Coronavirus 3rd Wave? – EU Countries Impose Christmas Lockdowns, Creating New Poverty Class

Written by | Wednesday, December 16th, 2020

The Dutch and Czech governments have decided to impose strict Christmas lockdowns to fight surges in coronavirus infections. “This year’s Christmas will be totally different,” Czech health minister Jan Blatný said while Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte announced that “the Netherlands will close for five weeks … we’re going to have to swallow the bitter pill.” The Netherlands begun introducing sweeping new coronavirus restrictions on Tuesday (15 December) in a lockdown that will remain in place until 19 January 2021. Officials said the lockdown that involves the shutdown of schools, non-essential shops, museums and gyms – was being introduced swiftly to avoid panic buying in the shops.
The moves follow similar measures in Germany, amid expectations that Italy will also follow. Germany has entered a strict lockdown from today (16 December) to stop the spread of COVID-19. Chancellor Angela Merkel has announced the government will close all non-essential businesses and schools through 10 January 10 after reaching an agreement with the governors of the 16 federal states. Citing the heavy death toll due to the virus and the “exponential growth” of infections, Merkel said that the authorities needed to act now. In France, some parts of the country have launched mass COVID-19 testing campaigns in a new attempt to try to curb the pandemic before a relaxation of measures comes in ahead of the holidays. The number of cases in France is still way above where the government wanted them to be ahead of deconfinement.
Meanwhile, the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic is wreaking havoc, especially among the middle classes all across Europe. Nearly half the people asking for social and financial help now are called the “new poor”. They’re people who, for the first time, are in a position of vulnerability. In Spain, for example, people from all walks of life are suddenly finding themselves exposed to hardship and occasionally hunger. Oxfam, a confederation of 20 independent charitable organizations focusing on the alleviation of global poverty, believes that COVID-19 could raise the number of people living in poverty in Spain by around 1.1 million. Before the pandemic, the organization delivered 2.5 tons of food per month, serving around 130 to 140 people. In the past 8 months, their deliveries have increased to over 100 tons. But it is not only the relatively poorer EU member Spain, but the coronavirus has shattered lives for example also in the bloc’s sixth-richest country Austria Even in Vienna, the capital known for its wealth and well-being, many who were once in a comfortable situation, have now found themselves on the streets.

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