How has our life changed

Corona pandemic
How the virus is changing our lives

The SARS-CoV pandemic has been going on around the world since spring 2020. Drastic cuts in daily life are intended to help contain the corona virus. Some areas of our society could be permanently affected. An interim balance.

From Petra Schönhöfer

Environment: Just a short sigh of relief

Dolphins, where normally only cruise giants swim - this supposedly good news from Venice went around the world during the corona pandemic. But the environmental organization Green Peace quickly made it clear: The video that was distributed did not show dolphins in Venice, but in the port of the Sardinian city of Cagliari. And they are not that rare there. The supposedly clearer water in Venice was also related to the lack of erosion of sediment from the depths and is not an indication of better water quality. So has nature not used the corona crisis to recover? Less traffic on the streets, industrial production partially paralyzed, the offices orphaned, the planes on the ground - the impression could easily arise that a virus is saving our climate. But the Federal Environment Agency explains: "If the Corona crisis should have a positive effect on air quality, greenhouse gas emissions and noise-related health risks, this will be a short-term effect." A long-term improvement can only be achieved with a targeted environmental policy, the infrastructure , Change consumption and mobility patterns permanently and sustainably. In plain language: If the economy runs as before after the crisis and traffic increases again, the environmental damage will increase again.

Economy: severe recession

The corona lockdown and the difficult external economic situation, especially with regard to the USA, led Germany into recession. According to the Federal Statistical Office, private consumer spending in particular fell, as did investments in machinery, equipment and vehicles. In the first quarter of 2020, GDP fell by 2.2 percent. Compared to other large European countries, Germany is still doing quite well: In France, the second largest economy in the euro zone after Germany, the economy plummeted by 5.8 percent from January to April 2020, in number three Italy it was 4.7 percent. However, according to economists, the economic slump in the first quarter has not yet bottomed out. The federal government is anticipating the worst recession in post-war history for 2020 as a whole. Germany’s gross domestic product will, according to the latest estimates by the German Advisory Council on the Assessment of Macroeconomic Development, colloquially the “economic modes”, shrink by a total of six to seven percent in 2020. For comparison: In the global economic and financial crisis of 2009, the German gross domestic product fell by 5.7 percent. Unemployment has also increased in Germany under the Corona crisis. The unemployment rate in June 2020 was 6.2 percent and thus 1.3 percent higher than in June 2019. That is around 640,000 more unemployed than in the previous year.

Working worlds: hybrid solutions for new flexibility

While many people fell into short-time work during the lockdown and now have to accept a loss of income or are threatened with unemployment, other workers, for example in the food supply and / or in the health system, were even exposed to increased workload and a particularly high risk of infection. For another part of the employees, the place of work moved to the home office, the home office. The microblogging service Twitter was one of the first companies to send their employees home to work worldwide as early as mid-March. The offices should remain closed at least until September 2020 and the employees then decide for themselves whether and when they will return to office life. What is certain is that the office in its traditional form appears outdated and that new, more flexible options have proven themselves. Hybrid work situations, in which some employees are on site in the office, others on the move or in the home office, seem to be a future-oriented approach, as a study by the HR company Adecco suggests. In addition, many workers have inevitably become familiar with new technologies such as video conferencing. In the future, this may mean that not all business trips and attendance appointments will be necessary. Which would also have an impact on mobility behavior: less traffic jams in commuter traffic, fewer domestic flights during the week. As the study also found, Corona could herald the end of the hour-based contract and the 40-hour week, because the acceptance of the strict 40-hour week is falling among employees: more than two thirds (69 percent) are in favor of a "result-oriented Work ”, where contracts are based on the achievement of agreed objectives rather than a specific number of hours worked.

Media: Linear television is back

Unsurprisingly, media consumption increased during the pandemic. News providers like Deutsche Welle reported record access to their online offers. News was the format of the hour and in demand in all forms of presentation. According to a survey by the Media & Entertainment division of the consulting company Deloitte, the share of daily readers of advertising-financed online news rose by 35 percent across Germany. In addition, more and more users were willing to pay for content: The regular use of paid premium content increased by 25 percent, digital newspaper editions as pdf or app even increased by 31 percent. In addition, linear television experienced a renaissance: 21 percent of those surveyed by Deloitte were on television for over two hours longer than before the pandemic. Even the young target groups, for whom TV consumption had so far decreased both continuously and significantly, rediscovered linear TV for themselves. This revitalization was not at the expense of video-on-demand (VoD): Almost half of VoD users consumed significantly more content than before the start of the protective measures against the coronavirus. The radio was also used more intensively by around 30 percent of those surveyed. Podcasts in particular have received an additional boost and have found their way out of the tech-savvy niche. The programs often delve deeper into a topic than the classic TV or radio news and scored points with users with relevant background information. In the threatening situation of the pandemic, many users also turned to traditional media providers. According to a study by the Reuters news agency published in summer 2020, these media houses enjoy a significantly higher level of credibility than social media. The pandemic paradox: Despite higher usage, many publishers are now facing serious financial problems because their advertising revenues have collapsed due to the crisis.

Art market: shift to the online area

With the Art Fair Mannheim in July 2020 an art fair took place for the first time purely virtual. Live streaming, TV broadcasts, visits to digital exhibitions - all of these are paths that the art world took in times of pandemic. For a long time, traditional retailers were skeptical of collectors from the world of business and finance who bought a work of art via smartphone instead of from trusted gallery owners. The corona crisis could turn the trend here, because online trading gained in importance for the art market as a result of corona. Thomas Fischer, gallery owner in Berlin, uses the sales platform BerlinViews.com to present his artists: “The website offers around 25 Berlin galleries the opportunity to present one artist from their repertoire and to sell works of art straight away.” While some Observers fear that discoveries in underground galleries, off-spaces, subcultures and art schools could soon be history as a result of such concepts and that the market entry of young, unknown artists would be made more difficult, Fischer sees the problems more in the highly commercial area. Well-known auction houses like Nagel in Stuttgart get into financial difficulties, renowned art fairs from Cologne via Brussels to Switzerland are canceled. He attaches little importance to the unusual events in the industry such as vernissages: “The decisive factor for most galleries is the intensive care of interested parties. The curator of a museum does not necessarily come to the vernissage, but rather makes an appointment as required. ”In his experience, the temporary closure of many cultural venues did not prevent artists from continuing to be creative.

Theater: how much money is enough?

In compliance with distance and hygiene rules, cultural events may again take place in many places in Germany in the summer of 2020. But - whether open-air concerts by far, open-air festivals, smaller theater formats in public spaces or thinned-out rows of seats in the halls - these measures lead to lower income and fewer funds for productions. State theaters are less affected than many private theaters, independent theaters and freelance artists. Nowhere in the world were there - compared to the number of inhabitants - so many theaters, museums and concert halls as in Germany before the pandemic: 130 public symphony and chamber orchestras, around 6,800 museums, 40 festival halls and around 7,000 festivals are the legacy of a federalist cultural policy. In Germany, the municipalities are mainly responsible for cultural operations, but they themselves are struggling with increasing burdens from the pandemic. "After Corona it will be about: How much money is there then for the independent scene? Which funding continues? ”, Explains cultural political scientist Julius Heinicke in an interview with Deutsche Welle. For a “NEUSTART KULTUR”, a total of around one billion euros more will be made available by the federal government in 2020 and 2021 for the cultural sector.

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