Across Europe, heads of state have grappled with managing the COVID-19 pandemic which has swept across the world. In some of the smallest states, Princes have led by example in how this novel coronavirus can be handled when the advantage of a small population is on your side. Monaco Tribune decided to have a look at how the principalities of Europe have dealt with this health crisis.
Prince Albert II of Monaco has dealt with his fair share of the virus, himself contracting it in late March. In terms of the Principality’s approach in tackling this virus, no expense has been spared in protecting its residents.
In mid-May, the Prince’s Government announced that mass testing would take place, seeing roughly 90,000 of its residents and private-sector workers receiving an antibody test. It is one of the most extensive testing projects, and so far has seen over 7,000 people tested, including the Prince himself.
Masks were made by the Princess Charlene Foundation and her brother Gareth Wittstock went out into the streets to hand out these masks to the territory’s residents.
In a show of solidarity with the Principality, the Sovereign also slashed the Palace budget by 40% to face the upcoming economic downturn.
The Principality of Liechtenstein introduced a tech programme to provide a biometric bracelet to each of its citizens to monitor COVID-19 cases in real-time and keep track of case numbers in each region. It will begin with a bracelet given to one in 20 individuals, collecting data such as temperature, breathing and heart rate, while transmitting the data to a Swiss lab for investigation on the disease. The second stage of rolling out these bracelets will see all 38,000 residents have one in Autumn.
The Principality’s national holiday Staatsfeiertag on 15th August may go online this year. Given its lively nature of grand fireworks and huge gatherings, it had been cancelled, but Prince Alois said in an interview with Volksblatt that he can imagine it taking place online.
Moreover, the hereditary Princess Sophie also made a speech addressing everyone’s solidarity in the Principality and particularly praised Corona Hilfe, an organisation which provides aid to all citizens of Monaco. In this incredibly rare address, the Sovereign showed her own unity with the country.
Although no prince resides over Andorra, its co-prince Joan-Eric Vives i Sicília and Head of State Xavier Espot Zamora have had a rather tumultuous political battle rather than a health one.
Given a severe drop in economic activity, the Andorran government requested financial aid from the French government, Emmanuel Macron as the other “co-prince” of the nation. With the economy working at merely 20% of its usual function and the borders having been closed for 75 days, the future downturn indeed looks bleak. Macron and Bruno Le Maire refused this appeal.
The sale of alcohol and tobacco was prohibited to tourists, and even tightly limited amongst residents. After a convoy of cars entered the Principality from France to purchase the products cheaply, it posed severe consequences in the fight against the pandemic.
On 20th April, the government announced that all residents of Andorra would be tested twice against COVID-19. Soon after, 150,000 tests were therefore ordered from South Korea, and testing began on 27th April.