May 6, 2021

Europe

EUROPE: Managing the pandemic – what we are watching

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

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( 6 mins)

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 daily cases has continued to drop, and it stands now at 20,075. The number of hospitalized Covid-19 patients and those under intensive care is also declining. The next stage of the government’s four-stage lockdown exit will kick on 19 May with the limited reopening of outdoor hospitality.

– One-quarter of the population has received at least one dose of the vaccine, and the average number of daily jabs has surpassed 400,000. A majority of respondents to a recent ELABE poll (64%) declared to be favorable to the “health pass” proposed by the government (vs. 48% in March).

– The opposition center-right The Republicans (LR) party is in disarray after President Emmanuel Macron’s party (Republic on the Move) reached an agreement with the LR candidate to the presidency of the Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur region ahead of the 20 and 27 regional elections.

Spain

– The number of nationwide daily cases has dropped below 8,000, and hospitalizations due to Covid-19 are also slowly declining. With the state of alarm expiring on 9 May, some regions are expected to lift the nighttime curfew and other restrictions currently in place from next week.

– According to the latest vaccination figures, more than 10% of the population has been fully immunized. The pace of vaccinations has continued to accelerate in recent days, with the average of daily jabs having risen to 366,000.

– The expected defeat of the ruling Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) and Podemos in the recent Madrid regional election is unlikely to affect the government’s standing. As explained, the next hurdle for the ruling left-wing coalition will be the 2022 budget to be discussed in the fall.

Italy

– On 29 April, the government hit its delayed target of giving 500,000 jabs in one day by the end of April. As of 5 May, Italy is 2.6 million vaccinations short of the original target indicated in the plan endorsed by Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s government.

– Italy will introduce its own travel green certificate in advance of the European green pass in a bid to save its tourism season. The pass, which will be used from 16 May, will certify that the person is vaccinated, carries Covid-19 antibodies, or has carried out a Covid-19 test 48 hours prior to traveling.

– The government is finalizing a new stimulus package worth around EUR 40bn, which will fund additional grants to businesses forced to close due to coronavirus restrictions and extend an existing debt and taxes moratorium for SMEs. Emergency income support for low-income families will be extended for another two months.

Germany

– The seven-day rolling average of new infections has been on a downward trajectory for about a week now, falling from just above 20,000 cases to just over 16,000. The share of vaccinated people is reaching 30% of the population this week.

– The constitutional court has struck down emergency requests against the new federal “emergency brake” law introducing blanket restrictions in districts with an incidence value above 100; however, the overall decreasing caseload means that the law has to be applied in fewer districts anyway.

– The Bundestag is today expected to clear the way for vaccinated and recovered people to be exempt from key restrictions; meanwhile, the federal health secretary wants to offer the AstraZeneca to anyone ending priority rules based on age and risk groups.

United Kingdom

– The seven-day rolling average of new infections keeps falling very gradually, now standing just above 2,000 cases; More than 35mn people will have received at least one vaccine shot this week.

– Voters in Scotland (as well as in Wales and many municipalities across England) are going to the polls in regional and local elections today. Still, even a pro-independence majority in Scotland is unlikely to lead to a quick rerun of the independence referendum.

– The government is expected to announce on 7 May the new traffic light system for when international travel will be allowed again; this should also include official confirmation whether the current travel ban will be lifted as part of the next round of easing restrictions on 18 May.

Greece

– After months of lockdown, a gradual paring back of restrictions started earlier this week, with the reopening of the foodservice sector. The government is presenting this to show that Greece has got over the worst of the pandemic even though Covid-19 numbers remain higher than when the lockdown began last November.

– On 15 May, Athens plans to lift travel restrictions on foreign visitors who have been vaccinated or have negative test results. Last summer, a similar move triggered a spike in infections that the opposition attributed to the government’s sloppy handling of the situation.

– Greece is likely to accelerate its vaccination rollout after integrating the Janssen vaccine and opening more vaccination centers. The aim is to administer up to 2.5mn jabs this month and up to 4mn in June. However, concerns remain about the relatively low rate of vaccination among elderly citizens and health professionals.

Poland

– The seven-day average of new cases dropped by 40% to around 5,000, and the daily death count declined by 36% to 278 during the past week. Hospital bed occupancy stands at 51%, down from 58% a week ago. However, the detection of the B.1.617 strain of the virus in the country is a source of concern.

– Hotels are set to reopen at 50% occupancy on 8 May. A further round of easing on 15 May will entail the reopening of restaurants/bars with outdoor service, outdoor cinemas, theaters, and the holding of outdoor events.

– The contentious ratification of the European Union’s Own Resources Decision on 4 May revealed cracks in the governing United Right coalition. Despite multiple disagreements, the three governing parties are expected to continue their cooperation to prevent a potential snap poll.

Hungary

– The seven-day average of new infections has decreased to around 1,650, and Covid-19 related deaths dropped by 28% to 143. However, the improvement may slow down as sewage water samples – which have been a rather reliable indicator during the pandemic – show stabilizing volumes of coronavirus traces.

– The number of people who have registered but not yet received a Covid-19 jab stands at around 700-800K. At the current pace, these residents could get their first vaccine shots within a week. The government will start vaccinating 16-18-year-olds on 10 May; foreigners living in Hungary can now also register for vaccination.

– The draft 2022 budget presented by the government on 4 May suggests that generous post-pandemic spending will likely become the main pillar of the ruling Fidesz election campaign ahead of the legislative election in spring 2022.

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