Editor's Letter: Europe back in lockdown

PropertyEU editor-in-chief Robin Marriott gauges market sentiment as Europe imposes new lockdowns to contain a new wave of coronavirus infections.

Sat here in London it is hard not to feel a bit despondent. In a day’s time as I write this, England is going into full lockdown again. Personally speaking, that takes me back to March when I had to work from the summer house in my garden every day for weeks. Not too much to endure I suppose because I am among the lucky ones; I still have a job and a space to work from at home, unlike many others.

The despondency comes more from seeing across Europe a similar story of fresh lockdowns, more social and economic damage, and in a new development, more violent clashes between police and the public, especially in Italy and Spain.

I mention this just after we completed our 5th PropertyEU Market Barometer since the crisis began. We find the responses to our surveys invaluable – thank you readers - especially the open question where we ask for comments or suggested questions for the next survey.

I must admit one comment really leapt out at me from the last round: ‘Why are journalists accepting the official BS regarding Covid? Go and educate yourselves, you have swallowed a pack of lies.’

To be honest with you, this was the only one that said this. But why did it hit home? Maybe because I agree with the sentiment. Day in and day out, national newspaper and broadcast journalists are repeating official data and government narrative, but I cannot understand why they are so weak and relatively unquestioning of the people that feed them the data and the government responses that follow.

Which brings me to having a voice. Our Big Interview this month is with the newly established European Council of Shopping Places, which at press time issued a press release to its members saying new Covid-19 restrictions will have a disproportionate effect on the retail property sector, and calling for a level playing field across the sector, both online and offline.

I am pleased retail property at least has a new voice to help it. But it makes me wonder who is looking out for the other sectors. Moreover, the bigger question for me is this: ‘Is the European real estate industry happy with government responses to Covid-19? Is it happy with official data and government “experts” that are leading to responses? Can we rule out the point made to us in our survey that we are accepting official BS and a pack of lies? Or is our one comment from one reader the only one?

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