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Live Blog - 27 April 2020
27 April 2020

Our live blog on the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on the world is on every day throughouit the month of April

This blog is compiled by our team of journalists and researchers based in The Hague in the Netherlands and in Tbilisi, Georgia, working with partners and associates in a number of different countries. You can also follow us on twitter @commonspaceEU. We are happy to hear from you wherever you are. Please send us your comments, stories and suggestions by email to editor@commonspace.eu

This live blog has been running daily since 19 March. You can read earlier blogs here

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Monday, 27 April 2020

1400 CEST (16.00 Tbilisi/Dubai)

We are now pausing this live blog for today.

We will be back again tomorrow for another two hours of live blog from 12 noon CEST (14.00 Tbilisi and Dubai)

Till then from our teams in The Hague and in Tbilisi, a good day

Be Safe! Be Healthy! Be Happy!

 

1355 CEST (1555 Tbilisi/Dubai)

Today is King's Day iin the Netherlands. We would like to end with extending our geetings to King Wilhelm-Alexander

 

Queen Maxima, 48, and King Willem-Alexander were joined by their daughters Princesses Ariane,

Amalia and Alexia on the steps of their Royal Palace Huis Ten Bosch in the Hague to wish the country happy celebrations

(pictured from the left: Princess Ariane, 13, Princess Amalia, 16, King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima and Princess Alexia, 14 ) 

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1340 CEST (1540 Tbilisi/Dubai)

 Turkey

The number of covid-19 cases in Turkey now exceeds 110,000 - and there have been more than 2800 deaths.

Turkey has been engaged in a major operation to repatruiate its citizens from different parts of the globe, using the Turkish airlines planes that are otherwise idle.

President Erdogan has made a number of speeches talking about the post Covid world order, and saying that Turkey will emerge from the pandemic politically stronger. But much depends on how big a hit the Turkish economy will take as the crisis continues.

Dolphins are back in the Bosphorus

A quiet Bosphorus since the beginning of the pandemic has finally brought back dolphins near Istanbul. Dolphins swim in the fish-rich waters of the Bosphorus Strait between Europe and Asia, they are among Istanbul's favourite creatures and often a source of joy for its residents.  

"A decrease in boat and human traffic across the Bosphorus has a big impact," said Erol Orkcu, head of the amateur and sports fishing association in Istanbul. 

"Terrestrial and aquatic living things can remain free without human beings. That enables Dolphins to come closer to the shoreline," he told AFP.

The Turkish city has been under lockdown since Thursday to curb the spread of the virus. 

 

The month of Ramadan has also affected life in the city as the Ramadan drummers, who collect tips by wandering streets and wake up people for the pre-dawn meal, were not allowed to roam this year

1325 CEST (1525 Tbilisi/Dubai)

We now move to the Middle East, where the question of what is the new normal is also being asked. Noman Ahmed from our research team has been looking at some of the issues affecting societies in the region:

In the Arab world, weddings adapt to covid-19

Weddings are taking new forms in the Middle East with some states ignoring social distancing measures. In Egypt cars hooted behind a wedding as the couple attempted to take a photo at the iconic n Qasr el Nil bridge. The police used their sirens and asked them to move on. The same scene occurred often over the past several days in Cairo.

In the UAE  couples can now obtain wedding licenses online. In Kuwait  marriage courts offer services by special appointment. In Saudi Arabia  some couples decided to skip the festivities even if they are legally wed while others downsized their guests to immediate family.

Lebanon  is another county that has to downsize its wedding parties which are often extravagant.

In the Middle East, marriages are important because of social status, and couples often decide not to wait. They provide independence, gifts, a culturally approved sex life, and a heightened status for women in societies still heavily tilted in favour of men.

A wedding in Cairo in the time of corona

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1310 CEST (1510 Tbilisi/Dubai)

We now have an update on the situation in the South Caucasus. Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia have broadlt been able to keep the number of infections and deaths from covid 19 low compared to some other countries. All three have taken quite tough measures to enforce a lockdown and social isolation. There is a state of emergency in both Georgia and Armenia, and a quarantine regime in Azerbaijan.

There is a lot of pressure on the governments to start preparing to ease the lockdown, but as is the case in other European countries, a premature easing of restrictions can create risks of a second wave.

Latest figures from the three countries are as follows

 Georgia

Georgia is reporting 496 cases, and six deaths. This is one of the lowest figures in Europe and it is credited to the georgian government having moved early and decisevely to impose quarantine. But there are signs that people are now getting restless, and there are difficult decisions ahead ofr the government as to whether or not to ease the restrictions.

 Armenia

In Armenia the number of cases reported has now reached 1808, and there are 29 deaths.

On Monday monring prime minister Nikol Pashinyan chaired a meeting of the inter ministerial committee dealing with the covid-19 crisis. It was indicated that schools will remain closed for the rest of the academic year, and further updates are expected on other measures shortly.

 Azerbaijan

So far Azerbaijan has reported 1645 covid-19 cases, and 21 deaths.

41,404 persons have been booked for administrative violations of the quarantine rules since the start of this month, it was reported. Azerbaijan is now slowlt starting opening up shops and businesses.

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1245 CEST (1445 Tbilisi/Dubai)

Wine countries are searching for a solution for unsold quantities of wine. Maximiliaan van Lange, has this update for us.

As a result of Covid-19, wine countries such as France, Spain and Italy are experiencing production problems increasing unsold quantities of wine. Due to reduced wine exports, large quantities of unsold wine remain in barrels, boxes and bottles. As a result of this collapse of the wine sector, it is estimated that more than a billion wine bottles are waiting to be exported.

Together with Austria and Portugal, the three wine countries have taken the initiative to go to the European Commission for emergency support. The Commission has been asked to authorize 'crisis distillation'. This takes alcohol from wine to be processed into a new product. The pharmaceutical industry is crying out for alcohol for hand gel.

The Commission immediately gave the green light for the plans of the wine countries. The EU member states will now vote on them. It is possible that the 'crisis distillation' will become possible as of this week.

 

1235 CEST (1435 Tbilisi/Dubai)

Across Europe the debate about how to move to the next phase of the crisis is ongoing. More than 100,000 Europeans have died of covid 19 in the last three months. But there is hope that now the worst is over and a desire to start opening up slowly. But the risks are very high and all governments are moving cautiously. We have a round up of the situation ion Europe this morning prepared by Maximiliaan van Lange, a member of our research team.

 The Netherlands

Today is King's Day in the Netherlands.

In a televised speech, King's Day, the Dutch King Willem-Alexander called on the Dutch to persevere in the fight against Covid-19 and to stay inside as much as possible. Because of Covid-19, there were no night parties during King's Night, no traditional free markets, and no royal visit to the city of Maastricht, as was planned. In compensation, activities are organised all over the country to celebrate King's Day - online or at one and a half meters.

Also, the Security Council has warned against group gatherings. Sunday (26 April) was busier in some places in the country than in recent weeks, especially in shopping streets, where many citizens could be found.  .

Yesterday (26 April) the government immediately took new measures after two mink farms reported Covid-19 among the minks. The farms are located in the south of the Netherlands. Several minks have disease symptoms, including respiratory problems. Symptoms of the virus have also been detected in employees of both farms. The Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality immediately initiated an investigation to trace the source and introduced a reporting obligation for mink farmers, veterinarians and persons in research institutes.

Currently, 934 Dutch patients are still in intensive care, 25 less than on Sunday (26 April).

 France

In France, the President of the Senate, Gérard Larcher, criticised President Macron's government policy around Covid-19. According to the president of the senate, people feel that they were not always told the truth. In recent weeks, the government has been criticised by the media for not being consistent in its positions.  

 Italy

In Italy, bishops urged for the resumption of church services in the country.  In response to this call, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has promised to draw up a plan for the resumption of church services, taking into due account safe distances in order to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

  United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, the government is preparing a plan to relax the lock-down measures in the next few days. According to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the UK is "close to the peak" of the pandemic. For fear of the second wave of Covid-19 infections, measures will not be relaxed at once. The government is under pessure from businesses and entrepreneurs, and wants to support and restart the economy.

  Germany

The weekend in Germany was turbulent in several German cities, including the capital Berlin. Demonstrators protested that that Covid-19 had increased the power of the federal government. Earlier this week, Germany relaxed the measures against the spread of Covid-19. Shops with an area of up to 800 square meters could open their doors again, and schools could reopen in part. The consequences of this for the number of infections in the country will only become apparent later.

The official death toll by Covid-19 in Germany now stands at 5,750. The Robert Koch-Institut reported 110 more deaths on Monday morning (27 April) since Sunday (26 April). The number of contaminations has increased by 1,018, to 155,193 in the country.

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1215 CEST (1415 Tbilisi/Dubai)

  China braces itself for international criticism

Although it remains unclear when and how the pandemic will end, many are already asking about how it started, and China has already been criticised for the way it handled the initial stages of this crisis.

Beijing looks set to brace for increased opposition to its global ambitions. Chinese President Xi Jinping said this month that the country must get ready for unprecedented external adversity and challenges in the long run.

His warning came amid China's "deepest economic contraction in nearly a century", the restructuring of global supply chains and threats to Beijing's colossal Belt and Road Initiative.

But there is also criticism of how China has tried to exhonourate itself over the last weeks as the pandemic swepta across Europe and North America

 A report by the European External Action Service, the diplomatic arm of the European Union is critical of the Chinese methods. read more here

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Good day and welcome to this live blog on commonspace.eu this Monday 27 April 2020.

It is 12 noon Central European Summer Time, equivalent to 14.00 hours in Tbilisi and Dubai.

We will have live updates over the next two hours

The number of coronavirus cases worldwide has now exceeded three million, and more than 200,000 have died - more than half of them in Europe.

However the big discussion on going in European capitals today is how to move out of the present lockdown which has seen millions of people confined to their homes, and the economies of the most developed countries grinding to a health. Some countries, sucgh as Germany and Switzerland have today started easing some of the measures. But this is being done slowly and with strict conditions.

In Germany people are expected to wear masks when in public places, and mask vending machines have started appearing in train and metro stations. Is wearing a mask going to be the new normal. How will normal look like in a few months time? Our cover picture today shows a shop in Germany where both the staff and the clients are wearing masks and where people are asked to respect social distancing. We will explore this, and other themes in this live blog for the next two hours.

 

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