Berlin – Slowly, temporarily, a handful of European countries have begun to lift barriers in daily life for the first time since the onset of the coronovirus crisis, prompting Western democracies to resume their economies and fundamentals. What can you do without restoring independence. Reviving the spread of the disease.
On Tuesday, the epicenter of Europe’s crisis, Italy reopened some bookshops and children’s clothing stores. Spain allowed workers to return to factories and construction sites, despite daily deaths of over 500. Austria allowed thousands of hardware and home improvement stores to reopen until workers and customers wore masks.
In Denmark, primary school teachers taught classes, so young children could return to school on Wednesday, while in the Czech Republic, a restless public tried to reopen sports centers and some shops.
When Lucas Zachowal, a sales manager in the Czech Republic, lost a tennis match to his father this week, in a 6-4, 6-3 drubbing – the necklace tasted sweet. After all, it was his first match as the Czech government began to impose a wider ban on society, including a ban on communal sports, which had been going on for almost a month.
“I can’t live without the game,” Mr. Zachoval explained.
The ease of the lockdown was viewed with interest and immersion throughout Europe and beyond, and introduced deeper and deeper questions.
“How much are we willing to pay to save people’s lives?” Asked Jana Pugliurin, director of the Berlin office of the European Council on Foreign Relations, an independent research group. “And when we do more damage – when we put the lockdown in place, or when we open it early?”
The thriving, country-by-country slack without any coordination between nations, underscores the absence of any general agreement, or even understanding, about the challenge of keeping economies alive during illness. The International Monetary Fund warns that the global economy is headed It has the worst performance since the Great Depression.
There is a similar debate about reopening society in the United States, where President Trump has insisted that he call “shots” on the matter, considering the objections of many states’ leaders. Mr Trump, himself under fire and his poll numbers intensifying the controversy, said on Tuesday that he would stop funding the World Health Organization, accusing him of making mistakes that allowed the virus to spread. .
As the slow, piece-by-piece approach in Europe suggests, the ban on daily life probably won’t end in a clean break. Instead, people can expect a series of staggered interventions and loosening, perhaps over a period of weeks or months, if not longer.
“At the beginning of the crisis, many people felt that we could shut down Denmark for two to three weeks and then we could get rid of the virus,” Peter Mun Christian, Head of Political Science at Aarhus University, Denmark he said. .
“But there’s a gradual feeling that didn’t happen,” he said. “People accept that we have to have a gradual opening, and also that it hasn’t gone away from the heat. It will probably be here for years.”
On a continent where supply chains are interconnected, asymmetric approaches taken by European governments may slow economic gains.
Mr. Zachowal was relieved by the easing of some measures in the Czech Republic, his income still remains due to restrictions in force elsewhere.
Like many Czech companies, Mr. Zachowal’s saw factory relies heavily on buyers in Western Europe. But most countries have closed their borders, even the Czech Republic has partially closed its own or its own sales rooms, with Mr. Zachowal also stepping into production Is expected
On Tuesday, Mr. Zachowal placed some orders from his home country, but received nothing from the main markets of Germany, France and Italy.
“A lot of other states are not fully functioning,” Mr. Zachowal said in a telephone interview. “And we’re an exporter, so we don’t feel the change too much.”
If this continues, he said, “Within a few weeks I think we will have to stop production, because orders are not coming yet.”
At a summit meeting in late March, 27 heads of states of the European Union acknowledged the need for their countries to emerge from their respective lockdowns. A coordinated exit strategy, And called for the leadership of the block to form a joint plan.
But such a plan has not yet been agreed. Last week, the president of the block’s administrative branch, Ursula von der Leyen, postponed a news conference at which he was expected to announce it.
The absence of a united approach to the economic revival of Europe has long-term implications, Derek Beach, an academic who researches on European integration at Aarhus University.
For example, if Germany adopts a different approach to preventing the virus than its neighbors, the government cannot afford to reopen its borders for fear of curtailing its public health efforts. Yet without open borders, the continent The economy will not function properly.
“The lack of coordination is such a big issue here,” Professor Beach said. “Unless you have a common strategy, you have to keep the boundaries closed. But if the boundaries are closed, does the supply chain still operate over an extended time period? “
Even within individual countries, the relaxation of restrictions has led to the lack of a sensitive approach.
In Spain, workers could return mainly to factories, but many were not required due to lack of demand. And those who returned were sometimes frightened for their health.
“I don’t agree, but what else can you do?” Said a 52-year-old electrician in Barcelona who was only asked to be identified by his maiden name Jose. “If my boss calls me, and I say no, they don’t call me again.”
In Italy, booksellers cited a lack of clarity about whether people could now travel from neighboring cities to their shops or only from the surrounding district.
Mauro Mararani, who works at his wife’s bookstore in Florence, said he had written to the president of his region for an answer. Mr. Mararani was also obsessed with a requirement that the book shop provide disposable gloves to customers – which are nearly impossible to find.
Amidst this uncertainty, he said, he had made only one sale in five hours.
“It’s very vague,” Mr. Marrani said. “If it stays that way, I think we are better off closing altogether, and waiting until all stores reopen.”
Among economists, there were also questions on Tuesday about whether they use the right tools to assess Europe’s post-lockdown economy.
“This is a new world,” is Carlos-Johann Dallagard, one of four Danish economics professors who preside over Denmark’s economic councils, informally known as “sensible men”.
Denmark’s decision to reopen some schools and kindergartens makes sense, said Professor Delgaard, who teaches at the University of Copenhagen, because it allows parents to be more professionally productive.
But in general, the relationship between how the economy works and how the coronovirus spreads is not yet fully understood, he said.
“To understand this two-way road between epidemiology and economics will require a dialogue between epidemiologists and economists,” Professor Dallagard said. “These devices are not available yet.”
Elisabetta Povolido contributed reporting from Rome, Rafael Minder from Madrid and Ilean Peltier from Barcelona.