Report Contents

April 15, 2021

Europe

EUROPE: Managing the pandemic – what we are watching

BY Carsten Nickel, Andrius Tursa, Antonio Barroso, Luis Cornago

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This updated weekly piece provides snapshots of how selected European governments are dealing with the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you want to discuss any of the countries mentioned in more detail.

Graph of the week

EUROPE: Managing the pandemic – what we are watching 1

France

– The seven-day average of cases is still high (around 44,000) despite the recent imposition of new restrictions. The government has banned all flights from Brazil to contain the spread of the variant found in the Latin American country.

-The pace of vaccinations has accelerated significantly in recent days, with a 14-day average of 330,000 jabs being delivered daily. However, a substantial amount of AstraZeneca vaccine remains unused, and there are concerns about a similar problem eventually affecting the Janssen jab.

-The government has finally decided to maintain the organization of the regional elections on 20 and 27 June. The key region to watch is Hauts-de-France, as incumbent president Xavier Bertrand has said he will not run in the 2022 presidential election if he loses the regional race.

Spain

– The seven-day average of cases has continued to increase and stands at above 8,000. Several regions have asked the government to prolong the state of alarm beyond 9 May. However, Prime Minister Sanchez remains unlikely to push for an extension.

– The authorities delivered 288,660 jabs on 12 April, a new record. However, the acceleration of the vaccination campaign might be jeopardized by the delayed delivery of the Janssen vaccine, which the government was planning to give to the 70-79 cohort.

– Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez presented this week the contours of Spain’s Resilience and Recovery Plan, which the government will send to Brussels shortly. The document includes a labor market reform that could be difficult to implement given the government’s lack of a parliamentary majority.

Italy

With many areas still effectively under lockdown and business closures continuing across the country, Rome has not yet provided a clear roadmap for re-openings. The current restrictions are valid until the end of April, but business groups and regional leaders are pushing for the government to ease some curbs sooner.

Rome will likely fail to reach its target of 500,000 vaccine shots a day by the end of the month. Over the past week, an average of 280,000 daily jabs have been administered. As of 14 April, less than 7% of the total population was fully immunized.

– The government is preparing a new stimulus package worth around EUR 40-45bn to support the economy, a move that will push this year’s budget deficit above 10% of GDP. The cabinet will discuss the related extra-deficit request to parliament on 15 April.

Germany

– The seven-day average of new infections is now above 20,000 cases, just under the post-Christmas peak of mid-January.

– The Bundestag is expected to vote on the new federal pandemic “emergency brake” law on 21 April; regional governments in the Bundesrat will also have to approve the initiative, which would increase federal powers to enforce lockdown measures in districts with an incidence value above 100.

The unresolved candidature question continues to serve as a major distraction for both parties’ leaders within Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian alliance (CDU/CSU); a decision is now expected to be taken by the end of this week.

United Kingdom

– The seven-day average of new infections remains just above 2,000 cases; after the vaccination campaign has somewhat slowed down, more than 32mn people have now received at least one dose.

– PM Boris Johnson has called for caution as non-essential shops and outside hospitality services have re-opened this week; Johnson argued that the drastic decrease in new infections had been down to the lockdown, not the UK’s successful vaccination campaign.

– With the older half of the UK population now vaccinated with at least one dose, the lifting of restrictions should, over the coming weeks, indicate how well the most at-risk groups are now being protected by the vaccine, as new infections could perhaps rise again given younger individuals have still not received a jab.

Greece

– Greece recorded its highest number of Covid-19 patients on ventilators on 14 April, with 809 people undergoing intensive treatment. Officials hope that a combination of vaccines, home tests, and warmer weather could lead the current worrying conditions to de-escalate in the short run.

– Meanwhile, the pace of the vaccine program has picked up in comparison to last month, putting the country on course to meet its goal of 1.5 million vaccinations in April. Of those vaccinated so far, 1.5mn have received at least one jab, while around 765 (7% of the population) have received both doses.

– Athens is set to ease travel from abroad and lift the quarantine requirement for American, British, and EU travelers by next week, provided they are vaccinated or can show a negative test. The move comes as Greece is gradually relaxing travel restrictions towards the official opening of the tourist season on 14 May.

Poland

– The seven-day rolling average of new infections lingered around 21,000 during the past week, and the number of hospitalizations is close to record highs. Alarmingly, Covid-19-related deaths soared by nearly 60% week-on-week.

– Despite a still difficult epidemiological situation, kindergartens and pre-schools for children up to seven years old will re-open on 19 April. All other restrictions are set to remain in place at least until 25 April.

– In Q1, the number of bankruptcies and insolvencies rose by more than 120% year-on-year and reached an all-time high. The most affected sectors include agriculture, transportation, and wholesale and retail trade.

Hungary

– The epidemiological situation is improving slowly. The seven-day rolling average of new infections decreased by 8% week-on-week to 5,428, but the overall caseload as well the number of Covid-19-related deaths remain near all-time highs.

– Kindergartens and primary schools are set to re-open from 19 April. Bars and restaurants with outdoor seating should be allowed to re-open once 3.5mn residents get at least one jab (expected by mid-next week).

– The country’s vaccination campaign remains one of the fastest in Europe; if the current pace is sustained, 70% of the population could receive a first jab by June.

More by Carsten Nickel, Andrius Tursa, Antonio Barroso, Luis Cornago