What is the impact of the shutdown?

Measures to stop the spread of Sars-Cov-2 are facing people with unprecedented challenges. Some are trying to juggle work at home with childcare, while others are worried about losing their entire livelihood. Commentators reflect on the long-term consequences of the state of emergency and how states should react.

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Hürriyet Daily News (TR) /

Family time gaining priority

People's priorities will shift, columnist Ersu Ablak writes on the Hürriyet Daily News website:

“People are redefining basics. They realized what a family is, when they had to spend more time with them. They realized the importance of making time for their kids. I believe that this situation, together with the realization that the way we live is not really sustainable, will change the way we live and work. Many people will resist going to a working space. People will be looking for working from home, to use the freed commuting time for their loved ones.”

Der Standard (AT) /

Women lose out

The pandemic has reinforced inequalities between men and women, Der Standard puts in:

“If the 24-hour caregiver is no longer allowed to come to help grandmother; if the cleaning lady stays at home; if the children have to be cooked for, schooled and entertained three times a day, our finely balanced living model collapses. ... The decisions that couples have to make these days are as simple as they are hard: the one with the higher income and a full-time job continues working as best as he can. The one with the part-time job and the low income takes over even more of the care work than before. Since 79 percent of all part-time jobs are done by women, it's not hard to guess how the roles are distributed. These are sobering financial considerations - with far-reaching consequences: anyone who does not stay on the ball professionally in such a megacrisis will also feel its long-term effects more strongly.”

Wedomosti (RU) /

Unconditional basic income on the way

The state must now ensure that income and work are decoupled, economist Maxim Buyev demands in Vedomosti:

“In the event of an epidemic it is important that the economy can retreat like a snail into the snail's shell without the labour market collapsing. In that case the lack of economic activity means a lack of work, but not of the means to secure one's livelihood. In short, we will move from experiments with the unconditional basic income to its active introduction. And in any case, the success of our societies in transforming the economy depends heavily on confidence in the state authorities.”

CriticAtac (RO) /

Don't solve the crisis in favour of capital

The World Bank has announced that it will also respond to the coronavirus crisis with aid programmes. The editors of blog platform Criticatac argue that this time a different approach is needed for the aid:

“It's important that this crisis is not 'solved' in favour of capital, as in previous crises. It's important to denounce structural reform programmes that present the market and austerity measures as the solution to all the problems. The World Bank and the IMF launched such programmmes in recent years in particular for 'developing countries' and 'emerging economies', which got them in return for new loans or new promises to take them into the 'good' world of the more capitalistically developed countries. Such programmes always meant austerity measures and poverty - and that trend (in all economic and social areas) is subject to the logic of capitalism: the hunt for profit.”

Azonnali (HU) /

Preserve the positive effects

The restrictions in our daily lives are revealing possibilities for a more viable and sustainable world, Sándor Èsik writes on the website Azonnali:

“I can only recommend that every Budapest resident take a good look down at the city as they take their constitutional walk from the citadel: this is what it's like when it's clean. When the hundred thousand cars whose owners could travel to work by bus or bicycle instead are not in use. ... Hungary could be a country where people voluntarily stay at home for five to six days during the February flu epidemic because their employers are flexible regarding working from home. ... One day the tourists will be back and traffic will increase again. But the where and how matters. It's up to us to decide how much of what we have achieved now can be preserved after the pandemic.”

Latvijas Avīze (LV) /

The profiteers are ready and waiting

Māris Antonēvičs of Latvijas Avīze sees Covid-19 as a good opportunity to identify the black sheep of the business world:

“I admit that I am not inspired by the mantra of 'crisis as an opportunity'. Someone always benefits from the suffering of others. ... Many of those who have lost their jobs in recent weeks could soon find themselves in financial difficulties and will certainly be approached by friendly 'helpers' with nicely packaged offers of credit. ... Health Minister Ilze Viņķele stressed this week that some entrepreneurs are trying to get rich off Covid-19. Unreasonable sums are being demanded for protective equipment and products are being sold without the necessary certificates. So it's a good time for us to discover the true character of various entrepreneurs.”

Libération (FR) /

Human history has become personal

The pandemic enables a deeply felt sense of humanity, sociologist Edgar Morin writes in Libération:

“With the curfew we've become more open, more attentive. And we show more solidarity with one another. ... Personally, I feel that if only because of the curfew I feel bound up with the nation's destiny and the global catastrophe. More than ever I feel I am participating in the uncertain adventure of our species. I feel the common fate of humanity more than ever. ... Everyone is part of the great organism of seven billion people, like a cell among hundreds of billions of cells in the body. And everyone takes part in this infinity, this incompleteness, this reality that is woven from dreams, in this whole that is made up of pain, joy and insecurity.”