Italy has become the only country where the spring disaster was not in vain - 1,500 people are registered here.
Yelena Ivanova, Berlin
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who himself had covid disease, addressed the nation. He does not exclude the onset of a second wave, and with it a new lockdown, in order to prevent the spread of infection. Almost 5,000 people were infected on the islands yesterday. If the "freedom-loving British" do not follow the new rules, the prime minister said, they will become even more draconian. While in England, the requirements for wearing masks are increasing and the ban on indoor team sports and fitness clubs is renewed. Restaurants and pubs will now be closed at 10 pm. The British are prohibited from hosting guests. A month ago, the cabinet announced the launch of an advertising campaign to return employees to offices. Yesterday Boris Johnson strongly recommended working from home.
Doctors say that 5,000 infected per day is not the limit. Chris Whitty and Patrick Vallance, medical advisers to the government, warned that "the situation in the UK has deteriorated again", and it is possible that 50,000 people infected with coronavirus will be registered in the country in mid-October. Johnson's address to the nation was in the style of Winston Churchill, so beloved by the current prime minister. "Never in our history has the fate of a nation and its health depended so much on the behavior of each individual citizen".
The new measures in the UK are the result of a fierce weeklong parliamentary debate with epidemiologists. They demanded to announce a two-week lockdown in order to interrupt the infectious chains.
The measures have been announced more lenient, but Downing Street has already indicated that they will be in effect until next spring. However, the government wants to stop the program to support various sectors of the economy. The head of the cabinet has already been approached by lobbying organizations for tourism, the financial sector, sports and the arts to extend economic aid.
“You can live”, - says businessman Yevgeny Chichvarkin from London. “First, they released a psycho scientist who wrote an unrealistic approximation, painted a picture of the plague of the 19th century. In the end, the government did everything to show that there are many measures, but, if possible, not disturb business. They said - everything is possible, but until 10 pm This means that everyone who brings big money, everyone stays. Clubs and pubs where people are close to each other disappear. Restaurants remain, and clients who generate income remain. I don't think this will last long, but it was important for the government that people did not ask for support".
Conservative MP and Conservative for the City and Westminster of London, Niki Aiken, said the blow to small businesses would be devastating. Cafes and restaurants are already suffering from a decrease in the number of visitors, and now they will have to work on a reduced program. Firms organizing conferences and events were looking forward to October 1 to start working. Now, the parliamentarian says, they have learned that they will resume their activities only in six months. Dr. Chaand Najpool, head of the British Medical Association, criticizes the government for not wanting to tighten the rules even further. “The prime minister did not want to touch the 'six' rule, which means that members of six households can continue to meet indoors. During the lockdown, only two families could do this at a time. The evidence suggests that household-to-household transmission is the biggest driver, so the rule should be tightened as soon as possible”.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan welcomed the new rules, but added that they would be strengthened in London.
The spring quarantine in the Iberian Peninsula was one of the toughest in the world. After the holiday season, Spain became the champion in infection , beating France. There are queues in hospitals again, as it was in the spring. There are 250 cases per 100 thousand people in Spain. This is twice as much as in the USA and 10 times as much as in Italy. The Spanish authorities claim that Spain, like France and Austria, is ahead of other European countries by 2 weeks. If so, then this is bad news for Europe.
The government explains the large number of cases by increasing testing. Now 70% of cases are recognized, while in the spring this figure did not exceed 10%. In half of the patients, the disease is asymptomatic. The mortality rate does not even reach one percent.
Spaniards are sociable people. Although they greet with the help of their elbows, no one wants to give up the "sombremeza", the afternoon communication.
"In Spain, people are used to physical contact", - says Harvard epidemiologist Miguel Hernan, who advised the Spanish government in the spring. People talk loudly, this leads to the formation of aerosols. The longer the sombremesis lasts, the more likely the risk of infection is.
“The virus is attacking the Spanish lifestyle”, - says Miguel Otero of Real Instituto Elcano. In the spring, people only went out to shop. Social starvation has occurred. In the summer it spilled out. Young people threw parties and had fun at permitted discos. First they infected themselves, then they infected their parents and grandparents. Discos were closed, and lockdown became more real than ever. After the abolition of quarantine, the provinces of Spain took it upon themselves to establish the chains of infection. But nothing good came of this - there are 800 scouts working in Madrid who identify contacts of infected people, and the capital's population is 6.6 million people.
Foreigners own a lot of real estate on the coast. In Torros, a town on the Costa del Sol, 4,000 Germans are registered permanently. The city receives 70% of its income from tourists. In July, there were still guests here, and there were not enough places on the beaches. With the beginning of the second wave, tourists were gone.
1/8 of the Spanish budget is generated by tourism revenues and employs 2.6 million people. If in 2019 in the first half of the year there were 193 million hotel nights in the country, then in the same period of 2020 this figure was 56 million. Tourism will lose 100 billion euros this year. Annual GDP losses will range from 11 to 15%, according to forecasts of the Institute of World Economy in Kiel. More than 1 million Spaniards have already lost their jobs; by the end of the year, another 1.25 million people will lose it.
“If the recession in Spain is twice as strong as in Germany, no European recovery fund will be able to improve the situation”, - says economist Felbermeier from Kiel. “It’s impossible to collect that much money. Europe will become even more unequal. The danger of conflicts in the distribution of funds will grow".
In some areas of Madrid, a kind of quarantine and movement restrictions have been introduced. However, residents themselves say that soft measures are unlikely to help.
Unlike Spain, France and England, where the second wave of covid began after the weakening of anti-epidemic measures, Italy keeps the spread of infection under control. The number of new cases per day was 1,500 people per day, but this is far from 10,000 in Spain and France. At the same time, life in the country has returned to normal, restaurants and bars are open, and children go to school.
Infectious disease specialist Fabrizio Plegliasco from the University of Milan says: “Italy is in a better position than its neighbors because we were the first to be hit by the wave of covid. Therefore, we had more time to prepare for the post-quarantine life. Restrictions were removed from us more gradually, and if something went wrong, the government returned to stricter measures".
Prime Minister Giuseppe Conti has tirelessly told Italians that the end of the quarantine is not the end of the epidemic. The state of emergency in Italy, unlike in Spain, was not lifted, so the authorities could act immediately, without lengthy procedures and explanations.
In August, Rome decided to close discos and on the compulsory wearing of masks in public places and on the street with a crowd of people from 6 pm to 6 am. These measures were extended for another month. According to a poll conducted by Imperial College London, 84% of Italians support wearing masks as mandated by the government. In England, the level of support is lower - only 76% of Britons are for wearing masks.
Whoever refuses to comply with the requirements pays a fine. In late August, Italian media reported a € 400 fine imposed on a 29-year-old man who refused to wear a mask at the Trevi Fountain in Rome.
This Monday, the police checked 50 thousand people and almost 5,000 companies, fined 227 people and closed 3 businesses.
“Italians maintain a social distance and against infections, in the smallest store they follow all the instructions very accurately,” says Andrea Crisanti , professor of microbiology at the University of Padua.
Prof Chrysanti says the authorities are paying more attention not only to mass testing, but also to tracing infection chains. Therefore, tests show only 2% of those infected, in contrast to Spain, where the number of infected is 13%. “If we find one infected person, we trace all his contacts to the last person. The problem with this epidemic is not the infected, but the asymptomatic. If you do not break the chains, you will never get out of the epidemic”, - says the scientist.
"If the Italians fulfill all the requirements, then we can survive without a second wave until the new vaccine", - says Professor Pregliasco.
However, not a single Western European country is fully confident that the pandemic will end soon, or there will be no casualties. “Everything is clear, nothing is clear,” a doctor friend in Berlin said to the author of these lines. There was a very sad irony on my face...
According to Cyprus Tourism, Austria and Switzerland will be downgraded to C from Thursday. A negative PCR result and a two-week quarantine are prerequisites for travel to Cyprus from these countries. Another PCR test must be performed on the 14th day. This makes tourist travel nearly impossible. Category C also includes Spain, France, Croatia and the Czech Republic. It is unclear how long this classification will apply to Austria.