EU says economic recovery threatened by COVID-19 resurgence

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The European Union says a massive increase in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks is threatening a recovery from the deep economic slowdown caused by the start of last year’s pandemic.

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BRUSSELS – The massive spike in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks threatens to see the European Union recover from a deep economic slowdown caused by the start of last year’s pandemic, the bloc’s economy chief said on Wednesday.

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Only two weeks ago the EU executive lowered its growth forecast for an economy bouncing back from the worst of the pandemic. But EU Economy Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni said on Wednesday that the upbeat picture was again in doubt amid rising infections and a growing number of member states reimposing restrictions.

The fear is that the 19-nation eurozone’s forecast for 5% growth this year could still be hurt by the year-end virus crisis.

“Our only message is: take the situation very seriously,” Gentiloni said, “but without thinking that the economic impact will be the same as it was a year ago.”

Medical experts warned of more difficulty ahead, and called for urgent measures, which could hit critical sectors such as restaurants, bars and tourism industries already badly hit by the virus last year.

The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control said in a report on Wednesday that the burden of the highly contagious delta variant, first discovered in India, is “expected to be very high in December and January,” unless drastic government action is taken and Vaccination does not last. ,

All this goes against early hopes for the holiday season, when it was thought that Europeans freed from COVID-19 restrictions would dip into their forced savings and spend over the past year, giving the economy a big shot in the arm. will get.

Now, the ECDC warned, “the year-end festive season traditionally associated with activities such as social gatherings, shopping and travel poses significant additional risks for delta’s rapid transmission.”

Although in the past, this meant lockdowns and wholesale closures of businesses that were responsible for the unprecedented economic slowdown.

Ammon was addressing everything from less intrusive measures like mandatory mask wearing or remote working to lockdowns.

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