On Saturday, US President Donald Trump said that he will rely on “a lot of facts and instincts” when deciding on the timeline for certain sections of the American economy to reopen during the Covid-19 outbreak. He is torn between ensuring that the economy gets moving again and protecting millions of Americans from the virus.
Fauci: Travel and Gathering Restrictions Must Remain
The head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a leading member of the Trump administration’s coronavirus task force, Anthony Fauci, said that restrictions banning non-essential travel and large gatherings must remain in place.
Some states have announced they are retaining these measures until June despite a substantial surge in unemployment across the country.
Balancing Public Health With Economic Survival
Either way, the American President is presiding over an Opening Our Country Council that will consist of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and Trump’s senior adviser and daughter Ivanka Trump.
Trump has realized that he must strike a balance between preserving the American economy and ensuring millions of US citizens are protected from Covid-19 which has now killed over 20,000 Americans. With an election around the corner, the way Trump leads his country during this dark time will undoubtedly determine his chances of getting re-elected, especially as this could be such a close election.
Why Is Denmark Lifting Its Covid-19 Restrictions?
Nonetheless, some countries are already preparing to return to normal following the coronavirus pandemic. Denmark is about to relax restrictions that its government imposed to tackle Covid-19. From Wednesday, children aged 11 and younger will be returning to schools and nurseries after a month of closures.
Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said her nation’s moves will be slow and cautious. She likened them to “walking a tightrope.”
Denmark has been able to get to this stage because it introduced numerous measures designed to tackle Covid-19’s spread earlier on. A raft of restrictions was announced on March 11 that included limiting gatherings to 10 people, requesting employees to stay at home, and closing Danish borders.
The Danish Government’s strategy seems to have paid off. The country has only experienced 260 Covid-19 deaths. Total numbers of hospital admissions and patients in intensive care have fallen since the beginning of the month.
Still, Denmark’s lockdown has started to take its toll on many livelihoods and it is unclear when some businesses such as restaurants and pubs can reopen their doors.
If the USA and other nations followed Denmark’s example sooner, they might not have needed to be so heavy-handed with their own lockdown measures.
Iran’s Economy is Being Crippled
Meanwhile, the Iranian Government recently permitted businesses and workers to return to work on Saturday even though the coronavirus continues to heavily impact the nation. The lockdown there has cost the Iranian economy $20–30 billion, some 15 percent of its GDP.
Iranian hospitals need 35,000 beds, approximately 15,000 respirators and 7,000 intensive care units.
As malls prepare to reopen and transport restrictions are lifted, this strategy risks exposing people who are carrying the virus to come into close contact with those who do not.
Iran is different to Denmark for the simple reason that the former’s economy is being crippled by US sanctions. The Trump administration will not lift its sanctions on Tehran as they hope they can devastate the Iranian economy further and topple its government.
The Iranian Government has introduced expensive policies to ease the effects the coronavirus is having on the Iranian economy, such as an economic assistance program to provide about $60 a month to every needy person who is already receiving state subsidies. It is clear that the government has concluded Iran cannot afford to remain in lockdown indefinitely and it is certainly in a weakened position economically compared to many other other nations.
Trump wants the US economy to return to normal, but because of his administration’s slow response to Covid-19, it will be a while before America can catch up with Denmark. Iran is taking a huge gamble by reopening its economy now. The situation shows the difficulty of crucial decisions during the pandemic.