As the COVID-19 crisis halted economies across the globe, most nations enacted lockdowns, which strictly limited how residents left their homes. These orders—many of which remain in place—hit businesses especially hard; companies unable to move to remote work drastically reduced operations or closed completely.
Now, as some nations’ coronavirus cases decline, governments revealed economic “reopening” measures detailing the safest social distancing guidelines in order to open their doors to the public. This post highlights the first and evolving steps Germany, Denmark, and Spain—three of the world’s top economies for global expansion, according to the 2020 State of Global Expansion™ Report—took to bring a sense of much-needed normalcy back to their citizens.
How Germany Slowly Reopened Its Economy During COVID-19
Germany ranks among some of the hardest-hit countries in terms of the number of COVID-19 cases. However, early response measures and widespread testing helped Germany significantly limit the number of COVID-19-related deaths, unlike higher figures seen elsewhere in Europe and the United States. Now, the country begins the long process of allowing residents to interact outside their homes in greater numbers.
As Germany reopens its economy, it continues to implement one of the world’s widest-reaching antibody testing programs, with around 5,000 blood sample reviews every 14 days. Germany’s second phase of testing relies on the nation’s blood donation centers to test the initial sample, and finally, third-phase testing includes a representative study of Germany’s larger population.
The Robert Koch Institute stated that specific turnaround times are difficult to maintain, as results rely on a number of factors, like the number of daily test reviews and lab capacities.
Although this extensive testing enables the country to slowly reopen, Angela Merkel, Germany’s chancellor, is cautious as the government moves forward with a conservative policy.
Merkel announced in mid-April that Germany will only allow certain businesses and schools to reopen. Shops no larger than 800 square meters opened April 20, as well as car dealerships, bike shops, and bookstores. In some western parts of the country, larger furniture stores reopened, including several IKEAs.
All businesses limit the numbers of shoppers, counting customers as they enter. These social distancing measures apply to hair salons, many of which resumed business on May 4. Some schools reopened as well, though they focused on the oldest students and those sitting for exams. However, the government prohibits all large cultural events until September 2020. Most municipalities require residents to wear masks in public, and some impose fines for those without masks.
Though Germany’s reopening steps are an optimistic glimpse into a return to normalcy, many Germans remained cautious—and at home.
Which Businesses Reopened in Denmark?
Denmark’s COVID-19 case count and deaths stayed well below other top economies in Europe, though it still suffered over 11,000 cases and more than 550 deaths. On April 20, however, certain Danish businesses reopened after government approval.
Denmark announced a lockdown before it reported any COVID-19-related deaths; in Europe, only Italy shutdown before Denmark. This early response helped Denmark stave off a potentially disastrous outcome in the first wave of COVID-19 infections.
In mid-April, Denmark cautiously lifted some of its strictest stay-at-home provisions, reopening some daycare centers, schools, and businesses. Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen provided a caveat to the reopenings, noting that the process is a delicate balancing act.
Reopened businesses in mid-April include:
- Beauty and massage salons
- Piercing studios
- Danish courts reopened on April 27, while restaurants, cafes, and schools for children ages 12 and up will not yet reopen
Spain Reopens Portions of the Country
Spain’s case count exceeds all other countries besides the United States and Russia and suffered only slightly fewer deaths than Italy. As an early epicenter, Spain now attempts easing back into life before COVID-19.
Though still fearful of a second wave and corresponding lockdown, the Spanish government exercises caution while construction and manufacturing businesses become operational. Overall, about 40% of the country’s small businesses across multiple sectors reopened, including cafes, bars, restaurants, gyms, hotels, and museums in some regions, including Spain’s most populated region, Andalusia. While overall unemployment recently reached 3.8 million, Spain’s tourism sector feels the force of COVID-19’s impact more acutely than other industries.
Beyond business, many families across Spain welcome a reprieve from their time indoors. As of Sunday, April 26, Spanish children under the age of 14 once again play outside.
Stay Home, and Go Global When the Time is Right
The world is a long way from returning to complete normalcy. Still, many countries began inching towards pre-COVID-19 aspects of life, albeit cautiously. While most businesses remain closed, both domestic and international companies prepare for a time when they once again serve clients and customers both at home and abroad.
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