Tag Archives: #COVID-19


As America comes face to face with it’s racism in its past, President Donald Trump has firmly back lined up with those who argue that the pendulum has swung too far in favor of removing statues and other symbols of that flawed history, saying errors will be repeated unless learned from and understood.

Trump’s campaign also sees the division over this new political flash point as a way to improve the president’s reputation, which has weakened through his treatment of the coronavirus epidemic and the social discrimination demonstrations that accompanied the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. After weeks spent demanding “law and order” in response to the protests sparked by Floyd’s death by police, Trump began to draw a line in the sand.

He vowed executive action to preserve landmarks after several Confederate statues and other historical icons with checkered life stories were violently pulled down from parks and other socially popular spots.

Trump says he wanted the highest penalty possible under federal law — up to a decade in prison — for anyone who wrecks or tamper with public property monuments commemorating those who served in the U.S. military. He said the executive order would “strengthen” existing legislation.

“We are looking at long-term jail sentences for these vandals and these hoodlums and these anarchists and agitators,” Trump said, referring to protesters who have vented their anger over racial injustice by toppling statues of figures tied to America’s racist history.

He spoke out after an attempt Monday night to bring down a Lafayette Park statue of Andrew Jackson, one of Trump’s favorite presidents, was foiled by police in the park across from the White House. Trump called it a “sneak attack” on the statue of Jackson, who owned slaves and was ruthless in his treatment of Native Americans. “We should learn from the history,” he told Fox News in a taped interview broadcast Tuesday. “And if you don’t understand your history, you will go back to it again.”

Trump’s campaign sees the attempts to remove statues as a potential presidential lifeline. The campaign argues that liberals are dramatically overreaching by embracing calls to “defund the police” and remove statues of American icons taught in history books.

In the current climate, Trump’s prior support of Confederate statues and military bases named after such individuals posed a political risk. But aides now believe the president has found an unexpected new line of attack on Democrats as the effort to remove symbols has spread to include the likes of Presidents Ulysses S. Grant, Jackson and George Washington in some places.

Although all three figures were flawed individuals, Trump’s campaign believes he can use them to wage a culture war and position the president as the defender of a way of life threatened by demographic change and generational shifts in views on issues ranging from marriage to racial justice.

Calls to overhaul policing and confront lingering racial inequality may be bipartisan, but Trump’s reelection team believes the most aggressive steps being pushed by some Democrats will turn off centrists and energize the president ‘s base-– many of whom share his avowed commitment to safeguard symbols of the nation’s past. A White House official and a campaign assistant summarized the president’s rationale by speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not allowed to publicly discuss the issue.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday cast the “lawlessness” of the attacks on statues as a cultural phenomenon among “far-left radicals” in need of a history lesson.


Will US pause on H1-B visas will impact Indian companies?

On Tuesday, the U.S. government announced it extended the 60-day immigration and non-immigrant worker visa ban until the end of 2020. Popular work visas including the much coveted H-1B and H-2B and some categories of H-4, J and L visas will also remain suspended until 31 December, the White House said in a press release.

The move, said US President Donald Trump, was to protect domestic workers who had been affected in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic because of a contraction in the economy.

To fill a shortage with highly qualified low-cost workers in IT and other similar fields, the U.S. government issues a variety with permits per year allowing businesses outside the U.S. to send staff to work on customers.

Among all working visas, the H-1B remains the most common among IT companies in India. Per year, the US government has a quota of 85,000 H-1B total visas. Of this, 65,000 H-1B visas are issued to highly skilled foreign workers, while the remaining 20,000 may be allocated additionally to highly skilled foreign workers who have an American university degree in higher education or master’s.

In addition to the H-1B visas, the US government also issues L1 visas allowing companies to transfer highly skilled workers to the US for up to seven years. H-2B visas enable food and farm workers to seek employment in the US.

After its introduction in 1952, the H-1 visa system has undergone several modifications and amendments to authorize or disallow other groups of foreign workers in the US, depending on the country’s economic situation.

Together with the arrival of the internet and low-cost computers in developing countries such as India and China, the technology boom saw a large number of graduates willing to work at relatively low costs in the US, a win-win situation for both the employer and the staff. Since then, though, it has been frequently criticized for sending low-cost workers to the US at the expense of homeworkers.

After taking over as US president in January 2017, Trump had suggested that low-cost workers hampered the economy and undermined citizens’ jobs. The US then suggested that the “broken” H-1B visa system be reformed.

Trump seized the opportunity presented by Covid-19’s economic contraction by first banning the entry of non-immigrant workers until June 23, and then extending it until December 31.

Trump said in his executive order extending the ban that while “properly administered temporary worker programs can bring benefits to the economy” under normal circumstances, the extraordinary economic contraction created as a result of Covid-19 posed a threat to American workers.

As the ban is in place immediately, issuance of the additional types of visas H-1B, H-2B, J, and L will have to be halted. This means that those who do not have a valid non-immigrant visa as of June 23, and who are outside the US, will not be allowed to enter the country until December 31. Some relief has been given to workers in essential services in the food sector and their entry will be decided by the immigration services consular officer.



A Colombian court reversed an order that required ride-hailing company Uber to temporarily halt it’s activities in the country last year and to change the company’s service delivery model.

The Industry and Commerce Superintendency (SIC), which regulates fair competition and protects consumers, said Uber had violated the rules of competition in a taxi company lawsuit in December. In February Uber resumed transporting passengers with a new model of service that allows users to rent cars with drivers.

But in a decision dated Thursday, the Superior Tribunal of Bogota said the time limit for the taxi company to present its complaint had expired.

The SIC has repeatedly fined technology companies like Uber and Rappi this can mainly be attributed to the lack of regulatory framework for delivery and ride-hailing apps. DiDi and Cabify also operate in the country.

“It must be remembered that the situation of digital platforms in regards to the provision of these types of services is a regulatory issue that must be resolved via laws,” the head of the SIC Andres Barreto .

After recently announcing salary cuts and layoffs for its workers, Uber has furloughed hundreds of its employees in India, as coronavirus is chewing up sales. The company has announced that it will no longer operate with 600 workers in its Indian business, as the company is looking to slash expenses in the wake of a pandemic. The figure is 25 per cent of Uber ‘s total nation workers, Uber said Tuesday in a tweet. The announcements made by Uber follow an earlier statement made by its local competitor Ola, which had laid off 1,400 employees or around one in every third employee.

 “Around 600 full time positions across driver and rider support, as well as other functions, are being impacted. These reductions are part of previously announced global job cuts this month,” Pradeep Parameswaran, President for Uber’s India and South Asia businesses, said.

Job cuts were implemented through out various departments from client and driver service, corporate growth, compliance, regulation, communications, and finance. As part of the company ‘s corporate turnaround program, Uber has retrenched about 6,700 employees this month. The American multinational ride hailing company said it gave the laid off workers 10 to 12 weeks of pay. Uber has provided them with medical benefits over the next six months.

“The impact of Covid-19 and the unpredictable nature of the recovery has left Uber India with no choice but to reduce the size of its workforce. Today is an incredibly sad day for colleagues leaving the Uber family and all of us,” the statement said.

But with easing lockdowns the company said on Wednesday trip requests were gradually picking up, but still remained significantly below prior year levels, as several countries start to lift coronavirus-led restrictions.

Trip requests are now down about 70% from a year earlier, slightly lesser than April’s 80% drop, Chief Executive Officer Dara Khosrowshahi said in a conference with Bank of America analysts. He said the company’s rides business is improving on a week-over-week basis, adding that the surge in food-delivery orders at Uber Eats recorded in the first quarter, showed no signs of slowing in May, easing concerns of investors who thought it could be a one-off trend during the pandemic.

Source: 1.https://in.reuters.com/article/uber-colombia/colombia-court-overturns-restriction-on-uber-idINKBN23R0DQ?il=0



North and South Korea RELATIONS

North Korea blew up the joint liaison office with South Korea in Kaesong, an industrial area on its side of the border, becoming one of the two countries’ most damaging conflicts without ever going to war. The collapse of the joint liaison office followed a growing breakdown of ties between Pyongyang and Seoul, which came just hours after Pyongyang had threatened with military action at the border with South Korea.

Tensions between the two countries had increased since last week, after Pyongyang took offence to South Korean activists and defectors sending anti-North Korean propaganda leaflets, rice and bibles using ballons across the border into North Korean territory, and cut off communication with Seoul. Experts believe that these movements follow the frustrations of North Korea over the inability of South Korea to revive inter-Korean economic projects that, under US pressure, had benefited Pyongyang, along with UN sanctions.

The liaison office was set up in Kaesong in 2018 to facilitate communication between North Korea and South Korea. Following the demolition of the office, North Korean state media outlet KCNA released a statement saying the office had been “tragically ruined with a terrific explosion”.

South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in called for an urgent national security meeting following the demolition. The country’s Unification Ministry called the incident “a senseless act”, one that had “destroyed the hopes of those who wished for peace on the Korean Peninsula”.The South Korean government said they would “respond strongly” if the situation were to worsen but did not elaborate on how it would retaliate. The demolition occurred just days after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s sister Kim Yo Jong had threatened to destroy the liaison office.

North Korea and South Korea jointly established a liaison office in North Korea’s Kaesong, in 2003. The Kaesong Industrial Complex is a joint industrial zone where both North Koreans and South Koreans operate and run  factories. Approximately 120 factories operated in this industrial zone at its height, with more than 50,000 North Korean employees and several hundred managers, according to a BBC report. Pyongyang had threatened to close this liaison office last week and had cut off his lines of communication with Seoul.

Following the demolition of the liaison office, North Korean state media KCNA announced that Pyongyang would be sending troops in demilitarised areas, including in the Kaesong industrial zone. The KCNA added that North Korea would be adding artillery units along the border with South Korea for reinforcement and North Korean police posts that had been withdrawn when relations had improved between the two countries would now be instituted once again.

Observers say North Korea has been the most provocative by doing these actions in the last few years. During the last few years, South Korean President Moon Jae-in has made efforts to improve relations with Pyongyang. Researchers say that such provocations may have happened because Pyongyang aims to compel Seoul to make it more concessions that will be economically favorable to North Korea, which has been hit hard by sanctions. Although it is not clear how COVID-19 has affected North Korea, experts believe it is likely that the country has not escaped unscathed, particularly in the context of how China is the main trading partner for North Korea.


europe & us relations turning sour due to pandemic

Historically, major tech investors have shrugged off the challenge from Margrethe Vestager, the competition tzar of the European Commission who wants to reduce the internet domination of US behemoths. Apple, Amazon.com, Facebook and Google controller Alphabet ‘s total market cap has increased more than tripled to $4.4 trillion since the Dane’s first term ended in 2014. Two new Apple probes, launched Tuesday, suggest it’s time to start taking her more seriously.

Vestager is convinced that rivalry is skewed by the rules for Apple’s preponderant app store. Music streaming rival Spotify Technology complained that Apple is levying a 30 per cent “tax” on smartphone user purchases made within apps, while at the same time stopping app developers from steering customers to cheaper options. Apple Pay’s second probe center allows customers to purchase things using an iPhone. Vestager is concerned that Apple makes it difficult for its popular smartphones to work smoothly with competing payment systems. Apple said it was upset that the European Commission is “advancing complaints from a few businesses who just want a free pass.”

But chief executive Tim Cook – and investors from the company – should be concerned about this. The mobile industry is large, and that’s an problem for Apple as it accounts for about half the sales. In the first quarter of 2020, iPhone smartphone revenues dropped 7 per cent. Apple has paid for its entertainment and music offerings by offering additional games, and subscriptions. Thanks to the rapid growth, these services close in on a quarter of all revenue. Citi economists say the app store accounts for 30 percent of all sales from utilities.

That has convinced the market to revalue Apple, as consumers favor recurring revenue from services to one-off hardware purchases. The company’s shares are valued, using data from Refinitiv, at 24 times estimated earnings over the next 12 months. That’s almost twice as high as the multiple from 2015 through to the end of 2018. If Apple is pressured by the commission to slash App Store prices and encourage rival programs to Apple Pay, its sales growth will stall, potentially warrant a lower number, and jeopardize its $1.5 trillion market capitalisation.In other words, Vestager is getting critical – unlike previous probing in Google’s shopping platform and Android operating system , causing no difference to the main business of the firm. Cook ‘s shareholders should be worried, as should those in other tech behemoths.

The Coronavirus has added more tension to the relationship between the United States and the European Union. The decision by President Donald Trump to ban European citizens from the United States and his definition of the virus as “Chinese” has weakened US relations with the European Union. Europeans and the US could not even agree to a joint text by the G7 foreign ministers on attacking the virus.

Nearly European ambassadors said that the relationship between the United States and Europe today was worse than any other modern U.S. administration, including during the Iraq War of 2003. On top of EU-U.S. Economic disagreements — such as on finance, security , climate change and Iran — ambassadors berated the “ideological animosity” of the Trump administration to the EU and NATO. One described the administration as showing “blatant disregard for shared values that have for decades underpinned the transatlantic alliance” and “lack of decorum” by the president when engaging European allies. The President ‘s calling the EU a “foe” and “crime-ridden” European countries was characterized as “violent.”

Source: 1. https://in.reuters.com/article/us-apple-antitrust-breakingviews/breakingviews-europes-latest-apple-bite-is-close-to-the-core-idINKBN23N2H4

2. https://carnegieendowment.org/2020/04/04/u.s.-relations-with-europe-likely-to-remain-strained-regardless-who-wins-november-election-pub-81493

Japan’s economy in turmoil

The Bank of Japan has expanded the total size of its funding packages for cash-strapped companies from about $700 billion reported last month to $1 trillion. While they announced on Tuesday that they would keep monetary conditions stable and hold on to their expectation that the economy would slowly rebound from the coronavirus pandemic on it’s on, suggesting that they have taken ample measures to sustain recovery for now. The BOJ remains focused on steps to ease corporate funding strain.

“Given markets have calmed down and the economy appears to be bottoming out, there’s no reason for the BOJ to take action anytime soon,” said Hiroshi Shiraishi, senior economist at BNP Paribas Securities.

“Fiscal policy will play a main role in responding to the virus fallout, so the central bank will continue to indirectly help the government by keeping borrowing costs low,” he said.

The BOJ kept its yield curve control targets at -0.1 per cent for short-term interest rates and 0 per cent for long-term rates in a widely expected move. The central bank has also made no significant improvements to its programmes to alleviate the pressures of corporate finance, including a loan facility aimed at channeling funds to businesses.

Due to the way it is designed, the amount of money to be pumped out via the programmes will reach 110 trillion yen ($1 trillion) if more loans are taken out via government schemes, the central bank said.That was larger than an estimate of 75 trillion yen made in May, as the government expanded the range of eligible loans under a second stimulus package.

Japan’s economy appears to have hit bottom and is eyeing a recovery from the damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic, its finance minister said, underscoring cautious optimism spreading among policymakers after the relaxation of lockdown measures.

“We’ve succeeded in putting a floor on the economy, which seems to have hit bottom. How strong the recovery will be depends not just on domestic conditions but overseas developments,” Finance Minister Taro Aso told parliament on Friday.

In April, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe proclaimed a state of emergency telling enterprises to shut down and people to remain at home, a development that dealt a serious blow to income and sales by corporations. Although the state of emergency was lifted in late May, economists estimate that in the current year, after falling into recession in January-March, the economy experienced more than a 20 percent annualized contraction.

Last year, Japan was a tourist mecca welcoming 31.9 million foreign visitors. That was a peak after seven consecutive years of growth.But in a sudden turn of events, prolonged coronavirus travel bans have brought Japan’s tourism industry to a standstill, with a 99.9 percent fall in tourists in April, the high time for cherry blossom viewings.The tourism Industry in almost all countries around the world have been devastatingly affected due to the pandemic.

However, the new domestic travel improving initiative from the government — the “Go To” program unveiled last month — has since been delayed after reports of an unsustainable administrative and office expense allocation. The “Go To” program is a collaborative public-private partnership that provides consumers purchasing travel goods from approved distributors in the four groups, tentatively named Go To Ride, Go To Eat, Go To Case, and Go To Shopping Strips, discount vouchers of 50 to 20 percent off. The initiative was dubbed “murky” and “untransparent” by the opposition.

Adding to the controversy is the bidding method the government adopted to attract business contractors. Before the official bidding start date, the Ministry of Economy had interviewed Japanese global advertising giant Dentsu 10 times. But the minister for economy explained that meetings had been held with 50 businesses along with Dentsu and that the 10 interviews with Dentsu had been consultations for reference due to the company’s experience in “implementing projects of unprecedented scale.”

In response to criticisms the government said it would suspend the open recruitment for business contractors and would revise the budget from the ground up to ensure unnecessary expenses are removed. The tourism recovery campaign was expected to launch in July, but to the disappointment of struggling local businesses a new start date has yet to be determined.

Source: 1.https://in.reuters.com/article/us-japan-economy-boj/bank-of-japan-holds-fire-pledges-1-trillion-to-struggling-firms-idINKBN23N0D5



Think and wonder,wonder and think..

Wonder is defined as a feeling of amazement and admiration caused by something beautiful, remarkable, unfamiliar. Someone has rightly quoted that “Mystery creates wonder and the wonder is the basis of man’s desire to understand”.The campaign to search 7 World started in (2000 -2007) to select out of 200 existing monuments. In which “The Great Wall Of China” was selected it was built around 5th an 16 th Ce BC. It is a stone built wall to protect the borders of Chinese empire from invading Mongols. “Christ The Redeemer Statue”was also the part of 7 Wonders the statue has been looming over the Brazilians from over Corcovado mountains this statue is mesmerizing to see. “Machu Picchu (Peru) which exist in Incan city of sparkling granite precariously perched between 2 towering Andean peaks.The beautiful view of the site can be taken by reaching through foot,train, or helicopter.The “Chichen Itza” (Yucatan Peninsula , Mexico) is the great work of Mahan culture is the genius work of art.This was a powerful city, a trading centre for cloth ,slaves , honey and cloth.It was one of the largest cities.”The Roman Colosseum” which stands in Rome was built between AD 70 and 80.The elliptical structure was constructed in a way so that 50k people could gather and watch the traditional events. The most beautiful can be called heavenly beauty “The Taj Mahal” which is in India (Agra) was built by the Mughal Emperor ‘Shah Jahan” in the memory of his beloved wife ‘ Mumtaz Mahal’.The white marble structure represents number of architectural styles which includes Persian,Islamic, Turkish and Indian. The “Petra” ( Jordan) which was originally known as Raqmu it is a historical city in Jordan the city is carved with rose red standstone rock facades, tombs and temples it is the most visited tourist attractions in Jordan.

Indian social media app migrates to google cloud

Homegrown social media site, ShareChat, announced Monday the full transition of its technology to Google Cloud that supports more than 60 million active monthly users. The regional platform has made the shift to scale its market, boost productivity, cut costs and enhance the overall success of the app that houses active users in 15 Indian languages.

ShareChat following a host of Indian companies that, during the lockdown, changed or rebalanced their cloud provider mix to scale up to the massive increase in usage and reliance on such services. ShareChat’s IT network was divided between Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud according to the platform ‘s previous privacy policy claim.

Given the high-intensity data , high volume of content and traffic that the platform generates such as posts, likes, views and followers, ShareChat relies heavily on IT infrastructure. A significant proportion of their mobile-application’s subscribers come from cities that come in tier-2 and tier-3, with most of them heavily  depending on 2 G networks. Therefore the it is most critical for such businesses to be able to minimize the impact of mobile bandwidth and providing all users with a great experience, the management said.

Cloud service companies have seen consistent increase in revenue in the first six months of 2020 with multinational technology firms such as Amazon.com, Microsoft Corp, and Google Inc. announcing solid growth in the demand for cloud computing as growing percentages of institutions turned to online connectivity for continued research.

As per the numbers shared by the companies for January-March, Amazon Web Services ( AWS) continues to lead with a global market share of 32 percent followed by Microsoft Azure (17 percent) and Google and Alibaba at around 6 percent each. India is currently a high-priority destination for these companies, with a growing number of established firms, startups and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMBs) looking to embrace cloud and IT technologies in the face of the government’s drive for a stronger digital presence. The pandemic has only added to that urgency.

In April 2020, ShareChat decided to migrate to Google Cloud to successfully scale and achieve its customer service goals.

“We are happy to share that a couple of months down the line we have not only experienced 100% uptime but also we see the cost benefits of our choice much beyond our initial expectations. The scale at which ShareChat is, we wouldn’t have looked beyond the top three providers and Google was the perfect fit for us,” said Venkatesh Ramaswamy, vice president of engineering, ShareChat.

In the middle of the covid-19 crisis, the monumental eight-hour move from ShareChat ‘s predominant cloud network to Google Cloud forced the former to conduct a meticulous review for nearly three months, preparing and conducting a detailed operational and strategic approach to fulfill their market needs.

“60 million users, is among the largest that we have helped migrate in recent times. Because they had a very specific requirement about the timing and method of migration, our people across the professional services, India engineering and cloud teams, APAC and global teams were all on standby to handle any situation that arises,” said Karan Bajwa, managing director (MD), Google Cloud India.


Telecommunications workers held in Peru over Covid-19 5G cell tower conspiracy theoris

Villagers in rural Peru have detained technicians from broadband provider Gilat Peru over fears they were installing 5G technology, which they claimed was responsible for the coronavirus, police and the company said Friday.

The eight-member maintenance crew have been held since Wednesday by villagers in Acobamba province, more than 500 kilometers (300 miles) southeast of the capital Lima.The incident occurred late Wednesday when workers were sent to maintain an antenna in mountainous Acobamba’s Huancavelica region.

“They have detained eight workers from a telephone company, who maintained the antennas that provide internet to public places such as educational centers, under the pretext that they are 5G antennas that, in some way, cause Covid-19,” regional police chief Alejandro Oviedo told TV Peru.

“They were held when they tried to leave and we had no communication with them since Wednesday night,” said Gilat Peru spokesman Arieh Rohrstoc. “They mistakenly think Covid is transmitted by radio waves, our technology is wireless, and the virus cannot be transmitted by electromagnetic waves,” he said. Farmers from the Huachhua Chopcca community in Acobamba demanded the technicians remove existing antennas as a condition of their release.

“The engineers have not been kidnapped,” community spokesman Lorenzo Escobar told PPP radio, adding that they were free to move around and were given food. He said the men had been held when they entered the area after the start of the nighttime curfew and had broken quarantine rules. Escobar said the community council would hold talks with Gilat Peru representatives on Saturday and the men would be released.

Peru is the second-most afflicted country behind Brazil in Latin America, with more than 214,000 confirmed cases and more than 6,000 deaths. Acobamba province, which rises to just about 4,000 meters above sea level, has one of the country’s lowest infection rates.

Due to spread of misinformation and lack of awareness about the virus, paranoia and hysteria has spread rapidly around the world . As reported by The Hindu in April, mainly people around the world have been tearing down cell phone towers believing especially 5G towers to be linked to the spread of the Corona-virus.

I was reported that in the month of April alone , 50 towers had been damaged in Britain, and 16 in the Netherlands, along with similar reports surfacing from Ireland, Cyprus, and Belgium as well.

Popular beliefs and the conspiracy theories that wireless communications pose a threat have long been around, but the global spread of the virus at the time that countries were rolling out fifth generation wireless technology has seen some of those false narratives amplified.

“I am absolutely outraged, absolutely disgusted, that people would be taking action against the very infrastructure that we need to respond to this emergency,” said Stephen Powis, Medical Director of the National Health Service in England, in early April.

Posting treats of attacking phone masts were received on likes of Facebook.One Anti-Vaccine Group posted in April on Facebook 12 photos of charred phone mast, with quote, “Nobody wants cancer and covid19. Stop trying to make it happen or every pole and mobile store will end up like this one.”

Source: 1.https://www.hindustantimes.com/world-news/telecommunications-workers-held-in-peru-over-covid-19-5g-scare/story-PVu1bSAp7Uo7LwEGjvDOJP.html?utm_campaign=fullarticle&utm_medium=referral&utm_source=inshorts

2. https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/conspiracy-theorists-burn-5g-towers-claiming-link-to-coronavirus/article31395286.ece

luxury food industry amasses heavy losses due to the virus

Global demand for luxury foods such as wagyu beef, bluefin tuna and caviar has plummeted into decline in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, with thousands of restaurants shuttered.

The luxury food industry may be among the hardest affected because it depends heavily on restaurants and top hotels for ordering deluxe goods from caviar to champagne, because tight shutdown efforts to curb the epidemic ravage global economic activity. While some gourmet food manufacturers are specifically targeting customers to remain alive, some have been compelled to slash production since some goods have lost nearly half their value since the beginning of the year.

Jean-Marie Barillere, co-chairman of champagne producers’ lobby CIVC in France, said he hoped people would celebrate the easing of lockdown with a bottle of champagne, but expected a difficult end to the year. “This is really a period that looks like a war time,” he said.

Bookings data compiled by OpenTable, an online restaurant reservation service, showed this year a decline of nearly 80 percent year-on-year in seated restaurants in the United States, UK , Germany, Canada , Australia, Ireland and Mexico. Restaurants is among the world’s hardest-hit industries

“People will not want to taste a Chateau Petrus wine, a lobster or caviar under a bell jar,” said Michel Berthommier, managing director of Caviar Perlita in southwestern France. “If you force people to eat in these conditions they will prefer going to fast foods.”

Premium foods was “one of the worst hit sectors worldwide”, said Ole Houe, director of advisory services at agriculture brokerage IKON Commodities in Sydney. He said he did not expect a prompt recovery given many countries were in recession. Falling demand has already taken a toll on the prices of luxury items.

In Tokyo, the price of top-quality wagyu beef cuts fell around 30% from a year ago, bluefin tuna – deemed the best in Japan – fell more than 40% during that period, while Shizuoka’s popular ‘Earl’s melons’ prices dropped 30%. Russia’s largest breeding sturgeon business-Russian Caviar Shop-meanwhile gave Beluga hybrid caviar a 30 per cent discount.

“Spring and summer are always low seasons for the caviar market, but if we compare this period with previous years, the sales in Russia are down 50%,” said the firm’s owner Alexander Novikov.

In France, caviar prices languished near historic lows, champagne sales tumbled, while foie gras producers have had to cut output to prop up prices. Cifog, a foie gras producers’ group, said restaurants account for 40% of total foie gras sales. “Mid-March it felt like the sky had fallen on us,” said Florian Boucherie, who produces 2 tonnes of foie gras per year in France.

To plug the yawning gap left by eateries, many high-end food producers are attempting to reach consumers directly via e-commerce platforms. Others are steering more produce onto supermarket shelves. “We are accelerating our supply of products into some of the world’s largest supermarkets, gourmet butchers and direct to consumers online,” said Hugh Killen, chief executive of Australia’s largest listed beef producer, Australian Agricultural Company.

In Japan, top sushi chefs pay 400,000 yen ($3,737.97) for 10kg of the best cuts of tuna compared to the 25,000 yen paid by supermarkets for 10kg of lower value cuts, said Yukitaka Yamaguchi, owner of Yamayuki tuna brokerage at Toyosu Market in Tokyo. He said “the best part of (the) tuna” was usually sold first to high-end sushi restaurants but when these closed the “harakami had nowhere to go.” They eventually started offering high-quality tuna to fish retailers and supermarkets. For now, Yamaguchi has had to park plans to retire as he has accumulated debt during the pandemic. “I had planned to retire when I turn 60, but that’s no longer possible,” he said.