4 Recomendations During the COVID-19 Crysis

First, we have got to analyze what worked very well in Austria, in order to understand which of these solutions could also work in Russia, taking into account the huge differences in fundamental causes of growth that the two countries have.

Strategies that worked in Austria:

  1. Boundaries closure, first with countries where COVID-19 had strong impact, and later with all countries. Stopping non-crucial national flights also made a difference.
  2. Closing public spaces where a lot of people could gather up.
  3. Closing spaces where COVID-19 was detected (with people inside), and tracing everybody who was in that place at the time. Make tests to all of these people.
  4. Formally ask every Austrian citizen around the world to immediately come back to the country to avoid contact with the virus.
  5. Prohibit meetings with more than 5 people.
  6. National quarantine.
  7. Closure of every non-essential establishment.
  8. Ask for credit.
  9. Investment in health services.
  10. Application of severe contracyclical fiscal and monetary policies to avoid the permanent rupture of the social production relations.
  11. Obligation of using face mask when outside.
  12. Deescalating measures. Gradually open some establishments with severe cautions.

All these actions were taken very publicly and transparently, with political leaders showing up and explaining what the government was doing with technical support from privates and health organizations (like WHO). Austrian people, who highly believe in the establishment, have a strong notion of duty and, in majority, were not starving (despite of the relatively high unemployment), played a fundamental role. They self-isolated very judiciously and the curve started the flattening, which allowed the gradual deescalating of restrictive measures and the progressive opening of the economy.

So, for Russia, we have to take into account that some of these measures were also taken and that the time has passed to apply some others. Also we need to acknowledge that Russian government (and this is a important difference with Austria) is very authoritarian ant the police has lots of faculties, which, of course, where doubled to face the pandemic; for example, investment in vigilance technology was made to install face recognition cameras around plenty of urban centers. Also, we need to understand that Russia is actually under international sanctions (because of the annexation of Crimea) that prohibit or difficult the access to international resources. This last fact its worse when we see that the Ruble has devaluated a lot, and that the interest rate in Russia is very low, so there is not a lot of space for expansive monetary policies.

So, from the measures taken in Austria we would suggest Russia to:

  1. Invest in health services.
  2. Keep asking for credit.
  3. Application of contracyclical fiscal and monetary policies to avoid the permanent rupture of the social production relations.
  4. Obligation of permanent use of face mask when outside.
  5. Deescalating measures when the curve gets really flattened (for this, Russia must be sure that the investment in the heath sector has been done, which includes the investment in COVID-19 testing).

But, most importantly, Russia should be open with its people. There is a strong political opposition to Vladimir Putin, because of its large reign, so to counterattack that, Russia need to gain the confidence of the Russians so the measures are widely applied. Rules of the game need to be transparent and people must obey not because of the fear, but because of the understanding the importance of the social participation in Russian fight with COVID-19.

This could be the start of a different way to do politics in Russia (or, at least, it could be politically used by Putin to guarantee the constitutional modification that he is supporting to be able to run for president again).