Economists believe more policy support is required to curb the re-emergence of the virus in communities, assuming a rebound in the fourth quarter after public health restrictions ease at the end of the third quarter.

Shane Oliver

Shane Oliver, head of investment strategy and chief economist at AMP Capital, shared an article on Sydney lockdown to be extended by a month with concessions of the construction industry to be able to resume from 31 July 2021. Builders have raised concerns about half their workforce being stuck in Covid-19 hotspots in the city’s west and south-west due to the lockdown restrictions.

Sydney witnessed it worst recent coronavirus outbreak with 172 new cases and 79 people found to be infectious in the community. While construction will resume shortly, new single bubbles will be introduced for people living alone.

However, building sites in Covid hotspots in Sydney’s south-west and west will be barred from reopening. Rapid Covid-19 testing is expected to be accelerated, especially among school children and essential workers.

The New South Wales (NSW) government is now working on ending the two-week ban on construction across Greater Sydney by adopting a best practice checklist for safety protocols and implementing surveillance testing or giving vaccination priority to construction workers.

Jim Stanford

Jim Stanford, economist and director of the Centre for Future Work, based at the Australia Institute, retweeted an article shared by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives on some Canadian owners claiming that reopening the hospitality and services sector during the pandemic such as restaurants and stores maybe difficult but it did not imply that there was a shortage of staff.

In his views, although businesses are reopening quickly and happily, it has been extremely difficult for owners as they scramble to meet all safety protocols, get their supplies, and also reconnect with old workers or hire new staff after the retreating pandemic. He also believes that this is likely to cause market disruptions and is a difficult year ahead for the service sector.

The Canadian government was quick and robust to respond with income supports to workers and businesses during the one and a half year of Covid lockdowns, while the wage subsidy programme was specifically designed to keep workers on the payroll even if they weren’t working.

Economists believe there are serious pandemic pivots learnt, especially for sectors where labour was undervalued, underpaid, or unappreciated. Stanford opines that the retail and hospitality sectors have offered minimum or close to low wages to labourers in the past, along with irregular working hours. The pandemic has thereby shifted the paradigm for employers to improve their offerings, or provide an arrangement of wage and schedule workers can live on, and for workers to demand higher wages or be treated better.

David Boaz

David Boaz, executive vice president of the Cato Institute, an American libertarian think tank, shared an article on the Covid-19 pandemic having helped reveal the excessive American dependence on foreign supply chains.

Experts are now pointing at the relatively modest initiative to supercharge America’s at-home production of semiconductors that are now vital in everyday life. A shortage of semiconductors during the pandemic is already causing delays in the production of cars and driving up prices for consumers. Chip manufacturers expect the global shortage to last until 2023.

US has been heavily reliant on overseas producers of semiconductors, to meet the requirement of crucial components such as phones, laptops, cars, smart appliances, and hospital equipment. According to the Boston Consulting Group, the US share of global semiconductor manufacturing capacity has dropped to 12% from 37% in 1990 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.