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Members Speak: Messages from CoR Members and Partners on the coronavirus crisis  


The Region of Attica – led by Georgios Patoulis (EL/EPP) – set up a seven-member committee in collaboration with the Medical Association of Athens at the very beginning of pandemic, to set up preventive measures against the coronavirus and supervising the crisis. A wide range of measures were undertaken by local authorities. They include a free electronic platform where citizens can videocall a doctor and a 24-hour call centre to register complaints against illicit profiteering, report cases of social isolation of elderly citizens and other needs. Other initiatives include education: the region called public services, educational structures, distance learning institutions, companies and shops to support remote learning for children and the elderly. More information can be found via Facebook (here and here). Finally, the Greek government endorsed a proposal by the Attica government to increase measures to protect elderly care, including closing so-called 'Centers of Open Protection for the Elderly'.

In the Košice Self-governing Region led by Rastislav Trnka (SK/EPP), protective equipment is sawn by school and social service staff. Every week, the region distributes 4,000 canvas face masks. The teachers of secondary schools specialised in fashion and clothing are contributing to such efforts. Further, the region provides more than 1,200 rooms in its school dorms (currently unused due to school interruption). Cultural regional institutions are offering visitors a virtual visit of their premises via the web or social media. With regard to care, protective equipment is distributed to outpatient clinics in all districts to those physicians currently in charge, including to some 479 dental clinics, 372 general practitioners, 188 paediatric clinics and 50 lung centres. The regional Volunteering Centre is working nonstop to protect the elderly, as local population counts 123,000 elderly citizens (+65 years old). More information can be found at https://web.vucke.sk/sk/.

In Finland, the Tampere region created an online platform that provides covid-19 updates and information. For two weeks, messages about the crisis have prominently displayed on the website. More than 30 email newsletters have also been distributed. The number of users accessing the platform is constantly monitored, and the site is Google-friendly to make it more easily found by the population. Local counselling services are focused on healthcare workers and services for the elderly. The city of Tampere announced the government's opening of a grant period of coronavirus-related support to sole entrepreneurs. More information can be found here.

From the very beginning of the pandemic and confinement, the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region in France took emergency measures in its areas of competence for the safety of its residents, such as closing schools and suspending school transport. It implemented health and solidarity measures for healthcare staff and vulnerable groups, providing medical equipment, reception and accommodation in boarding schools. The community remains completely focused on its efforts on the crisis and strengthening the level of services to users and residents. Already mid-March the local government announced a state/regional Solidarity Fund of €50M to help the local economy with funds (grants and repayable advances) and loan funds to companies and associations. The region further strengthened its emergency budget plan, now amounting to €73M, including an additional €10M granted to the loan fund for SMEs and the creation of new loan funds for economic actors. More information is available here. The complete regional plan is downloadable from this link.

The Lisbon Metropolitan Area, and their 18 municipalities, launched a 'Metropolitan Integrated Platform' for the management of critical products, equipment and resources to ensure that resources are permanently allocated to municipalities in greatest need (more details are explained in this video). The platform oversees the distribution of necessary items such as protective masks, gloves, disinfecting gel, prepared meals and availability of accommodation for isolation, quarantines or treatments, medical supplies and others that are relevant. All municipalities are sharing their availability and necessities in a marketplace, whether from their own resources or from hundreds of institutions that, every day, voluntarily, have been willing to collaborate.

The Catalan Government launched an app​ to control and detect new cases, bringing daily real-time data and offering advice to every registered patient with symptoms. The Health Department set up several hospitals that can scale-up bed capacity​. On the economic front, it introduced a moratorium on deadlines for payment and self-settlement of several taxes. Related tax-collection and inspection procedures are suspended. Further, the local government allocated €7.5M to self-employed workers who are economically affected, with a total aid of up to €2,000 for severely-afflicted workers who prove the necessary justification. The Catalonian Government committed to pay wages and insurance policies to workers in companies working for the government, including cleaning professionals, transporters, school meal attendants, surveillance personnel and others. The department of Labour, Social Affairs and Family is intervening to assist at-risk elderly, for example relocating disabled people in nursing residences who have coronavirus symptoms to the Casa del Mar in Barcelona.

Spanish Regional Development Agencies (RDA), at the outset of covid-19, designed a variety of measures to minimise the economic downturn and provide businesses with relevant information, from ensuring companies to have enough cash liquidity to make payments to suspension, postponement, and splitting-up of tax payments and financial aid for SMEs and self-employed workers.  A full list of actions is downloadable here. Measures are regularly updated here (in Spanish).

In Turkey, the Marmara Municipalities Union created a special section on its website to publish official decisions of the national government, inform citizens about best practices and provide statistical updates from each municipality. A wide number of actions have been taken. For instance, the Ergene municipality disinfected its health centres, pharmacies and public building such as its municipality and law enforcement buildings. In Başakşehir, the municipal police teams tightened inspections in all district markets, distributing free masks to citizens and tradesmen. The Ataşehir Municipality maximized protection measures with cleaning, disinfection, inspection, social support and other actions.​