Good morning. David Meyer here in Berlin, filling in for Alan.
Are we anywhere near the right time for even a partial rollback of our coronavirus lockdowns? We’re about to find out.
China’s Wuhan megalopolis—the outbreak’s first epicenter—is finally relaxing its rules after a lockdown that lasted more than two months. As of today, outbound travel is allowed again, at least for those who can show a green QR code on their phone screen that denotes good health.
Later this month, certain European countries will also cautiously start lifting restrictions. Czechia (one of the first European countries to impose measures) will from tomorrow allow some shops to resume their activities. Next week, Austria will start re-opening some shops and Denmark will reopen daycare centers and schools—Norway will follow Denmark’s lead the week after.
Are they right to do so? Those European countries’ leaders are certainly trying to strike a note of cautious optimism, as typified by Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg’s statement that “together we have taken control of the virus, therefore we can open up society little by little.” Danish prime Minister Mette Frederiksen described the effort as “a bit like walking the tightrope…if we stand still along the way we could fall and if we go too fast it can go wrong.”
“Go wrong” in this case could mean massive flare-ups of COVID-19. As a World Health Organization spokesman put it: “One of the most important parts is not to let go of the measures too early in order not to have a fall back again. It’s similar to being sick yourself; if you get out of bed too early and get running too early you risk falling back and having complications.”
But the scale of the lockdowns’ economic damage, plus the indications from Italy that long lockdowns can lead to social unrest, certainly make cautious relaxation attempts worthwhile, where the data indicates a window of opportunity (and in the case of Wuhan, potentially unreliable data makes the move somewhat questionable). The rest of us can only watch and wait—the results will of course take some weeks to manifest in case statistics.
Separately, kudos to Twitter and Square CEO Jack Dorsey, who has pledged to donate as much as $1 billion to tackling the coronavirus crisis and its fallout—once the crisis is over, remaining funds will go to girls’ health and education, and the push for universal basic income. The donation comprises Square shares that, per Dorsey, represent around 28% of his wealth.
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David [email protected]@fortune.com