After weeks and even months of severe anti-epidemic restrictions, there are growing calls in many European countries to relax the regime. At the same time, the emergence of new strains of the virus reduces the effectiveness of the measures taken. The pages of the European press reflect the dilemma that the governments of the continent are now facing.
The government is like a weather vane in the wind
Despite the increase in infection statistics, the Dutch authorities plan to relax the restrictions somewhat; at the same time, the curfew will remain. The newspaper De Telegraaf welcomes these plans, but does not hide skepticism:
“The number of new infections has increased dramatically. They say that the third wave will not pass. Why, then, loosen the reins? Rutte pulled a new surprise from his sleeve: he now appeals to the sense of personal responsibility of citizens. … If the authorities are full of trust in the citizens, why did they not show it before? It seems that the government, like a weather vane, changes course depending on the mood in society, probably taking into account the prospect of the next election. And this is a bad adviser! Without a doubt, any relaxation of restrictive measures is like a balm to all of us. However, it is necessary to implement all this on the basis of a well-thought-out and verified policy.”
Clear communication, clear management
In Germany, there is no talk of lifting the restrictions yet. However, the current stability of statistics is deceptive, — notes Suddeutsche Zeitung:
“The prospect that everything will end soon is very vague. The presence of vaccines leads to the fact that we fall into a state of imaginary security — and the reality is far from this. Good weather and general fatigue also do the trick. The pressure on the authorities to lift the restrictions is gradually increasing, and with each spring day, expectations are growing more and more. Even if the end of the pandemic is already on the horizon: the current, last, phase requires a very balanced approach, and its dangers should be spoken about with all clarity. … Just as a clear message was so necessary at the beginning of the pandemic, we will need it for the coming months.”
Open the doors of the schools immediately!
In Portugal, a group of doctors, scientists, and specialists published an open letter in the newspaper Publico, calling on the government to open schools from the beginning of March:
“We are aware of the need to comply with measures to overcome the pandemic and reduce the number of infections. … however, we believe that the choice between the lives of older people and the opportunity to receive education for children and young people is a false dilemma. And we believe that it is quite possible to ensure both the right to health and the right to education. To do this, consider the following: … yes, empirical evidence suggests that school closures are associated with a decrease in the number of infections among the population. … However, this is not a decisive factor in the fight against the epidemic, and therefore it is quite possible to open schools — with proper security measures.”