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News Article

When Will the Lockdown End?

By Alejandro Enríquez | Thu, 04/30/2020 - 17:12

Countries around the world face COVID-19 with different variations of social-distancing policies. Lockdown measures have been enforced and while some countries like El Salvador have implemented a nearly State of Exception, others such as South Korea managed to cope with COVID-19 without any drastic measures.

Media around the world has documented how social-distancing measures have "flattened the curve" of contagion worldwide. China, the birthplace of the virus, enforced strict lockdown measures as soon as contagions started to increase. As the virus started to spread across the world there were no certainties about the strategies that ought to be taken. Four months have gone by since the pandemic started and free movement of people has changed accordingly.

European countries started to set social-distancing norms, preventing crowds and public gatherings in late February to fully ordering a lockdown in early March. Italy came first on March 9, Spain on the 14, France on the 17 and Germany on the 19. At the same time, US President Donald Trump banned the entry of any flight coming from the Schengen area. At that time, the US had 1,135 confirmed cases. Now, it has over a million. On March 24, India, the world's second-most populated country, enforced a lockdown on its own for 1.3 billion people.

Lockdown measures imply that non-essential businesses are not allowed to operate. Rules vary from country to country but essentialy, unless the business is somehow related to the medical equipment sector or the food industry, it must be shut down. This has set the stage for supply chain disruptions in different industries across the world. The IMF has called it: "The Great Lockdown: Worst Economic Downturn Since the Great Depression."

At least 40 days have passed since lockdowns were enforced in most parts of the world and the global economy seems eager to restart its engine. "Caution remains the order of the day," said Angela Merkel during the press conference where she announced an ease in Germany's lockdowns, which includes resuming production – at a lower capacity – of Germany's key industries.

India and France are following a common approach toward zonification to ease lockdown. Both countries are classifying the country in different zones depending on how badly they were hit by the virus. In India, there will be green, orange and red zones. A green zone implies that the region, district or city has not seen new COVID-19 cases in the last 28 days. An orange zone downs the number to 14 days, while red zones concentrate the highest number of cases. According to India Today, out of 700 districts, 363 are green, 177 orange and 160 are red. France is following a similar model with only green and red zones. In the former, lockdown measures will be eased while in the latter will remain.

Mexico enforced social-distancing measures on March 27 and on March 31 an official decree stablished the essential activities that were allowed to continue operating amid the lockdown. Key industries for the country's economy, such as automotive and aerospace, have been put on hold for more than a month. Economic downturn is starting to be felt as ongoing business lobbying groups continue to urge the Mexican government for tax relief packages. Mexico entered Phase 3 of the pandemic on April 21 and the peak of contagion is expected to be reached shortly.

After the world was put on hold for more than a month, mid-May is the expected timeframe in which lockdowns will be eased across the world. According to the Mexican Minister of Health, regions with the lowest number of cases can ease lockdown measures starting May 18. The global economy cannot wait any longer.

The data used in this article was sourced from:  
India Today, Deutsche Welle, Al Jazeera, France 24, Mexico Business News
Photo by:   EneasMX
Alejandro Enríquez Alejandro Enríquez Journalist and Industry Analyst