Should Europe go back into lockdown?

Growing concern about rising infection numbers is prompting European governments to issue more and more travel warnings and classify regions as high-risk areas. Scientists are warning that the Covid-19 pandemic could spiral out of control again this autumn. While some commentators also stress that action must be taken, others warn against overreacting.

Open/close all quotes (SK) /

Horror scenario never materialised demands a critical evaluation of the experiences so far:

“Many of the national and international quarantine measures went way too far. It turned out that the pandemic isn't as dangerous or destructive as we feared at the beginning. The predictions of overcrowded hospitals and large numbers of victims were wrong. ... Consequently, the measures against it were also greatly exaggerated: the closure of businesses, schools and borders. ... Of course there have been extreme cases like in northern Italy or eastern France, where thousands of people died in overcrowded hospitals. However, those were extreme cases. The situation in Slovakia and most other countries was and is manageable.”

Le Monde (FR) /

The virus is not a domestic affair

Mathematician Miquel Oliu-Barton and economist Bary Pradelski, however, call for a different approach this time in Le Monde:

“At the national level, a targeted, realistic, understandable, joint plan for a new confinement period should be implemented. ... But the virus is not a national issue. So such a plan would benefit greatly if it were implemented by other European countries as well. ... A common plan would help restore the confidence of travellers and therefore freedom of movement where the epidemiological situation allows it. ... Europe has managed to agree on a joint economic recovery plan of historic proportions. Can we not hope that a joint policy of targeted new lockdowns can be be pursued in order to deal with the second wave of the virus?”

Le Soir (BE) /

New restrictions on freedom are unacceptable

Le Soir publishes an open letter from 60 doctors and academics taking issue with the Belgian government's measures:

“Initially it was necessary to avoid putting too much strain on the hospitals by flattening the curve, which was understandable. So far, however, no objective data has come out on the benefits of a lockdown for the population as a whole. It now seems that everything possible must be done to prevent people from getting infected with a virus that is no more dangerous than seasonal flu. ... The government has not yet been able to organise mass screening, a method known to be effective in isolating the sick and containing the spread of the virus. Instead, people's fundamental freedoms are being restricted once again. That is no longer acceptable.”

Magyar Nemzet (HU) /

Society must work together

Magyar Nemzet is concerned about the recklessness of the Hungarians:

“Hungary has already overcome the first shock. The fear that prevailed in spring has clearly diminished. It will be very difficult to put people back into an atmosphere of fear. Nor is that the goal, after all; it should be to ensure general caution. The danger is not over yet. ... To combat the pandemic effectively will require - today as it did yesterday - the joint efforts of the entire population.”

Der Standard (AT) /

Stop nationalist pseudo-leadership

Matthias Strolz, founder and former head of the liberal party Neos, is displeased that so many places are being declared high-risk areas, as he writes in the daily newspaper Der Standard:

“The fact that each national government is opening and closing countries and regions according to how they fit into its political dynamics (and electoral campaigns) is grotesque. ... The interventions must be decisive and transparent and mutually coordinated. A common basis for decisions is needed - among other things, an EU-wide 'corona traffic light' system [red, amber, green]: uniform definitions, tightly organised reporting and resolute implementation of the agreed measures at the regional level. Developing and adopting a joint approach along these lines isn't rocket science. It just requires one thing: political will. ... We will pay a high price for this nationalist pseudo-leadership.”

La Vanguardia (ES) /

Responding as a unified Europe

The EU should adopt a unified approach to confronting a potential second wave of the pandemic, demands La Vanguardia:

“In light of the fact that outbreaks are already occurring in the summer, the grave health situation we may be confronted with in the autumn should compel us to convene an extraordinary meeting of Europe's health ministers to coordinate criteria and adopt a common Covid-19 policy. That would create trust, clarity and predictability among European citizens and companies, to the benefit of everyone, and at the same time show that the European Union is capable of acting as a union. The chaos that ensued during the first phase of the pandemic must not be repeated.”

Lost in EUrope (DE) /

The EU is failing yet again

On his blog Lost in EUrope, Eric Bonse criticises a lack of logic in the way EU member states are issuing travel warnings for other EU states - as Germany has just done for Spain:

“[M]ost Germans [got infected] with Covid-19 in Germany, followed by Kosovo and Turkey. Next are Croatia, Serbia and Bulgaria; Spain is ranked 10th, even behind Poland! The British travel warning for France is just as arbitrary. ... And what is the EU Commission doing, which wanted to protect holidaymakers, secure the freedom to travel and prevent discrimination, doing? ... Nothing! The Commission could merely bring itself to write a letter to the ambassadors of the EU States, warning against closing borders, but not against the consequences of arbitrary travel warnings. The EU is failing yet again - just like in the spring when it all started.”