GREECE, CZECHIA, THE U.S.: LOCKDOWN UPDATES


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GREECE. A number of the Greek islands and towns are now going back into lockdown, forcing schools and non-essential businesses to close. Meanwhile, Athens, the capital and largest city, has been in a full lockdown since early February. 
“Greece extended lockdown restrictions to more areas of the country as the pandemic showed no signs of waning, exactly one year after its first coronavirus infection was detected,” Reuters reported.
TRENDPOST: Greece’s unemployment rate is nearly 17 percent. Its economy contracted by some 10.5 percent in 2020 and is expected to grow only 3.5 percent this year. With the new lockdowns imposed and fear of a new virus variant spreading, the nation, of which 18 percent of GDP is tourism-driven, will endure another year of economic downward pressure. 
CZECHIA. The Czech government has called a new state of emergency for 30 days, which started this past Sunday, gaining the power to curb people’s movements as it looks to sharply tighten restrictions. The government plans to ban movement between regions, with exceptions for travel to work or to look after a relative. Nurseries, schools, and some of the shops that had been allowed to open will be forced to shut again. 
As with many other nations, the threat of new virus variants and rising cases prompted the shutdown. 
UNITED STATES. A COVID Civil War has been launched as many state governors want to unlock but the Federal government and the CDC want them to slow down their opening up. 
President Biden’s administration is trying to temper state expectations of returning to a post-COVID life, and his top health officials have been warning about the possibility of a fourth wave across the country along with new variants. 
“Things are tenuous,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the CDC director said, according to The New York Times. ”Now is not the time to relax restrictions.”
The paper, citing its database, reported the country has seen a decline in cases in recent weeks, but that number appeared to steady. There was a seven-day average of 69,450 cases last week. The virus has been blamed for 510,000 deaths in the U.S.
The CDC reported last week there was a 61-percent decline in hospitalizations last week, and the current seven-day average of deaths in the country is 2,047, which is a 23.8 percent decrease from the previous seven-day average.
The Times reported that Governor Greg Abbott of Texas said he was considering dropping the statewide mask mandate. Governors in Mississippi and South Carolina have also considered dropping some mandates due to the fall in cases. 
The paper reported that Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson lifted most of his state’s restrictions, including restaurant capacity limits.
The paper pointed to last month’s “Conservative Political Action Conference” in Orlando and how Republicans mocked mask rules in place by the hotel that was hosting the event. The report said a chant of “freedom” broke out. 
New York also joined states that are set to ease restrictions at the beginning of the month. Movie theaters in New York City can reopen and operate at a 25-percent capacity, however, health officials have warned that these loosened restrictions can change. They’ve already predicted an increase in cases in the next few weeks due to virus variants.
TRENDPOST: Business pressure on politicians will increase for states to reopen. A majority of states across the nation will re-open, lifting capacity limitations, mask-wearing, and social distancing orders by late spring to early summer. Thus, we maintain our forecast of a “Biden Bounce” in the economy.

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