Switzerland seemed to deal effectively with the spring wave, but in recent weeks the country saw caseloads skyrocket to over 1,000 per 100,000 persons. The federal government only imposed a nationwide mask rule for indoor public areas on Oct. 18. Otherwise, each of the 26 cantons manages its COVID-19 restrictions separately. Some people say that approach isn’t working in the small country and has created a patchwork of rules and attitudes. Dr. Nicolas Blondel posted a video to Facebook on Nov. 2 describing an overwhelmed staff at the Hospital of Fribourg and pleading for people to postpone the traditional Bénichon gatherings—much like Thanksgiving—that were causing rapid spread through the area.
Across the English Channel, Great Britain last month implemented a three-tiered system, defining restrictions based on each county’s infection rate. For a while that meant that shops were open, but restaurants and pubs had to close. Colleen Catterall lives outside of Sheffield, in the north of England. She wasn’t supposed to leave Sheffield County, which created some sticky situations: Her nearest butcher shop is 10 minutes away but in the next county, so she can’t travel there.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has since called for a complete lockdown for one month. Catterall says figuring out what she can and can’t do is frustrating, but most people are doing their best to follow the often confusing rules. She also sees the weariness among her elderly neighbors: “They say, ‘Can you please come in and have a cup of tea with me?’” It’s hard to decline, but she’s trying to stay sensitive and be present. “People are realizing we don’t know when this is going to end,” she said. “And so we need to be reasonable and thoughtful about what we’re going to do.”
Husband and wife team Manuel Zamudio and Paola Terrazas own a Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise in Valencia, Spain. Though their business suffered in the spring, over the summer sales were almost back to normal. Now coronavirus cases are rising and sales are slowing. “The last three weeks have been the lowest since we reopened,” said Zamudio. “We’re concerned because we had to assume a significant financial blow over the first hit. Now we need to be ready to avoid being more damaged by a second wave.”
The Spanish government provided help to cover employees’ salaries and social security during the first lockdowns, but Zamudio and Terrazas had to agree not to lay off anyone for six months. They want to avoid layoffs, but with uncertainty about new lockdowns looming, they feel like their hands are tied.
For now, the Spanish government is trying to protect the economy without shutting down completely. Spain has restricted travel between different regions, as has Italy. Both countries now have night-time curfews.
Despite the lockdowns and uncertainty, Zamudio and Terrazas have found a way to live out their faith and help others. They’ve found charity partners to take to local food banks perishable food from their restaurants that would otherwise go to waste. This kind of partnership is not yet common in Spain, but because of the pandemic, authorities approved the program more easily. “We were able to become the first franchisee in the country to have 100 percent of our restaurants donating food because of this pandemic,” said Zamudio.
He is also partnering with his pastor to put on an entrepreneurial workshop to help those who’ve lost their jobs in the economic downturn. In a church with 170 members, 50 have already signed up for the class, according to Zamudio: “The church is taking the charge in saying, can you help us help others to start their own small business so they can become self-sufficient, even in the middle of this crisis.”