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Statement by the Hans Böckler Foundation on easing the measures
The relaxation of the contact restrictions that were implemented to curb the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus should, according to the recommendation of the non-profit Hans Böckler Foundation, be carried out wisely rather than too quickly. The experts warn of a further sharp increase in the number of cases if the easing takes place prematurely.
The non-profit Hans Böckler Foundation is the co-determination, research and study support agency of the German Federation of Trade Unions. In a current statement, a committee of the foundation recommends that the easing of contact restrictions should not be hastily carried out from a health policy and economic perspective, but in well-prepared steps. A premature abolition poses the risk that the infections will suddenly increase again. The statement entitled "Quick exit or deliberate easing?" Was published on the Foundation's website.
Rapid easing could undermine the success of the measures
The Institute for Macroeconomics and Business Cycle Research (IMK) of the Hans Böckler Foundation carried out a short study in which the next steps to relax contact restrictions were evaluated. It turned out that a careless and too quick lifting has a much more violent and long-lasting effect on the health system and on the economy than a gradual and careful loosening.
In addition, the conditions for easing would have to be communicated well in advance so that the population and businesses can adjust to it. "It is more important that the contact restrictions are relaxed over the long term than that they are relaxed quickly," emphasizes Professor Dr. Sebastian Dullien, the Scientific Director of the IMK.
What are the economic consequences of the measures?
The institute calculated that with each month that contact restrictions continue, economic growth will decrease by about one percentage point. In addition, there is a growing risk that bankruptcies and rising unemployment will occur. In addition, a four percent shrinkage in gross domestic product (GDP) must be expected.
Another shutdown would be more serious
In contrast, there is the risk of renewed closings of schools, shops and restaurants as well as vacation bans. A longer stop-and-go would hit the German economy harder, the foundation warns. “In the end, the total length of the business interruptions counts. If everything is reopened for two weeks and then closed again for two months, nothing will be gained, ”emphasizes economist Dullien
Rapid loosening = exponential infection growth?
According to the simulation calculations of the IMK, the SARS-2 infections would again grow exponentially within a few weeks. In the Foundation's view, easing only makes sense if the reproductive rate remains low at the same time - i.e. the number of people infected by an infected person. In the best case, this number must be less than one. If it is two, there is exponential growth.
Easing could start in early May
The Hans Böckler Foundation believes that a gradual easing from the beginning of May makes sense if you follow an intelligent strategy of opening up. The conditions for this should be communicated as soon as possible in the next few days. The following points should play a role:
Implementation of infection protection and distance rules
In daycare centers, schools, retail and gastronomy, it must be ensured that guidelines on infection protection are implemented. "Companies and public institutions must be told more clearly than before what will come from when," said Dullien. Such measures could also include conversions so that hygiene regulations can be complied with. Partitions should be used in shops and service providers.
Schools and day-care centers
The foundation also proposes to partially restart operations in schools and daycare centers. For example, classes could be halved and taught alternately every other day.
As soon as there is a wide availability of simple mouth-nose protective masks, a general obligation to wear these simple masks in public should be considered. A quick start-up of the domestic production of such masks makes sense and should be funded by the government.
Infection tracking cell phone apps
The IMK mobile phone apps, which enable nationwide tracking of infection events and infection chains, are of great importance. Great importance must be attached to compliance with data protection regulations. Contact or motion profiles should not be saved.
Driving regional openings
In addition, the foundation believes it makes sense to make reopening faster in cities, counties and regions with low infection rates than in heavily affected areas. However, the hygiene regulations would have to be observed.
Promote digital infrastructure in schools
According to the foundation, schools have to be prepared for temporary closings again. Therefore, an improvement in the digital infrastructure makes sense in order to maintain school teaching digitally. Disadvantaged children and adolescents would have to be provided with the necessary equipment.
Support neighboring European countries
In addition, the foundation points out that to maintain the German economy, it also makes sense to support neighboring European countries, because a large part of the expected decline in GDP this year is also due to a decline in demand for German industrial products abroad as well attributable to disruptions in cross-border supply chains. From this point of view alone, a rapid recovery of the economy cannot be expected by a quick lifting of the contact restrictions.
“It is at least as important that cross-border supply chains are reactivated and the global economy stabilized,” summarizes Dullien. "At the European level, therefore, more flexibility is required from the Federal Government in matters of so-called corona bonds in order to achieve coordinated stabilization of cross-border trade with the EU partners," writes the Hans Böckler Foundation.
Large events taboo for a long time?
The Hans Böckler Foundation also makes a clear statement about major events. No return to the time before the Corona crisis is expected here in the near future. The ban on such events will probably continue for a long time. (vb)
Read also: Coronavirus: Gradual opening of schools is the first thing that can be implemented.
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
Graduate editor (FH) Volker Blasek
- Sebastian Dullien, Alexander Herzog-Stein, Peter Hohlfeld, Sven Schreiber, Silke Tober: Fast exit or deliberate relaxation? Hans Böckler Foundation (published: April 14, 2020), boeckler.de