Germany Headed For Recession As COVID Restrictions Tighten

Germany is heading toward recession amid a reintroduction of COVID-19 lockdowns.

Last week, Olaf Scholz replaced longtime Chancellor Angela Merkel as head of the German government. In the days before Scholz assumed office, he and Merkel jointly announced a new lockdown for unvaccinated citizens; meanwhile, Scholz’s government signaled a willingness to take hardline measures against the spread of COVID-19.

The economic consequences of such a position, however, will be palpable.

CNN Business reported:

Europe’s largest economy will shrink 0.5% in the fourth quarter of this year, compared with the third, and stagnate in the first three months of 2022, according to projections published Tuesday by the Ifo Institute for Economic Research. An economy is in recession when it contracts for two consecutive quarters…

Growth is expected to pick up next summer as a wave of coronavirus cases subsides and supply bottlenecks ease, but the slow start to the year will cost the manufacturing powerhouse. Ifo slashed its growth forecast for 2022 by 1.4 percentage points to 3.7%.

Ifo expects inflation to increase by 3.1% this year and 3.3% in 2022, rates that far exceed the European Central Bank’s target of 2%. Consumer prices are not expected to return to normal until 2023, according to Ifo.

Other European countries are likewise introducing aggressive lockdown measures and vaccine mandates.

Austria announced that it would require all citizens — reportedly starting at age fourteen — to be fully vaccinated by February or face fines or imprisonment. Each citizen’s vaccination status will be noted in his or her electronic health records. 

Italy is operating under two levels of health passes. Those with negative COVID-19 tests can receive “basic” passes, letting them use public transportation or check into hotels. However, in order to access theaters, indoor dining, museums, and other entertainment, Italians must have the “Super Green Pass” — showing that the bearer has either been vaccinated against COVID-19 or recovered from the disease within the last six months.

The same is true in much of eastern Europe. Latvian politicians cannot vote on laws, debate bills in person or virtually, or receive their salary without inoculation or a certificate showing that they have recovered from COVID-19. Greeks over 60 years of age must be vaccinated by January, or they will be fined one-seventh of their monthly pension until they are. 

In recent weeks, the world’s governments have shifted their attention toward the Omicron variant. However, early reports indicate that it is not as lethal as others.

“It presents mild disease with symptoms being sore muscles and tiredness for a day or two not feeling well,” South African Medical Association Chair Dr. Angelique Coetzee told The Telegraph. “So far, we have detected that those infected do not suffer the loss of taste or smell. They might have a slight cough. There are no prominent symptoms. Of those infected, some are currently being treated at home.”

Coetzee described one case in which a six-year-old girl had “a temperature and a very high pulse rate, and I wondered if I should admit her. But when I followed up two days later, she was so much better.”

“What we have to worry about now is that when older, unvaccinated people are infected with the new variant, and if they are not vaccinated, we are going to see many people with a severe [form of the] disease,” she added.

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