Russia is emerging from the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, but what about the rest?
The first quarantine measures in connection with the spread of coronavirus infection were announced on January 23rd, 2020 in the Chinese city of Wuhan. Almost a year later, most developed countries are emerging from the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic. Russia from the peak of infections of almost 30,000 per day went down to 15,000. I suggest that we look at how the situation with coronavirus restrictions has affected ordinary citizens of various countries.
I don't see any point in including China for comparison, since according to official statistics, the number of cases per day there hovers around zero, although in Japan, where the habit of wearing masks was developed a long time ago, this figure reaches hundreds. For comparison, let's take developed countries, which can be generally called "Western", whose cultural customs and way of life are quite clear to us.
Quarantine measures in the United States, due to the peculiarities of the state structure, vary greatly from state to state. However, there are general recommendations there. In the United States, public schools are still closed. This has led to the fact that the US Department of Health notes an increase in suicidal moods among adolescents. The University of California at Berkeley has forced its students to sit in complete self-isolation from February 1st. Students have the right to leave the dorm rooms only to receive medical care and to eat.
In one of the largest cities in the United States - New York, the fine for not observing the social distance of 6 feet (1.8 meters) or for not wearing a mask is $1,000. The organiser of a mass event will receive a fine of $15,000. The list of enterprises that were allowed to work was clearly limited. The ban on restaurants and bars was recently lifted, now they can work up to 25% of capacity, but they are forbidden to serve from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.
Since the summer, there have been exemptions for serving visitors in the open air, and therefore the owners of catering, as they can equip places for eating on the street, and in winter conditions they erect tents right on the roadway. However, restaurateurs complain that such leniency is not enough to keep their businesses alive.
In the UK, restrictions differ depending on the territories: England, Wales, Scotland and the gradation of the level of restrictions, of which there are four. Among the general restrictions, it can be noted that movement is allowed only within the area of residence, for shopping for basic necessities, solitary sports or for going to work.
Restaurants, pubs, cinemas and other entertainment venues are closed. Schools and universities are closed, and only kindergartens are open. Stores selling non-essential goods are closed. The penalty for the first violation of the restrictions is £200, for a repeat offence the amount is doubled, and so on, up to £6,400. The new stage of restrictions caused a real escape of residents of the British capital from the city.
In France, there is a curfew throughout the entire territory from 6 p.m, so no establishments are open, including shops. In order to move after the specified time, there must be a valid reason or a special permit - otherwise, a fine of €135. Everyone over the age of six is required to wear a mask, even schoolchildren during lessons.
In Germany, face-to-face meetings are limited to family members plus one person. Residents of areas with a high number of cases may be restricted to traveling 15 kilometres. Entertainment facilities and shops selling non-essential goods are closed. Kindergartens, schools and universities do not operate.
A fine can be obtained for non-compliance with the social distance of 1.5 meters or not wearing a mask on the nose, in Berlin the fine for this is from €100 to €500. A €5,000 fine can be issued for using the services of a prostitute. For persistent violators of the established rules, a special prison has been prepared for dissidents.
In Spain, there is also a 11:00 p.m. curfew, it is forbidden to gather a group of more than six people. Municipalities have the right to tighten these rules, which they willingly use and often restrict the movement of citizens outside their territories.
Citizens are required to wear masks both indoors and outdoors. The minimum fine amount is €601, the maximum is €10,400, and a change of residence is punishable by a fine of €1,500. There was a sensational case when the Prince of Belgium was fined €10,400 for a party in a house where more than 10 people were present.
An example closer to us is Lithuania. From February 15th, the government allows the opening of industrial goods stores with an area of up to 300 square metres, flower shops, markets, as well as massage and beauty salons that have a separate entrance. However, the country is still divided into quarantine zones within the borders of municipalities (20-30 km), a violation of which is punishable by a fine of €1,500.
In Russia, the situation, of course, is different, but such wild restrictions and fines, as in Western countries, no one has ever dreamed of. Here you could recall the words from the song: "I do not know another country like this, where a person breathes so freely." However, at one time, Muscovites who are at the forefront of digitalisation of our Motherland, for a short period of time managed to try out electronic passes for moving around the city. Now the situation is not the same as before, and since February 15th, anti-coronavirus restrictions have been significantly reduced in four regions, and in Chechnya and Udmurtia, the mandatory mask regime has already been abolished.
Now let's move on from the restrictions to one of the most burning topics for a citizen of any country - the opportunity to earn money.
On February 13th, the head of the US Federal Reserve, Jerome Powell, unexpectedly stated that the real unemployment rate in the US is almost twice the official value. The US Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics showed the unemployment rate in January 2021 at 6.3%.
However, the so-called U-3 indicator that is voiced by the agency takes into account only those unemployed people who have officially declared themselves and are looking for work in the last four weeks. The U-6 index, which takes into account all other unemployed people, including those who work occasionally, is indeed almost 2 times higher - 11.1%.
Let me remind you that in September 2019, unemployment in the United States was 3.5%. Naturally, the crisis situation negatively affects the entire society, child poverty in the US grew to record levels for this century - 16%. This is despite the state's personal anti-crisis payments to every US citizen.
A great help for US citizens are "food banks", where food is distributed free of charge. About 50 million Americans have problems buying food, up from about 35 million before the pandemic.
In early February, data for unemployment in Britain for November 2020 became known - 5% and it will rise to 7.5% by the summer of 2021, as experts expect. Here it is necessary to explain that some of the employees are on forced leave, which is financed directly by the government from the budget. For example, 10% of Londoners (885,000) sit on such a forced vacation and are not listed as unemployed.
Experts note that, in connection with the reduction of jobs, the most affected people are over 50-years-old. Among them, the number of unemployed has increased by one third, and this category of citizens has the most difficultly finding a new job, respectively, some face the danger of remaining poor and homeless.
The official unemployment rate in Germany is 4.4%, without taking into account those who are on forced leave paid by the state, in France – 8.8%, in Spain - 16.1%. The overall unemployment rate in the euro area, according to Eurostat, is 8.3%.
There are lives and fates behind these numbers that we don't know much about. In the Western media, it is not customary to talk about the difficulties of ordinary citizens. However, even the World Chess champion - Vladimir Kramnik, who lives in a far from poor Swiss city - Geneva, describes cases from his own life, when people around him say that they have nothing to live on.
His wife became a direct witness of how a young mother was arrested for stealing baby food in a store, and the owner of a second-hand bookstore, where Kramnik regularly bought books, began to work on the side in a truck. Not from a good life, of course.
Yes, Russia has its own problems in the form of rising food prices associated with the fall in the ruble exchange rate and rising prices for some imported and imported food products, raw materials and equipment needed for their production. However, compare for yourself, in December 2020, the unemployment rate in Russia was 5.9%.
Naturally, the employment structure is unlikely to return to the same form as it was before the coronavirus, but, compared to other countries, Russia survived the second wave of the pandemic at a quite acceptable level, without suffocating its own population with anti-coronavirus measures and allowing people to work.
The Sputnik-V vaccine, which is increasingly recognised by Western countries as an effective means of preventing the pandemic, gives a real prospect that our country will emerge from the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic without catastrophic consequences, and a third wave of this disease in Russia will most likely not happen.