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SPOTLIGHT: WHEN WILL WE OPEN UP? AND HOW?
National shutdowns across the West are moving toward Month Two, and the prevailing urgency has shifted from avoiding massive loss of life to taking the first small steps to resuming our daily business — and restarting our economies. Beyond the predictions and financial modeling about the fate of the global economy are more prosaic, though thorny questions facing leaders in each country: When? How? And how much...will we open up? And this is only the beginning.
Leading the way right now is Spain, which just two weeks ago was making world headlines for surpassing Italy with the highest number of deaths per day, is well ahead of other European countries in reopening of some sectors of its economy this week. El Pais reports that police were set to hand out up to 10 million masks in metro stations and other public places as part of a national plan to limit further contagion.
Elsewhere, other countries not as hard hit, were also relaxing their restrictions: In Denmark and Norway, kindergartens and elementary schools are set to open later this week; while in Austria, small shops opened Monday, with all commerce to be permitted beginning May 1.
Predictably, such decisions have spurred criticism in some quarters, including the World Health Organization, which issued a sharp warning that premature easing of countermeasures could mean a "deadly resurgence" of the coronavirus, perhaps with its mind on China, Singapore and Taiwan where new cases have recently flared up after quarantines were lifted.
Comparisons and coordination will be useful, though most acknowledge that there will be no one-model-fits-all exit schedule. Indeed, what might work in Denmark — a small country with a strong and flexible economy — might mean catastrophe in Spain, where more than three million people were unemployed before the coronavirus hit.
Robin Wigglesworth of The Financial Times quotes a fresh report from Morgan Stanley. The investment bank's own internal head of biotech research cautions on the U.S. economy in light of how difficult it will be to truly return to normal, so long as there is no vaccine: "While we understand the desire for optimism, we also caution that the US outbreak is far from over. Recovering from this acute period in the outbreak is just the beginning and not the end. We believe the path to re-opening the economy is going to be long."
We are still very much in the dark about how this crisis will play out. But one thing is certain, countries can only sustain economic hibernation periods for so long, and while some general spirit of compromise has to guide us out of the lockdowns, reviving our economies in the years to come will require both more national decisiveness and international collaboration than we have seen in generations.
— Carl-Johan Karlsson
THE SITUATION: 7 THINGS TO KNOW RIGHT NOW
British view: The UK hospital death toll surpasses 10,000, as top scientific advisors warn it could become the hardest hit country in Europe. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is released from hospital, praising medical team for "saving my life."
Easing Restrictions:Spain will begin to ease lockdown measures with the rate of new infections falling, with select industries opening back up. Italy is also said to be opening a few firms on Tuesday. Norwegian schools have gradually started to reopen.
Oil: The price of oil creeps up after an end to the price war as OPEC and Russian allies strike a deal for an unprecedented cut in output to prop up prices during the pandemic.
Seoul help: South Korea sending reported 600,000 coronavirus testing kits to the United States.
Trump v Fauci: Top U.S. health advisor Anthony Fauci confirms press report that for a month he and other officials urged social distancing measures in vain to Trump Administration. In apparent response, President Trump retweets call for firing of Fauci.
Supply chain? World's largest condom producer forecasts major shortage.
"Thinking About the World After" — Le Monde