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Saturday, May 16, 2020
Friday, Apr 9, 2021 (updated)
May 11 has become one of the most important days for Ukraine in recent months - the easing of quarantine restrictions imposed in the country due to the coronavirus pandemic. Of course, each country has its own characteristic quarantine. Perhaps the Ukrainian quarantine itself might seem "false" to many residents of southern Europe, where they were literally forbidden to leave their apartments and for each trip, even to the grocery store, it was necessary to fill out written applications. There was nothing like that in Ukraine. No one restricted citizens in their movements, there was no restriction of movement even between towns. Yes, the transportation stopped working, but in your car - or in the car of a private carrier - you could travel from Uzhhorod to Kharkiv and not even notice that the country is quarantined. Yes, access to park areas was closed in Ukraine, but what did it mean for Europeans who could not even walk to the next street? And even for high risk groups who were offered self-isolation, Ukraine has introduced its own rules. For example, in some western countries you have the opportunity to move a distance of no more than 200 meters from your home and to the nearest store. And in Ukraine - at a distance of not more than two kilometers in one direction. Which, of course, is almost a full-fledged walk. And I do not mention that the Ukrainian police did not care much about the movement of citizens.

But this easy quarantine has far more serious consequences for Ukrainian citizens than strict quarantine for residents of the European Union. Because the main consequence is not in the distance you can walk. The main consequence is the literal disappearance of opportunities for small and medium-sized businesses. After all, practically all the shops were closed all this time, except for grocery stores. Food markets, shopping and entertainment centers, restaurants and cafes, workshops did not work. We can say that all small and medium-sized businesses were closed, which accounted for most of the jobs in the cities. And even now, when the first relaxations have begun, we cannot talk about the resumption of its full-fledged activity. Restaurants are allowed to open, but only on summer terraces and with strict sanitary measures. Cafes allowed only with takeout. Shops and markets are opening, but only if appropriate precautionary measures are taken. At the same time, the ban on the operation of public transport has not been lifted - only special routes continue to operate, the subway in Kyiv, Kharkiv and Dnipro will open only in a few weeks.

And we do not know whether small and medium-sized businesses will be able to fully recover after the quarantine. Counting the fact that in Ukraine, as in other countries around the world, there are entire sectors of the economy - especially tourism and air transport that now find themselves at the bottom. And it is clear that they simply will not recover from ending the quarantine. And we have not yet mentioned the sphere of culture. Museums and libraries are already allowed to operate. But what will happen to theaters, cinemas, concert halls?

In countries where yesterday there was still a strict quarantine, today unprecedented measures are being taken to save the economy, spending of billions of dollars. And the same billions of dollars are being spent to help people who have lost their jobs because of the pandemic and its aftermath. But the Ukrainian government simply do not have such funds. Not just that, but due to long delays in the adoption of so called "anti-banking" law, which should prevent the possibility of returning nationalized banks to their former owners (and above all - "Pryvatbank" to Ihor Kolomoyskyi), there was a delay in obtaining much needed credit from the International Monetary Fund. And it is already known that the fund’s long-term assistance program will be replaced by a short-term one. In other words, the Ukrainian government will remain on a "short leash." And this is a bad signal for potential investors.

Therefore, now everything will depend on both objective and subjective circumstances. Objective circumstances are the coronavirus epidemic itself and how quickly it will decline and how the world and Ukrainian economies will recover. And what conclusions will be drawn from the quarantine measures themselves - perhaps we will now witness more cautious and targeted restrictions, rather than a total lockdown. When deciding on quarantine, the Ukrainian government relied heavily on the experience of neighboring European countries and tried to prevent the very possibility of the collapse of the health care system. And, of course, the next measures of the government will also be largely based on the actions that will take effect in the European Union.

And subjective circumstances are the right crisis management. Here a lot will depend on the professionalism of the government and trust in it. By the way, there are also problems with the trust. They were demonstrated by the so-called "mayor's riot" - when the leaders of several major cities in the country supported the mayor of Cherkasy Anatoliy Bondarenko, who said that local authorities should be given more power to determine the parameters of quarantine and the coming out of quarantine. But what caused this protest? A banal story with lunch at the allegedly closed metropolitan restaurant "Velyur", which belongs to one of President Zelensky's associates, a deputy from the "Servant of the People" party, Mykola Tyshchenko. And the fact that the representatives of the authorities imposing the quarantine are themselves living as if there was no quarantine, of course, has become one of the reasons for distrust both at the level of ordinary people and at the level of local authorities. And they began to ask questions: why some can and the other cannot? Why can deputies have lunch in a closed restaurant, and other restaurants cannot receive visitors? Why is the chain of construction hypermarkets "Epicenter" all this time is opened, and small shops are closed? And this is how an atmosphere of distrust is born.

The atmosphere, which, of course, we must overcome in order to competently and effectively get out of the quarantine situation. Because, in order to overcome such dangers as the consequences of the epidemic and quarantine, public solidarity is important, not confrontation in society. And the government, if it seeks efficiency, should not itself give rise to confrontation and suspicion of insincerity of its actions and willingness to use the situation for its own political or economic interests.
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