German chancellor’s return, Trump’s new press secretary and fashion gloom

Planet Business: Merkel errs on the side of caution amid coronavirus

Image of the week: Angela Merkel

The more you see Angela Merkel, the more you wish certain other leaders of major economies could be even 10 per cent more like her. But the German chancellor can't be rated as highly in her home country as she is outside of it, can she? In fact, she's the most popular politician in Germany, with her approval rating surging 11 points to 64 per cent, according to a recent poll for German broadcaster ARD. Some 15 years into her job, Merkel (65) is reckoned to be having a good pandemic, as much as that is possible, with even her public speeches viewed positively. Merkel spent two weeks at home in precautionary quarantine after coming into contact with a doctor who tested positive for Covid-19, but she returned to her office on Friday and returned to the business of cabinet meetings on Wednesday, amid talk of both a recession and a fifth term.

In numbers: Fashion blues

30%
Drop in global fashion sales in 2020 forecast by the Business of Fashion and McKinsey in a gloomy new report on the sector's fortunes.

80%
As many as four-fifths of listed fashion companies will be in financial distress if their outlets stay shut for two months or more, the report warned.

1 million
Number of Bangladeshi garment industry workers who have already been laid off as a result of the cancelled or suspended clothing orders.

Getting to know: Kayleigh McEnany

Becoming at all familiar with Kayleigh McEnany, US president Donald Trump's new press secretary, is strictly optional. Her predecessor, Stephanie Grisham, held the position for just nine months and never actually held a press briefing, which is a neat trick she can add to her LinkedIn profile. McEnany (31), a Trump campaign spokeswoman, is the US president's fourth press secretary (after Grisham, Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Sean Spicer), and she arrives with some alternative-reality clangers in her back catalogue. In February, she maintained to Fox News that "we will not see diseases like the coronavirus come here", describing this as "refreshing when contrasting it with the awful presidency of President Obama". More appearances on Fox News are predicted.

The list: Re-opening for business

Although many countries are in the process of tightening rather that phasing out their Covid-19 restrictions, there are signs of an easing, or at least some sort of exit strategy, in others.

1. China In Wuhan, where it all began, the lockdown has been lifted after two months and outbound travel has resumed.

2. Denmark A "cautious reopening", starting with daycare and primary schools, is pencilled in for April 15th, but Danish prime minister Mette Frederiksen has described the process as "a bit like walking the tightrope".

3. Austria Small shops, hardware and gardening stores will be allowed to reopen under certain conditions after Easter, with all retailers likely to follow from May 1st.

4. Italy Giuseppe Conti's government is this weekend expected to review its restrictions, currently due to expire on April 13th.

5. Spain The crisis is far from over in Spain, but officials are working on a plan to exit its lockdown. It will be dependent, however, on mass-scale antibody testing.