Covid-19 EU Update: European Countries Cautiously Start to Ease Lockdown Measures

Written by | Thursday, April 23rd, 2020

Some European countries are set to ease lockdown measures this week, while France, the UK and others, continue in lockdown, with no plan made public for the easing of restrictions. France, Spain and Italy, the continent‘s worst-affected countries, are registering falling numbers of Covid-19 infected and dead after weeks of rising numbers. With the pandemic in Germany being “under control and manageable”, as Health Minister Jens Spahn said, the country has now allowed the reopening of smaller shops. But German Chancellor Angela Merkel called on citizens and residents to continue to adhere to social distancing measures, saying that they still stand “at the beginning of the pandemic and are still a long way from being out of the woods.” Schools in France should reopen on 11 May, according to tentative plans, but officials have warned any deconfinement would be gradual. Children in Spain will be allowed to go outside for fresh air from 27 April after having been strictly confined since mid March.
The European Commission estimates the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak could be greater than the financial crisis in 2008. In order to keep the economy running, the EU executive introduced flexibility for funds and national expenditure, member states approved a safety net of liquidity for countries, workers and companies involving the ESM, EIB, and Commission SURE, and EU leaders agreed on the need to work out a recovery plan for the block in the coming months. The bloc’s executive told the 27 member states’ envoys that it wanted to finance a new recovery fund via increased so-called headroom in the bloc’s next joint budget. But EU leaders due to meet via a video call on Thursday (23 April) are not expected to make any final decisions on exactly how to finance economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, diplomats and officials told Reuters. The Commission estimates the global outbreak could wipe off as much as a tenth of the continent’s economic output.
Meanwhile, people around the globe are taking the threat of Covid-19 pandemic and its impact on democratic values increasingly seriously, according to a new Gallup survey. The survey, which was carried out in 17 countries around the world, including Germany, India, Italy, Bulgaria, the US, Russia and others, has also found that concerns among their citizens about an economic and social crisis are deepening. Over the last few weeks, fear of catching the coronavirus in countries such as the US, Thailand, Switzerland, Argentina, Austria and Japan has increased. Also people in many countries, including India, Austria, Malaysia, Germany and others, now seem to be more satisfied with the way in which their governments are handling the crisis. The survey has also found that 63% (up from 59%) of respondents around the world do not think that the threat of the coronavirus is exaggerated, while about 33% (down from 38%) still believe the opposite.

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