For some time, EU countries such as Spain and Italy were among some of the worst affected by the coronavirus, reporting 180,650+ cases (18,810+ deaths) and 165,150+ cases (21,640+ deaths) respectively. However, thanks to strict lockdown measures, the number of new daily case numbers and death reports in European countries are slowly decreasing, and so countries are considering lifting some of the restrictions on public movement.
In fact, manufacturing and construction work has started up again in Spain, bookstores and children’s clothing shops have opened again in some regions of Italy, garden centres, as well as thousands of smaller shops, reopened in Austria on 14 April, and in Demark, schools and nurseries for children up to the age of 11 have reopened – Norway is reportedly working towards the same goal.
Germany, which has been praised for its Covid-19 response, announced that as of 20 April, shops under a certain size may be able to start opening their doors again, with schools planned to gradually open as of 4 May.
However German Chancellor Angela Merkel did assert that social distancing rules would stay in place until at least 3 May, and that the use of face masks in shops and on public transport was recommended, although not mandatory. “It will be a great logistical effort and it needs very careful preparation,” she said. “Shops of up to 800 square metres could be able to restart their businesses from Monday, provided they have ‘plans to maintain hygiene’.”
SchengenVisaInfo.com has revealed that Schengen borders may not open up again until September
In France, where the epidemic is still not yet under control in some regions, President Emmanuel Macron told the public on 13 April that measures will not be lifted until May 11.
And in terms of cross-border travel, in an update on its website, SchengenVisaInfo.com has revealed that Schengen borders may not open up again until September – an extension on the European Commission’s call for the prolongation of the border closure until mid-May – and that Schengen Visa applicants will then be required to submit a negative Covid-19 test, or else be vaccinated against the virus, once a vaccination is available and if the virus remains active.
While many countries in Europe had imposed strict non-essential movement measures by the second and third weeks of March, closing land borders in some countries and imposing nation-wide lockdowns in nearly all, in the UK, the imposition of measurements was delayed by a week or so, and in the US, which has now reported the biggest number of total cases (over 644,340) and the largest number of deaths (over 28,550), the roll-out of travel restrictions has also been similarly criticised for a lack of urgency.
While Donald Trump has announced that he plans to start lifting lockdown measures in order to reopen the US economy, numerous US governors – and a particular spotlight has been placed on New York Governor Andrew Cuomo – have argued against this, concerned about the effect this will have on the health of the country. On Tuesday, US Infectious Diseases Adviser Dr Anthony Fauci insisted that a deadline of the 1 May for lifting some restrictions might be ‘overly optimistic’.
In an extraordinary move, Trump has also since ordered that the US halt funding to the World Health Organization, alleging that the organisation has handled the outbreak poorly ...
In the UK, which now reports 12,860+ deaths (though The Office of National Statistics has since reported that deaths in England caused by the coronavirus by 3 April were 15-per-cent higher than previously reported NHS numbers), the government has enforced an additional three weeks of lockdown measures, to be revised again on the 7 May.
This comes despite UK Finance Minister Rishi Sunak and Home Secretary Priti Patel pushing for restrictions to be lifted sooner rather than later, which they are anxious to initiate to ease the impact of Covid-19 restrictions on the nation’s economy.
On 14 April, the International Monetary Fund warned that the world faces its worst recession since the Great Depression of the 1930s
Indeed, economists and governments the world over are increasingly worried about the impact of the global pandemic. On 14 April, the International Monetary Fund warned that the world faces its worst recession since the Great Depression of the 1930s.
Still, countries are wary of lifting measures too soon, anxious that to do so would encourage a second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic; while countries in the East seem to be recovering form the worst of it, some, like China, which has now lifted its strict lockdown measures, are still reporting new cases.
European Commission Chief Ursula Von Der Leyen said the European Union would require a budget ‘completely different to normal EU budgets in order to recover from the economic shock caused by the virus. “We’re not talking about a billion [euros], we’re talking about a trillion, looking at the investment initiative that has to be done,” she said.
She added that she was to host a virtual pledging conference on 4 May to raise money to fill ‘immediate funding gaps’ in vaccine research, which she hoped would receive a massive response. She noted that life cannot return to ‘full normality’ until a vaccine had been developed, something that many contend is highly unlikely to happen before 2021.