June 3, 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

– Cases have started to surge again in six departments (La Charente, Charente-Maritime, Gironde, Landes, Lot-et-Garonne and Pyrenees-Atlantique). However, the government remains likely to go ahead with the next stage of lockdown exit on 9 June, which will lead to the reopening of indoor hospitality spaces (with limitations).

– Around 40% of the population has received at least one dose of the vaccine. At the current pace, at least 30mn people will have received one dose of the jab by 21 June. Demand for jabs has spiked following the opening of vaccination appointments to everyone over 18 years of age on 31 May.

– The latest opinion polls on the 20-27 June regional elections confirm the ruling Republic on the Move (LREM) party of President Emmanuel Macron will probably perform quite poorly. However, regional incumbents traditionally do well in this vote, meaning it should not be taken as a signpost of next year’s presidential contest.

Spain

– The number of hospitalizations and ICU patients due to Covid-19 have continued to decline in recent days, but cases have started to rise again in 45 cities. On the vaccination front, around 39% of the population has received a first dose of the jab, and around 20% has been fully immunized.

– Regarding travel restrictions, the government remains unlikely to require individuals from the UK to self-isolate on arrival – as done by France and Germany – given the tourism sector remains crucially important for the Spanish economy.

– Right-wing parties are organizing a demonstration against Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s expected decision to pardon the Catalan secessionist politicians currently in prison. The protests, which will take place on 13 June, are unlikely to lead Sanchez to change course.

Italy

– Three regions have been allowed to drop most Covid-19 restrictions from 31 May, as new cases and deaths in the country have fallen to a seven-month low. Three more will turn “white” next week, allowing them to drop most of the restrictions currently in place in yellow zones, including the evening curfew and the restrictions on opening hours for businesses.

– Italy’s regions can make Covid-19 vaccination appointments available to all people aged over 16 from 3 June. The move to ramp up the vaccination program comes as the Italian drug regulator approved the Pfizer-BioNtech coronavirus vaccine for 12- to 15-year-old earlier this week. Around 21% of the population has completed the vaccination cycle.

– Around 90% of the decrees required to implement new laws approved by Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s government are still missing. Around 51 decrees or other legislative measures are needed, but only five have been approved.

Germany

– Germany is trying to gauge the effects of recent reopenings; after weeks of steady decreases, the seven-day average of new cases seems to have stabilized just above 4,000 infections.

– As of 7 June, any risk-based prioritizations will be dropped, and anyone can try to receive a shot of the vaccine, including children older than 12 years.

– The government plans to pay pharma companies to retain current capacities for the production of vaccines in case of future pandemics so as to retain an annual EU-wide production capacity of up to 2bn doses.

United Kingdom

– Albeit on a still very low level, the pandemic situation continues to worsen again; the seven-day average of new infections now stands at around 3,300 cases, roughly 1,000 infections more than a week ago.

– This week saw the first day of zero recorded Covid-related deaths. Still, as deaths trail new infections, it remains to be seen whether the vaccination success has helped to break the link between new cases and hospitalizations and deaths.

– Concerns about the Indian variant continue to spell doubts over the final reopening stage envisaged for 21 June; the Scottish government is delaying certain reopening steps, but PM Boris Johnson is under pressure to deliver the promised reopening in England.

Greece

– Infection rates, hospitalizations, and deaths from Covid-19 are continuing their gradual decline. On 2 June, 1,886 new infections were recorded with a positivity rate of 3% and 27 deaths (the lowest figure for three months). Viral loads in most major cities also appear to be declining, suggesting that the downward trend will continue.

– A pilot run of the EU Digital Covid Certificate started in Greece on 2 June, ahead of its introduction across the EU on 1 July. The certificate is seen as key for enabling travel within the bloc and opening up some of Greece’s biggest tourist markets.

– A new insolvency framework, which includes an end to the protection of primary residences for most households, came into effect on 1 June. Debtors will be offered settlements of up to 20 years for the amounts owed to tax and social insurance funds and up to 35 years for banks. The total debt owed by the private sector is now close to EUR 250bn.

Poland

– As the seven-day rolling average of new cases dropped to the lowest point since last July, the government will allow the organization of exhibitions, fairs, and conferences, reopen indoor play facilities for children and ease restrictions on private events from 6 June. Fully vaccinated individuals will not count towards the attendance limit.

– Around 2.6mn of teenagers aged 12-15 years old will be eligible for vaccination starting 7 June. However, only 56% of the country’s residents aged 80 and above have been fully inoculated to date.

– An improving epidemiological situation, a vaccination campaign, and the government’s ambitious post-pandemic recovery plan known as the “Polish Deal” are driving the recovery of the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party’s popularity. The PiS now polls at 38%, up from 32% two months ago.

Hungary

– The seven-day rolling average of new cases and deaths has dropped to the lowest level since September/October 2020. The wastewater samples show a steadily decreasing concentration of coronavirus across the country.

– The number of administered first vaccine doses during the past week has dropped to the lowest level since February, suggesting a slowing uptake of vaccines among still unvaccinated residents. The authorities are weighing the possibility of inoculating the 12-15 age group.

– The government has signaled its intention to cooperate with China in building and equipping the country’s first vaccine production facility, which is scheduled to start operations in late 2022/early 2023.

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