empty Prater amusement park in Vienna

The other important indicator said Professor McKee is the reproductive rate of the virus. That’s the number of people infected by a person who has it.

"Typically with coronavirus each person infects between two-and-a-half and three other people.

"Social distancing is bringing this down significantly. But if we can get it to below one, then the epidemic will ultimately fizzle out.

"We must also see death rates going down before we can start to lift restrictions" he said. 

In Ireland experts are now beginning to examine how the economy can return to something resembling normality. 

But it will not be as simple as re-opening shops, schools and businesses or ordering people to wear masks.

Some sectors of the economy are not expected to bounce back as quickly as others. 

In Austria economists predict there will be pent up demand in some areas of the economy but other sectors will lag far behind.

"Some stores, like DIY or car sales could do well," Gunter Deuber added, "but for other things like restaurant bars or hotels, I don't see too much pent up demand."

There is also likely to be a fear factor, said Professor McKee.

"The thing is that if you open up too early, people will not actually go to these places because they'll still see the death rate rising, and death continuing."

He said there is a glimmer of hope emerging that doctors are gaining a better understanding of how to treat severe cases"

But for everybody else, coronavirus, he says, "is going to change our lives in all sorts of ways".

"And until it is finally eradicated with a vaccine and with other measures, I think we're still going to see social distancing, we're going to see other measures to reduce the transmission, quite simply because people are going to be scared."