Economy & Politics

Comment Corona makes us weary

Note on the minimum distance at the entrance to a restaurant in Berlin
Note on the minimum distance at the entrance to a restaurant in Berlinimago images / Seeliger

When Germany, large parts of Europe and the world went into lockdown in March, there was not only a shock, but also a surge. The horror was enormous, but there was also talk of something good that could grow out of this crisis.

This is different this autumn, when the countries of Europe and elsewhere in the world are bracing themselves against the second wave. We are not expecting any digitalization push, no modernization leap – and certainly nothing good. We do not expect anything, except that the strength and financial cushions will be further consumed.

Since its outbreak, the Corona crisis has brought mostly suffering and destruction, but also progress: Hundreds of millions of employees seamlessly migrated to the home office, and countless processes were digitized overnight. Quite a few people also tried to seek and see opportunities in this crisis. And that certainly existed, despite all the blows of fate and dramas: a lot of solidarity, pause and intimacy.
Infographic: How Corona Influences Corporate Strategies | Statista You can find more infographics at Statista

There was creative resistance, new ideas, versatility, departure. Companies suddenly start producing new products, ventilators, respirators, disinfectants. People sang together about Zoom, writers philosophized about the “splendid isolation” in the four walls, entrepreneurs about the end of dead time at airports. It was the hope of survival that drove us – for it seemed only temporary, and soon summer would come.

Stressed nerves

So now a wet and “hot” autumn and the fight against darkness. It is led differently, there is also much hesitation in the rhetorical rigor. “Go hard and go early”, that was the famous formula of New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in the spring, which she repeated in August. Counteract early and hard. The politician has just been brilliantly re-elected and has defeated the virus twice in her country.

This autumn you don’t feel a determined “go hard and go early”. There are indeed many appeals, interventions, restrictions, curfew and curfew – and now there are always new regional or even national lockdowns. But there is hesitation and delay. The lockdown in spring was a panic reaction, we didn’t know what would happen to us, now it’s the ultima ratio, because we know what will happen to us. Many politicians guess how strained their citizens’ nerves are. How difficult it is for many people to restrict social contacts again. We are no longer the same lockdown society. We are more exhausted and irritable.

The prospect and expectation of dark days until Christmas, weeks of renewed restraint and caution, makes you weary. The majority (62 percent) mostly support our government’s course, 23 percent are calling for even tougher measures – but this wave also reflects the bitterness that it is often a reckless minority that holds everyone jointly responsible.

Perhaps there is something good in this hesitation today (which was fatal in the spring), because it leads to a better sense of proportion. We know what is at stake on the other side, in thousands of companies and among millions of self-employed people. Every overreaction can destroy existences. The economy has recovered surprisingly since June, but the recovery is fragile. Some economists fear another slump, the buying mood of the citizens – consumption has been remarkably robust for months – has clouded over.

There is still too much celebrating

The debate about increased participation by the Bundestag is also correct. In the panic in spring, one could sometimes only govern and react with ordinances. Now we have experience, plans and blueprints – not the courts, but Parliament should have a say more.

The most important countermeasures, at least that is what the Robert Koch Institute suggests, are in our hands anyway. It’s not curfew or regional lockdowns, no intervention by the authorities, not the closure of shops or schools – these are all reactions when it’s too late. An important lever lies in our four walls before we go into isolation: “The virus naturally always spreads where people come together,” said RKI President Lothar Wieler this week. “And above all where they like to get together intensively.”

A polite expression for: There is still too much partying. You can’t blame anyone for it. But everyone should think about the consequences.

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