Many of Europe’s borders reopening despite fears of coronavirus’ continued spread


Many countries in Europe are opening their borders ahead of the summer season in an attempt to attract tourists, but the coronavirus remains a global pandemic.

Speaking from Paris Wednesday, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) Secretary General Angel Gurria said, “We are in the midst of a combined global health, economic and social crisis that is the most severe that any of us have ever witnessed.”

The coronavirus, which has killed over 400,000 people and infected more than 7 million people globally, remains a threat and continues to affect economies all over the world.

The OECD has projected a 6 percent decrease in GDP because of the closures due to COVID-19 – the worst decline projected since the OECD was founded 60 years ago.

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If there is a second wave of the virus, estimates project the global GDP could decrease by 7.5 percent, meaning another 40 million people could be unemployed by the end of the year in the 37 OECD countries.

“Critical sectors for our economies and societies have been hard hit, tourism, air travel and SMEs, to name but a few,” Gurria said. “In addition, global trade volumes, which were already stagnating when the outbreak began, are expected to contract by about 10 percent this year, similar to 2009.”

Countries like Austria and Greece are attempting to relieve the economic strain brought on by the virus by allowing the tourism industry to remain a source of income over the summer.

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Austria has planned to open its borders without a quarantine period, on June 16, including the border it shares with Italy.

France announced that they plan to reopen their borders to EU countries and the UK, following along with other countries reopening plans.

The majority of countries in Europe have reopened their borders in some capacity. Ireland and the UK have a mandatory two-week quarantine for anyone entering the two countries.

Spain’s borders are to remain closed until July 1.

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The coronavirus killed over 180,000 people in Europe, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Though coronavirus cases in Europe appear to be easing for the time being, they have escalated in South America, and Brazil has been declared the new epicenter of the virus by the World Health Organization.

Gurria pointed to the strict lockdown measures enforced throughout Europe, as well as other OECD countries, as the reason there has been a decline in infection rates.

“This gives reason to hope that we have reached the trough of activity in the bulk of the global economy – even if the worst is still to come in some countries,” Gurria said. “In the words of Winston Churchill, ‘This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.'”

The Associate Press contributed to this report.



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