Second wave: no time for more discussions?

In view of the sharp rise in the number of coronavirus infections across Europe, many governments have reintroduced stricter containment measures. While many commentators find the discussion about the pros and contras of restrictions no longer appropriate, others voice dismay over contradictory rules and regulations.

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De Tijd (BE) /

Closed pubs are the lesser evil

The Belgians shouldn't moan about cafés and restaurants being closed, says De Tijd:

“The big horror scenario is another general lockdown like in the spring. ... Graffiti that reads: 'Everything but work is banned' appeared on the Brussels stock exchange building on Friday night. That is only partly true. ... There are still a few intermediate steps before we end up with the worst-case scenario: closing schools and shutting down most businesses. ... With every day that passes the question of what intermediate steps should be taken to avoid a repetition becomes more pressing. And the question of whether it wasn't excessive to turn Belgium into a country without pubs and restaurants becomes less relevant.”

Lidové noviny (CZ) /

Only punishment works with recalcitrants

Lidové noviny advises the government not to engage with those who reject the measures:

“What will the government do if some people just laugh, ignore the restrictions, and drive the health system to collapse with their defiant mentality? Is the government waiting for pictures of overcrowded hospitals to frighten people so much that they finally take the rules seriously? No, there's no point in waiting and being considerate towards those who refuse to heed the measures. Following the rules must be a matter of course, violations must be punished. Such policies just won't work without discipline and mutual consideration.”

Dagens Nyheter (SE) /

Sweden has mistaken authority for oppression

According to Dagens Nyheter, there may be a fundamental national misunderstanding behind Sweden's comparatively lax approach to controlling the pandemic:

“Could the lack of forceful action in Sweden have to do with the fact that authority is so often mistakenly understood as authoritarianism? As if the only reason to act decisively and responsibly is that you like a tough approach and rule out freedom, disorganisation and perhaps even democracy. ... The responsible politicians and representatives of the authorities fear to take uncomfortable decisions that are for the benefit of all; correct intervention could be interpreted as authoritarian. ... And for sure, a bad mood could prevail if the strong and the healthy are prevented from exercising their liberties at the expense of the weaker. ... However, in contrast to Covid-19, no one has died of a bad mood so far.”

Maszol (RO) /

Theatrics at the theatre

Maszol finds certain coronavirus measures absurd:

“Lately you can also see this stylishly presented at the theatre thanks to the Ministry of Culture, which came up with the idea that indoor performances should last no more than two hours. ... I've yet to read a research result showing that it's only dangerous to breathe the same air as a person infected with coronavirus from the 121st minute on. ... Younger audiences, if they don't feel like taking a walk in the cool night air during the intermission, can have a beer next door instead. Because of course pubs - unlike theatres - have neither a mask requirement nor a two-hour limit.”

Tages-Anzeiger (CH) /

Reassurances encourage carelessness

Without clear rules from policymakers the protection measures won't be properly implemented, warns the Tages-Anzeiger:

“Paradoxically, a lockdown will be all the more likely the more the idea that it won't happen becomes lodged in people's minds. Without the declared and realistically justified prospect of nationwide closures, restaurants and commercial enterprises will tend to enforce their protection concepts less consistently and citizens will behave more negligently in their everyday lives. Yet everything must be done now to stop the explosion in the number of cases. ... The politicians need to talk straight now. ... This is not about scaring people. But at this stage anyone who categorically rules out a lockdown is simply guilty of deception.”

La Stampa (IT) /

Don't bring the Spanish flu into this

It is invalid to draw comparisons between today's pandemic and the Spanish flu which killed between 20 and 50 million people from 1918 to 1920, La Stampa stresses:

“The second wave of the Spanish flu was worse than the first because something unexpected had happened: a mutation of the virus, which under the specific conditions of the war combined with avian flu. This is what caused the catastrophic losses of the second wave, the 'greatest medical holocaust ever'. ... But the Sars-Cov-2 virus has not changed its 'physiognomy'. It has not combined with animal viruses, it is neither weaker nor stronger than in the spring, virologists and infectiologists say. ... The fear that this wave of Covid-19 could be worse than the first can therefore not be based on comparisons with the Spanish flu.”

The Daily Telegraph (GB) /

The sick no longer dare to seek treatment

The focus on Covid-19 is making it impossible for health systems to care for other patients, The Daily Telegraph complains:

“Never was there a more powerful and insidious slogan than 'stay home, protect the NHS, save lives'. Whether the government intended it to or not, it ingrained in our minds the idea that hospitals were places for people with Covid 19, not for irritating time-wasters with twinges and pains, or unexplained lumps. The result? While hospitals coped with Covid 19, the seeds were sown for future epidemics of cancers and other serious diseases. ”

Népszava (HU) /

Authorities losing people's trust

There is insufficient scientific justification for certain coronavirus measures, Népszava criticises:

“Why is it that we consider the Formula 1 race at Hungaroring dangerous, but the [football stadium] Puskás Aréna harmless? ... Because of political or sport-policy criteria? If so, it would be nice to know who's actually making decisions on behalf of the Institute of Public Health about how to fight the pandemic. ... In the absence of technical arguments, one can easily conclude that the health authorities are acting inconsistently and contradictorily and don't even know what they're doing themselves. If that's the case they could be gambling away the last remnants of trust people had in them.”

Rzeczpospolita (PL) /

Everyone must take care of their own health

Since the state can no longer contain the virus the people must look out for themselves, Rzeczpospolita urges:

“The inefficiency of health services is a sign that our system is collapsing. Those who become infected are increasingly falling through the gaps in the system and no longer remain under the control of the state, which should in fact be watching over their health. ... Don't count on the state, its officials, inspectors, politicians and experts anymore, because they're not going to stop the virus! It's time to start relying on yourself, because that's the only way to keep the virus away from your home and your business. No one can take care of us and our loved ones better than we ourselves.”