There’s a hospital in Moscow that has a curious way of helping people recover from Covid.
The hospital is an equivalent to Britain’s Nightingale Hospitals – a requisitioned site serving only coronavirus patients. This particular one in Moscow had been an ice hockey arena. There is a big scoreboard above the main area. So, to entertain those in bed, the authorities decided to broadcast two types of things on the scoreboard. They are showing classic Russian movies. And Mr Bean episodes.
The global reach of Mr Bean never fails to surprise. And while it’s not something that I’ve heard being prescribed by the NHS, perhaps it shouldn’t be ruled out. The screenings show that elsewhere there’s always somebody trying to come up with a solution to a shared problem. Obviously Mr Bean is not exactly the Pfizer vaccine, but still.
Closer to home, the French are also being inventive. Last week they postponed Black Friday. The authorities secured agreement from global online shopping giants like Amazon to suspend their Black Friday offers for a week. This was a calculated move to allow smaller retailers to have a fighting chance to sell their wares during lockdown. On this side of the Channel it is clear that independents on the high street are fighting for their lives. Wouldn’t they have benefitted from a similar move? Or are the authorities here too scared to take on the online titans?
France isn’t. They’re now also going to up the taxes on global tech giants who’ve profited during the lockdown. Many of them are American, and the US has threatened reciprocal action on French imports. It’s not stopping the French, though. Perhaps they see that the sabre-rattling of Donald Trump is now a death rattle. And that a more placatory and mutually beneficial relationship could be on the way.
Or maybe they see that they need to get money in to help mitigate the hammering that their economy, like many national economies, has taken.