3 European countries are about to lift their lockdowns

The choices European leaders are making aren’t solely based on health concerns. They’re based on political ones. “All crises are political at heart,” the University of Leiden’s Boin told me. “Leaders are always aware of how their performance will be weighed by the people.”

Alex Ward, The Vox

Even as the coronavirus continues to rage across Europe, some countries in the region are considering loosening social distancing restrictions to regain a semblance of normalcy — and restart the economy.

But experts fear lifting those measures too early, or too quickly, could cause a surge of infections, deepening the region’s health crisis.

Austria plans to ease its lockdown next week; if it goes through with it, it will be the continent’s first nation to reopen its closed shops and restaurants. Denmark will open schools and day care centers on April 15, ending the country’s three-week-long halt. On April 9, the Czech Republic lifted a number of its social distancing measures, and plans to roll back its travel ban on April 14, allowing citizens to leave and foreigners to enter.

Earlier this week, Italy and Spain two of Europe’s hardest-hit countries, were also considering easing their lockdowns — before deciding a few days later that they’d need to extend them for at least a few more weeks.

“For each country, they’re trying to find that unique sweet spot, the perfect one where you can manage everything,” Arjen Boin, a crisis management expert at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands, told me.

“It’s going to be one of the biggest challenges democratic governments have faced in a long time, finding that golden midway between a reemerging pandemic and killing your economy,” Boin said. “That’s going to require a lot of wisdom and exceptional leadership.”

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