Sugarcoating and Brutal Honesty: How Leaders Are Handling Coronavirus Crisis

With the virus endangering citizens’ health and lockdowns ravaging the global economy, heads of government have taken different approaches in televised addresses and news briefings as they have explained their plans for combating the threat.“The main questions for these leaders,” said Jill Rutter, a senior fellow at the London-based Institute for Government, “is, can they convey a clear message and give people the reassurance they need while admitting this is an incredibly fast-moving, difficult world of real unknowns?” In this fight we can be in no doubt that each and every one of us is directly enlisted, each and every one of us is now obliged to join together to halt the spread of this disease. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern addressed New Zealanders on March 21 from the prime minister’s office, the first time since 1982 that a leader had chosen that setting, and outlined a clear, serious and pre-emptive plan for dealing with the coronavirus.“As soon as these problems were identified, we mobilized ourselves — the government, local authorities, companies, associations — to produce and to acquire the necessary supplies,” he said. “He was always a very divisive figure before that, but I think the bit that Macron did well was to say, actually we weren’t as prepared as we should have been,” Ms. Rutter, the governance expert, said. Initially dismissive of the coronavirus, Mr. Duterte reversed course late last month, introducing stringent measures, including a lockdown, in a bid to stem its spread. This week, as she laid out plans for a step-by-step loosening of the country’s lockdown measures, her attention to detail and her cautious plan to restart the economy were again heralded.

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