Locked-down Europe asks: How long can we afford this?
As countries across the world announce lockdowns and multi-billion-euro bailouts, they know these can only offer short-term fixes. National leaders have one eye squarely on the calendar and are trying to calculate when they are going to have to tell people to get back to work, even if that will reignite infections and high death tolls.
It is French President Emmanuel Macron who has most starkly expressed the challenges of balancing measures like self-isolation and social distancing against the imperative to keep the economy running.
“It is impossible to live — even in self-isolation — and to cure people, if we do not continue the economic activity that, quite simply, permits us to live in this country,” he said while chairing an “economy task force” dealing with the outbreak.
Macron is also the most prominent voice to warn people that a vaccine is not imminent, and probably won’t arrive until the end of 2021. The message is clear: It won’t be possible for people to stay at home until then.