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22 April 2020, 00:00
Useful Initiatives of City Councils in the COVID-19 Pandemic


The coronavirus pandemic has changed the habitual life of citizens. Therefore, the city authorities must respond to this. During quarantine, useful city initiatives have emerged in the world to support community activities, bring people together, and make it easier to stay in isolation.

What could Ukrainian ñity ñouncils learn, what to adopt, which services to start from scratch and how to improve old services — let's see further in the material.

Incentives for business

Debrecen, Hungary. The city council offers discounts for businesses that rent municipal property rooms. This way the local government supports small and medium-sized businesses. For those who are forced to close because of the outbreak of the coronavirus infection, a 90% discount is offered by June 30th. And those who have a working day limit can apply for a 50% discount. In Germany, the city council allocates 5,000 euros in emergency aid (Berlin, D?sseldorf) for small businesses (up to 5 employees) in crisis. However, separate government funds will work to compensate for the coronavirus losses.

City Council Online Meeting

Ghent, Belgium. Here the city council held the meeting online for the first time. 53 members discussed work issues via their home computers. It was the largest digital meeting ever held by authorities in the region. The municipality of Ghent is happy to share its experience with other city councils.

Support for cultural and sports facilities

Linz, Austria. Due to quarantine, cultural and sports institutions were forced to close and cancel the event calendar. Therefore, the local authorities of Linz have developed a grant system to provide them after the epidemic. Also, clubs and associations that use municipal property may receive rental benefits.

Traveling through the city with minimal risk

Berlin, Germany. To keep the locals and visitors of the capital as mobile as possible, Berlin has temporarily introduced bicycle rental that is free for the first 30 minutes. In this manner, for example, you can reach your work when it is impossible to postpone, or the store if it is far from home. Therefore, the risk of the coronavirus infection is lower and the level of public health is higher.

Reading for kids via phone and free catalogs

 Tallinn, Estonia. Tallinn Central Library librarians read books via Skype or phone to children who are forced to stay home, not go to school or meet friends because of the COVID-19 crisis. The child has to simply select a book, and the librarian will call and read it during the following 30 minutes. This is especially essential for children of health workers, civil servants and other professions, whose parents continue to work even under quarantine circumstances.

The City Libraries of Rome, Italy offer their catalogs online. Free registration gives access to 7000 periodicals in forty languages. Users can also download 2-4 ebooks. In Dortmund, libraries are also open online, even for those who have not had a reader ticket, and offer books, movies, music.

Mayors online 

Many city councils have abolished the admission of citizens for the quarantine period. However, they actively communicate online and promptly report news of coronavirus infection. For example, the mayor of the Polish city of Poznan conducts live video conferences daily.

Consultations with psychologists online

In isolation, it is more difficult for many people to maintain mental health and avoid panic and anxiety during pandemic coronavirus infection. Citizens of Poznan, Poland can discuss their problems with practicing psychologists. For this purpose the local authorities in cooperation with designated centers launched a free online program. The list of psychological support is divided into categories: young people, medical and rescue workers, the elderly and more. In addition, foreigners can receive psychological counseling in different languages.

An online platform for volunteer coordination

Belgian, German and other municipalities collect volunteer information through websites, publish offers or requests for help, and provide advice to people. Thus, the mayor's office manages to coordinate the burst of volunteer efforts and offer more systematic ideas for solidarity actions.

Sports online from the municipal coaches

In Madrid, Spain, a YouTube channel has been launched that broadcasts live workouts and exercises for the whole family, games for children, yoga and Pilates. After all, being physically active while remaining in self-isolation may be difficult for many. All materials are developed by municipal sports centers professionals.

We will update this material with useful and interesting initiatives from cities around the world and Ukraine, so please share recommendations and news from your cities or towns.

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