Jewish Journal of Los Angeles, March 28, 2020
Empty toilet paper shelves, empty seats at restaurants, empty desks in schools.
These emerging iconic coronavirus images have become commonplace in Europe as the continent begins nationwide lockdowns amid a rising number of COVID-19 cases. On March 14, the World Health Organization called Europe the “epicenter” of the pandemic.
In a televised press conference on the evening of March 16, Chancellor Angela Merkel declared a national shutdown, calling on nonessential businesses to close their doors and people to limit nonessential social contact. Schools have been closed since March 16. The federal government also imposed border controls with France, Switzerland, Austria, Denmark and Luxembourg, and this week halted flights from China and Iran. The car manufacturer Volkswagen has announced a partial halt in production.
Germany, however, also has been a source of good news. A German vaccine-maker, CureVac, believes it is on the cusp of developing a vaccine. U.S. President Donald Trump offered financial support to the company, with news reports suggesting that Trump offered to buy it out for exclusive American use. Experiments are set to begin in June or July.
Berlin resident Lukas Yair Lehmann, a production coordinator, wrote on his Facebook page: “Every day a new measure against the virus limiting our daily life is introduced. There is a limit to each measure but yet, if the development of the vaccine takes at least a year, these measures might continue. Personally, I am working today from home. Our company gave us tools for remote work. I am glad to have this possibility. Other friends of mine need to work from their office or from home without full access to their needed work materials. The streets at Kurfürstendamm (a major retail thoroughfare) are empty in the mornings.”
As of press time, schools, shops, restaurants and cafes remained open. Hospital care has been reinforced and people are advised to limit socializing. Anyone older than 70 or showing symptoms of the virus has been advised to self-isolate for a few weeks.
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