Volvo reopens some plants, some countries ease restrictions
The outbreak of the coronavirus has dealt a shock to the global economy with unprecedented speed. Following are developments Monday related to the global economy, the work place and the spread of the virus.
► New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced Monday that the country will remain in a strict lockdown for another week before easing the rules a little to allow some parts of the economy to reopen. New Zealand has been in the lockdown for nearly four weeks. Starting next week, workers at some businesses such as construction and manufacturing will be able to resume their jobs, and some schools reopen, although parents will be encouraged to continue having their children learn from home.
► Denmark took another small step toward reopening society when hair salons, dentists, physiotherapists, tattoo parlors and driving schools, among others, were allowed to reopen Monday.
Social distancing, removal of magazines in the waiting area, possibility for both staff and customers to wash their hands, thorough cleaning and shifted work times were key to the reopening, business minister Simon Kollerup said.
► Some shops are reopening in much of Germany as Europe’s biggest economy takes its first tentative step toward restarting public life after a four-week shutdown.
Shops with a surface area of up to 800 square meters (8,600 square feet) are being allowed to reopen Monday, along with auto showrooms, bike shops and bookshops of any size, under an agreement reached last week between the federal and state governments.
State governments are responsible for imposing and loosening shutdown measures, and there are regional variations. Berlin and neighboring Brandenburg are expected to reopen small shops later this week. The eastern state of Thuringia is waiting until next Monday. So is Bavaria, although it is allowing DIY and garden shops to reopen Monday.
The eastern state of Saxony is the only one so far to require that people wear face masks in shops and on public transport. A few states also are starting high school finishing exams, though schools aren’t expected to start reopening on a larger scale for another two weeks.
►Dutch health care equipment maker Philips says orders at its unit that makes machines such as ventilators and patient monitors jumped 23% in the first quarter. However, the company’s net profit was hit hard as demand for other items, like personal health care products, slumped.
Philips is investing more than 100 million euros ($108 million) to “steeply ramp up our production volumes” of the machines that are vital in treating critically ill COVID-19 patients.
►Volvo Cars is restarting production at its suburban Goteborg plant in Sweden on Monday after talks with trade unions.
The Swedish car maker had in recent weeks reviewed every single working station in the Torslanda plant, near Goteborg, “from a health and safety perspective,” adding that when “social distancing is not possible, other protective measures have been put in place.”
Volvo Cars also plans to reopen a plant in Ghent, Belgium, on Monday but “at reduced production output.” Its South Carolina plant is anticipated to open May 11.
►Some passengers from a luxury cruise ship that traveled the globe for 15 weeks while the new coronavirus spread on land have started to disembark in northeastern Spain.
Monday’s port-of-call in Barcelona marks the beginning of the end of the around-the-globe cruise of the Costa Deliziosa, whose owner Costa Crociere, an Italian company, says there’s no COVID-19 cases on board. Hundreds of the boat’s 1,831 passengers were expected to get off the boat in Spain and the rest were expected to do so at the last stop, in Genoa, Italy.
The Deliziosa has been virtually a floating virus-free bubble, allowing passengers to use the ship’s facilities and entertainments. The ship set sail from Venice in early January and stopped making ports of call after leaving western Australia last month except for technical refueling stops.
►World shares were mixed on Monday as last week’s rally on Wall Street faded and oil prices retreated. The future for the S&P 500 lost 0.9% and the contract for the Dow industrials lost 1%.