European cities respond to the coronavirus crisis

24 March 2020

In the Turkish city of Pendik, police go shopping for the elderly who have to stay at home. London has reserved 300 hotel rooms for homeless people to help them self-isolate, to protect themselves and others against infection. And Barcelona makes advance payments for artists whose shows have been postponed.

The corona crisis is hitting cities hard. And cities are responding with bold and innovative action.

A priority for all city administrations is the communication with people: measures like confinement rules need to be announced and explained, daily updates on support offers are given. Many cities have set up digital platforms to have all the information in one place, like the Spanish city of Gijon under the hashtag #GijonSeCedaEnCasa – Gijon stays home – while mayor Ana González Rodríguez also shares a daily video message via social media.

And since not all communication can be digital, the mayor of Bratislava commissioned a famous local cartoonist to draw a poster with information for citizens on how to avoid spreading the virus.

Supporting people in need – and local businesses

Older people are most affected by isolation. To ensure that they get everything they need, Milan has set up seven food hubs for distribution to those unable to leave their home. In Zaragoza, those aged over 65 get a flat rate taxi fare of €1 when travelling to hospital. And Vilnius offers telephone conversations to overcome loneliness in times of social distancing.

Many cities, like Vienna and Nantes, have set up funds to support small and medium enterprises and protect their local economy and jobs, in addition to their national aid programmes.

With all events cancelled, the cultural life in cities goes digital, as in Murcia, Spain, where more than 30,000 people joined last weekend’s online cultural activities organised by the city. Among them, theatre, dance, shows for children and recipes with the most famous local chefs.

Solidarity across borders

And cities also show European solidarity: Mannheim, as well as other German cities near the French border, are treating corona patients from the overburdened French hospitals in the Région Grand Est who need urgent artificial respiration. The German hospitals provide in station hospital service and, most importantly, ventilators.

You can find more city initiatives on our new platform COVIDnews from Eurocities. Here cities share their experiences and learn from each other – European collaboration in times of crisis.


Alex Godson Eurocities Writer