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COVID-19 Crisis: Travel Bubbles, Plus Other Ways to Ease Restrictions

4 MINUTE READ | April 27, 2020

COVID-19 Crisis: Travel Bubbles, Plus Other Ways to Ease Restrictions

I wish I could say it was a quiet weekend, but then again, we are in the midst of a global pandemic. Let’s run through what you might have missed.

  • Easing restrictions

  • Virtual events

All eyes were on the South this weekend as Georgia eased lockdown restrictions and allowed nonessential businesses to open their doors. The sky didn’t fall, but we won’t know for another two to three weeks whether or not removing sheltering in place will negatively impact the states’ response to the coronavirus outbreak. Joining the Peach State this week will be Colorado, Mississippi, Minnesota, Montana, and Tennessee as these states are set to end stay-at-home orders as well.

Public health experts are urging that it’s too soon to safely return to a semblance of normal, especially without an effective testing strategy and contact tracing protocols in place. 

When and how to reopen will remain top of mind for government and business leaders as countries make tentative plans for easing lockdowns. Some have made things easy on themselves, with Slack announcing it won’t open its offices until September. Australia and New Zealand have successfully controlled community spread and are now removing lockdown orders and creating a “travel bubble” between the two countries. 

We’ll see more patchwork reopenings and country-by-country lockdown lifting until consistent rules for a staged reopening are formulated, or officials find the best way to reduce the spread without shutting down the economy again. In the U.S., the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is to share a letter with the Administration urging for better oversight and guidance for reopening the economy since it’s been so unorganized.

Looking to the future, the WHO says immunity passports, as suggested by some government officials, aren’t a good way to get things back to normal, especially as the current antibody tests are fairly unreliable. But on a more positive note about testing, LapCorp’s at-home COVID-19 test kit is the first to be authorized by the FDA, so there is progress being made, albeit gradually. 

With President Trump signing the latest relief package into law late last week, the Congressional Budget Office projected the federal budget deficit would hit $3.7T for the 2020 fiscal year as a result of emergency spending. The new funds for small businesses are available starting today, but may not be the only stimulus plan we’ll rely on in the coming months. By my count, the following federal legislative proposals are in the works. From Forbes,

  • The Emergency Money for the People Act would provide a $2,000 monthly stimulus check for up to one year.

  • The Rent and Mortgage Cancellation Act would cancel rent and mortgage payments for up to one year.

  • The Getting America Back to Work Act would provide a payroll tax rebate that covers 80% of payroll expenses, enabling businesses to more easily hire and retain employees. 

Speaking of finance and funding, major tech players are on the calendar for earnings calls this week, including Alphabet, Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Twitter, and Spotify. From The Wall Street Journal, “The S&P has baffled many investors by rebounding 27% since March 23rd, despite an unprecedented freeze in global economic activity and an oil-price crash, a divergence that makes some investors skeptical the gains can continue.”

We’ll have a better idea as to how many Big Tech companies and other firms are faring amid the pandemic after this week’s earnings. However, it’s evident that every big business and school is privately planning for the possibility of working and learning at home this fall. 

All weekend, long read after long read was published, detailing the probability of a second wave and what the future holds for the global economy. In case you missed them, the following articles made the rounds: 

Also over the weekend, virtual public events hit their stride. Fortnite’s Travis Scott concert broke viewership records and gave the tech world and consumers plenty to talk about as well as a glimpse into what future events may look like. This weekend’s ‘Saturday Night Live’ At-Home Edition was a star-studded success with Brad Pitt playing Dr. Fauci, and YouTube’s biggest stars were featured in a charity livestream by Mr. Beast in partnership with Google. The NFL said a record 15.6M viewers watched the first round of the virtual draft Thursday night, and ESPN’s ‘The Last Dance’ docuseries is likely to have hit another record viewership tally on Sunday as well

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Posted by Abby Long

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