Europe begins re-opening process in wake of COVID-19


In Europe, phases of re-opening are being established for citizens to leave confinement due to COVID-19 behind and get back to routine life, even if it is now called “new normality”. This new way of life brings with it guidelines and rules of social behavior that commit the whole population to be supportive and not overconfident, as a new upsurge may occur as some experts indicate.

In Spain and Germany, professional soccer has returned for which many European citizens, who consider this sport a priority to entertain in these hard times, are glad. However, this new version of futbol is being considered atypical because security measures have to be taken and the public is still not allowed to go to the stands of the stadiums to support their teams. This has turned the atmosphere into something unusual to see, as one of the most beautiful things about this sport is to enjoy the singing and dancing of the fans, which has a great influence on the players’ moods and is more decisive than it seems for their team to win or not. 

Bars, hotels, restaurants, discos and other commercial businesses have begun to reopen, although experts warn that it is advisable to consume drinks and food on the terraces outside the corresponding establishment whenever possible. In the case of shops, it is essential to have a mask, gloves and hydro-alcoholic gel in order to have access to the shop in question. 

Dr. Luis Javier Rodríguez Collado is a Spanish cardiologist who works in both public and private centers. Dr. Collado said he has established new rules for treating his patients. 

“I try to ensure that once they enter my medical center, patients always come to the facility with their mask and gloves on, and also step on an area that is moistened with bleach to disinfect their shoes,” Collado said. “I then isolate each patient in several different waiting rooms so that there is no personal interaction and no contagion. Finally, I use an ozone machine to disinfect the environment so that it is as clean and sterile as possible for the next day. Because the viral load has a lot of influence on the severity of the infection.”

Collado’s opinion on the new measures is that of caution, and he calls for calm during the reopening process. 

“It must be understood that a country’s economy cannot be constantly stagnant and European business activity must get back on course, or at least avoid a crisis. But we must also understand that it is very important not to take it for granted that by going out on the streets this virus has disappeared,” Collado said. “We must be careful and try to avoid physical contact as much as possible. If people become overconfident, there is a good chance that there will be a second wave of infection, and nobody wants that, because confinement would have to be resorted to again.” 

Collado’s cautious approaches to re-opening might not be popular with those who want to return to normal life, but he says being responsible in this time is important.

“Caution right now is the most responsible thing with the new normality, but there’s going to come a point where we have to learn to live with the virus and acquire the antibodies that are due so that our systems are not so affected,” Collado said. “Obviously, the appearance of a vaccine will facilitate this situation, but human beings have already faced pandemics such as the Spanish flu during the early 20th century and today it is not particularly serious”.

Catering establishments are especially affected by re-opening because for Spain and some other countries in Europe like Italy, Greece and France, shops and stores are the main source of economic profit. For Spain, the tourism sector is essential, and they want to have everything perfectly organized so that foreign tourists can enjoy the Iberian Peninsula and its islands. 

For years, Spain has been Europe’s second most visited country, behind only France. This data helps us to understand how significant the new reopening measures are for this type of country, which is open to receive people from anywhere in the world.

Victor Viejo, owner of an urban fashion and haute couture store called G-OLD, explains the phases and the protocol of action that he has taken in his store to ensure the health of his customers. 

“First of all, I think that the type of de-climbing system at the beginning was not optimal, since businesses and small shops gave a service by appointment only, in order to comply with the minimum possible capacity,” Viejo said. “This measure made us lose money since in a business like mine, people buy by looking at what I have in the store, it is a showroom where people look around for several days until they decide whether to buy or not. Fashion is not a necessity, it’s a whim, and with this protocol measure it was difficult to start with the new normality, since no benefits are seen, at least in the short term”. 

Viejo adds that one of the main problems suffered by the self-employed is that the government has maintained taxes and quotas despite the fact that their business activity was stopped because of the epidemic, and that now with the return to routine, he is not noticing that Europe economic aid is being given in proportion to the losses suffered during the quarantine. 

In spite of so many circumstances to the contrary in order to continue growing his business, Viejo utilizes the most modern hygienic measures so that his clients are as satisfied as possible. 

“In addition to offering hydroalcoholic gel and having a mandatory use of a mask in my establishment, I also use an ozone machine, and the garments that have not been bought are ironed so that they are completely disinfected and people can touch them again or try them on the following day without any risk,” he said.

Europe is prepared to face the new reality, but as all the experts advise, it is essential to avoid situations that put our health or that of others at risk, since we must come out of this pandemic with a lesson learned. European citizens are prepared to sacrifice old routines of their lives in order to return to living in society and with a better quality of life than that which was in quarantine. 

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